The Revolution Begins in Chesco
by Nancy Scola, Sat Nov 04, 2006 at 09:24:56 PM EST
After another day on the ground in Pennsylvania, this occurs to me: the 50 State Strategy should be abandoned in favor of a One Million County strategy. I picked "one million" as a ballpark figure only because Wikipedia won't tell me how many counties and parishes we have in these United States.
Pennsylvania Democrats are working on the county level for a legislative majority in the capital of Harrisburg. At a rally this afternoon in the Chester County town of Downingtown, State Senator Andrew Dinniman told the crowd of the dark days when Chesco (as the locals seem to call it) was once considered so Republican that neither Al Gore in 2000 nor John Kerry in 2004 would show his face there. But in a May 2005 special election, Dinniman trounced his Republican opponent by 13 points.
Then there's Tom Houghton, running for State Representative in Chesco. Tom's hometown of London Grove Township is 3-to-1 Republican but still elected the tree-hugging Houghton to its Board of Supervisors. Tom today credited his success to talking to his neighbors about the building blocks of suburbia: health care, school funding, and preserving public spaces. It''s looking more and more like that Chesco might very possibly make the third time the charm for Lois Murphy in her re-re-match with Jim Gerlach.
According to an AFL-CIO staffer I met today named Bernie Pollack, organized labor has boots on the ground not just in Chester County but in more than 30 Pennsylvania statehouse races. Many of those targeted races overlap with four targeted congressional districts -- Altmire, L. Murphy, Sestak, and Carney -- a sign that I take to mean that the moons might be in alignment for a great Tuesday in Pennsylvania.
I'm seeing in the southeast corner of Pennsylvania that there's something different going on this year. All self-identified Democrats have been handed a big gift in the shape of the national Republican Party. It would of course take a concerted and well-orchestrated effort to be worse at leadership than they are. Where to start? There's that we are waging a complicated war while our leaders seem to be detached from the reality the rest of us go to bed and wake up in. Or that 2 of every 5 working Americans don't have health insurance. Or the hypocrisy of quite-possibly-homosexual anti-gay evangelists. Or the hypocrisy of quite-possibly-homosexual anti-gay evangelists. I know I wrote it twice but come on, are they kidding me with that one?
Or that, as Barbara McIlvaine Smith, a candidate for Pennsylvania's 156 district, said today, it turns out that clean water and clean air and a clean environment are our values. Maybe it's what Bob Casey said about Rick Santorum but sums up so much more about the current state of affairs: "When all is said and done, there's a lot more said than done."
But we still have to pick up the football. I'm working on what I'm going to talk about to Pennsylvanians when I go door-to-door in the next 72 hours. It might be this: "Remember an America that made some amount of sense? That wasn't necessarily perfect, but tried hard to be great? Me too. Let's bring her back, together."
If you'll indulge me, a few more observations from today:
- In DC, the 2005 schism between SEIU/Andy Stern and AFL-CIO/John Sweeney
judged to be a great blow to the Democrats' ground game. But here
on the ground, things look different. The "Barney Truck" call
center parked in downtown Philly is owned by SEIU and staffed by AFL.
The canvassing/GOTV rally this morning of AFL-affiliate Working America's
was held at the Philadelphia headquarters of UNITE HERE, a member of
the SEIU's Change to Win coalition. I got to spend about an hour in
a car this afternoon with President Sweeney who talked about the "labor
movement this" and the "labor movement that."
- Judging from his performance at that Downington rally, Al Gore can still bore his way out of a paper bag. Al -- SurveyUSA has found that 93% of all Americans have heard the joke "I used to be the next President of the United States." So please, no more.
By way of update on the progress of my Pennsylvania tour, I'm continuing on a quest to find the elusive Joe Sestak, running in the 7th District against Curt Weldon. If it comes to it, I'll resort to driving to his headquarters. And I drove for three hours this afternoon to Pam's Restaurant in Dushore, Pennsylvania, only to walk in to hear Chris Carney (PA-10) say, "...and if you do send me to Congress, I'll make you proud. Good night everyone!"
Nancy's "Election 2006 Pennsylvania Tour" is brought to you by the AFL-CIO's Labor 2006 Program.