Contribute Now to 06 Help PA Voters Throw the Rascals Out!

by Christopher Walker

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If you live somewhere else, you may not be aware that Pennsylvania voters statewide are extremely cross with the state legislature because they voted themselves a pay raise and bent the law to cash it during the same year it was voted. A widespread “vote the rascals out” movement gained rapid momentum. Many state legislators who’ve usually been complacent about re-election faced contested primaries this time, as well as opponents from the other party. About 30 even decided to retire rather than face their constituents’ wrath.

“Throw the rascals out” is a frequent impulse by disgruntled voters that typically peters out before Election Day; but Pennsylvania voters demonstrated they mean business this time, by voting not to retain a state supreme court justice at the midterm opportunity in 2005 and, in a special election voting a Democrat into the state senate from a district that had long been held by the GOP.

Theoretically Democrat incumbents are just as threatened as Republicans; but the GOP controls both houses, so if a lot of incumbents lose office in 2006, the balance of power might shift. All individual incumbents face the same danger, but the Republican Party has more to lose. The two highest-ranking Republican state senators lost their primaries, voted out of office before November even gets here. Democrats need to gain 9 seats in the lower house and 6 in the state Senate to take control.

Voter anger about the pay raises will abate by the next cycle. This controversy gives Democrats a unique opportunity in 2006 at a real shakeup in a battleground state where incumbents are normally so safe that they frequently run unopposed for re-election. Voter anger with the state legislature also enhances our chances of toppling 3-5 GOP Congressmen, holding the Governor’s mansion, and retiring extremist Rick Santorum from the US Senate.

Below are a few Democrats. Some are progressive incumbents who deserve to escape the voters’ wrath. The others are running for open seats or against Republican incumbents who may be more vulnerable than in a normal year. Let’s see if we can take advantage of an unusual opportunity to flip one or both houses of the state legislature in this battleground state.

Below them I've posted a reminder of some of the outstanding Democrats running for Congress who may benefit if Pennsylvania voters arrive at the November polling booths still mad at incumbents in general or at their local state legislators in particular.



LeAnna Washington

PA-SD-04

LeAnna Washington was one of only ten state Senators who voted against a July 06 bill that would allow increased mercury poisoning of our environment.

LeAnna is a DFA-endorsed Democrat incumbent whom it would be wise to protect from the anti-incumbent backlash..

Our candidate has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO.

Bryan Lentz

PA-HD-161

When Admiral Sestak appeared on the horizon, Fighting Dem Bryan Lentz switched from the Congressional race in District 7 to take on one of the worst GOP incumbents in the state legislature, Gannon in the 161st. He deserves support for his gallantry, discipline, and for finding an equally important way to help take our country back.

Marie deYoung

PA-HD-163

DeYoung is known state-wide from her testimony before the state legislature as a whistleblower exposing price-padding and corruption in government contracts by Halliburton. Yes, Halliburton.

This is an outstanding candidate poised to serve the public if the Republican-dominated state legislature can be flipped during this year of unusual opportunity.

Cherelle Parker

PA-HD-200

Cherelle won this seat in a special election in Sept. 2005.

My favorite point on her “Issues” page: she wants to help educate constituents about the dirty tactics and dangers of one of society’s lowest types of parasite: predatory lenders who prey on the poor.

Parker has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO.

Scott Conklin

PA-HD-77

12-term GOP incumbent Lynn Herman, facing a 3-way primary in his own party, surprised observers by dropping out of the race in January. 4 Republican contenders clobbered each other in an embarrassing contest, exhausting their thin resources, while Democratic County Commissioner Scott Conklin concentrated on the November election, building a war chest to beat whichever lackluster Republican wins the primary. He has more name recognition and more elective experience than the GOP candidate, and has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO.

Besides, you’ve just gotta love a candidate with a pet pig named Hamlet.

Image of Steven Porter

Steven Porter

PA-03

This race wasn't on my radar at all until a recent memo from blogger Howie Klein:

"Steven Porter, the Pennsylvania progressive taking on humongous rubber stamp Republican Phil English. This is a campaign the DCCC is completely ignoring. Why? Is it because Porter is too independent minded for Rahm Emanuel? Is it because he is siding with fellow Pennsylvanian Jack Murtha on the approach to Bush's occupation of Iraq? Is it because Steven Isn't a corporate whore and will never be a corporate whore? The latest poll in PA-03, by the largest newspaper in the district, the Erie Times News shows Porter beating English 58.4% to 41.6%. Is there something wrong with the DCCC? Even the registration in the district now favors Democrats, 46%- 44%. Porter is worth backing."

The incumbent is a virulently anti-gay social conservative. Various distasteful rumors about his personal life have circulated for years, making him especially vulnerable under the searchlight of Foleygate. And he has unsavory contributors, including Exxon/Mobil's PAC.

Cable tv spots in the Erie market cost only $26.00 for a 30-second spot. Buy him one?

Image of Don Hilliard

Don Hilliard

PA-05

Running against a GOP incumbent so low-impact that it is hard even to remember his name, John Peterson.

Hilliard is opposed to proposals to despoil the Alaskan Wilderness or to privatize Social Secuirty. He supports an orderly and timely withdrawal from Iraq. He has put forward proposals for public financing of elections to keep special-interest money from controlling Congress and argues for a gradual increase in the minimum wage, to help small businesses cope with the change.

Peterson is an inert incumbent, even more invisible in this district than Jim Gerlach is, in his. About the only thing I know about him is that his unsavory contributors likewise include Exxon/Mobil's PAC. He has run unopposed too many times, possibly because PA-05 is the largest Congressional district East of the Mississippi, and campaigning here is a logistical challenge.

Image of Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy

PA-08

Fighting vet, running against a vulnerable freshman incumbent. The national GOP is so nervous about holding this district that theyran an ad in this race praising the incumbent for voting for a popular measure... that was passed before he was in Congress. Oops.

Image of Lois Herr

Lois Herr

PA-16

I initially viewed this as an unwinnable re-match, but that changed this past May, when Democrat Andy Dinniman easily won a State Senate special election in the 19th Senate District, which had never before elected a Democrat, and where registered Republicans out-number registerd Democrats by a nearly two-to-one margin. The 19th state Senate District lies within the sixteenth Congressional District. The desire for change will make this the year for a Democrat to represent the sixteenth district in Congress.

Lois Herr talks sense about the Iraq war. SheI has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America, the National Education Association, N.O.W., Planned Parenthood, National Women's Political Caucus, Women's Campaign Fund, and the Sierra Club of Pa.

This is her year. Conditions are right.

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