Monday, May 17, 2010

Sestak - The Real Democrat

The Sestak campaign has been providing voters with something they call The Democratic Scorecard, it is a list of ratings by various organizations that are essential to understand the Democratic base. These organizations provide the volunteers and the money that Democratic candidates depend on. These ratings don’t always hold sway with me but in this case they are an indication of who is the Real Democrat in the race for the Senate. These ratings are based on the voting histories of the two candidates on the issues that are important to the organizations. Specter comments are mine.

For what it is worth:

Voted With Dems during Bush Years
Sestak 97%
Specter 23% / Voted with GOP 85% during career

AFL-CIO - lifetime
Sestak 97%
Specter 61% (Not bad for Republican)

AFSCME – lifetime
Sestak 100%
Specter 54% (Most progressive of Unions)

IBEW – lifetime
Sestak 100%
Specter 65% (Ditto AFL-CIO)

League of Women Voters – 2007
Sestak 100%
Specter 44%

National Education Assoc
Sestak 100%
Specter 56%

Disabled American Veterans
Sestak 100%
Specter 61%

NAACP – 2007-2008
Sestak 100%
Specter 76% - Not sure why this is so low – he does have a strong civil rights record

League of Conservation Voters – lifetime
Sestak 95%
Specter 45%

Alliance for Retired Americans - lifetime
Sestak 95%
Specter 39% (guess he figured he would never retire)

ACLU – 2007-2008
Sestak 91%
Specter 43%

NOW – current term
Sestak 100%
Specter 48%

Americans for Democratic Action – 2007
Sestak 95%
Specter 60% (surprised it is this high)

Environment America – 2008
Sestak 100%
Specter 60% (Wonder why they like him more than the Conservation voters)

NARAL – current term
Sestak 100%
Specter 67.5% (guess he is not pro-choice enough)

Humane Society – 2008
Sestak 100%
Specter 50% (I heard he kicks puppies when he is angry)

Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund – 2009
Sestak 100%
Specter 50% (Must hate Bambi)

Human Rights Campaign – 2007-2008
Sestak 95%
Specter 70% (Pretty good Gaydar for a Republican in his 70’s)

Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence – lifetime
Sestak 100%
Specter 10% (I bet if he did not represent PA and were a true Democrat his score would be higher)

Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America
Sestak A+
Specter B+

I wonder how I would fair with these ratings; I am liberal who is opposed to many campaign finance limits, I think people do have the right to bear arms; I am pro-business and think unions are sometimes out of step with the 21st century economic realities.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Joe Sestak

Recently I gave you some reasons to oppose Arlen Specter for re-election. I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that I am supporting Joe Sestak only because he is not Arlen Specter. Joe Sestak’s candidacy can and does stand on its own. I would be supporting Joe Sestak no matter who else was in the race.

Despite Arlen Specter’s best efforts to convince people otherwise Joe Sestak is a man of integrity. Because he truly does support the President’s agenda and wants to move this nation forward he is giving up a safe house seat to do what he thinks is best for the people of his state. Despite the President’s support for Arlen Specter, Joe Sestak spend much of his stump speech in support of the Barack Obama and his initiatives. He is running because he thinks the President needs to have a dependable supporter in the Senate. Can we really trust Arlen Specter to be dependable in his support of the President? I think not. Joe Sestak is not going to be blind in his loyalty but I suspect he will be more dependable than Arlen Specter.

Joe Sestak represents the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. He is pretty progressive in his views but well within the mainstream.

He is the highest ranking military veteran to be elected to congress and he supports the overturn of DADT. After 31 years in the navy this is a bold and courageous position and it is the right position for our country. He is leading the efforts for a new GI bill that will ensure our veterans have the educational opportunities past heroes have benefited from. He has authored legislation the will provide health care to 230,000 vets that have fallen through the cracks of societies social net.

On health care reform he did not waver, he did not grandstand, he did not try to impose conditions for his support of reform, he just supported it because it is/was the right thing to do.
He authored legislation to give first time home buyers a tax credit. Like health care reform he supported emergency economic stimulus. He did not waver, he did not bargain, he did not think about what was in his best interest, he knew what the right thing to do was and he did it.
The League of Conservation Voters gave Joe Sestak a highest rating of 100%; Arlen Specter’s career average is 40.5%. Sestak has sponsored legislation to give grants to small businesses in the renewable-fuels field and he champion’s current efforts to pass the climate change / energy conservation legislation.

From a purely political perspective Joe Sestak can win in November Arlen Specter cannot. Arlen Specter always won because he worked harder than anyone else, because Republicans are very loyal voters and rarely split their tickets and because he has always reached out to Democrats with very strategic voting. Specter has lost his Republican base and he has been unable to convince Democrats that he is one of them. If he is the nominee there will be no enthusiasm for his campaign and he could well bring down the entire ticket; up to and including the Governor and control of the State House. The activist Democrats are not going to do what they did for Obama for Arlen Specter. In a year when that is not favoring the establishment, Pat Toomey and the Republicans will make the race about Arlen Specter not about the issues. If Joe Sestak is the nominee that advantage goes away. Toomey is a lobbyist, Washington insider and talking head a fact that he has been very successful in hiding from his teabagger supporters. Toomey will be able to hide this if Specter is the nominee he will not be able to if Sestak is the Democrats choice.

The Democrats have a choice on Tuesday; hope or cynicism, leadership or opportunism, principles or self interest.

There is no choice. I am asking you to vote for Joe Sestak. Win or lose you feel good about your vote.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hey Hey Ho Ho Arlen Specter Has Go To Go - 2

Arlen Specter has been serving in the Senate since 1981. His election in 1980 was reportedly his last try at state wide office having lost to John Heinz in the 1976 Senate Republican Primary and Dick Thornburgh in the 1978 gubernatorial primary. It was said at the time that Arlen was determined to win the race and that nothing was going to get in his way, he vowed to outspend everyone else in the race and he did. Since then Arlen Specter has been a most formidable force in state politics. He has always won his primaries by large margins and except for 1992 his general elections have not been all that close.

His only real political stumble was in 1996 when he ran for President. He embarrassed himself and showed some vulnerability in regards to the GOP base. I believe this was the beginning of the end for Arlen Specter. He won his next reelection by a comfortable margin but grumblings could be heard within the state Republican Party about him not being a doctrinaire Republican.

He is a mainstream northeast Republican but the direction the GOP is heading is far away from the main stream. In 2004 Specter faced his first real challenge in the primary and was dragged over the finish line by President Bush and Little Ricky Santorum.

This year his party has turned on him with such finality that if he wanted any chance at political survival he needed to heed the advice of his old train riding buddy, Joe Biden and switch parties. He has been a dependable vote in support of the Democratic agenda this year but I have to wonder if he wins in November will he return to the Republican Party if it is in his best interest. With Arlen Specter it is rarely about anything but his self interest.

And, that is my problem with Arlen Specter, the only interest he has really had is his own. There is no great legislation with his name on it. He is not responsible for any program that moved this country forward and I can think of no accomplishment that bears his name. Arlen Specter’s career has been about Arlen Specter and if something good happened for the country all the better.

Arlen Specter did not switch parties after 45+ years because he thought he could better represent his constituents he switched parties because he thought it was the only way he could get re-elected. In 1965 Arlen Specter did not switch parties because his politics changed he switched parties because he knew it was not going to be a Democratic year in Philadelphia. Arlen always puts Arlen first. In contrast Joe Sestak is giving up a congressional seat that he could have held for a very long time to run for this race. Joe Sestak is running for Pennsylvanians.

He asked the voters of Pennsylvania to vote for Nixon/Agnew, Ford/Dole, Reagan/Bush, Bush/Quayle, Dole/Kemp, Bush/Cheney and McCain/Palin. Arlen Specter told us the George Bush would be a better President than Al Gore and he told us that Sarah Palin would be a better Vice President for this country than Joe Biden. And, now Arlen Specter wants us to believe that he is a Democrat.

Today on Hardball Arlen Specter said he voted for Ed Rendell for Governor. Four years ago he was quoted in the Pittsburgh newspaper supporting Lynn Swain for Governor not Ed Rendell. Was Arlen Specter lying today on Hardball or was he lying four years ago when he was publicly supporting the Republican over his “good friend” Ed Rendell?

After over 45 years in public office I still do not know who Arlen Specter is and I am tired of it. I want my Democratic nominee to be a real Democrat and I want be confident that my Democratic nominee will be a Democrat after the election. I can’t trust Arlen Specter to do that. Can you?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

PA 15th Race: He Could Go All The Way

I received a Facebook invitation to a fundraising event for Congressional Candidate John Callahan. It was at a new restaurant in Allentown and I thought I would kill two birds with one stone, check out the place and give a contribution to Mayor Callahan. I did not read the details. It was an event for the Young Dems and Young Professionals of the Lehigh Valley. I am neither.

I arrived fairly early and there were few people to talk to. The hosts greeted me and made some small talk and moved on. I walked around to look at the impressive remodeling and came back into the bar area to order a cocktail. I was thinking of leaving (they had my check) no one would really miss me.

Then the Mayor arrived saw me and came right over to greet me and for the next twenty minutes he and I talked about the polls, policies, campaign strategy, blogs, and his wife & children. He told me that he enjoyed my writing and that he has me on his clip service. Callahan is prepared for this race, he has a firm understanding of what it is going to take to win and he knows what it is going to take to be a success in Washington.

I knew very few people there so I had the time to watch John Callahan work the room. He is the master of this. Each person he spoke to knew that they were the focus of his attention and the only person he was interested in for that moment. I have mentioned this about him in the past and he confirmed it again. His ability to work a room is something historians will be writing about for years to come. I have been around candidates for office since I was a teenager and I have never been in the presence of someone who so natural, so genuine and so talented.

This was a very casual evening and his remarks fit right in. He was funny, touching and wonky. He discussed the political, the personal and the issues that matter to him. He told some funny stories about his day with the Vice President and how it is being Mr. Mom while his wife is away at a conference. Throughout he was genuine, clever and engaging.

I was resigned to the fact that Charlie Dent was going to be our Congressman for as long as he wanted to be, he is an excellent office holder and has a very good reputation (though it is fading lately). But the more I watch John Callahan I am beginning to dare to think that Charlie Dent may have his ambitions put on hold come November. I am not going to guarantee that Callahan will win this race but when John Callahan sets his mind to accomplish something he usually accomplishes it. Something tells me that John Callahan could go very far indeed.