Pennsylvania Dem Chair: The guy who blew a 20-point lead is the most electable candidate

by: Chris Bowers

Fri May 07, 2010 at 15:31



With Joe Sestak erasing Arleen Specter's once 20-point lead today, Pennsylvania Democratic Party chair TJ Rooney gets his concern-troll on:

The chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party issued a stern warning to members of his party this week, declaring that nominating Rep. Joe Sestak over Sen. Arlen Specter could have "cataclysmic" consequences for the party's ability to hold the Senate seat this fall. 

As polls show Sestak, a second-term House member from the Philadelphia suburbs, cutting Specter's advantage to single digits, Chairman T.J. Rooney told POLITICO in an interview that "if we want to keep this seat in Democratic hands, the only person capable of delivering that victory is Arlen Specter." 

"I can't say, honest and true, if the shoe's on the other foot, that we'll have the same race in November," Rooney said. "The results could be cataclysmic." 

Rooney logic: the candidate who lost a 20-point lead in one month is more electable than the guy who candidate 20 points in one month. Kind of feels like the logic used by the Black Knight in Monty Paython's Holy Grail:


It is also  worth noting how Rooneyy's currrent brand of concern trolling differs from his concern trolling in January. Back then, Rooney expressed concerned for Sestak because Sestak wasn't making up any ground in the Senate campaign:

"Looking specifically at the poll numbers, Sestak has picked up no momentum," Rooney said. "He's actually fallen behind ... if Joe Sestak were to run for re-election to Congress, he'd win."

So, Rooney is concerned when Sestak isn't making up any ground, and when Sestak is making up ground. Rooney is very concerned.

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Chris Bowers :: Pennsylvania Dem Chair: The guy who blew a 20-point lead is the most electable candidate

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A Good "Chatty Cathies" Nominee! (4.00 / 2)
See, he's not all bad!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

Incumbent reelection focus (4.00 / 2)
Arlen Specter is simply the latest demonstration of the stark reality of all major party politics: regardless of track record, regardless of previous disagreements, regardless of campaign cash in the bank, the party believes it must support the incumbent.

We see this from the DNC, the DSCC, state parties (Rooney being a nice example) and that's just on the Dem side. The R's do the same thing.

It is insane that the DSCC is spending a nickel on the PA primary when it is already clear as day that the winner will need every dollar to fight off Toomey. Are they not going to help Sestak if he wins? Of course they are, but they'll have a lot less money to use.

The incumbent protection is a mess and eliminating primary spending is one easy way to increase funding for D's in the general. Sigh.

Karl in Drexel Hill, PA


I am also concerned (4.00 / 2)
Not about Sestak - about the fact that Rooney is the chair of the PA Democratic Party.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

Are you a PA resident? .. (0.00 / 0)
I am .. and that's why I say what I do about Rooney .. he needs to go!!  He's a waste of space

[ Parent ]
Not any longer (0.00 / 0)
I'm a subject of the District of Columbia - but the family is still outside Philly.  

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

[ Parent ]
Sestak isnt any better (0.00 / 0)
He was simply washed in in the 2006 Democratic wave against a corrupt incumbent.  He doesnt have the political skills nor personality to win against Toomey in an environment like this.  Specter, however, has been through a couple of very uphill Senate races and won.  Democrats were also warned about Sestak leaving behind the red leaning Congressional district that Republicans would likely scoop right up if Sestak left it open.  

Republican leaning? (4.00 / 1)
The 7th used to be a heavily Republican district, but that's no longer the case.  Sestak also won the district handily in 2008.  Obama won it solidly, and Kerry won it before that. I'm fairly sure no Republican presidential candidate has won their since 1988. Cook has it at D+3.

If someone has warned Democrats that the district leans Republican, it would seem they are not up to date.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


[ Parent ]
It may vote for Democratic Presidents (0.00 / 0)
but this district is dyed in the wool Republican at the local level, with a better than two to one Republican registration advantage.  Both Cook and Rothenberg have it as a tossup and Real Clear Politics has it as "Lean Republican".  Republicans have a godlike candidate in US Attorney and former DA Pat Meehan.  If Sestak can win the Senate race, good, but opening up marginal and Republican leaning seats in a horrible electoral climate for Democrats is not cool.  

[ Parent ]
Local level is not federal level (4.00 / 3)
Tossup is not lean.  Electing a Republican to a Democratic seat in the Senate is also not cool, while the size of the House majority doesn't count for much.

Also, I'm confused. Is Sestak a terrible candidate who cannot win unless he is swept in through other forces, or is he the only person who can beat a "godlike candidate" in a Republican district?

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


[ Parent ]
The House majority does count (0.00 / 0)
We have a majority in the House that is built of straw, dependent on dozens upon dozens of marginal and Republican leaning seats that will fall in a year like this.  Meehan would not have run had Sestak stayed in his House seat.  

Specter is a battle tested candidate who has survived very tough election cycles in the past and has been a very good Democrat.  

We are not going to lose the Senate, but we could lose the House and if that happens, watch for Obama's impeachment in the next two years.  


[ Parent ]
I didn't say the House majority (4.00 / 1)
doesn't count, I said its size doesn't count.

The Senate, despite a large Democratic majority, has been the roadblock of good legislation, because it includes too many faux Dems. Specter's good behavior (the "very" is far too strong) has taken place while knowing that Sestak was challenging him - there is no guarantee it will continue.

As for this:

We have a majority in the House that is built of straw, dependent on dozens upon dozens of marginal and Republican leaning seats that will fall in a year like this.

I have no idea what the basis of this claim is. I don't buy it. Republican strength is a product of comparatively superior organization and Democrats unwillingness to capitalize on their own advantages - not inherent electoral strength.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


[ Parent ]
How have Democrats not capitalized on their advantanges (0.00 / 0)
They passed a healthcare bill, which they have never been able to pass before and probably would never be able to pass again.  That is enough to believe that Democrats have used their advantage to its fullest.

The stimulus, although certainly too small, was the best we were going to get with just 59 Senate seats.  

Throw in thet student loan reform and Democrats have done everything that they possibly could have.  No stone has been unturned.    


[ Parent ]
"No stone has been unturned." (4.00 / 3)
Is this snark?

Seriously, Dems took out popular provisions of the health care bill. They made no effort to tell people what was in the bill, despite evidence that people liked the bill better when they heard what was in it. There was a rash of stories about how Dems planned on explaining what was in the bill after it was passed, because they hadn't done that during the debate. They have yet to do it.

The stimulus most certainly wasn't the best we could get with a record breaking Senate majority.  The most obvious reason being that the WH knew what they asked for was too small, they never made the case for why it needed to be larger, and they asked for less than they wanted under the alleged dillusion that the bill would get bigger during the legislative process, and they put no pressure on Senators who cut it down who are presently getting strong White House support for their re-election campaigns against better Dem challengers.

Student load reform was a solid policy that got little attention because the Dems made little effort to publicize it.

To take just one example of a missed opportunity, a gigantic oil spill threatens the entire gulf coast, pretty much every member of the Republican party is on tape saying 'drill baby, drill' and Dems are backing away from climate change legislation.

Finally, at every turn, when individual Republicans said they were seeking to obstruct particular bills, the Democrats continued to emphasize the importance of bipartisanship (they did this even when they have 60 votes) which legitimized Republican intransigence.

I wonder if a single stone has been turned.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


[ Parent ]
"watch for Obama's impeachment in the next two years" (0.00 / 0)
I can't wait.  First to the witness stand: Chip Kahn of the Federation of American Hospitals.

[ Parent ]
"Specter, however, has been through a couple of very uphill Senate races and won." (4.00 / 4)
Yeah, like the 2010 Republican primary- oh wait.

A guy who's had to switch parties a couple of times to hang on to office, and looks like he's gonna lose anyway (if not to Sestak, then to Toomey in the fall) is not exactly what I'd call a political jujitsu master, just an old man who should've quit when he was (comparatively) ahead.

And "personality"-wise, Specter has the winning personality of a two-faced snake.  No offense to snakes.


[ Parent ]
Not to resurrect a dead thread... (0.00 / 0)
...but I'd be interested to hear if Rooney's said anything this week now that Sestak has a lead larger than the margin of error and he's 10 points closer to Toomey than Specter is.

I'd give him big props if he issued a statement this week that said, "I'm going to shut my pie hole and wait to see what happens in the primary." :-)

Karl in Drexel Hill, PA


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