PA Democratic Primaries May 16 Offer Rich Opportunities
by DownWithTyranny, Mon Apr 10, 2006 at 10:14:14 PM EDT
Pennsylvania has 19 congressional seats and a U.S. Senate seat in the November election, making it one of the most important battle grounds in the country. Rick Santorum, one of the most narrow-minded, bigoted, extreme right-wing and corrupt of anyone in the entire Congress, is widely thought to be the incumbent senator with the least chance for survival. Currently among the 19 House members 11 are Republicans, all of the rubber-stamp variety. Not a single one ever stands up against the extremist Bush-DeLay-Boehner agenda. Several of these rubber-stamp Republicans are thought to be in as much jeopardy from the voters as is Santorum, particularly Jim Gerlach (PA-06), Curt Weldon (PA-07), and Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08) and possibly Phil English (PA-03).
There is a very bitter primary race among Democrats to oppose Santorum. The Inside-the-Beltway establishment candidate is a right-of-center Democrat with a big-name daddy, State Treasure Bob Casey (whose father was a beloved governor). He would probably prefer to be a governor himself but Chuck Schumer of the DSCC (and the current governor, Ed Rendell)
imposed on recruited him to run against the much-hated Santorum. Not many Democrats are aware that Casey is anti-choice and, no doubt, Santorum-- also virulently anti-choice-- is hoping (and plotting) that closer to November Democratic women and progressives will find out about this and other reactionary Casey positions that will cause disillusionment and revulsion and hold down turnout among Democrats. Schumer doesn't seem to see this as a danger, and hopefully in November people won't be saying he had his head up his ass. I am worried that by electing Casey-- if that is even possible-- the Democrats will be creating another Zell Miller or Joe Lieberman or Ben Nelson, Democrats who tend to vote with Republicans on crucial issues. During the heated debate over Bush's extreme right-wing Supreme Court nomination, Sam Alito, Casey gratuitously chimed in that he would have voted to confirm Alito, something that was done by only 4 Democrats-- all in red states-- and something that even a sole Republican moderate, Lincoln Chafee, could not bring himself to do.
The progressive alternative to Casey is Chuck Pennacchio, although Schumer and the DSCC has been spectacularly successful in portraying Casey as THE Democrat running against Santorum and, with the lazy and superficial mass media, has given Casey's candidacy an air of inevitability. It's a damn shame because come November, more and more Democrats are going to find out that Casey is a kind of "Santorum-lite." Pennacchio's positions and values are Democratic positions and values. He would make a much better Senator. Another excellent progressive, Alan Sandals, is also in the May 16th primary, although he seems even a longer shot against Casey than Pennacchio is.
There are several Democratic primary races for House seats on May 16th as well. None of the 8 Democratic incumbents are in jeopardy in 2006. And of the Republicans, the most likely to lose is Jim Gerlach in the northwest Philadelphia suburbs (Ardmore, Norristown, Pottstown, Coatesville). Last year he barely won-- with less than 50% of the vote-- against Lois Murphy, who is poised to beat him this year. She's a solid candidate who has been endorsed by both progressive grassroots Democrats as well as the Inside-the-Beltway power-mongers. An even further left Democrat, Mike Liebowitz hasn't generated enough enthusiasm to make him a serious contender against Murphy. PA-06 is a moderate suburban district-- the kind of district that abandoned the Republican candidates in Virginia and New Jersey en masse in 2005-- and Lois fits the district a lot better than the extreme far right Gerlach or the somewhat more liberal Liebowitz. Gerlach consistently tries to pass himself off as a moderate -- although pro-choice supporters know he is as radical and extreme as DeLay and any garden variety far right fanatic. And when it comes to selling out his constituents to Big Business and to the radical DeLay agenda, Gerlach is considered one of the 3 or 4 easiest lays in the House. Jim Gerlach defines rubber-stamp Republican.
Between PA-06 (Montgomery County) and the New Jersey border is PA-08, primarily Bucks County. It goes from Croydon, Bristol and Levittown up through Doylestown and Quakertown. The seat is current held by another arch rubber-stamper, Mike Fitzpatrick won the seat in 2004 with 55% of the vote. In all likelihood he will face a far stronger challenge in November from Patrick Murphy, the archetypal "Fighting Dem." I fell in love with Murphy's candidacy when I noticed that he is one of the only DCCC-blessed challengers who had the balls to ignore Rahm Emanuel's instance that no one say a word about Iraq. Instead of embarrassingly ignoring the issue, like too many Democrats, Murphy-- a decorated Iraq vet and former West Point professor-- took the bull by the horns the way progressives wish Emanuel and the DCCC would. From his website: "When Rep. John Murtha, the first Vietnam combat veteran elected to Congress, started the debate on America's role in Iraq by saying 'Our troops have done all they can do,' he was right. Our troops toppled the Saddam Regime and made sure that there were no WMDs. It is time to change the direction in Iraq, and we need to start bringing our men and women home now.
Patrick believes in a responsible exit strategy, with benchmarks and a timeline, which encourages the Iraqis to stand up on their own, brings our men and women home, and most importantly, closes this chapter of our history and refocuses our efforts to win the War on Terror." Every Democrat running for Congress should tell Rahm Emanuel to go to hell and take a clear, ethical, reasonable-- and popular-- stand the way Murphy has. His stands on other issues are consistent-- pro-choice, pro-environment, in favor of balancing the budget and saving Medicare and Social Security from the deprecations of the Far Right.
Yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer has a spectacular story on Patrick Murphy, which makes it clear why he would make an exceptionally great U.S. congressman and details his transformation from a naive Bush supporter in 2000 to a dedicated Kerry backer in 2004. "I fell for it when he said he was a compassionate conservative. I can't compound a mistake by doing nothing about it. I tried to change it in 2004," having grown disillusioned with the Bush Regime while he was in Iraq. "The administration wasn't looking out for us," he said.
Before Murphy can get to Fitzpatrick he has to defeat former Bucks County Commissioner-- and recent Republican convert-- Andrew Warren. Warren's website looks good and his positions look progressive, but friends in the district tell me his current positions ring somewhat hollow. In any case, the district's official Democratic club overwhelmingly endorsed Murphy last month.
The third of Pennsylvania's "big 3" pits former Admiral Joe Sestak against a right wing Moonie nut case, reeking of corruption, Curt Weldon. There is no primary and Democrats, independents and sane Republicans have rallied to Sestak's campaign.
In the northwest corner of the state (Erie), PA-03 is going to see a rematch of 2004, with Doctor Steven Porter taking on Congressman Gluttony, Phil English. In 2004 English was able to beat Porter with a campaign of outrageous lies and innuendo. Porter, who was accused of everything from wanting to force drunks to undergo sterilization to prohibiting hunting, is prepared for his sleaze this time and with volunteers and some financing a truly progressive and serious-minded Porter could rid the congress of a rubber-stamp dullard who has disgraced his office.
Although Democrats are also challenging Republican incumbents in PA-05 (north central Pennsylvania from State College, Lock Haven and Oil City, right up to the New York border-- John Peterson v Don Hilliard), PA-09 (south central PA from the western outskirts of Harrisburg to Altoona and Connellsville-- Bill Shuster v Paul Politis, PA-10 (the northeast corner of the state, around Carbondale and Williamsport down to Sunbury-- Don Sherwood v "Fighting Dem"Chris Carney, PA-16 (the extreme southeast corner of the state from Reading and West Chester down to Maryland-- Joseph Pitts v Lois Herr, and PA-19 (a southern district that includes Gettysburg, Hanover, Carlisle, Mechanicsburg and the western suburbs of Harrisburg-- Todd Platts v "Fighting Dem"Phil Avillo, none of these districts have primaries.
There are Democratic primaries coming up in PA-18 (the suburbs south of Pittsburgh where wingnut Tim Murphy will have to face either Chad Kluko or progressive Tom Kovach) and PA-04 (the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh up to New Castle where Melissa Hart will have to face whoever wins the primary contest between progressive Jason Altmire and Georgia Berner). And just as I was about to put this up I Chris Bowers here at MyDD reported that the Democrats finally came up with a strategy to have someone-- Charles Dertinger-- run agaist wingnutia rubber-stamper Chares Dent in PA-15.
The DWTACT BLUE Page is accepting contributions on behalf of Lois Murphy, Patrick Murphy, Steven Porter and Joe Sestak for the House and on behalf on Chuck Pennacchio for the Senate. Be part of a grassroots movement of people putting in $10 and $20 at a time to give us a government that a country we love and cherish as much as America deserves-- instead of one that is bought and paid for by the corrupt special interests that have brought us the nightmare of George W. Bush, Tom DeLay, Rick Santorum and the rubber-stamp Republican Congress.
CROSS-POSTED FROM DOWN WITH TYRANNY