Skip to comments.GOP Flexes Recruiting Successes in Keystone State
Posted on 01/11/2010 10:06:06 PM PST by freespirited
After losing a total of five House seats in Pennsylvania over the past two cycles, a string of recent recruiting successes has boosted GOP prospects for regaining some of that lost territory in 2010.
According to several sources familiar with their decisions, former U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, former Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick and former U.S. Attorney Thomas Marino are poised to announce campaigns against Democratic Reps. Jason Altmire , Patrick Murphy and Christopher Carney , respectively.
Whats more, state Sen. Dave Argall (R) said Monday that he will challenge Rep. Tim Holden (D) in his conservative central Pennsylvania district, a move that is expected to give the congressman his most competitive race in six years.
Republicans were also buoyed last week when Rep. Jim Gerlach announced that he would drop out of the gubernatorial race and run for re-election instead, thereby increasing GOP chances of holding his competitive suburban Philadelphia seat.
We could have a half a dozen competitive races in Pennsylvania, which is very rare, said Pennsylvania-based GOP strategist Charlie Gerow. I dont think there are too many states who can have the claim.
In the last few months of 2009, Republicans could only point to strong recruits in two congressional districts in the Keystone State: former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehans bid to win the 7th District open seat and Hazleton Mayor Lou Barlettas challenge to longtime Democratic Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski .
But within the next few weeks, Republicans could have strong candidates in six Democratic-held seats.
Jack Hanna, the southwest caucus chairman for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said hes not surprised Republicans are jumping into campaigns these days because of the favorable political climate, but he added that he was hopeful the national mood would change by November.
It is cause for concern, Hanna said. If the Democratic Party doesnt pay attention to these kinds of things, theyre making a mistake.
Part of the reason that many Pennsylvania Republicans are choosing to take the political plunge now is because the GOPs statewide ticket has become increasingly competitive over the past few months. Just last year, Republicans were facing competitive primary battles in both the Senate and gubernatorial races.
But by the beginning of this year, those races had cleared and two former gubernatorial candidates Meehan and Gerlach were running for Congress. Republicans also skirted a bloodbath when Sen. Arlen Specter switched parties, clearing the way for former Rep. Pat Toomey to be the GOPs Senate standard-bearer.
Now it is Democrats who are facing the most problematic primaries this year, with Specter being challenged by Rep. Joe Sestak and several candidates running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
Republican consultant John Brabender, who works for several GOP candidates running in Pennsylvania, said the strength of the top of the GOP ticket in 2010 was an encouraging factor for many candidates downballot. Attorney General Tom Corbett, now the Republican gubernatorial front-runner, is ahead of all of his four possible Democratic opponents, according to early public polling.
Theres been three statewide polls on the governors race, and all of them have the Republican beating the Democrat, Brabender said. People know theres something environmentally going on.
Even the Senate race, where some senior Republicans initially questioned Toomeys general election viability, has become competitive according to recent polling.
The Senate race will be tight, Brabender said. Early on, a lot of people thought this race was off the table. They were wrong.
It might also be no coincidence that three of the Republican House candidates either already running or about to announce Meehan, Marino and Buchanan are former U.S. attorneys who served together. Several Keystone State Republicans noted that perhaps these three candidates are following in the path of Corbett, who made headlines in Pennsylvania for prosecuting a political corruption scandal that rocked the state capital. But other Republicans hypothesized that perhaps candidates were picking up cues from nearby New Jersey, where Gov.-elect Chris Christie (R) won in 2009 running on his career as a former U.S. attorney.
In fact, Christie hosted a fundraiser for Meehan that brought in about $250,000 for his campaign last year, according to organizers.
But while Republicans might soon be able to boast strong candidates in six House races in the state, there remains at least one gaping hole in their recruiting map: Freshman Democrat Kathy Dahlkemper has yet to attract a top-flight candidate.
Among Republicans, businessman Paul Huber is in the race, and former Butler City Councilman Mike Kelly is expected to announce a bid as well although neither has been touted as a potential top recruit.
Meanwhile, Democrats scored a recruitment coup by getting Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan to run against Republican Rep. Charlie Dent . Callahan resisted national Democrats overtures to run against Dent in previous cycles and has so far posted impressive fundraising in his campaign for the competitive Lehigh Valley 15th District seat.
Any chance to beat Murtha?
What a great day it shall be when that POS murtha gets thrown out.I just hope I live long enough to see it and I’m not that old.
I meant to send that to lawnguy.
I hope it happens before The Grim Reaper term-limits the old coot.
Have my doubts, but with him ya never know what skeleton might come screaming out of the closet.
“Top recruits” means candidates who are political insiders in many cases, the NRCC means politics as usual and no change in Washington.
You should ask who the real authentic conservatives are in these races and I don’t see too many of them.
What is a “real authentic conservative”? Other than you and me... I see alot of conservatives coming forward in Pa. this year starting at the top with Sam Rohrer and John Toomey. Argyl, who is running against Holoden is conservative, maybe not up to your standards, but still a conservative. If we question every conservative candidates “true conservatism” then we will be lucky to get anyone to run.
You should ask who the real authentic conservatives are in these races and I dont see too many of them.
I'm with you there. I went to the PA State RNC website last Friday, and saw they are still on the 2008 Timeline... That says to me that as always they are a lot more interested in what the party insiders want, and not too interested in informing and reaching out to their real base.