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This diary has been sitting in a Text-edit file that I started on 5/20/14. I've come to terms with the loss, which was pre-ordained by the awful gerrymandering done by the Pennsylvania Republicans. I've decided to finally post it after reading the great diaries about Tom Wolf, the winner of the Democratic primary for Governor of PA. There seems to be a strong community of politically astute Pennsylvanians here on Daily Kos who might enjoy a report from a foot soldier for the Democratic Party.

So I'm sitting here at the Baldwin Borough Building doing GOTV poll watching work for the (insert hyperlink here)Erin Molchany campaign. The temperature has finally broken the 60 degree mark at around 10:30 AM and it's warm enough to break out the MacBook and do some typing... As the day progresses I hope to have a better idea of how the vote is progressing. I'm posted at a polling place deep in the heart of her opponent, Harry Readshaw, but so far most people have been pleasant and some have even voiced support for Erin. We have set our lawn chairs up at least the mandatory ten feet from the entrance of the building. The Readshaw workers are at a table just inside the building doors not even ten feet from the entrance to the room where the voting machines are. We were invited to sit inside as well but opted to just leave some literature at their table and sit where we were instructed to in our training. I'm here with my wife, who says at least no one can complain we're breaking any arcane election rules. And believe me, we have plenty of arcane election laws and regulations in PA!

 This is the last thing I can do to help elect a progressive democratic candidate this year. We have had a good string of successes getting progressive, or at least semi-progressive, candidates elected in the Pittsburgh region recently. Among them I include Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, and City Council members Dan Gilman, Deb Gross and Natalia Rudiack.  And lest forget, my wife and three former teachers got elected to the Pittsburgh Board of  Education. This will be a major upset victory if Erin is able to beat her fellow State Rep. Harry Readshaw, since the Republican controlled State Legislature redistricted their districts together and made it 70% Readshaw’s old district, 20% Molchany’s old district and 10% new for both candidates.  We knew this was going to be a tough fight from the start and I had promised my support to Erin at her announcement party. I warned her that my support would consist of my time, since I have no money to spare at all.  To that end I have gone out twice to gather signatures for the nominating petition, I have phone banked twice from her campaign office and I have gone out canvasing for support twice. I also managed to rehang the sign over her campaign office when it was blown down in a stormy Pittsburgh night, and I’m pleased to say that it is still up. I only asked they not refer to me as ‘the fixer’ :) I’m guessing I’ve put in around 42 hours of my time including today. That’s a good amount of time, but I’m sure there are people who put in that much time and also cut a check to the campaign. I also managed to do some opposition research, by capturing internet video from a Allegheny Intermediate Unit meeting where both candidates spoke to the gathering. (This required a painful bending of my rule not to use Microsoft software, I had to install Microsoft Silverlight plug-ins to view the video...)

So what have I learned over the past couple of years? A well run campaign needs to focus energy and money where it provides the most benefit. (I guess this is Politics 101 material…) The first thing you need to pull this off is a list of the ‘super-voters’ in the district in which the candidate is running. This information is usually available from the political parties, and gives you the names, address and phone numbers of the active voters. This gives you a list of the people who will go and vote in primary elections and off year elections, regardless of the weather. These are the people that you need to reach out to when canvasing neighborhoods or running a phone bank. These lists are often sorted using programs like Vote Builder to make these tasks easier to manage.

All of the above text was typed out while doing the actual poll watching duties. This is being typed early the morning after the election, after the concession speech at a bar in Mt. Washington. I had hopes that Erin would poll better in the more densely populated wards in the city than she did in our more suburban precincts. And she did poll better, but not enough to overcome the tremendous advantage given to Readshaw by the Republican redistricting plan. I’ll need some time to look at the results in the 36th District -

Representative in the General Assembly 36TH DISTRICT
          Vote for  1
              (WITH 72 OF 72 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
           Harry Readshaw.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     3,904   59.98
           Erin C. Molchany .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     2,593   39.84
           WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .        12     .18
                   Total .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     6,509

That didn’t take long… I think in most political races getting almost 60% of the vote would be considered a landslide victory. When your race is the result of having your opponents district taken out from under her, and you being given a 70-20-10 advantage, getting almost 40% is something of a moral victory. I know that Erin earned the endorsements of Mayor Peduto, Allegheny Co. Executive Rich Fitzgerald, City Council members Natalia Rudiak and Bruce Krauss, as well as the endorsement of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Harry Readshaw got the endorsement of the Allegheny Co. Labor Council, so most of the unions backed him, with the exceptions of the Amalgamated Transit Union, SEIU HCPA and SEIU 32BJ. Still, we left nothing on the table, gave it our best shot. The only winners in this race were the PA Republicans, who managed to decrease the number of Democrats by one, getting rid of a progressive Democrat at that, and keeping a Blue Dog Democrat they have gotten to know over the past twenty years.

Originally posted to Ironic Chef on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:21 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKos Pennsylvania and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I won't be around to answer questions (7+ / 0-)

    until real late tonight. Heading to work early after the bank opens to do some organizing work for the Make it Our UPMC campaign. And the Organizing Committee is having a meeting that starts as soon as I clock out at 7, so I'll be a late arrival for that, too :)

    •  Yeah, at first glance that indicates that this (0+ / 0-)

      candidate didn't really seem to know her target audience very well

      •  More like Perrymandering.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roadbed Guy, wishingwell

        ....or since it's Pennsylvania, not Texas, "Corbettmandering".

        Suburban Pittsburgh is not the Alabama of the T.

        You can't spell "Dianne Feinstein" without "NSA".

        by varro on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 11:58:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Meh, methinks that you are now just (0+ / 0-)

          randomly making words up.

          which I kinda like, hence the recommendation of your comment . ..

        •  I still argue with the Alabama comparison (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          llywrch, Lujane

          because parts of that T are not like Alabama at all and getting bluer. For instance, a very large university main campus is in that T in the dead center of the state, Penn State.  

          And parts of the Harrisburg region including the city are blue. The city has almost all  Democratic mayors , same for Scranton in the Northeast corner and Erie is rather blue up in the northwest corner of the T.  

          My sister has lived in AL and GA, she says it is no comparison to central PA that she can see. There are not all that many Evangelical churches and I think maybe one mega church in Central PA that entire T. It can be heavily  Republicans in some counties but when we talk to these Republicans, they are not all that religious either.

          She intends to retire somewhere in Central PA and the closer to Penn State, the better and compared to even Georgia, it is downright liberal in central PA.  

          Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

          by wishingwell on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:53:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  yes, please fix the title. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I can't read the text when the title is misspelled.

      There is no "path" to choose. The path is what is behind you that led you to today. What lies in front of you is not a fork in the road - a choice of paths to take, but rather an empty field for you to blaze your own direction.

      by cbabob on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 05:55:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ack! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jon Sitzman, Woody

      I'm in desperate need of a proofreader! Error fixed - now I can eat my breakfast and run out to start my work day :)

  •  There is a lage sector of Pennsylvania (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jon Sitzman

    still stuck in the 1800s.

    Only time will fix that.  

    Until then, urban areas of PA lead the way.

    •  There's nothing wrong with small farming. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Woody, andalusi, wishingwell, llywrch

      Food comes from somewhere, it doesn't just appear in the grocery store.

      And I don't think anyone really wants factory farms with their lagoons of toxic biohazard animal crap to take over middle pa.

      MLK Jr 1968 "Maybe we just have to admit that the day of violence is here, and maybe we have to just give up and let violence take its course. The nation won't listen to our voice - maybe it'll heed the voice of violence."

      by JayFromPA on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 12:00:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is what I love about PA, private family owned (0+ / 0-)

        farms and a lot of small family businesses still in this state. Plus despite what Corbett tried to do, we still have liquor store employees who are state workers making a good living and same with lottery workers.

        We still have coal miners in unions here and I know a lot of union workers.

        So if that means we are backward, so be it.

        Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

        by wishingwell on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:57:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Backwards" (0+ / 0-)

          folks are the ones electing people like Corbett.

          If you are OK being "backwards", go right ahead and vote Tom in again.

          •  I have volunteered for Democrats for 4o yrs as of (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            this year. i started when I was 19 and never stopped.

            So I never ever vote for a Republican.   So I hope you were not addresssing me personally.  >?

            If you are talking about the farmers, it depends, not all farmers are Republicans. And if you are talking about the Amish, most do not vote, do not believe in voting. I have heard some Amish may vote in Lancaster but very very few. Those would be the more modern Amish sects..around here, they do not vote.

            Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

            by wishingwell on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:45:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  There are quite a few Republicans who despise (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            llywrch, gramofsam1

            Corbett and won;t vote for them. They are saying they will leave it blank or maybe will actually vote for Democrat and hold their nose. Granted, most of the Republicans I know in Central PA, it is related to their disgust over the whole Sandusky matter and how Corbett delayed in the arrest for almost 2 yrs as he was running for governor and he did not want to upset Penn State alum with deep pockets or risk losing the Paterno endorsement.   The whole Penn State mess is why so many around here of both parties are hating on Corbett.

            Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

            by wishingwell on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:48:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why are you (0+ / 0-)

              worried about taking this so personally? if you're not voting for candidates with antiquated politics what do you have to worry about??

              WHERE in any post did I specifically mention the Amish?

              It's wonderful that so many rural farmers are great people.  But they don't change the political landscape if they don't VOTE.  And ther are people everywhere in every sort of community that don't vote, but it's fact that the two urban ends of the State really and trully are the leading progressive portions of PA.

              And Penn State isn't the only thing that is causing both parties to hate on Corbett...I know quite a few individuals in education that can SEE the xuts he makes to schools.  Trying to sell out and privatize the lottery (so he can have a cozy job managing the lottery in private form) was another issue.  "They can just close their eyes" is another.

              Soon we'll be able to say good riddance tot he worst PA governor in recent memory, and it'll be people who get out there and VOTE that'll make it happen.

              •  I guess I did take it personally a bit because of (0+ / 0-)

                this one statement. But now I do understand where you are coming from and I apologize if I over reacted.

                If you are OK being "backwards", go right ahead and vote Tom in again.
                I now see what you are saying, it was just the way I took this statement. So I am sure you can see where I was coming from. But again, I probably did over react a tad.

                Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

                by wishingwell on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 09:27:04 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  You did mention Amish but after I did (0+ / 0-)
                Amish farmers (0+ / 0-)
                aren't progressives.
                But again, I can now see where you are coming from. I just took your response as being a bit rough but thanks for clarifying. I admit to being a bit defensive about my home state and fond memories of how I was raised.  I am sure you can understand that. Many of us have certain places in this country we are protective of and that we love.

                Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

                by wishingwell on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 09:29:23 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Many amish farms surround me and they are some (0+ / 0-)

      of the kindest, fairest, most generous people I ever met in my life. And I grew up around farmers who also were so generous, kind, hospitable.

      And remember the regions many think are backward , you go a few miles and that can change quickly. And remember students were lined up for hours to vote for Obama at Penn state in that place often called Alabama by outsiders.

      Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

      by wishingwell on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:56:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Amish farmers (0+ / 0-)

        aren't progressives.

        Penn State and other universities are the exceptions to "Pennsyltucky" in the middle of the state as they're usually liberal havens.

        •  The Amish in my region do not vote , they do not (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          llywrch, gramofsam1, artisanrox

          believe in getting involved in politics and voting for the English as they say.

          Some Amish may vote , depends on the area and the church they belong to. We also have old order Mennonites who sell produce and baked goods door to door. I got to know them well these past 15 years and they told me they do not vote nor do members of their church.  

          Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

          by wishingwell on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 07:51:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Sometimes (5+ / 0-)

    even a loss of a progressive candidate can reap important rewards -- like forcing the victor to the left.

    I don't know if that'll happen in this case, but you fought the good fight.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 11:14:45 AM PDT

  •  Dick Scaife Has Terminal Cancer (0+ / 0-)

    Tick tock tick tock

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:21:54 PM PDT

    •  My parents died of cancer and my heart goes out (0+ / 0-)

      to anyone with terminal cancer and their families no matter what party they belong to and what situation it is.

      It just is an awful thing to watch a loved one go through.

      Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

      by wishingwell on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 06:59:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  All These Guys Seem To Assume They Are Immortal (0+ / 0-)

        Power is aggregating with these billionaires who are quite elderly.  The Kochs are the youngest of the bunch because they are only in their 70's.  And yet they are still acting like they are building their personal thousand year reichs. I guess most of them won't slow down until they die and in the meantime they will just get crazier.

        Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

        by bernardpliers on Wed Jun 04, 2014 at 11:51:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wait, you're in Baldwin? (0+ / 0-)

    Good heavens, my family started out there before they moved to Van, then back down to Pleasant Hills.  Small world!

    This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

    by Ellid on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 11:26:57 AM PDT

  •  the road to success (0+ / 0-)

    thanks for the report, and for your efforts. the road to success is paved with failures. we will find a way

  •  Feel your pain in PA-7th... (0+ / 0-)

    Gerrymandered to hell and back, like most PA districts.

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