Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Now for Something Different

This is swap day in the Blogathon, where people will write posts for other blogger participants. Well, in my busyness and a sudden trip out of town, I completely forgot about it. So I'm going to shake things up and talk about something other than writing. Something important to my life.

The Pennsylvania primaries.

Today is primary day. If you follow national political news (and I admit to being quite a political junkie), I'd like to explain a few things to you that the national media are going to get totally wrong, both today and in November.

In Pennsylvania, you can only vote your party during the primary -- something I totally agree with, by the way. I don't like candidates who cross file (and rarely do I vote for any cross filer -- pick a damn party and stick with it. Don't be so wishy washy is my attitude). There are many reasons people why align with a party, and we should get to say who represents us -- not people from another party.

If Arlen Specter loses, the headline will be "anti-incumbent mood strikes again." Or something like that. Maybe for some voting people, but the Specter issue is more complicated than that. I honestly believe he would have won the Republican primary had he stayed Republican. Democrats are more wary about his switch. Most folks liked that he was an independent-minded cuss in the Senate. And remember, the independents can't vote in the primary -- so what is most likely his biggest voting bloc won't be able to vote for him.

However, the majority of people I spoke with have said the same thing: Arlen is the better candidate but his age and health concerns me. A lot. While it is true a 58 year old man can drop dead of a heart attack or get run over by a semi, an 80yo man with serious health problems who looked very VERY frail when we saw him recently at a PA Turnpike rest stop, there are a lot of concerns about his ability to survive 6 more years.

Then there is Jack Murtha's seat, which isn't my district but damn near close enough. I've read some articles on how this special election could be a bellwether for November. Except, no, not when it comes to party politics. I've seen hundreds of ads for these two candidates and I can't tell who is the Republican and who is the Democrat. People across the country got very put out when Obama, in 2008, said that area of Pennsylvania was all about God and guns. The people of that area of PA didn't get too put out (if letters to the editor and personal conversations are of any indication) because that area IS all about God and guns. One of the candidate's catch phrase on his ads is: I'm pro-life; I'm pro-guns; I'm pro-jobs. You tell me what party he is from. I dare you. That race is going to come down to this: which candidate will do for them what Murtha did. There are a lot of jobs in western PA that are there because of Murtha and there is real fear of them being taken away. I don't know if this is how people will vote, but if it was me, the number one consideration is voting for the person more likely to work with Congressional leadership and get positive results.

There are primary races for governor too, but even though we won't formally know until November who the next governor will be, I am 90% sure that it will be Tom Corbett (R). Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with Pennsylvania's "mood." This has to do with Pennsylvania's very odd voting habit of keeping a party in power 8 years and then switching for 8 years and then switching back for 8 years, and so on since the 1930s or so. Just when you think this will be the year it changes, it doesn't. So truth is, if the Democrats keep the governor's house, THAT will be a major reflection on the mood of the state -- not the other way around.

And because most Pennsylvanians figure the new governor will be an R, hence the concern among Democrats of Specter finishing a new Senate term if elected. If he dies, a Republican will be appointed to replace him (in the 1990s, when John Heinz (R) was killed in a plane crash, Gov. Bob Casey (D) replaced him with Harris Wofford (D) until election time; hence, we've seen this before).

See, I told you it was complicated, and I guarantee you, the national media will get none of it right come tonight and tomorrow. Tip O'Neill was correct -- all politics are local. What we do, what Kentucky does, what Arkansas does, doesn't reflect on the rest of country in the least.

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