Since 2008, soaring hope has given way to personal-and-national financial uncertainty, which evoked palpable anger. Tomorrow, that may translate into the let’s-start-over dynamic at the polls.
“Don’t just vote them all out. Consider your choices,” Gov. Ed Rendell said while campaigning for fellow Democrats this weekend. “If Republicans win [Congress] back, the President will obviously have to seek co-operation, but I’m dubious about whether that would happen.”
Born and raised in Philadelphia, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews noted Rendell’s assessment that “Pennsylvania is front-and-center,” considering the President, First Lady, Vice President and Bill Clinton have stumped for Democrats while governors Chris Christie (NJ), Bob McConnell (Va.) and Haley Barbour (Miss.) have done the same for Republicans.
“Voters are rational, responsive to the current reality,” he said, drawing parallels to the Great Depression stock-market crash leading to unemployment and anger. “I fear this is trend line, middle-aged people losing jobs and they might not be able to get them back. We’ve seen it in the Philly area. When prospects are declining, people take drastic steps. This proves democracy is alive, though.”
That’s the challenge facing Rendell, as he leaves public office with one last cheerleading flourish. So, have people backed away from that angry edge?
“It’s starting to happen,” he said, “but the question is will it happen fast enough to make a difference on Tuesday?”
Ultimate liberal vs. conservative battle
Democrat Joe Sestak is hoping those same big names that campaigned against him when he challenged Arlen Specter can help him energize a despondent voter base in tomorrow’s election.
If Sestak is successful in doing that he may eke out a victory. If he is not, Republican Pat Toomey will likely be headed back to Washington, taking a key seat away from Democrats.
“I think [turnout] is very important. What I’m relying most upon is the common sense of Pennsylvanians,” Sestak said.
Despite millions of dollars spent on attack ads by both candidates and appearances by big-name Democrats, including two visits by President Obama, polls still show the race a virtual tie.
Both Toomey and Sestak will take full advantage of today and tomorrow, not taking anything for granted.
“I don’t think [the Democratic fire power will matter]. We‚ve had a lot of fire power on our side,” Toomey said.
A rematch barnburner in Bucks
In 2006, it was the freshman challenger Patrick Murphy besting the one-term Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick by a slim margin. Now, the rematch for the 8th District Congressional seat could prove just as close.
Murphy, an Iraq War veteran, has tried to ward off voter frustration with the Obama Administration by painting his opponent as someone who supports Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy and unpopular trade policies. Fitzpatrick, a former Bucks County Commissioner, has countered with an attack on the job losses and increased deficit during President Obama’s first two years.
The race is one of several in Pennsylvania that Republicans consider up for grabs that could help shift the balance of power in the House. Polls show it as a toss-up.
Two Steelers fans fight for gov.
If there were a three-political strikes rule, Dan Onorato thinks his opponent Tom Corbett pulled a Ryan Howard last Thursday, when video of him talking about Philadelphia turnout surfaced.
The 39-second video cuts off when Corbett punctuates, “We want to make sure that they don’t get 50 percent. Keep that down” with a push-down motion with his right hand. Critics say the state Attorney General endorsed voter suppression.
Corbett’s campaign countered that it was one sentence taken out of context: “In the same breath as the only sentence that Dan Onorato would have you see, Tom Corbett said that he hopes for 100 percent turnout across Pennsylvania.”
Is there any common ground between the two?
“We agree is that the state needs to live within its means,” Onorato said, noting divergent stances on the Florida Loophole, Marcellus Shale severance tax and early-childhood education.
“There’s a general sense of agreement on that and some business-tax reductions,” responded Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley. “I think they both like the Pirates and Steelers as well.”
A CNN/Time poll had Corbett ahead 52-45 percent last week.
Two tough candidates in 7th
The battle for Joe Sestak’s former 7th District U.S. Rep. seat pits state Rep. Bryan Lentz (D) versus former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan (R). Both spent this weekend getting face-time with voters, which could be the difference in a dead-heat race.
Lentz explains the race as “a choice between a congressman who represents solutions and practical approaches or a congressman pushing the party line of Republican rhetoric and ideology.” Criticized for admitting he helped a third-party candidate onto the ballot to drain votes from Meehan, he said, “I’m being condemned for telling the truth. I was asked a question and I answered it honestly. Most voters get that. … Politics is a blood-sport and the blood-sport is what’s at stake.”
For his part, Meehan took a “24 Stops in 48 Hours” bus tour of Delaware, Montgomery and Chester counties “to capitalize on our campaign’s momentum and embark on this tour as we go into the final days before Election Day,” a campaign press release stated.