Crossposted from DCW
The current registration in Pennsylvania is as follows:
Democrat - 51%
Republican - 37%
Other Party/Non-Aligned - 12%
One might think this makes Democratic wins a done deal, but this is Pennsylvania, and it's not a given. This is especially true as Republicans who registered as Democrats in 2008 to vote in the Democratic primary have started moving back. Since 2008, 33,696 Democrats changed to Republican, while 28,874 Republicans switched their party affiliation to Democratic. In addition, since the 2008 election, 26,758 voters have changed from the Democratic Party (15,849) and the Republican Party (10,909) to either no affiliation or a third party, exclusive of "Libertarian". The Libertarians picked up 1,392 voters from both parties since 2008.
Thus, in looking at the candidates, I have considered not only the individuals, but also their probabilities of winning in the general.
Endorsements after the jump.
My pick is Joe Sestak. My first reason is that he's a Democrat. He's always been a Democrat. He's going to stay a Democrat. His issues dovetail with my issues, and I agree with him on the overwhelming majority of positions. Joe will bring needed energy and vitality to the Pennsylvania Senate delegation, and there will finally be a responsive constituent office, unlike those headed by Arlen Specter and Bob Casey. Further, Arlen cannot win against Pat Toomey. It's not possible. In the same way that primary voters warm to Sestak once they know about him, so will general election voters.
I support Sestak in sum toto. I would have voted for him in his previous Congressional races had I lived a mile away, and thus over the line into his district.
In addition, Joe Sestak can win the general, Arlen Specter cannot. Many people have shown me polls indicating something different, but I don't pay attention to polls, especially those so far out from the election. I look at win probabilities based on money, organization and the candidate himself/herself. Joe's organization is superb, enthused, and since last summer boots-on-the-ground. I'm convinced that the DSCC will come through with whatever funds are necessary to counter any outside monies collected by Toomey thanks to the FEC vs Citizens United SCOTUS travesty decision.
My pick is Doug Pike. In the interest of full disclosure, I know Doug. And as I've said before, both Doug and Manan Trivedi are good men, and either would be a terrific replacement for Jim Gerlach. Their positions are very similar except in two areas: Doug supports Obama's position in Afghanistan, Manan wants all the troops out now. In addition, Manan is a big supporter of single payer while Doug prefers an incremental approach to health care change. Doug has pledged to turn down the Congressional insurance package until every American has coverage.
I am a huge single payer advocate, but I am cognizant that the issue is currently dead on the national stage, and am cognizant that to get to where we need to be, we will need to move slowly and steadily in that direction. (I do NOT, however, feel that way about single payer on the state level: rather I believe that to be the path to success.)
Doug's organization is terrific, and is larger and better structured than Manan's. Part of Manan's organization is dependent on the local Democratic organization, and that has never, EVER worked for a candidate in the past. In addition, Doug is much better funded than Manan. Manan has the vocal support of many local progressives, but that has not translated into either dollars nor boots on the ground.
Most importantly, Doug's greatest strength as a Congressman would be that he thinks first, and then gives an opinion. I am certain that this will translate into someone who truly considers legislation before he votes on it. In addition, Doug writes: while all of Congress depends on staff in many ways, Doug will sign off on things before he agrees to sponsor or co-sponsor legislation. Further, he is truly interested in what people (read: constituents) have to say, and will temper certain positions based on what is best for the district.
Manan is whip smart and has a very firm set of beliefs. I am not convinced that he would put the wants of constituents ahead of his personal positions, meaning if elected, his could easily be a one-term tenure.
I have felt this way for a long time, and what I'm about to write is recent, and thus has no bearing on where I stand on this race. Still, it speaks to Doug's inherent decency. A lot of candidates depend on their personal story: but Doug leaves something out when talking about his history. Someone he loved very much had breast cancer, and he went through EVERYTHING with her, over a period of years. When he found out that my mother has treatable cancer, but is refusing treatment, he offered not just support, but assistance. Even willing to go up and talk to her if it would do any good. Sadly, it wouldn't do any good, but it is a rare person who would be so kind. That is, I know Doug, and Doug and I are "friendly" but not friends to the level where something like that effort would generally be offered. People like Doug don't come around every day.
With great sadness and a heavy heart, I will be pulling the lever for Dan Onorato. I wish I could be voting for Joe Hoeffel, but it would be a wasted vote. No one but Onorato has a shot in the general against Tom Corbett. He's got the organization and the money. His primary TV ads are masterful, and there is no doubt that his ads in the general will be brutal, especially in light of Corbett's problems with the Orie sisters. In addition, Onorato is going to win the primary, and the higher the totals the better, since the outcome is not in question. Please note that neither Jack Wagner nor Anthony Hardy Williams made my short list as possibles.
Pennsylvania will be redistricted in 2011. The State Senate will stay Republican, and it's questionable whether we will be able to hold the razor-thin edge we currently hold in the House (104 - 99). Therefore, if it is possible to hold the governor's mansion, it might be possible to preclude the sort of political nonsense that created the 6th CD in 2001 specifically because Jim Gerlach could win it. If we can hold the House, the mansion becomes pivotal.
Onorato's strengths relate to economic policy and government administration. Harrisburg is bloated and riddled with corruption. Both Onorato and Corbett have similar plans for improving the situation, and both plans have merit.
My problems with Onorato relate to his positions on the social issues: choice, gays, guns and schools. I don't like his positions, I don't agree with them. But I would rather see him in the mansion than Corbett.