The Most Interesting Races in the Must Watch State

Everyone says we should look to Pennsylvania as a bellwether of 2010 politics. We have the most number of competitive Congressional races, and we’ve got major statewide elections that will drive people out to the polls more so than other states in this year’s non-presidential cycle. We also have a very good shot at turning the Pennsylvania House over to GOP – a strictly partisan move I would not have cared much for until the very centrist Democrat House Speaker announced his retirement. I do not trust who might move up to that top spot if the Democrats remain in control. (Here is an effort to draw attention to states with closely split legislative houses that can be flipped by pushing just a handful of candidates.)

Last night was the local GOP vote for John Murtha’s former seat. Due to the timing of his death, this election cycle is pretty complicated with two different elections with some of the same and some different candidates held for the same seat on the same day. The shorter story you need to know is that both parties have selected candidates for their races who are political unknowns. The Democrats chose Murtha’s former district director who clearly has political experience, but isn’t on the record with his own views. We don’t know if he shares Murtha’s dedication to gun rights. On the GOP side, there’s a businessman who brings new energy to the grassroots and who the Democrats have resorted to calling mean because he once built a successful business, sold it, and the other owners laid people off. (I expect PA-12 to turn into a children’s playground at the rate the campaign is going because of outside candidates who didn’t have local support. Expect spitballs and screams of “I’m gonna tell on you!” any day now.) As a political newbie, GOP candidate Tim Burns also doesn’t have a record on gun rights yet. So this should be interesting. The district has always been reliable for guns, but we don’t know if it will remain that way.

Depending on how things go, we can see it as a blessing or a curse that we’ll be losing that district anyway. Given that the candidate will have only served a term and a half, it is likely that both parties will agree to do away with PA-12 when we have to give up a seat following the Census.

Depending on how much you like politics, this is either a political junkie’s dream world or a cynic’s worst nightmare. For me, it relies on my mood. Since the political attitude is more anti-incumbent than pro-Republican, I’m really not sure how this will play out. Given that uncertainty, and the fact that the local GOP is trying to actively drive voters into the arms of Democrats, I’m leaning more toward a nightmare mood.

If you’re a Pennsylvania politico, or just a politics watcher who generally has a feel for what’s going on, take the PoliticsPA poll (on the left, about halfway down) on which will be the most interesting May 18 race. Also leave your answer as a comment if you’re so inclined. I’d like to know which races you guys are interested in.

3 thoughts on “The Most Interesting Races in the Must Watch State”

  1. Checking the websites of Democrat Mark Critz and the other Republican William Russell, they both have strong statements about their commitment to the Second Amendment.

    From what I’ve read, Russell does plan to contest the Republican primary and some polls show him with the lead.

    Given the statements of all three major contenders, it looks like the people of PA-12 will have a pro-gun congressman regardless of who wins. That’s a nice change from the usual statement of affairs around the country!

  2. Yeah, Russell is slinging mud already. I’m pretty much ignoring him because he already lost this race once. Unless he had a clearly articulated plan for how he would handle things differently, he isn’t worth investing in a second time. Considering there are questions about how much he is spending on fundraising services (aka how much money is actually in the bank vs. how much was “raised”), it’s safe to say that the GOP wouldn’t want to risk another failed race with him.

    As for Critz and Burns, hopefully they will both reach out to NRA to see about getting a questionnaire in time for the special election. That would be a sign they are truly interested in reaching out to gun owners. If they really want to show support, there’s always the option of a Friends dinner or two. They can’t campaign at them, but it’s a good way to meet gun owners and get the name out there.

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