Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation currently is comprised of 13 Republicans and 8 Democrats. The 2010 US census resulted in Pennsylvania losing one congressional district. The US Senate seat Republican Pat Toomey won in 2010 will not be contested again until 2016, and the US Senate seat of Democrat incumbent Bob Casey Jr and 18 US House seats are on the ballot in 2012.
With a Republican Governor and 13 Republicans of the 21 member congressional delegation, one might conclude that Pennsylvania is trending Republican. I caution against being too confident. In Pennsylvania there are more registered Democrats than registered Republicans, and the blue-collar workers in Pennsylvania work in union shops. If a Republican nominee tried a strategy of turning out only the conservative Republican base and attacking unions, then I believe he would be defeated in the general election.
The primary of April 24, 2012 resulted in two Democrat incumbents, Jason Altmire (PA-4) and Tim Holden (PA-17), losing, and one Democrat incumbent, Mike Doyle (PA-14)winning. Only one Republican incumbent, Tim Murphy (PA-18), had a primary challenge and Murphy won. The two GOP primary contests with several GOP candidates were the US Senate seat and the newly redistricted 4th congressional district. Tom Smith won the GOP US Senate primary, and Scott Perry won the GOP 4th congressional district primary. The 4th congressional district is an open seat, and Scott Perry’s Democrat opponent is Harry Perkinson, an engineer.
The four contests in November that I am most interested in are the US Senate, PA-4, PA-12, and PA-17. Scott Perry, the GOP nominee for PA-4 is the only one of these four who has previously been elected to a public office.
US Senate Race (incumbent Democrat Bob Casey Jr. vs Republican Tom Smith
The Democrats are laughing and mocking the Republicans because none of the prominent Republicans chose to run for the US Senate seat. Governor Corbett tepidly endorsed Steve Welch, but the millions of Tom Smith’s own money poured into TV spots helped him win. GOP candidate Steve Welch couldn’t overcome his brief foray with the Democratic Party. He voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 primary, which haunted him throughout the primary. The fact that Tom Smith was a Democrat for 42 years never hurt him as much because he had donated mostly to Republicans and ran a tea party group in Armstrong County.
For voters, the conservative label appeared to be more believable on Smith, a rural farm boy from western Pennsylvania, than on Welch, a rich upstart from the Philadelphia suburbs. I believe the GOP primary voters made the correct choice with Tom Smith over Steve Welch. Tom Smith is definitely the underdog, but Bob Casey Jr. can lose if the Democrats get too over-confident and take for granted that he will be reelected. I personally think that Casey is one of the blandest, mealy-mouthed empty suits in the US Senate. If you want to know more about Tom Smith and want to donate and or volunteer please visit his website.
PA-4 (open seat Republican Scott Perry vs Democrat Harry Perkinson)
During the campaign, Scott Perry highlighted his background as a businessman, a state representative, and Pennsylvania Army National Guard colonel who has served in Bosnia and Iraq. Perry will enjoy a considerable advantage, at least in York County, in the November general election. A Democrat hasn’t represented the county since Neiman Craley lost to Republican George Goodling in 1964.
Perry said during a victory speech Tuesday night:
Tonight, we’re sending a message. A message that is loud and clear. And I want to ask: Is President Obama listening? We are tired of too much spending, too much borrowing, too much debt, and a loss of our freedoms.
If you want to know more about Scott Perry and want to donate and or volunteer please visit his website.
PA-12 (incumbent Democrat Mark Critz vs Republican Keith Rothfus)
Mr. Critz now faces Mr. Altmire’s 2010 Republican foe Keith Rothfus in the 12th District race. He will have to refill a war chest siphoned off by his face-off with Mr. Altmire, in a clash that Republican mapmakers forced by putting the incumbents in the same seat during decennial redistricting. Democrats will now have to redouble efforts to introduce Mr. Critz, 50, to new voters of both parties in the district, and consider whether his old-school message tailored to blue-collar coal country will resonate in the growing suburbs north of Pittsburgh. The new version of the 12th District went from holding 50 percent of voters for Republican presidential nominee John McCain in 2008 to 54 percent after redistricting.
Due to the Democratic infighting, Mr. Rothfus, an Edgeworth attorney, will be in the unique position of starting the general election with more campaign money than the incumbent, heightening the chances that the national GOP will focus on helping him flip the seat this fall. If you want to know more about Keith Rothfus and want to donate and or volunteer please visit his website.
PA-17 (open seat (Republican Laureen Cummings vs Matt Cartwright)
The 17 congressional district has 24% more registered Democrats than registered Republicans, and the incumbent Tim Holden was defeated in the Democrat primary by the ambulance chaser, Matt Cartwright, because Holder is not liberal enough for them. Laureen Cummings is the underdog, but I have great admiration for her. Last year I wrote a piece about her when she was running for the US Senate seat. Here are a couple of quotes from Laureen Cummings that reassure me she is not afraid of running in a congressional district full of registered Democrats.
I used to be a Democrat until I opened my business and saw how things actually ran, then I switched to Republican. They taxed us to death. They punish people through taxes.
We don’t believe in Republican or Democrat. We believe in the American people. Please join me in the fight to Restore the Republic.
If you want to know more about Laureen Cummings and want to donate and or volunteer please visit her website.
I can’t predict that after this November’s election the Pennsylvania congressional delegation will be comprised of 16 Republicans and 4 Democrats, but I applaud the Pennsylvania GOP and general election voters for voting out the old (Arlen Specter) and voting in the new (Pat Toomey). I hope this trend continues.