Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Running right in Pennsylvania -- don't get yourself primaried!

It is good to be finally posting since I am the only one left.  I should explain myself, I thought the blog was called the “silent primary” so I thought I would stick with that theme and remain so (as difficult as that is for me).  Now that I know it is the invisible primary I plan talk much but remain invisible (equally hard for me…).

As a person who likes to pay attention to budgeting and budgeting processes, the current budget-centered battles provide a great indicator of the temperature of our current hidden primary.  The sequestration alone seems to be a proxy war of sorts for the 2014 congressional primaries and beyond.  The insightful Stan Collender, in his blog Capital Gains and Games, talks here about how the GOP decision to move forward with the sequester cuts had nothing to do with the budget and everything to do with the potential to be “primaried” by the right-wing of the party.  Challenges from the right become even more important, and the ability to move safely to the right in defending your seat is even more essential given serious efforts to make districts more and more safe.  As the general election becomes more and more irrelevant, the primaries become the true focus of elections.

Of course, you can’t “redistrict” a whole state so it makes it trickier for Senators to use this playbook to its full extent.  Senator Pat Toomey used this move-to-the-right approach in his earlier House wins and in 2010 to win his Senate seat.  But given the problems the Democrats faced with the Arlen Specter switch and a weak campaign strategy offered by Congressman Joe Sestak, it is not necessarily a strategy that will serve him well in 2016.  This is particularly true given the fact that Pennsylvania Democrats have a 1 million registered voter advantage over Republicans.  Toomey’s role on the not-so-super committee makes one think he is going to stick to his well-tested run-right strategy,  But he tries to make sure everyone thinks he is one of the “reasonable” Republican’s by not joining the Tea Party Caucus and by making appearances on the liberal-acceptable-republican show, Morning Joe, here (any Republican drinking Starbucks with a woman must be okay, right?).  But it is hard to reconcile this given his recent Club For Growth’s “Defender of Economic Freedom” award.

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