Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Casey Wins in Pennsylvania

From the Washington Post:

Political veteran Bob Casey, the heavy favorite, easily won the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania on Tuesday to challenge conservative Republican Sen. Rick Santorum in the fall.

[…]

The 46-year-old Casey, son of the late Gov. Robert P. Casey, now serves as Pennsylvania treasurer. He was courted by national Democratic Party leaders to take on Santorum, the Senate’s No. 3 Republican and a close ally of President Bush. The race could cost a combined $50 million.

Santorum, seeking a third term, was unopposed in the GOP primary.

Casey cruised past two political newcomers in the Democratic primary, Philadelphia pension lawyer Alan Sandals and Philadelphia college professor Chuck Pennacchio.

With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Casey had 587,622 votes, or 85 percent of the total.

[…]

Some Democratic voters said they were more interested in picking a candidate who could defeat Santorum than in sending a message to Casey that some of his positions, like his opposition to abortion, are too conservative.

“I’m too old at this point in my life for symbolic victories,” said Philadelphian David Hyman, 52.

Chuck Pennacchio got a lot of support from the left blogosphere, including Eschaton and All Facts and Opinions, but in the end it came down to the pragmatic choice of who stood a better chance of beating Rick Santorum, who will be a formidable candidate in the fall.

A bit of history is worth considering. Robert Casey’s father, the late Gov. Bob Casey, Sr., was also an anti-abortion Democrat. At the 1992 convention that nominated Bill Clinton, Gov. Casey was not included in the speaker’s list, a fact that the Republicans have used to beat up the Democrats for their hypocrisy on being “open-minded” ever since. (The Republicans have allowed several pro-choice Republicans to speak at their conventions as a bit of a nose-tweak to the Democrats; the reception of such speakers has been icy to the point of several, including Colin Powell, being booed from the convention floor. So much for “open-minded” Republicans.) Therefore the lesson is that while some progressives may find Mr. Casey to be too conservative for their tastes on certain issues, the alternative of returning Rick Santorum, who has heretofore demonstrated views towards women and gays that border on medieval, is far worse.

Mr. Pennacchio ran a very focused and populist-oriented campaign, and he deserves a great deal of credit for bringing issues such as a living wage, environmental concerns, energy independence, and infrastructure repair to the table. His campaign was not just “symbolic,” but the majority of Democrats in the state seemed to say that it’s time to nominate a candidate who is already leading Sen. Santorum in the polls.