Rothenberg Cites SEPA as Dems’ House Headache

Pat Meehan portrait
Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Delaware)

After a disastrous cycle nationally in 2010, House Democrats netted 8 new seats in 2012… no thanks to Pennsylvania. Here they actually lost ground, giving up Rep. Mark Critz’s seat to Keith Rothfus.

National political analyst Stu Rothenberg this week named four congressional seats where Democrats will need to improve their recruiting if they have any chance of retaking the House. Half of them are in Pa.

He singled out the seats of Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) and Pat Meehan (R-Delaware) as the two places where Dems need to pick up their game.

He wrote:

  • Pennsylvania’s 7th: This Philadelphia-area district is very competitive. It went very narrowly for Mitt Romney in 2012 and for Barack Obama four years earlier. But Democratic nominee George Badey drew just 41 percent against GOP Rep. Patrick Meehan. Badey raised slightly more than $560,000 to Meehan’s $2.6 million, so Democrats need a much stronger fundraiser to test Meehan’s strength.
  • Pennsylvania’s 8th: Romney and Obama finished in almost a dead heat here last year, and Obama won it comfortably in 2008. But GOP Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick had little trouble with Democratic challenger Kathy Boockvar. He beat her 57 percent to 43 percent. Boockvar’s fundraising wasn’t terrible — she took in $1.45 million — but Fitzpatrick raised $2.67 million in a district covered by the expensive Philadelphia media market.

He also named a district each in California and Michigan.

The other southeast Pa. districts haven’t been any easier for Dems. Reps. Charlie Dent (R-Lehigh) and Jim Gerlach (R-Chester) went easily for the GOP last cycle.

The recruiting picture isn’t likely to get better soon in the two seats Rothenberg noted: Meehan has $1 million cash on hand already, a formidable head start. And though the DCCC has been focused on hitting Fitzpatrick so far this cycle, the Congressman has said he will not run again in 2016. That means smart potential Democratic challengers know that if they wait another cycle until 2016, they can run for an open seat in a presidential year – a much easier climb for any candidate.

10 Responses

  1. I concur with the lamentation of Ray Landis [supra], particularly as it relates to the cynicism that is mustered when D’s try to attack Fitz.

    It seems that attendance @ his St. Patrick’s Day party grows exponentially annually, and it may be wise for the D’s to take into account [in their strategizing] the reasons why he [and Meehan…and Gerlach…and Dent] are popular.

    Regardless of the issue and the presumed influences upon their voting, these are quality individuals, counterpointing the corruption problems/accusations that otherwise abound.

  2. @Liberal Dem:

    Bob Brady is in no way innocent in the gerrymandering mess. Neither is State Sen. Tina Tartaglione, for that matter, who I believe either voted for the whole thing or voted to move them out of committee.

    The Republicans had the votes to do whatever the hell they wanted — and they did whatever the hell they wanted. Saying Brady is the most to blame BEFORE Republicans is silly.

  3. I agree with much of what Delco Observer said with one exception, and that is Lentz had a bad campaign staff. I was a tough year for Dems and the Lentz campaign did everything it could with limited help from the DCCC towards the end.

    I really can’t blame the Delco Dems in terms of recruitment for the 7th because Sestak kept playing games will he or won’t he run, all to stroke his own ego. Btw Tony I’d find you a little more credible with your critique of Delco Chairman if you weren’t the one who loss that contentious race Delco Observer mentioned

  4. I have to agree on the gerrymander issue and who is really to blame. There were some 30-40 Democrats in the State House that voted in favor of the Congressional re-districting plan that will make it nearly impossible to win some of these seats in the near future. Shame on them. As to the 7th, it is rather interesting that a county chair can be named by politicspa as one of the best in the state because of his “candidate recruitment” skills, yet those skills resulted in a what every indpendent observer has labeled a terrible candidate for Congress in 2012. Leads one to seriously question how PoliticsPA makes these best/worst decisions.

  5. To anyone who thinks Pat Meehan is a moderate or works across the aisle…look at his votes…he is a backbencher and will always be a backbencher….doing whatever his master’s want from him.
    2010 was a bad year for Dems, Bryan Lentz had serious family issues to deal with, he had a terrible campaign staff, and dem turnout in the district was down and Bryan is not the high profile candidate Joe Sestak is. Also, Dem Party leadership changed midstream after a bitterly divisive chairman fight…the perfect storm.
    2012 should’ve been a good year for dems, but Dem leadership failed to recruit a candidate until the last possible minute, that candidate was a buffoon, the Delco Dems were in disarray and under very questionable “leadership”, and add to that the district was gerrymandered so only one Democratic candidate had a shot, but Joe Sestak is running for Governor in 2014 or Senate in 2016.
    It is a seat that will be competitive with the right Democratic Party Candidate in 2014…so Steve Israel needs to find that person now or Dems have less of a chance to take back the House in 2014.

  6. I have to agree with Liberal Dem on some of the redistricting problems the Democrats gave themselves by protecting those seats. I’d also say that while Fitzpatrick may be saying he’s leaving in 2016, we’ve all watched as other Republicans running on term limits have decided their district “needed” them, so they begrudgingly 😀 took on more terms at $174k a year with perquisites.

    Det Ansinn might be smart to run this year. He can get his name out there in 2014, and if Fitzpatrick really does leave in 2016, Det is well positioned to be the nominee and front runner for the seat if is open.

  7. Pat Meehan is Mr. Delaware County having served as the DA and as US Attorney for the Eastern District. He had a well known and well funded opponent in his first election and still managed to win by an impressive margin. Given his moderation, reputation for integrity and his willingness to reach across the aisle,I think it unlikely that any Democrat will take this seat.

  8. The sad thing about this story is that there is no mention of either the incumbents’ or the challengers’ positions on issues, or how their views match the views of their constituents, or even whether the incumbents provide good outreach services or the challenges are effective in delivering their message at campaign rallies. The focus is on one thing – money. As far as pundits like Stu Rothenberg are concerned, we might as well just dress candidates up in carnaval outfits, put them on stage in front of the monied interests of the nation and allow whoever is best at begging and pleading for campaign funds to take office (sort of like the scene from the musical Chicago except with candidates instead of a lawyer). I’m not naive enough to deny this might be reality in today’s political world (or yesterday’s for that matter), but I do wish it wasn’t so and that the media would at least acknowledge that it’s an unfortunate situation more often. As Brian Williams noted on NBC Nightly News last year when talking about the money raised by the Obama and Romney campaigns, “I wonder what that money could do for medical reseach?”

  9. It’s interesting that these SOUTHEAST districts look solidly republican, yet the southwest is badgered for going more republican. Failure after failure congressionally in the southeast too it looks like.

  10. The difference between 2008 and 2012 when Democrats and Obama clearly won the 7th and 8th is GERRYMANDERING!!!! But I can’t give the entire blame to the GOP because they’re always going to find different ways of cheating the system, so you know what to expect from them. The real blame needs to go to Philly Dems Boss Bob Brady along with several other Dems (stooges) in the State House who supported these blatantly gerrymandered lines just to keep Brady’s seat safe. This is cronyism at its finest and why we’re stuck with incompetents like Meehan and Fitzpatrick. If anybody is to blame for why the 7th and the 8th are held by Republicans then the answer is simple…BOB BRADY and his stooges!!!

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