With the election over, it’s time for some Monday Morning Quarterbacking.
United States Senate
The conventional wisdom was right on this one. Specter was never able to get his numbers above the mid-forties in any of the pre-election polls. Sestak picked up a good 80 percent of the undecided voters.
Specter wrote his own political obituary when he came out hard against Sestak with a television commercial that offended almost every veteran in the state. Sestak responded with an excellent commercial painting Specter as a political opportunist in last year’s switch from Republican to Democrat.
The commercial in which Specter said “I switched parties to get re-elected” was classic, and it carried a message that resonated with voters by showcasing everything people hate about politicians.
Republican Pat Toomey cruised to victory and sets the table for what will be one of the most watched Senate battles in country. Toomey will try to paint Sestak as a liberal stooge of Harry Reid and Barack Obama. Sestak will attack Toomey as an right wing extremist who is controlled by the likes of the Club for Growth.
Tom Corbett held off a vocal challenge from State Rep. Sam Rohrer that never translated into votes. Dan Onorato just overwhelmed his challengers with a lot of money. The money created great state-wide name recognition, and Onorato never looked back.
History tells us that the November election is Corbett’s to lose. Since the Pennsylvania constitution was changed in 1968, allowing for Governors to succeed themselves, the Governor’s mansion has alternated from Democrat to Republican with each eight year cycle.
In any case, the money will be spent by both sides.
This race will also be one that draws national attention. Thirteen term Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D) has a rematch against Hazleton MayorLou Barletta (R). Barletta was unopposed in the primary, and Kanjorski won handily in a three way primary race. O’Brien had promised an energetic challenge, but the money never matched O’Brien’s energy.
Barletta will have the money and the energetic supporters that will give Kanjorski his biggest challenge to date. Barletta came close in 2008, in a highly Democratic year.
Democratic incumbent Chris Carney ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination, while Republican Tom Marino won the Republican nomination in a three way battle.
Carney has $600,000 plus in the bank and Marino spent most of his cash in the primary. Republican insiders tell the Examiner that they were underwhelmed by the Marino campaign. They also say that the National Republican Congressional Committee may have soured on Marino and support in the Fall may be luke warm at best.
In what may be the surprise victory of the night, career bureaucrat John Blake won a plurality victory in a crowded Democratic field. Blake saw a late endorsement from incumbent Senator Bob Mellow, along with a late influx of needed campaign cash. Blake also benefited from being the only “Mid-Valley” candidate in the race.
The early favorite Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty never pulled away from the field. Doherty was hurt by two other Scrantonians on the ballot, former Lackawanna County Commissioner Joe Corcoran and Scranton school director Chris Phillips.
The two most disappointing showings were for insurance executive Chuck Volpe and soon to be former State Rep. Jim Wansacz. The numbers show that Wansacz did not have great appeal outside his own legislative district, and Volpe, despite spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $600,000, seemed to have reached a voter ceiling that he could not break through.
The Corcoran campaign never took off, and Phillips did not have the money to get his compelling message across.
Republican political activist Frank Scavo will face Blake in the Fall. This is a heavily Democratic district, and Scavo will have a serious uphill battle against what promises to be a well-funded Blake campaign. Scavo will likely try to tie Blake to Mellow and the Harrisburg establishment, but that will take money and it is unlikely Scavo will have it.
State Rep John Yudichak posted an impressive victory in the Democratic primary over Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton. Yudichak won 65 percent of the vote in Wilkes-Barre and never looked back. Although a 12 year veteran of Harrisburg, Yudichak was able to run against the excesses and corruption of Harrisburg. Leighton’s attempts to tie Yudichak to Harrisburg fell flat, and Leighton’s bungled response on the Bill Brace character letter didn’t help his chances.
Yudichak will face Republican Steve Urban in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one. Yudichak will be well financed in the Fall, and it is questionable, using past campaigns as a guide, if Urban will raise or spend much money.
Gerald Mullery of Newport Township garnered almost 50 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary in a three way race. Mullery was able to capitalize on a strong regional showing in the Nanticoke/Newport township area in a race that flew under the radar. This race to replace Yudichak was overshadowed by the Yudichak/Leighton Senate battle.
Mullery now faces Rice Township contractor Rick Arnold in a highly Democratic district.