PA-Senate: Kate Michelman to run as an Independent?

Will Kate Michelman jump into the Pennsylvania Senate race?  According the Philadelphia Inquirer, she might:

Kate Michelman, a prominent abortion-rights advocate, said yesterday that she was giving "some thought" to running as an independent in the race for a Pennsylvania seat in the U.S. Senate.

A possible candidacy by Michelman, 63, appears to have much to do with channeling frustration that some reproductive-rights activists have over the National Democratic Party's choice of Bob Casey Jr., an abortion-rights opponent, to challenge Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, who also opposes abortion rights.

Casey, 45, upset some in his party earlier this year when he came out in support of Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Casey's position prompted "maybe seven or 10 calls" from women's-rights activists and Democratic donors, asking her to consider running, said Michelman, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America from 1985 to 2004. She would not provide names.

"It is more about them wanting to express great frustration," said Michelman, who splits her time between Washington and Central Pennsylvania, where she owns a house with her husband. Top national party leaders sold Casey as someone who "will be with the Democrats in opposition to anyone who threatens, or possibly threatens, Roe v. Wade. When he endorsed Alito, that turned that on its head."

Interesting move here.  If she does this, it could help lower ticket Democrats because it will allow them to distance themselves from Casey and attract pro-choice votes.  And since Casey isn't planning to really do any campaigning or take any stands on issues aside from rubber stamping social wingnuttia and mewling about Bush is bad without explaining why, this could be a jolt in the arm for him.  Competition can be a very good motivator.

I doubt she'll jump in, so this is really a moot point.  Whatever she does, it's nice to see people like her standing up to a dishonest party leadership.  They sold Casey as a wink-wink pro-choice vote.  When he endorsed Alito, it showed that their judgment is suspect, and that they are contemptuous of women's rights.  People who care about women's rights can't allow that insult to stand.

Tags: Bob Casey, Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum (all tags)



Re: PA-Senate: Kate Michelman to run as an Indepen

This is exactly what progressives and liberals need to be doing, challenging conservative Democrats whereever they might be, in spite of leadership cries of threatening our chances of regaining majorities.  Winning back majorities incrementally with conservative Democrats will only ensure that progressives and liberals continue to be ignored by the party.  I agree that much of the fight is between old school and reality-based Democrats and not an ideological left-wing/right-wing battle, but that doesn't mean that battle doesn't exist either.

by KevinH 2006-03-02 06:12AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Senate: Kate Michelman to run as an Indepen

This is exactly what progressives and liberals need NOT to be doing, ignoring challengers to conservative Democrats in the primaries and mouthing off about running as an Independent in the general.

What an idiot. Michelman should be fighting tooth and nail for Pennacchio. When he loses, she should then try to wring concessions out of Casey re: choice. If she thinks she's got enough support to make a credible run for the Senate, she's certainly got enough support to put a lot of pressure on Casey from the left. Make a lot of noise when people are paying attention and see how far TPTB will go to avoid unwanted, negative attention to their candidate.

by Mary Mary 2006-03-02 06:28AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Senate: Kate Michelman to run as an Indepen

Sorry, you're right... I'm embarrased to admit that I had forgotten about Chuck.

by KevinH 2006-03-02 06:36AM | 0 recs
Matt, are you serious?


You are generally a great writer, and I think you have been a great addition to mydd.  But, you are so bizarrely out-of-touch when it comes to the PA race.  I don't get it.

If Kate Michelman wanted to stand up for woman's rights, she would run as a Democrat.  Why didn't she do this?  Where the hell has she been?  She could have raised enough money to make a primary interesting.

But running as a third party candidate, willfully putting Rick Santorum back in the Senate?  That is not standing up for women's rights, that is making sure those rights are ever more threatened.

by DanielUA 2006-03-02 06:47AM | 0 recs

There's nothing even remotely sensical about this from a progressive standpoint.

She should run in the Democratic Primary. And if she doesn't have the support, she doesn't have the support.

But helping elect Santorum over Casey does nothing for choice. Electing Casey and helping us get a majority gives us control of the committees.

Just keep Casey of the judiciary committee and we're fine.

by kos 2006-03-02 07:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly

Ok, so how do you deal with party leadership that lied to the women's rights groups by claiming that Casey would be with us when it counts?  If you let people walk all over you they'll keep doing it.

by Matt Stoller 2006-03-02 07:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly

By running against them.  In primaries.

by DanielUA 2006-03-02 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly

That's bullshit.  The party leadership made a deal that Alito wouldn't sacrifice Roe, and the women's groups wouldn't run a primary challenge.  Maybe it was a bad deal, but that it doesn't excuse the party leadership from acting in bad faith.  They have to know there are consequences for doing so.

So again I ask you, how do you handle a party leadership that lies to you on your most important political objective?

by Matt Stoller 2006-03-02 07:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly

Sorry I meant Casey, not Alito.

by Matt Stoller 2006-03-02 07:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly

I apologize for having teed off on you on this subject (party leadership) viz Hackett awhile back. I was new to your blog.

I see now your bona fides. Keep up the great work.

by redstar66 2006-03-02 11:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly

By running against them.  In primaries.

So, they lied.  Ok, they are assholes.  But, this is not about a goddamned ego battle, this about the real effect on people's lives that happens with a Democratic vs a Republican majority in the Senate.  You don't want Schumer as the head of the DSCC?  Work to get him off of it.  You don't like PA's leadership?  Help us change it.

Name the party leaders who lied, and run against them and their preferred candidates.  Stop cutting deals with them.  

But don't run against them, and insure Santorum gets elected, out of spite.  The consequences are too grave.

by DanielUA 2006-03-02 07:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly

Dont run against them as independents, I mean.

by DanielUA 2006-03-02 07:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly

Seriously, primary Casey and primary Rendell if you think we can have better people in office.

by Adam B 2006-03-02 10:21AM | 0 recs
response to perfidy

Using negotiations for deliberate treachery means the victim is justified in going outside the process (in this case the Democratic Party). I don't know what happened in PA, but if it went down as rumored then I don't think women's groups should be criticized for retaliation as they are not the ones at fault.

I think the women's groups are going to need to be far more creative in the coming years, at some point listening to men tell them what they can and cannot do might need to end.

by blogswarm 2006-03-02 08:00AM | 0 recs
Re: response to perfidy

I'm not aware of 'negotiations', but if there certainly shouldn't have been. Pro-choice groups should get behind pro-choice candidates. End. of. frigging. story.

Such a disgusting turn of events this is.

by Mary Mary 2006-03-02 08:04AM | 0 recs
Consulting with women's groups?

I disagree that "The party leadership made a deal that Casey wouldn't sacrifice Roe, and the women's groups wouldn't run a primary challenge." As I understand what happened, the party leadership forced pro-choice candidate Barbara Hafer to withdraw from the race and scared Hoeffel out of entering.  I don't think they  discussed, consulted or gave a fig about what women's groups had to say about it. I don't think they saw anyone but Hafer and Hoeffel as serious challengers. Emily's List had been helping Hafer and were just as pissed as the other women's groups, but I doubt any of them were consulted or made a deal with beyond the top two potential candidates.

Matt, I'm glad to see you voicing the women's point of view vis-a-vis the party leadership. After last year's NJ primary, I would have thought you'd agree with Kos on this issue.


by kwilkinson 2006-03-04 08:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly

FWIW I agree that you run a progressive campaign in the Democratic primary.

But I like to play the devil's advocate. I'm not an insider. So I don't really know what happens behind the scenes. But I have heard that the political machine pushes their agenda and usually gets its way.

So what I am saying is what can an outsider do to improve his/her chances?

by misscee 2006-03-02 08:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Exactly

C'mon, you know how this works. Especially in high stakes competitive districts like this. The national party leadership looks to get notches in their belt, and bascially handpick the Dem who is going to run. They send them an organizational apparatus, direct the corporate donor base money river towards their docks, pressure non-beltway type party candidates to drop out and, if that doesn't work, go after their donor base (as with Hackett).

It is highly doubtful the local independant makes a go of it in such races; the only time you get actual character and principle in a campaign on our side is in the longshot races like Wofford in PA or Wellstone in MN a decade ago.

Case in point Wellstone 1990. In '89 and early '90, Boschwitz looks unassailable. Unsurprisingly, none of the Dem darlings in MN ran, leaving it to basically to Wellstone. Want to know what the party bigwigs called Paul in '90? Tombstone. The exception which proves the rule.

DC Dems like Schumer and Reid and Emmanuel want to foist upon us candidates, in PA, MN, OH and just wait, CT, who do not represent our values and expect us to be happy? Fat chance.

And people like you want to tell us the happy or not, we don't have a choice come November? Hah. We've heard that before, and it has gotten us nowhere. No principles, no values, no vote from me.

The only way Schumer gets his come-uppance and things change in future is to send 'em a message. And you don't send 'em a message by supporting them with your vote.

by redstar66 2006-03-02 11:29AM | 0 recs
Re: is he a senator?

Since Bob Casey isn't currently in the senate and hasn't cast any votes, how can he be "with us" or "against us"?

by phillydem 2006-03-02 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Senate: Kate Michelman to run as an Indepen

interesting how you write of Chuck Pennacchio and  then applaud Michelman

by Albert 2006-03-02 06:56AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Senate: Kate Michelman to run as an Indepen

I agree that it sucks that Casey endorsed Alito.

HOWEVER PEOPLE REMEMBER WHERE THIS COUNTRY IS.  If we don't win back the Senate and/or the House we will continue down the terrible path we are on.  

I am about half way through with Crashing the Gate.  Jerome and Markos argue a lot that we have to get beyond our constituent groups and see the big picture.

We who are pro-choice need to understand that if we had a Democratic majority ALITO WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN NOMINATED.  In 2008 when we have Congress and the White house we can argue about these things.  Right now we have to win.

by paida 2006-03-02 07:33AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Senate: Kate Michelman to run as an Indepen

Remember where this country is and remember not only how we got there but who was driving. Then quit telling PEOPLE to do more of the same.

by Mary Mary 2006-03-02 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Senate: Kate Michelman to run as an Indepen

I didn't mean to be agresive with my CAPS- I actually totally agree with your post above.  She should have run in the primary or not ran at all.

My caps were only because of my situation with the country.  I am not happy to have another pro-life Dem in the Senate, however I wish that groups like NARAL would look more at the big picture.  What is the actual effect of having Casey in the Senate vs. keeping Santorum.

I am desperate to win back Congress.  My husband always tells me I am naive, but I really believe that if we get Congress back Bush will not finish his term.  I think with a few investigations facts will come out that will bring down the administration.

by paida 2006-03-02 10:47AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Senate: Kate Michelman to run as an Indepen

Scalia was put in by Democrats, so I think you are dreaming. Sorry.

by Dameocrat 2006-03-02 12:12PM | 0 recs

if idiots like Michelman had jumped in early and loud 6 months ago there would have been a better chance to stop Casey. Clearly she thinks she can line up the donors to fund a Senate race; where was she when it was EMILY time?

I fully understand and agree with your argument about not falling in line when you've been dealt with in bad faith; I quit the Dem party over Dean and have only changed reg to vote for Chuck P in the primary.  After that, it will be back to I for me. And I actually have no idea whether I'll be voting for Casey in November. If I do, it will be only because I hate Santorum so much.

But there are other options -- just as there were other options in the past, there are in the future. And most of them are better than running as an Independent.

by Mary Mary 2006-03-02 07:58AM | 0 recs
Re: New Yorker mag story

If you want to know how Casey became the Dem nominee
for senator, the New Yorker did a very good story on it back in Oct, IIRC. The gist was Schumer called Rendell looking for a good candidate to field, Rendell told Schumer he knew someone who could beat Santorum, but he didn't think the DSCC would want to support him because he was pro-life. Schumer basically said he wanted the best candidate who could beat Santorum and thus began the process of convincing Casey to run against Santorum. It was no more complicated than assessing the field and figuring out who had the best voter base to oust St Rick. Strategic thinking, plain and simple on how to get a Democratic majority, and the power that comes with it, in the senate.

Further, let me add that our supposed "pro-choice"
senator, Arlen Specter, voted for Alito and our state treasurer, Bob Casey, had NEITHER vote nor input on Alito. Of course Specter's vote didn't
surprise me, that's why I did all I could and worked for Hoeffel in 2004. Can you say the same?

As for Michelman, she and NARAL are becomig increasingly shrill as well as irrelevent, but I
wish her luck if she wants to run as an Indy. She'll be in for a rude awakening.

by phillydem 2006-03-02 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: New Yorker mag story

Since Casey had neither vote nor input on Alito, why did he open his mouth about it? Answer - he's telling us who's bringing him to the dance, and it ain't people like me.

by Mary Mary 2006-03-02 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: New Yorker mag story

No, what happened was that Santorum's folks were pounding him as "Silent Bob" for not saying where he stood, and we were doing the same from the left.  So he spoke.

by Adam B 2006-03-02 10:22AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Senate: Kate Michelman to run as an Indepen

As I've said before in this forum, I think Casey's campaign should have side-stepped the question precisely because he didn't have a vote or input to the nomination, but they didn't.

OTOH, if Casey hadn't said anything, people like yourself would have interpreted that as Casey "secretly supporting Alito" or something along those lines.

If Casey had said he opposed Alito, you likely would have viewed that as Casey "just saying that to appease pro-choice voters".

See, there's no way Bob Casey can win with a voter like you because you will interpret anything he says to fit your own set opinion.

by phillydem 2006-03-02 10:17AM | 0 recs

He could have said he opposed Alito on the basis of Alito's past rulings on any other issue.  It's not as if Alito were objectionable only because of his probable stance on Roe.

by Drew 2006-03-02 11:53AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Senate: Kate Michelman to run as an Indepen

"And since Casey isn't planning to really do any campaigning or take any stands on issues"

You mean like supporting increased penalties for hate crimes against gays?

Or belief that Intelligent Design shouldn't be in science class?

Or Opposition to drilling in ANWR

Or opposition to liberalized trade and having American workers compete with cheap, overseas labor?

Expand healthcare?

Increased veteran's benefits?

Support for a minimum wage hike?

Nah, you're right. He hasn't taken a stand on anything yet.

by Epitome23 2006-03-02 11:05AM | 0 recs
Re: PA-Senate: Kate Michelman to run as an Indepen

Thought experiment for you. Compare and contrast Bob Casey's stands here (and note he is quite vague on many, for example health care) to Pat Buchanan's.

Quite similar.

So, if Pat Buchanan were running in PA as a Dem,  versus Rick Santorum, should we vote Buchanan?

How 'bout CT? If Pat Buchanan were running against Joe Lieberman, and aside from his vatican-inspired retrogressitivy on social issues I were to find his stances on important issues like labor rights, minimum wage, trade, and foreign policy much more in line with my own than Lieberman, who should I vote for?

Of course, this whole thought experiment only serves to underline just how far out of kilter the political spectrum has been thrown in the past two decades.

Why? It starts with the Democrat's corporate underwriters, for whose candidates you shill.

by redstar66 2006-03-02 11:54AM | 0 recs
Elections in the US are binary choices

Pick the one you like the best.  Barring that, pick the one you hate the least.  The time to challenge a non-very Democratic Demcrat is in the primary, not the general as an indie.

See Nader, Ralph for further information on this topic.

by Geotpf 2006-03-02 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Michelman

I can't be alone in thinking this is absolute bullshit on Michelman's part.  NARAL failed MISERABLY in mobilizing their own supporters in advance, well in advance, of the Roberts and Alito nominations.  Her balloon floating candidacy is a way to deflect well-deserved criticism away from NARAL towards whom--a pro-life Dem candidate with a great chance to oust Rick Santorum?  Wow, more evidence of a marvelous strategic sense,

Sorry, Kate, I'm not getting distracted by this "best defense is to go on the offensive" gambit.  Your organization has collected millions for years and failed miserably in ongoing education and grassroots development efforts.  I'll be looking elsewhere for a way to support the pro-choice movement.

by Thaddeus 2006-03-02 07:05PM | 0 recs


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