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April 23, 2014

Posts in "Pennsylvania"

April 8, 2014

Meet 3 Divergent House Candidates Worth Watching

While some observers of politics apparently are only interested in statistical models that predict electoral outcomes, I have always thought that candidates matter — both during campaigns and, particularly, when the victorious arrive in Washington, D.C.

In fact I have found interviewing congressional candidates one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Last week, I interviewed three credible hopefuls in three interesting races: California Republicans Steve Knight and Jeff Gorell, and Pennsylvania Democrat Val Arkoosh.

Full story

March 5, 2014

Democrats Have Primaries, Too

Every six minutes, some reporter in the world is writing about a Republican primary. That’s not to say that GOP primaries don’t matter — because sometimes they do — but there are a handful of Democratic House primaries that could have general election ramifications as well.

Here is a look at five Democratic primaries to watch, in order of primary date:

Illinois’ 13th District
Primary: March 18

Democrats are looking to complete their sweep in Illinois by winning the 13th District this fall. Party strategists are ecstatic that former Madison County Judge Ann Callis is running, but she must win the upcoming March 18 primary before focusing on GOP Rep. Rodney Davis.

Callis had $517,000 on hand at the end of December. But University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana physics professor George Gollin had $265,000 on hand thanks in part to a $165,000 candidate loan, and he had a small TV ad buy during the Winter Olympics.

Democrats can’t afford to take the primary for granted. Callis is up with her second TV ad, but still is being outspent on the air, according to Emily Cahn’s Roll Call story. If Gollin wins the nomination, Democrats might punt until the next presidential election.

Illinois’s 13th District is rated Toss-Up/Tilt Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Pennsylvania’s 6th District
Primary: May 20

Democrats have spent the last decade trying to defeat GOP Rep. Jim Gerlach in the 6th District outside Philadelphia. But now that he is retiring, Democrats have to sort out their own May 20 primary before focusing on the general election.

Some Democratic strategists believe businessman Mike Parrish, a former Republican, has the most crossover appeal in a district that Mitt Romney won with 51 percent in 2012. But physician Manan Trivedi announced he is running again after losing to Gerlach in the last two elections.

Parrish raised a quick $100,000 before the end of the year. But Trivedi raised and spent $1.3 million in each of the last two races and built an initial name identification advantage. The Democratic nominee will likely face Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello in the general election.

Pennsylvania’s 6th District is rated Lean Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Pennsylvania’s 8th District
Primary: May 20

Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Kevin Strouse was one of Democrats’ earliest recruits of the cycle. He entered the 8th District race in the Philadelphia suburbs nearly a year ago, and the DCCC added him to its Jump Start program for prized recruits. But that doesn’t guarantee Strouse the Democratic nomination, particularly since he didn’t make the initial Red-to-Blue list this week.

Strouse faces publishing company owner and chemist Shaughnessy Naughton in the May 20 primary. Shaughnessy had $177,000 in the bank as of Dec. 31 (compared to $472,000 for Strouse), but she also has the support of EMILY’s List.

The Democratic candidates can’t afford to spend too much on the primary, considering GOP Rep. Mike G. Fitzpatrick had $1.3 million on hand at the end of the year and has maintained consistently favorable polling numbers — even though he represents a potentially competitive district.

Pennsylvania’s 8th District is rated Republican Favored by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

California’s 21st District
Primary: June 3

The Central Valley-based 21st District was the site of one of Democrats’ worst disasters of the 2012 cycle when they failed to get a quality candidate through the top-two primary. Last cycle’s Democratic candidate, John Hernandez, is running again, and one Republican poll had him leading establishment favorite Amanda Renteria for the second slot against GOP Rep. David Valadao.

Democratic strategists believe Renteria is in better shape than that, but she can’t take the June 3 primary for granted. She had $257,000 on hand at the end of the year while Hernandez has yet to file a report with the Federal Election Commission. But Renteria will likely to spend some of that money, at least on direct mail and not necessarily television, to secure her place in the general election.

California’s 21st District is rated Toss-Up/Tilt Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

New Mexico’s 2nd District
Primary: June 3

At the beginning of the cycle, Democratic strategists identified New Mexico’s 2nd District as trending in their direction, as the Hispanic population continues to grow. The thinking was that GOP Rep. Steve Pearce would be vulnerable in four or six years, that is, until former Eddy County Commissioner Roxanne “Rocky” Lara entered the race.

Democrats believe she is the right candidate to win the seat this year and added her to the committee’s Jump Start program last year and its Red-to-Blue program this week. But the scenario is likely dependent on Lara winning the June 3 primary over attorney Leslie Endean-Singh. While Lara entered the race in September, Endean-Singh had a five-month head start and $93,000 (including more than $50,000 in personal loans) in the bank at the end of December.

New Mexico’s 2nd District is rated Currently Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

January 14, 2014

Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats

tennis004 050813 445x300 Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats

McIntyre is retiring, giving Republicans a strong opportunity to pick up his House seat in North Carolina. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

I wrote my first Dangerous Dozen open House seats column in this space 14 years ago, so I figured I might as well keep the streak going, though it isn’t nearly as impressive as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.

As in my Jan. 17, 2000, column, the districts are listed in order of vulnerability. “All of the races on the list currently are worth watching, but I’ve concluded that the races at the top of the list are more likely to change party control than those at the bottom,” I wrote back then. The same applies now.

Utah’s 4th District (Jim Matheson, a Democrat, is retiring.)

Barack Obama received 41 percent of the vote in this district in 2008, but only 30 percent in his bid for re-election. No Democrat will begin with Matheson’s goodwill or moderate record, making the district impossible to hold for his party. After November, Republicans will control all four of the state’s House districts and both Senate seats. Full story

January 6, 2014

Ratings Change: Pennsylvania’s 6th District

H 2B2 040108 445x296 Ratings Change: Pennsylvania’s 6th District

Gerlach is leaving Congress. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When it comes to open seat opportunities, Democrats are being handed all the right seats, but they might be coming at the wrong time.

Rep. Jim Gerlach is the latest Republican to announce his retirement in a competitive congressional district. Democrats have coveted Pennsylvania’s 6th District — along with districts such as Iowa’s 3rd, Virginia’s 10th, New Jersey’s 3rd and Florida’s 13th.

Just a couple of months ago, Democratic strategists would not have dreamed that all of those seats would open at the same time. But the midterm election dynamic, which could turn against President Barack Obama and his party, could dampen some of their enthusiasm. Full story

November 1, 2013

The Most Vulnerable Governor in the Country

132335126 445x296 The Most Vulnerable Governor in the Country

Corbett is seeking re-election in 2014 in the Keystone State. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

There is still a year until the midterm election, but Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is in very serious jeopardy of losing re-election in 2014.

The Republican governor’s polling numbers continue to sag. According to a new survey, conducted October 22-27 by Franklin & Marshall College, just 19 percent of registered voters gave Corbett an excellent or good job rating, while 39 percent said “only a fair job” and 37 percent gave him a poor rating. Just 20 percent said he deserves re-election and 25 percent believed Pennsylvania is headed in the right direction.

That’s just the latest in a series of polls over the course of the year that have showed Corbett with slumping job ratings, poor personal image with voters and often trailing in general-election ballot tests. Full story

October 9, 2013

Pennsylvania House District Falls Out of Competitive Ranks for Now

critz062 041112 445x294 Pennsylvania House District Falls Out of Competitive Ranks for Now

Critz will not try to come back to Congress in 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It only took three years for Pennsylvania’s 12th District to go from a safe Democratic seat to a safe Republican seat.

The legendary late Rep. John P. Murtha, a Democrat, represented the district for more than 30 years, but his tenure also masked a cultural shift in southwest Pennsylvania. Even though Democrats were able to hold the seat briefly after his death, Republican-led redistricting helped pull this seat into the GOP column, where it looks like it will remain for at least the near term.

Democrat Mark Critz, one of Murtha’s top aides, won a high-profile special election in May 2010 and was re-elected that November. But GOP legislators subsequently made the seat more Republican and Keith Rothfus defeated Critz, 52 percent to 48 percent, in 2012. Full story

August 29, 2013

What Happens When Political Spouses Misbehave?

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell has endured weeks of negative headlines as The Washington Post thoroughly examines his relationship with a campaign donor. But as the investigation moves along, his wife, first lady Maureen McDonnell, is coming under increased scrutiny as well.

Depending on the level of the Virginia governor’s involvement and legal jeopardy, his future political career is uncertain. McDonnell is prohibited from seeking re-election this fall but he was on the outskirts of the 2016 presidential discussion before the scandal broke. And he might have the opportunity to run for the U.S. Senate over the next decade, if he so chooses.

If the first lady ends up taking more of the blame for accepting gifts, Bob McDonnell wouldn’t be the first politician with a spouse in legal trouble. Here is a quick look at a few politicians and how their spouses’ legal problems affected their political careers. Full story

July 10, 2013

RATINGS CHANGE: Pennsylvania Governor

It’s not very often that the party out of power encourages the incumbent to seek re-election, but that’s the case in Pennsylvania.

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s polling numbers have sagged to the point where Democrats are excited about their opportunity but nervous he will retire, thereby allowing state Republicans to find a potentially stronger nominee. Full story

July 9, 2013

Top 5 Races to Watch in the Mid-Atlantic

A lone competitive Senate race in West Virginia and a few competitive House seats set the stage in the Mid-Atlantic region next year.

The bad news for Democrats is that the early list of top House races contains just one district in Pennsylvania. They would likely need closer to a handful of competitive House seats in the Keystone State, a traditional battleground, to get back to the majority after 2014.

Here are the top five races to watch in the Mid-Atlantic region next year: Full story

June 20, 2013

RATINGS CHANGE: Pennsylvania’s 7th District

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Meehan’s district is competitive for presidential candidates. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Philadelphia suburbs played a critical role in giving Democrats the majority in the 2006 elections. They are also part of the reason Democrats are still in the minority today.

Instead of controlling or targeting multiple seats in eastern Pennsylvania, Democratic efforts appear to be narrowing there. Democrats believe they have a top-tier recruit against Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick in the 8th District. But they are hardly talking up their chances against Reps. Jim Gerlach, Tom Marino, Lou Barletta and Charlie Dent.

Democrats would like to find a top-tier recruit against Rep. Patrick Meehan in the 7th District, but no one has materialized yet. Full story

June 14, 2013

Whither the Competitive Open-Seat Race?

NRCC 02 111312 445x295 Whither the Competitive Open Seat Race?

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden, left, of Oregon might have to contend with fewer open seats this cycle. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Open seats are supposed to be opportunities. Without longtime incumbents on the ballot, these districts should be easier to takeover. But six months into the 2014 cycle, that just isn’t the case on the House side.

So far, there are 10 districts slated to be open seats because the member is running for higher office or retiring in 2014.  Either President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney won all of them with at least 55 percent last year.

Full story

April 26, 2013

PA 13’s Daylin Leach: Liberal but Not Angry

Daylin Leach 2 042313 240x318 PA 13’s Daylin Leach: Liberal but Not Angry

Leach is running for Congress. (By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Daylin Leach, who is running for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s open 13th Congressional District (currently held by gubernatorial hopeful Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz), doesn’t run from the liberal label.

In fact, he proudly calls himself “the most progressive member of the Pennsylvania Legislature.” (See Roll Call Politics editor Shira Toeplitz’s “The Candidate” interview with him here.)

His campaign literature describes him as “the first legislator in Pennsylvania history to introduce a marriage-equality bill,” and it asserts that he “has led the charge to protect public education, the environment and civil rights” in the Legislature.

He promises that in Congress he will “lead the fight for women’s rights, access to reproductive services, LGBT equal rights, workers’ rights, access to justice, environmental protection and voters’ rights.” Shortly before he announced his bid for Congress, he introduced a marijuana legalization bill.

But if this makes you think the Keystone State Democrat would be another Alan Grayson, you might want to think again. Full story

April 10, 2013

Can Allyson Schwartz Make It to Harrisburg?

schwartz040913 443x335 Can Allyson Schwartz Make It to Harrisburg?

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Philadelphia Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz recently confirmed what everyone had already suspected: She is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in Pennsylvania.

The big question is whether someone from southeastern Pennsylvania can get nominated, let alone win the governorship. During the past 35 years, only one politician from the southeastern corner of the state, former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, has been nominated. He also won two general elections.

To wit:

  • The current governor, Republican Tom Corbett, was born in Philadelphia but lived in western Pennsylvania for years and remains identified with that part of the state. Before being elected state attorney general, Corbett was the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
  • Corbett was elected governor in 2010 when he defeated Democrat Dan Onorato, the former chief executive of Allegheny County (metropolitan Pittsburgh).
  • Rendell won the governorship in 2002 and 2006. Both of his GOP opponents were identified with greater Pittsburgh — former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann in 2006 and former state Attorney General Mike Fisher in 2002. Full story

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