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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Note to the DNC: Your hackery will no longer dictate whom we support
Posted by Jill | 4:42 AM
If you needed any further proof about just how removed official Washington is from the people it's supposed to represent, the frantic last-minute rush of phone calls and ads telling Pennsylvania voters how important it is to vote for a guy who switched parties so he could be re-elected was proof of this tone-deafness.

Today all the media hysteria will be about Rand Paul (and about flogging the hapless Richard Blumenthal to death and once he drops out, continuing to flog the political corpse). But it's one thing for a much-hyped teabagger whose father earns his own fair amount of ink and air time to win in Kentucky. It's quite another for a little-known second-term Congressman to come back from a ridiculously-wide multi-double-digit deficit just a few months ago to defeat Arlen Specter, who's been in the Senate pretty much my entire life. And Sestak won handily once you got out of Philadelphia, as E.J. Dionne notes:
To get a sense of Sestak’s sweep, consider that he carried all but three of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. He carried Obama strongholds – he got 63 percent in Lancaster County, for example – but also swept through smaller counties in the central and western parts of the state that had supported Clinton. Sestak put together a kind of left-right coalition.

Philadelphia was the one part of Obama’s old coalition that the president’s endorsement (along with that of Gov. Ed Rendell and Mayor Michael Nutter) helped deliver for Specter. The Republican-turned-Democrat won 64 percent of the vote in Philly, but Sestak was winning 57 percent of the vote in the rest of the state – and that number might rise when all the votes are counted.

This suggests that something quite interesting happened here today: Sestak was clearly the candidate of middle class and upper middle class liberals, and he ran a campaign that sought to convey the activist feel of Obama’s ’08 race. But as Sestak suggested in his victory speech tonight, he also profited from being the anti-establishment candidate, and this helped him in a long list of rural and small town counties that are anything but liberal.

Who knows if he can repeat this in November – especially since many of the smaller counties Sestak carried will no doubt vote Republican this fall. But the surge toward Sestak after he ran his ad questioning Specter’s motives in switching to the Democratic Party was quite comprehensive. And the breadth of his victory suggests he could be the sort of coalition-builder a politician needs to be to carry this complicated state.

It would be foolish to take Sestak's win as any kind of Grand Progressive Victory. Sestak is hardly the Second Coming of Bernie Sanders, after all. God knows that if he defeats the wingnut Pat Toomey in November, he'll be better than Toomey or an Arlen Specter no longer afraid for his seat. But Sestak is a mainstream Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton in 2008 -- a candidate who would have been almost exactly the same kind of President as Barack Obama has been so far. And Specter ran a terrible campaign that included musings on whether he should have remained a Republican. His campaign was SO much about his own seat instead of the struggles of Pennsylvanians that if John McCain is smart, he'll start looking at golf carts and booking tee times with Specter for after November.

To the extent that the press wants to spin everything as a repudiation of Barack Obama, they ought to spin yesterday's results of the Obama Administration's decision to throw the progressive activists who elected him under the bus on issue after issue and embrace the hackocracy represented by an opportunist like Arlen Specter.

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Anonymous Charlie O said...
This morning's news show kept going on about voter anger at incumbents. Anger at incumbents had nothing to do with my voting for Sestak yesterday. I was motivated by two factors, Specter's age (I'm tired of really, really old guys running stuff) and Specter's campaign ads. He ran nothing but negative attack ads on TV (at least early on). Not once was there anything positive about Specter himself. He damn near swiftboated Sestak. It was Specter's own campaign that cinched my vote for Sestak.

Interesting side note. When I went to the polls (I live in the Susquehanna Valley) there were only Republicans handing out materials. When they tried to force their literature into my hands, I told them "I work for a living and had to much respect for my fellow man to be a Republican." All I got in return was a lot of "harumphing."

Anonymous Richard Blumenthal said...
Would you believe I used to serve food at a Vietnamese restaurant?