Specter Goes After Toomey

Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham endorsed Arlen Specter this morning along with five County Chairs (Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton Counties) and several area Mayors (Ed Lawlowski, Sal Panto) and Party leaders from T.J. Rooney to Katie Lynch the new President of the Lehigh Valley Young Democrats.  Sestak didn’t mention his opponent in the Democratic primary but did say he’s in “a tough fight.”  He aimed sharp words at his GOP opponent should he survive Joe Sestak’s challenge.  Being in the Lehigh Valley, Toomey’s home turf, Specter went after him hard on his Wall Street ties and votes against every federal appropriations bill except Defense.

Saying “I beat Pat Toomey before and I’ll beat him again” he is discounting numerous polls showing voter discontent putting Toomey ahead of the thirty year incumbent.  The Senator was feisty this morning and made sure to say, maybe for my benefit, that he never asked anyone to “clear the field” for him.  That doesn’t mean the Governor didn’t try as he usually does in these contests.  Ironically Ed Rendell wouldn’t have been Governor for eight years if he hadn’t opposed the Party establishment and ran against Bob Casey Jr. in the primary.  How soon some forget.

Arlen Specter stressed several points which could come back to haunt him.  For example he mentioned his opposition to Robert Bork as a Justice of the Supreme Court without mentioning the right wing extremists like Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito whom he shepherded through the process.  While condemning last week’s horrendous ruling he failed to mention how he put those Justices on the Court.  He seems to be using his vote for the stimulus bill (ARRA) as the central theme of his campaign but he failed to mention the $40 billion in state fiscal relief he cut out of the legislation in return for his vote.  As usual with Specter there’s good and bad mixed together.  That was always fairly acceptable when he was a Republican but they aren’t good enough to elect him as a Democrat.  Not when a real progressive Democrat is running.

More video below the fold

Don Cunningham:

TJ Rooney said something noteworthy in his segment.  He lauds Arlen Specter for putting the people ahead of Party.  It reminds me of all the attacks I’ve taken from Democratic officials for doing precisely the same thing.  It’s why I’m no longer a Democrat.

Announcement Week

As we approach a couple major events and the February petition signing season some major candidates are kicking off their campaigns officially.  The first ever Pennsylvania Progressive Summit is this weekend in Harrisburg and it will feature a debate Friday evening among the four remaining Gubernatorial candidates (Tom Knox withdrew Friday as predicted).  Saturday evening will have a “forum” where both Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak will take questions about their U.S. Senate primary though not at the same time.

The following week the Pennsylvania Democratic Party meets in Lancaster and conduct endorsement votes on each race.  Two thirds is necessary to gain the official Party endorsement unless someone carries a majority vote to suspend the rules.  I have a sniff that something may be affot along those lines and, if so, would fatally cause a chasm in the Party which would insure Tom Corbett the Governor’s Mansion come November.

Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham will announce his endorsement of Arlen Specter this morning.  I’ll be on my way there in a few minutes.  This afternoon Jonathon Saidel makes it official he is running for Lt. Governor.  That event is in the Mayor’s Office in Philadelphia.  Tomorrow Montco Commissioner Joe Hoeffel embarks on a three city tour of Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia to launch his official campaign for Governor.  It’s a busy couple of days headed into a busy weekend so I’ll post as I can while covering these events.

Cunningham to Endorse Specter

Arlen Specter, who is ducking debates in his Democratic primary race against Congressman Joe Sestak will be endorsed Monday by Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham.  Cunningham announced the move this morning on Democratic Talk Radio.

Specter and Sestak were due to debate each other at next week’s Pennsylvania Progressive Summit.  Specter seemingly disengaged though, perhaps in part from pressure from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.  A Caucus Chair shared deep indignation at the idea of the state’s progressives having a debate which would be televised a week before the State Committee meeting.  I’m always amazed at how small minded Democratic Party officials can be.  Maybe they should be more concerned with why progressives are leaving the Party and/or not voting for Democratic candidates.  This is certainly one reason.  Conservatives dominate the PA Democratic Party and they meet three times a year.  Now they have their ears bent out of shape because progressives are meeting.

Wake Up Call

Tuesday was a wake up call for Democrats.  Next year will be a blood bath again if they don’t motivate their voters to go to the polls.  Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham won his election by about 800 votes because turnout was down 20,000.  Republicans swept races all across Pennsylvania because Democratic voters, whether fueled by complacency or apathy stayed home.  I see two major reasons for the low turnout:  failed leadership on the national level and failed leadership here in Pennsylvania.

There were no GOTV rallies in Pennsylvania to rally the faithful for this election.  No big name was brought in to storm through and motivate everyone. SEPTA went out on strike and someone (Ed Rendell, are you listening?) should have anticipated this and spoken with the union leadership.   The transit union bosses should be shot because the 100,000 Philadelphians who didn’t vote cost us control of the Supreme Court.  As nice as it is to have the World Series this election was far more important.

The state budget debacle also killed turnout.  Overall Democrats allowed the GOP to control the message in most of these locales.  That is a major mistake and I saw it everywhere.  Orie Melvin controlled the message in the Supreme Court race and Jack Panella never countered her attack ad.  In county after county smear campaigns ran Democrats into defensive mode.  Controlling the message is critical to winning:  you must knock their message out and get yours to the voters so that is what they remember when in the booth.

President Obama has abdicated leadership in Washington the ineffective and lame Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.  Instead of voting on a strong health care reform bill in July we’re now in November with one not even worth passing.  Obama vacillates between supporting a public option or not.  The legislation doesn’t protect women’s reproductive rights and what public option left would only cover 2% of Americans.  The bill is a disgrace because of a leadership void.

I heard David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager, dispute this on WHYY this morning but that shows me he remains in the Washington bubble.  Either that or he’s in serious denial.  I’m beginning to lose count of the number of people invoking Jimmy Carter since Tuesday.  These aren’t Republicans but loyal Democrats and interested independents.  The White House denied the election was a referendum on the president but every election is to some extent.  Refusal to respond to the wake up call means Barack Obama has failed the 3 AM test.

Thoughts from PA State Committee in Pittsburgh

A couple of my observations from attendance at state committee.  There were several people jealous of Morgan for getting personal face time and attention from Governor Rendell (Morgan stared down a rattlesnake before heading to New Mexico), Bob Casey’s speech bored the living hell outta me as im sure it did most of the audience. Casey Jr. needs to work on that… SERIOUSLY because I saw one lady almost nod off into her mashed potatoes, and finally which Gubernatorial candidates were actually present and what they were saying to others.

Of course there was an aura of excitement in the air with Senator Specter’s first speech to the Democratic Party and rightfully so.  Free tees for the crowd after were pretty popular.  They should have had a tee shirt sling-shot to shoot them into the packed reception for Onorato folks after dinner. That way it would have been easier to reach the bartender faster for another beer. Dan Onorato made his way through the dinner crowd greeting alot of people along the way.  Alot of eyes were on him and I must admit, he did look rather gubernatorial. He held a large reception with an open bar afterwards, and I noticed the Guv made his way in there for a while.  However, we did not see Onorato or Wagner near each other the entire evening and rightfully so because Jack Wagner disclosed to Morgan in an interview that he is indeed definitely running for Governor.

This confirmed our speculation a month earlier that he was lining himself up despite only 392,000 in COH.  Wagner sent a letter to DC criticizing PA government agencies for their vulnerabilities prone to squander federal stimulus money.  Wagner intentionally overstepped the Rendell Administration, which made them none too happy with him.  Wagner’s bold move to step over the guv was a direct sign (red alert) that he was running for something next year.  Morgan was able to get the info we needed…. Wagner is running, albeit if its with homemade cardboard signs because 392,000 wont get you very far.

Finally, it was perhaps most interesting to me and the question that hung over everyones head at such a big event like the first annual CBK dinner.  Where in the heck was Don Cunningham at this weekend?  Cunningham was a no show unless Wagner or Onorato had him tied up in a closet somewhere.  Morgan is going to try to pry for some answers as to why Cunningham was not present. Tom Knox, of course we already know was busy dolling out more predatory loans this weekend at home, so he couldnt make it.

Im looking forward to State Committee this Fall in Harrisburg! See you in the Fall!!!!!!!!

Fringe Wingnut Challenging Cunningham

A fringe Republican wingnut is now challenging Democrat Don Cunningham for Lehigh County Executive.  Scott Ott says he is a non profit executive but his is actually a non voting Board membership.  Non voting Board members have no say in an organization’s business.  Ott’s non profit is a christian camp which instills his brand of religion on unsuspecting youth.

More interesting are his web writings.  He has posted on Town Hall and a website called Scrappleface.  This Town Hall column is filled with inaccuracies.  First of all he supports the use of Guantanamo, a place which has proven to be Osama Bin Laden’s most effective tool for recruiting terrorists to attack us.  This also means he supports such unchristian things as the torture of human beings.  Shame on you Mr. Ott.

Then there’s this repetition of a common right wing lie:  “Supporters of keeping Gitmo open have noted that as many as 61 former Guantanamo detainees, after release, have returned to the fight, rejoining the network of Islamic jihadists.”  There are, in fact, no facts which support that number.  It is sheer speculation, a number pulled from thin air by people who support the inhuman treatment of human beings and will say anything to continue torturing people.

Then there’s this ridiculousness:  

Only an estimated 11 percent of the 520 detainees thus far released have returned to the fight. This means that Gitmo has a recidivism rate one-sixth the national average. It ought to be the envy of all in the stateside “correctional” industry, whose wardens should be paying $5,000 each for day-long seminars to learn ‘The Gitmo Way’.

Ott ignores the fact that most of the Gitmo prisoners never were terrorists.  Some were nothing more than boys and most were foreigners turned over to the CIA for bounties and had nothing to do with terrorism.  They were released because they hadn’t done anything wrong other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  No wonder the recidivism rate is so low.  Scott Ott makes a fool of himself making such ludicrous claims.  If this is how he gets his information and how he twists or ignores facts heaven help the people of Lehigh County.

Ott describes himself as an evangelical christian.  He also defended Gov. Palin’s abuse of power in TrooperGate.  Now there’s something which should send shivers down the spines of Lehigh Countians.  

In another article Ott spells out his philosophy of government:

Scott Ott: 1) Cut taxes — corporate, individual and nuisance taxes. Eliminate the death tax. 2) Eliminate government departments and programs not mandated in the Constitution. Department of Education goes first.  3) Privatize almost everything but national defense.

Mr. Brokaw, my energy policy is this: Get out of the way and let the energy markets function. My health care policy is this: Get the government completely out of the health care business. My entitlement reform proposal is this: If you’re an American citizen your entitlements are outlined in the Constitution. Nothing else is guaranteed.

Scott Ott: My administration would set an example of fiscal rigor by trimming expenses, cutting whole departments, and not buying anything for which we cannot pay cash. In addition, we would spur economic growth by slashing taxes, and reducing government regulations that exist solely to produce politically-correct social outcomes. We’ll put a stop to decades of efforts to use the tax code to overcome human nature and to create a collectivist Utopia.

1) Cap program benefits at their current levels. Don’t even allow cost of living increases.

2) Cut taxes to spur revenue growth.

3) Create free market options so younger Americans can opt out of Social Security, Medicare and the like.

The United States has the greatest medical care system in the world.

That is as radical as it gets folks.  The U.S. actualy only has the 37th best healthcare system in the world despite spending twice as much per capita.  If that’s a success I hate to see what Mr. Ott deems to be failure.  Oh, we do…Medicare (overhead of 3%), Social Security, regulation of Wall Street, evil taxation to fund public schools (he supports eliminating them so you have to send your kids to his “christian” schools for indoctrination), and the social safety net.  He supports the huge defense spending though:  “The money that we waste trying to rescue businesses and individuals from their own decisions could be going to project American strength through military power to those who mean us harm throughout the world.”  Defense spending doubled under Bush and two wars were begun.  He supports throwing our weight around like the world’s bully.

There’s more, much more but I think you get the idea of the kind of radical, fringe Republican Mr. Ott is.  If you want to be entertained by more wingnuttery go read the rest of his blog.  This is the best Lehigh County Republicans can do to challenge Cunningham?