Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Barletta...Pennsylvania's Mayor

Hazleton Mayor and Congressional hopeful Lou Barletta was named Mayor of the Year by the Pennsylvania State Mayor’s Association this weekend.

In particular, the Association cited Barletta’s hands on approach to tackling the problem with illegal immigration as one of their major factors in bestowing the award on Barletta. The Times Leader has a great encapsulation of the story from the AP.

Sign Wars

A Massachusetts woman wrote in to the Susquehanna Independent about a rather dubious affair that occurred in her presence while attending the “We the People” Independence Day Parade in her hometown of Montrose. Apparently, the woman noticed Chris Carney supporters obscuring the view of Chris Hackett signs by placing Carney signs directly in front of them. She then goes on to say that the same sign-blockers then joined the procession in the parade sporting signs with “Pennsylvania Values” plastered on them.

The full letter can be found here. I am not sure that you necessarily lay this one on the lap of the Carney campaign. I am sure Congressman Carney didn’t instruct anyone to perform such ridiculously stupid behavior (least of all in front of people.) If however, these people were significant enough players to march in the parade, they should have known better. Either way, Carney might want to have a serious talk with his supporters about this type of behavior. If this kind of behavior is occurring already on the part of Carney supporters, I can only imagine what it will be like in October.

Latest Rasmussen on Congress

The latest Rasmussen Report shows that approval of Congress is at an all time low. According to the report, only 9% believe Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Only 12% believe Congress has passed legislation to improve life in our country. 72% believe most members of Congress are in it to further their political carriers while 14% believe members of Congress genuinely want to help people.

11th Gets Hotter!

Josh Krau Shaar wrote a story on Politico about PA-11. In it, Josh talks about the five House races he believes can be lost by Democrats. In particular, he cites a lack of connection between Kanjorski and his local elected officials. Basically, he is saying that Paul has not spent enough time with his constituents. He also cites his now infamous Ashley town hall meeting where he basically stated that Democrats oversold the idea of an Iraq withdrawal to simply win the 2006 Election. He also brings up the confrontation Kanjorski had with a blogger and a video camera. All of which are now widely circulated on youtube. He does however give an important caveat…money. Kanjorski is swimming in it. Kanjorski has over $2 million versus Barletta’s $322,000.

Something Josh didn’t delve into was the source of the candidate’s funding. Kanjorski is raking in major dollars from Washington-based groups and PACs. Barletta is primarily raising his money from individuals. Conventional wisdom holds that the Washington cash machine can produce far greater totals than individuals writing small dollar checks. The greater issue here in my mind is “Do those dollars actually hurt the candidate?”

There is a large segment of the voting population that is crying out for change. Congressional approval ratings are at an all-time low. If a push for change translates into an anti-incumbent backlash, this could be trouble for Kanjorski. Barletta might be able to paint Kanjorski with the Washington paintbrush if he ties his contributions to the “special interest groups” in Washington.

For example, some sources of Kanjorski’s money are currently catching their fair share of negative ink. Groups like Countrywide Financial’s PAC have contributed rather significant sums to Paul Kanjorski’s war chest. With the current lending crisis looming, Countrywide has been a major target of criticism. This long contribution history has been reported in national news outlets like the Wall Street Journal. Items like this could create a perfect storm for Barletta if he demonstrates to the electorate that he wants to change the way Washington does business while labeling Paul Kanjorski as part of the problem.

While discussing the topic of PA-11, I cannot forget to mention the non-partisan Cook Political Report’s recent release of their handicapping of the congressional races. To summarize, most races remained the same from the last time the report was issued. 28 seats showed movement. 27 showed movement in favor of the Democrats. 1 seat moved to a more favorable position for the Republican, that was Lou Barletta’s race in PA-11 against Paul Kanjorski.