Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Incumbent U.S. Senator Arlen Spector lost the Democratic primary tonight to Rep. Joe Sestak. Not all precincts have reported as of this post, but it appears to be about a 6 point win.
It is clearly a difficult year for incumbents, although Spector's loss is perhaps not the same as a long-time Democratic incumbent losing in a primary, since he switched parties last year. President Obama did campaign for him -- in a state which Obama won convincingly in 2008 -- and his support had little effect.
Sestak will face Pat Toomey in November, and Pennsylvania voters will have a fairly clear-cut choice between candidates with significantly different political and economic philosophies. Overall, the voters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are neither deep blue nor deep red, and Toomey is likely to the right of the center of PA politics, and possibly to the right of more than a few Pennsylvania Republicans. If turnout in Philadelphia County is low in November, Toomey could emerge with a close win, but in any case, I would expect both parties to pour significant resources into the race, including lots of money from outside the Commonwealth. It will be interesting to see the extent to which Sestak seeks President Obama's help in campaigning, as the race nears its climax.
In the meantime, with a nod to James Taranto over at The Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web Today, a "Bye-ku" for Senator Spector:
No magic bulletThe late Hugh Scott, a Republican, was a long-serving U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, and in fact was Senate Minority Leader from 1969-77. His legacy in Pennsylvania is largely a positive one. Whether Arlen Spector's political legacy will be adversely effected by his late career party change and primary loss tonight is difficult to predict, but generally, it is better to go out on your own terms.
Switching parties didn't help
Arlen lost his job
Humor me. I have a point at the end of this.
Growing up in The Bronx, Mario Biaggi was my Congressman. Mario -- who's now 92 -- had been a hero cop, got a law degree at 49 and parlayed it all into a self-made political career. Ironically, back in 1968 Mario was the first Democrat to win any office in The Bronx in 16 years. Once upon a time, believe it or not, The Bronx was a stronghold for the New York State Republican machine.
Mario was one of ours -- a true Representative for our District -- and genuinely cared about all his constitituents. He became a legend at constituent service. We learned that if we had any kind of problem with any part of government to call Mario's office. They listened. If legitimate, they got results.
Mario got into trouble in 1987. He had helped win some local pork and got some free vacations as a tip -- today, just a day at the office for Charlie Rangel. Mario had to resign and even did some jail time. It always matters who controls the prosecutors.
Mario was replaced in Congress by Eliot Engel, who's still there. Eliot was a party hack then, and still is. Eliot moved his family to suburban Maryland many years ago. His kids never went to a Bronx school, neither public nor private. Eliot doesn't give a rat's ass about constituent service. Instead, he votes the Democratic line and is rewarded with favorable redistricting. His Congressional district keeps getting moved west and north as the demographics of the Bronx have changed. Eliot has never lived within its current boundaries. As I write, I can look out my office window and see one of its borders -- a thin neck of land along the Hudson that's used to stretch the 17th District from the Bronx up to suburban Rockland county. In the post-2000 redistricting, Eliot wisely saw the need to add a block of white voters to his district to forestall the threat of a minority challenger in a Democratic primary.
Eliot represents his party -- not his constituents. In Congress, he's not alone in this. They choose us, we don't choose them. Gerrymandering is a root cause of our current predicament.
We need more Marios, and far fewer Eliots. Developing ....
And what to make of Sestak?
He has surely had a distinguished military career.
However, how could that be squared with the desire to create a Eurosocialist USA. How can a commander order his charges to risk their lives for that?
Escort, don't trifle with the (once) mighty, it's spelled Specter. Ha
Yes, but Hugh Scott didn't exactly leave on his own terms either, the Gulf Oil scandal pushed him out under a cloud.
Arlen knows the state, travels to every county pretty frequently, but he always represented Arlen in the Senate, not the people of the Commonwealth