The Battle for America 2010: Round-Up at September's End
Key Race: US House PA-10
Joe Wilson reporting:
A question: who is more irrelevant to Pennsylvanians, Kevin Kolb, benched quarterback of the Eagles, or Joe Sestak, soon to be benched congressman from Philadelphia? At least for Kolb, the phone at Eagles’ HQ has been ringing off the hook from teams seeking help at the quarterback position. The Navy, so far, has not yet requested that the one-time admiral return to active duty.
An Obama fundraiser for Sestak’s Senate candidacy, so poorly attended that media observed that students were being given free tickets just to fill the house, revealed to the observant the not-terribly-well-concealed truth: a floundering president has not been a great deal of assistance to a flailing candidate. By all accounts, Sestak would have preferred help from the first lady (and she might do a better job); after the Messiah’s intervention, Sestak still trails Pat Toomey by a substantial margin. As for the “flail,” this week’s laughable effort from the Sestak camp was its attempt to tar him with the Club for Growth’s 2007 citation by the FEC for illegal lobbying. The problem, as ever, for Sestak and the Dems is that some people may actually read the FEC filing and the citation, helpfully hyperlinked by Sestak’s people. If the curious do, they will find that the majority of FEC complaints predate Toomey’s ascendancy to the Club for Growth. More to the point, Sestak’s tireless efforts to hang something on Toomey look increasingly desperate, as does his effort to claim to have distanced himself from Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress. (To counter, Toomey merely has to run a three-second quote from Sestak himself, claiming that he wants to be Obama’s strongest ally.) Meanwhile, Toomey’s own message of fiscal discipline and tax reduction resonates increasingly well around the Keystone State, and barring a late rush by the Democrat, Toomey should easily take the Senate seat for the Republicans.
Key Races: Governor, U.S. House
“Texas is open for business.” That’s the message that Republican Gov. Rick Perry is running his unconventional campaign on. The longest serving governor in Texas history presides over a state that leads in job creation, has one of the country’s lowest tax burdens, and has successfully positioned itself as one of the world’s energy leaders. Given all that, you might think that in a Republican state in a Republican year, such a Republican governor would be running away with the race, but the polls show Democrat Bill White staying competitive. Two things help explain this: Texas’ historical resistance to incumbency, and Texas’ historical resistance to incumbency. Only a handful of Texas governors have ever served more than one term, including Gov. Perry. Expect to hear more about Bill White’s openness to raising taxes and the scandals former Mayor White left back in Houston in the remaining weeks of the campaign.
Elsewhere in Texas, TX-17 is starting to look like a blowout. Republican challenger Bill Flores released a poll showing him up a whopping 19 points over Democratic incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards. Polls also show Republican challenger Francisco Canseco narrowly leading Democrat incumbent Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in TX-23. And in a shocker this week, Republican state House challenger Pat McGuiness released a poll showing a narrow lead for him over Democrat incumbent Mark Strama in state House district 50. As a bellwether, this is big. Strama was viewed as unbeatable as recently as a few months ago despite his affinity for President Obama. If Strama is vulnerable, every Democrat in every competitive district in the state is vulnerable. With Texas now set to gain four U.S. House seats after redistricting, the Republicans are looking to run up the score in the state House to ensure control over the maps and pickups in districts like 50 and nearby district 45, along with districts in the Dallas area that went Democrat in the Obama sweep of 2008.
Texas’ terrifying wild card: Houston. The state’s largest city is home to rampant voter registration fraud, a fire of as yet undetermined cause that destroyed all of the county’s voting machines, and home to Democratic governor nominee Bill White and ACORN’s own state rep. Houston is where the Democrats have gone all in to win, and the brewing chaos there could make Nov. 2 far more tense than anyone expected a month ago.
Key Race: U.S. House, VA-5
David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner has his ear to the ground on ad buys, and there’s been some movement in VA-5 … against Perriello, the Democrat. The NRCC has dropped in excess of $100,000 for “media” expenses in order to help Hurt unseat the incumbent. That’s significant — it’s a vote of confidence in Hurt’s campaign, and it gives him some breathing room in his campaign’s Quicken spreadsheet. Where Perriello does have an advantage, it’s in the war chest, and while the DCCC’s current silence on the matter doesn’t mean the ground has been ceded, it does mean that The Powers That Be in the Republican establishment feel comfortable in dropping some serious cash to lock down this probable pickup.