The Coming Storm in the PA Democratic Senate Primary

Quoting Michael Buffer, “Let’s get ready to rumble.”

The Penn Progress super PAC is warning prospective donors to Conor Lamb’s U.S. Senate run that he is trailing frontrunning lieutenant governor John Fetterman by 30 points.

A memo obtained by POLITICO says that in order for Lamb to have a path to the Democratic nomination, the public view of Fetterman must change. The analysis – Lamb is more centrist than Fetterman and when voters finally understand that – and they will – it may be too late.

In the most recent Franklin & Marshall College poll, a small sample of respondents were asked, “Do you think of yourself as a progressive Democrat, a centrist Democrat, or something else?” Forty percent answered progressive, while 35 percent selected centrist – a change of two percent to the positive for the former and negative for the latter since October.

But is it all about ideology? Not according to Paul Waldman at the Washington Post. He says that Lamb is “pretty indistinguishable from a thousand congressional candidates who have come before: clean-cut, solid resume, just the kind of person you picture when you think ‘congressman.’”

Compare that to the 6-foot-8 Fetterman who has tattoos and is known to sport shorts in the winter months. Compare and contrast, indeed!

The PAC document points out the testing of negative messaging against Fetterman, including that he is a “dangerous radical who proudly calls himself a socialist,” and “supports far-left policies like a $34 trillion government takeover of healthcare.”

Might his more progressive positions make him vulnerable to the more centrist Lamb? Possibly. His long record of concern for people could also attract voters from distressed parts of the Commonwealth. As Waldman says, “some people love Fetterman because of who he is, and some people don’t.”

According to POLITICO, the slide deck did not make any mention of testing what is considered to be one of Fetterman’s biggest liabilities: an incident in 2013 when he pulled a gun on an unarmed Black man as mayor of Braddock. Fetterman said he thought the man might be fleeing a shooting, and that he did not know the race or gender of the man at the time.

“This race is wide open,” said Lamb Campaign Manager Abby Nassif-Murphy in a statement to The Daily Beast. “The biggest question on the minds of Pennsylvania Democrats is who can win in November, “When they find out that John Fetterman has real baggage and has never beaten a Republican, they have serious questions.”

“Conor hasn’t been able to gain ground with Democrats, so he’s decided to run like a Republican and use Fox News talking points to attack a fellow Democrat,” said Fetterman spokesperson Joe Calvello to POLITICO. “This is a desperate move from a campaign that hasn’t been able to raise the money on its own, and hasn’t broken through with anyone except for some political insiders.”

“All of the polling makes me think Fetterman’s lead is real, but that doesn’t mean it’s firm,” wrote J.J. Balaban, a Democratic strategist from Philadelphia who has worked on Senate races, to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But it will take money to displace him and I’m more skeptical now … that Lamb has the resources to lift himself up and pull Fetterman down.”

State rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, a third major candidate in the race, has impressed many but may be priced out of contention with just $285,000 cash on hand, compared to Fetterman’s $5.3 million and Lamb’s $3 million.

It is apparent that Lamb has discovered that reminding everyone that he is the moderate candidate is taking him only so far. It may not have a simple solution, but it does appear that the gloves are coming off in the race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat in the Keystone State.

Let’s get ready to rumble, indeed.

13 Responses

  1. I love polls. Directing your answers to what they want to show. Why didn’t they include that something else as leaning republican. or better yet who serves you best, then have your list. telling them of republicans not just as others.—–Grampa

  2. The poll mentioned in the memo is from several months ago. The latest and only independent poll taken is the Franklin and Marshall poll from this month. That puts Fetterman up +13 over Lamb with 44% UNDECIDED. That would seem to suggest, as Lamb is getting better known, he is closing the gap with two months to go. And a lot of voters haven’t tuned in yet. To be transparent, I’m a Lamb supporter and donor. But I’m also a political strategist for 40 years and I wouldn’t count Lamb out yet.

    1. If you’re a strategist, you would know how flawed the F&M poll was. Disregard Fetterman, Kenyatta was at 2% when every other poll has him around 10%. *Everyone’s* internal polls from both parties show Lamb down at least 27.

  3. In my area of the state, all we see is Oz and McCormick. Until Fetterman and Lamb get some ads on air, I don’t believe any poll is definitive at this point in time.

  4. Fetterman won’t commit to participating in the April 3rd Muhlenberg debate. What’s that say about the sincerity of his candidacy.

    1. Because I don’t know the man living in Michigan I will apply what I have learned about politics in general. Look at the sponsors of the debates. Usually a local TV station. Which way do they lead. do they report without bias? If not one can be sure that questions will be biased toward the party candidate they back. To be fair they should have each candidate speak of their political point and then ask questions directly to their opponents. That is closer to a debate. then have questions from people who live in the area that voted in the last election. their address verified with a voter list asking questions directly to whoever is running. It is only when a voter has their questions answered do we have free elections. At the end of the answer have the caller tell the audience if their questions were answered an if not briefly why not. Media would be great if it published in an unbiased way.———GrampaWP26

  5. Lamb is such a little turd. Any generic Dem is going to lose and their own poll shows this. Fetterman’s existing support is the only shot Dems have in this cycle.

    1. At least Lamb shows up for events (in proper attire) and engages with other leaders. Fetterman’s colleagues can’t stand him. His successor in Braddock doesn’t even support him.

      1. The appointed mayor who didn’t last a whole term didn’t support him. The new mayor does.

        Lamb engages with “leaders” because Lamb he needs them, Fetterman doesn’t.

        1. Chardae Jones is the current Mayor of Braddock. She is supporting Malcolm Kenyatta, not Fetterman. Look it up.

  6. Is this an honest news article or only a GOP rag trying to foment discord among Dems?

  7. Similar to Gov race with the R’s Trumper based in the primary and Trumper’s Lou and Mastriano way ahead of Corman. How do you convince people there will be a come back?

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