Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Pennsylvania House Democrat resists party-switching entreaties

Pennsylvania Rep. Chris Carney (D) announced tonight that he would not switch to the Republican party despite a personal phone call today from Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) urging him to do so.

"I am flattered by the overtures of Sen[ator] McCain and other Republican Party officials and consider their outreach a sure sign that I have worked in a truly bipartisan manner," said Carney in a statement. "I appreciate the Republican Party's outreach, but I have no plans to change parties."

Carney won the northeastern Pennsylvania 10th district in 2006 thanks, in large part to the scandal surrounding then Rep. Don Sherwood (R). Carney won re-election in 2008 despite the fact that McCain won the seat 54 percent to 45 percent.

According to the Washington Post vote database, Carney has voted with the Democratic majority 90.8 percent of the time in the 111th Congress. Republicans have been aggressively courting candidates to challenge Carney in 2010 with former U.S. Attorney Tom Marino at the top of their list.

McCain's call to Carney signals a coordinated Republican effort to capitalize on the party switch on Tuesday of Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith, the first Democrat to switch to the GOP since Rep. Rodney Alexander in 2004.

Republicans insist there are others like Griffith out there and that the legislative course the House majority has steered is acting as a impetus to push Democrats out of the party.

Again, a single seat like Griffith's doesn't make a huge difference in the grand scheme of the battle for the House where Democrats hold a 40-seat majority. But, the symbolic import of a Democrat abandoning the party when it hold all the levers of power in Washington should not be underestimated.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 23, 2009; 9:17 PM ET
Categories:  House  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Happy Holidays!
Next: Health care passes the Senate, political wrangling begins


OK a few points;
1. Elijah 24: Can you please tell where it is written that a Democrat must also be a Liberal?
Or that all Republicans are Conservatives?
If you are both a Liberal & a Democrat, that's good for you but party orthodoxy should not be an admissions test. It stunts a party's growth. The same is true for the other side of the aisle.
Another question is which weapons systems are you referring to? As far as I can tell the weapons we developed to fight the Russians are working very well everywhere else we're using them. Remember, a tank designed to kill Russian tanks will do a very good job killing the tanks of everyone else too. The same is true for naval weapons.

2. Lindalovesjones: "Republicans disgust me"?
That's not exactly the height of political discourse would you say? and
"The only thing that satisfies Republicans is war because they love all that killing and spending billions on bloody battlefields." You conveniently forget that WW1, WW2, Korea and Viet-Nam were all wars started under Democrat Presidents with the last 2 ended by Republicans (although not ended well). Such rabid & insulting comments are just, well, rude and patently untrue.

That being said the topic was McCain attempting to induce a Democratic Congressman to switch parties. On that note I say we should look at where the invite as coming from. John McCain does not truly represent the Republican party and IMHO the only reason he was nominated in 2008 was that they felt they owed it to him and that there was no way that the American public would elect a Mormon (Romney) to the Presidency (shameful pandering to their own radicals). Fred Thompson just got into the race too late to be anything other than an also-ran. McCain has a history of being a little too left of center on many issues for the core of the Republican party to be viewed as the heart & soul of Republicanism. I wouldn't give too weight to his efforts in this particular situation.

Posted by: ironwolf1 | December 29, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

It still appears by the comments
that there are still many Democrats
who do not want to be confused by
facts! Have not been paying attention? its OK, you'll pay the price in screwed up healthcare, higher taxes, more costly government interventions, deficits that we cannot even tell you how many zeros are in those numbers, and on & On. Happy New Year! Oh P.S. I forgot to mention
more vote buying with YOUR money to get programs passed!!

Posted by: namnorm | December 28, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

It still appears by the comments
that there are still many Democrats
who do not want to be confused by
facts! Have not been paying attention? its OK, you'll pay the price in screwed up healthcare, higher taxes, more costly government interventions, deficits that we cannot even tell you how many zeros are in those numbers, and on & On. Happy New Year! Oh P.S. I forgot to mention
more vote buying with YOUR money to get programs passed!!

Posted by: namnorm | December 28, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Just keep thinking that it makes any difference until they take your money and start spreading it around amongst themselves.

Posted by: websmith1 | December 28, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, those darned racist/antiwomen Reps, imagine the gall of a GOP President like Bush Jr appointing the most diverse cabinet in history and showing the blather for what it is.

Posted by: Obaama | December 28, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

One of the pundits on Sunday TV gave the best explanation of Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith's defection to the GOP. He's the last of the Dixiecrats. 'Nuf said.

Posted by: paulchouinard | December 28, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Try "an impetus" not "a impetus".

Posted by: paulchouinard | December 28, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Carney has an interesting second life as a Commander in the Naval Reserves. He is assigned to the Predator drone program run out of MacDill AFB in Tampa. While fulfilling his active duty requirements -- as a member of Congress -- he has acknowledged being in the chain of command for orders to the drones to deploy their munitions at targets in Pakistan. Does this raise questions of propriety for anyone else, since Congress controls the purse strings? Should a Congressman be so involved in the active engagement of war, especially in Pakistan, with its diplomatic issues?

Posted by: optimyst | December 28, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

thank you SeattleTop, your post was great, couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by: katem1 | December 28, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

"Which is why ad hominem attacks are such logical fallacies."

That makes zero sense.

The plural is like saying "I enjoy watching televisions"

"Ad hominem attacks" is redundant.

Probably tries to make blog trouble for anyone who disagrees with her.

SUCH logical fallacies!

Posted by: SeattleTop | December 26, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Pretty funny. The GOP really needs to decide whether it wants RINOs or not.

Bit of a desperate attempt to deny the GOP's obvious consolidation into a merely regional party.

Posted by: nodebris | December 26, 2009 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Again, a single seat like Griffith's doesn't make a huge difference in the grand scheme of the battle for the House where Democrats hold a 40-seat majority. But, the symbolic import of a Democrat abandoning the party when it hold all the levers of power in Washington should not be underestimated.
What weaselism.  The symbolic import .. should not be underestimated?
We have an elderly southerner who doesn't like taking orders from a woman, leaving the Democratic party for one where white males call all the shots and don't take no guff from no wimmen and no nigras.  Symbolic import? 
Talk about clutching at straws!  Expect an out-of-band column entry next time some insignificant Republican assistant to the holder open of doors for state representative gets a within-margin-of-error jump in approval rating.  Most important number in politics today, no less.

Posted by: SeattleTop | December 25, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

McCain must have proposed an opportunity to Carney that he would be better off in the party of "no". That way Carney, like the Republicans, would not have to do anything. Just si around and yell "death panels" and don't uphold your oath to the people of Pennsylvania.

Sorry, who but an old white guy from Alabama would want to be a Republican?

Great Country America?

Posted by: COWENS99 | December 24, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Makes sense to me that Republicans are begging Democrats to join their party. After the complete disaster they left behind for Obama and the Democrats to clean up...they sure can't ever count on actual AMERICAN VOTERS to actually...what's the word...oh yeah... ELECT more Republicans.

Posted by: wilder5121 | December 24, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, I sure hope we don't have other congressmen as lame as Griffith and Rodney Alexander. Two guys so confused they can't figure out which party they are better aligned with before they run for congress? Alexander has been a big nothing in Congress, so he has set a very low bar for Griffith. I'm sure they will vote as told, which makes them good candidates as far as the GOP is concerned.

The GOP is good at identifying low-hanging fruit but I think they actually picked these two bruised nobodies up off the ground.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | December 24, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Republicans insist there are others like Griffith out there and that the legislative course the House majority has steered is acting as a impetus to push Democrats out of the party.

This is typical when the minority party do try to highlight the divisions within the majority power (just like the late 80s) when they have their own problems dealing with their base and teabaggers when there is a disconnect between the beltway and local leaders and various special interest groups (considering what had happened to Scozzafava).

The problem comes with knowing your district and the number of types of voters living in the district whether it is Republicans, Democrats or Independents and in between that would make switching party easy but it is not. Simply, the electoral makeup of the district changes due to redistricting and the population shift affect who represents them. As McCain supporters found out, they went to PA to try to drum up support for McCain because they thought PA was the key to his win but did not realize the demographic has changed over the years judging from the reactions they encountered.

Posted by: beeker25 | December 24, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

One thing that all you Republican Wave Riders ought to think about, (think, not indulge your fantasies) is that a Democrat in an otherwise red district may try to hold his Democratic voters and draw independents. When he goes Red, he gives up most of his Democratic supporters, and gains very few Republican Supporters, who almost always already have the guy they intend to run in the next election. So it would only make sense in a swing district where Republicans outnumber Democrats, but Independents outnumber Party registrations by a significant amount. There, and only there, might it make sense to switch parties before an election. Even then, switching to the Minority Party, and losing whatever party seniority you have built up, and thus any rank on your key committees, and become a suspect waffle in the old boy network you are joining.

It makes little sense for Griffith to swap, but he is a freshman who immediately pushed himself off to the edge of the Democratic Caucus. What he shows more than anything is that he really IS a Republican at heart, since they regularly run for Congress with delusions of being the next big thing on the hill, and being mad when the last big things on the hill tell them to knuckle down, learn the business, and be patient.

Legislation is an art form that must be learned in long and difficult apprenticeship. Fail to learn the lessons and you get to waste your time on the hill pushing bad legislation until even your ardent backers give up on you.

Posted by: ceflynline | December 24, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Ditto that, cef... here's a fuller explanation:

'The Griffith defection was a coup for the GOP. But It's only one vote and for a Dem the guy comes from an extremely conservative district in a red state.

So they didn't get quite the pop they wanted from it. Partly, it's just before Christmas. But more than that Health Care Reform is still the story dominating everything else. I don't know how many red state Dems the GOP is actively courting with any prospect of success. But the key here isn't just to get more seats -- after all, the reason a party convinces someone to switch seats is almost always because the party was going to win the seat anyway in the next election. It's much more to create dissension and demoralization in Democratic ranks. So they came up with someone to give the story a second day on stage.

McCain calls Carney. He apparently doesn't even get him on the phone but leaves a voicemail. Then a "GOP operative", quite possibly the same guy who handed McCain the phone (but who knows?) calls up reporter friend at the Politico and gives them the scoop. Then Politico writes up the story.

As I wrote earlier, if you really think you're about to bag this guy, the last -- and I mean, the last -- thing you do is leak it to the press in an early stage of the negotiation. Because you need to catch the other side off guard because they have a chance to either cajole or bully the officeholder back on to the reservation.

This was a pretty garden variety stunt. A telling moment for McCain.'

A cheap stunt. But Chris fell for it... or pushed it.

Posted by: drindl | December 24, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

1828 LONGF. in 'Life'(1391) I. 152 Gew-gaws for the 'Bifano', who acts here the same comedy for children that Santiclaus does in America.!DCD7544ECCB8065F!262.entry

Posted by: edtroyhampton | December 24, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I see one of two possibilities for why McCain would cold call a SDemocrat who voted with his party 90.5 % of the time;

The Republicans have been reading too much of their own press about the coming Republican wave and decided that just because that district went less blue than most, it was one of a very few north of the Potomac/Ohio barrier that MIGHT be turnable. Find a Dem silly enough to abandon his party and go red at this point, give him the Palin/Huffman treatment and expect to win the way Huffman won in New York.

The alternative to that silly possibility is that the senile dementia that started to show in McCain during the campaign is becoming more and more dominant.

Just remember, his mind seems to be going fast and he ISN'T under any particular pressure. Where would we be were he under the pressures Obama is facing?

Posted by: ceflynline | December 24, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse


Perhaps you haven't read the many "insults" here on these threads?

Posted by: JakeD | December 24, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Republicans disgust me. They try to make everything dirty, and they are experts at insults. I suppose it's because their minds are totally filled with all that hatred toward everything and everybody.

The only thing that satisfies Republicans is war because they love all that killing and spending billions on bloody battlefields.

If this guy Carney becomes compelled to join the party of hate, fine. But once he takes a look at all those red angry faces ready to attack Americans with either their guns or their bibles, it makes sense that he would change his mind.

Republicans are just trying to find a way to get other Republicans in office, without the vote.

They keep saying they expect a lot of Republifreaks to get elected during mid-terms, but who would such vile creatures to represent them.

Posted by: lindalovejones | December 24, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Like I said drindle, with the Tea-Baggers out there and what happened to Dede Scozafava, I can't imagine why any dem would cross over right now.

Posted by: elijah24 | December 24, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Parker Griffith did not represent Democrats well, so he was headed for a likely loss. Nor is he wanted by Republicans, because he isn't quite bat-sh*t crazy enough. So now he will defnitely lose his seat.

Why would Carney want to go down that loser path?

Posted by: drindl | December 24, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

While as a southerner, I would tend to agree about Pennsylvania hardly being southern, I think it was James Carville who said something to the effect of, In Pennsylvania there is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and everything in between is Alabama.

Posted by: spenser1058 | December 24, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Donny Most, Donny Most, he was Ralph on Happy Days

Donny Most, Donny Most, now he rises from the haze

Posted by: JakeD | December 24, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

What the heck? Obviously ecstatic that a Dem Rep from Hunsville, AL switched to GOP, they have the once proud John McCain making cold calls begging Democrats to switch parties? Why doesn't he promise them cheaper long-distance while he's got them on the line.

It makes one wonder why Carney did not respond by asking McCain to switch parties and become a Democrat.

GOP. You may want to consider this: Pennsylvania is NOT Alabama, silly boys!

Merry Christmas to all!

Posted by: free-donny | December 24, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I agree Margaret, but at the same time, (to use your military example) in Indiana there is a naval surface warfare center who's sole purpose is to build weapons to fight the Russians. Why? Are we likely to restart the cold war and turn it into a hot one? No. but there are 2 fairly popular senators and a congressman who can’t allow it to close or they will lose their seats when hundreds, if not thousands of jobs disappear. Everyone in southern Indiana is connected to Crane, whether they work there or not. Those who don’t work there counts Crane as their biggest customer, or their workers make up the majority of the customer base, or someone close to you does. It would be political suicide to close it. And bases like that are all over the country. A large percentage of our military overspending is lost in places like this.
Again, I don’t know if this is the case in TX. It probably isn't. And you are also right that some things that John McCain calls pork are actually quite kosher. My point was simply that we as a nation (blue and red alike) need to realize that sound-bites can’t possibly tell the whole story. We have to dig deeper.

Posted by: elijah24 | December 24, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Mark's distinction is entirely valid. I know the Republicans label a lot of things as pork, and saying doesn't make it so. The military needs trucks, they have to be built somewhere, why not have them built in your District? And to lose the contract means the incumbent isn't paying attention.

I'm sorry McDonald isn't going to run. He sounds like a good member of his community -- but you have to have the stomach for politics.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | December 24, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

In case McCain doesn't know it, PA. is not a southern state.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 24, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Yeah Mark, I don’t know anything about your guy, and wasn't saying anything in defense of him personally. He may very well be incompetent for all I know. I just get tired of the self-righteous bi- complaining about pork followed by self-interested bi- complaining about a lack of it. I see it in my state too.
SISD1, turn off your caps. In case you don't know, that is the print equivalent of yelling, and even if your point were valid (which it isn't) yelling it would not make it any more convincing.
Corruption is not limited to the Democratic Party. It is politically universal. It is also the largest of the many reasons that the GOP got evicted from both chambers of Congress, and the White House. Nobody is angrier about Ben Nelsons pay-off than Dems. Feel free to take his seat, by the way. But for every Nelson there is also a Keating Five scandal. The GOP probably will take some seats back in both houses in 2010. But that’s the natural swing of the political pendulum. It swung way over to our side, and now it will swing back. How far back is yet to be decided. I guess the point is: Don't get too cocky and self-righteous. You guys are out of power for a reason.

Posted by: elijah24 | December 24, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

elijah24, you are correct to point to the flaw in the American congressional system that each district is pitted against every district and the nation as a whole. But it is structural and cannot be fixed under the Constitution. It is the flaw we must live with, the price of a decentralized federal system, and ironically, the strength of a representative government at the same time. Here is what McCaul did not do.

For 17 years, BAE Systems in Sealy, Texas, had built military trucks called Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) for the US Army in a plant that sits in the heart of the 10th Congressional District. BAE Systems is the single largest defense contractor in District 10. The billion dollar contract was recently taken from BAE and awarded to Oshkosh Corp. in Wisconsin costing McCaul's constituents thousands of good paying jobs. The mid-production switch was unusual and for the local congressman to take no interest was [freaking] unbelievable. McCaul wrote no letter to DOD, made no appearance before any House Committee, made no comment on the floor, issued no press releases, despite having been asked early and often to do so.

McCaul was vulnerable. His erstwhile D opponent was this man. Jack McDonald is chairman of the board of Perficient. McDonald built and led a team that transformed the company from a startup to an award-winning industry leader with $230 million in 2008 revenues and more than 1,000 business and technology professionals across North America, Eastern Europe, India and China before assuming the role of Chairman in 2009. He won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. From 1996 to 1998 he was president of software firm VideoSite, Inc., where he executed a successful turnaround and sale of the company. He began his career in the 1980s as an M&A and corporate finance attorney.

He was vice chairman of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, chairman of both the Central Texas Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization and the AusTech Alliance, and is a member of the board of the Austin Technology Council. He serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations that provide economic, education and healthcare opportunities for Central Texans and work to protect the land, air and water, including: KIPP Austin Public Schools, People's Community Clinic and Hill Country Conservancy. He is also chairman of the board of PeopleFund, a community development loan fund for low-income female and minority entrepreneurs.

This guy was the perfect fit for around here - a biz friendly and successful high tech D, against a lazy incumbent.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 24, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: SISSD1 | December 24, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

I can't imagine any experienced politician following Parker Griffith anywhere. He is exactly the kind of reed-in-the-wind who will bend to any breeze. Next year this time he will be back in 'Bama minding his nursing homes and his mortuaries. What profitable side-lines for an oncologist.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | December 24, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

"...he has not only failed to bring bacon,..."
-Mark in Austin
Isn't this the problem? We complain all the time about "pork barrel spending" then if our congressman doesn't get us some, we say he is not a good congressman. It goes back to the "every politician is corrupt but mine" theory. Honestly I think pork is out of control, but i don't mind a little. But we need to make up our minds if we are going to complain about it, or demand it. We can't do both. We look like idiots when we try.

Posted by: elijah24 | December 24, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

I can't imagine why anyone would switch to the Republican Party right now. It’s political suicide. Or at least masochism. Putting aside my personal political bias, if one is liberal enough to be a Democrat in the first place, all that switching will do is guarantee a challenge from the party base, like the one Dede Scozafava faced. If the GOP wants to recruit Dems, they had better get their own house in order, and get these tea-baggers under control first.

Posted by: elijah24 | December 24, 2009 7:25 AM | Report abuse

In my TX CD-10 we have another indicator of the negative climate for Ds outside the bicoastal "blue" areas.

McCaul has not been a good Congressman for the CD. In the traditional sense, he has not only failed to bring bacon, he has been instrumental in losing a big federal contract and thousands of jobs, by his complete inattention. When a business friendly candidate in a potentially competitive CD who has raised as much cash as the incumbent backs out, he must really mean it when he says "the time is not right".

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 24, 2009 7:17 AM | Report abuse

That's fine. Let him refuse. And we Republicans will just clobber him in the Fall.

That should be the policy of the GOP leadership. Walt Minnick? Childers in MS? Bright in AL?

Offer them one and only one chance to switch parties. If they refuse, give the green light to any and all Republican challengers to go all out to defeat them. And alert the GOP fundraising machine nationally, that they're among No. 1 targets.

Posted by: ericdondero | December 24, 2009 7:04 AM | Report abuse

When a candidate votes with the Democrats 90.8% of the time and is asked to become a Republican, it shows that party differences are really only skin deep.

And, unfortunately, neither party is capable of fixing the problems that both parties have created.

Posted by:

Ding, ding, ding!

Precisely. When they ran that ad last year showing McCain voting with Bush 90% of the time, someone need to ask how often Obama voted with Bush.


So 75% and 90% pass for diametrically opposed philosophies?

We have a hugely socially conservative, fiscally liberal right of center Congress. Most members today are Democrats.

Posted by: HumanSimpleton | December 24, 2009 12:59 AM | Report abuse

When a candidate votes with the Democrats 90.8% of the time and is asked to become a Republican, it shows that party differences are really only skin deep.

And, unfortunately, neither party is capable of fixing the problems that both parties have created.

Posted by: | December 23, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Former U.S. Attorney Tom Marino doesn't seem to be a strong challenger for Chris Carney. Marino was the U.S. Attorney for the infamous Middle District of Pennsylvania in which the "Kids for Cash" scandal unfolded under his tenure, and which should be going to trial next year.

Marino resigned as U.S. Attorney sometime after it became public that he wrote a letter of reference for a billionaire with alleged organized crime ties, so he could be approved for a casino license.

Louis Denaples, the casino applicant, later had to give up his casino license after he was indicted for lying about his organized crime ties to state officials. He had to give his license and casino to his children.

After Marino left the U.S. Attorney job he took an in house attorney job with Denaples.

Posted by: TheScrantonGuardian | December 23, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Won't this make him more electable? As soon as the GOP candidate says anything against him, like calls him "too liberal", can't he just say "yeah, so liberal the GOP tried to recruit me instead of running you"...?

Posted by: Breandan_from_Ireland | December 23, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Pennsylvania is a tough call for party-switching -

First - after Florida, Pennsylvania has the largest percentage of seniors in the country - which would give anyone pause to switch to Republican - for these seniors, protecting social security is still a major issue

Second - unions are still very strong in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is filled with once-strong industrial towns - filled with once-bustling downtowns -

You can drive through the downtowns, the buildings are still there - however just about everything that made these towns before are not there anymore.

This nagging sense of economic stagnation has to play to the advantage of the democrats -

I just think that the prevailing economic and demographic forces would make it difficult for a guy like Carney to switch parties.


Posted by: 37thand0street | December 23, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

You're supposed to be on vacation, CC! Thanks for the info. I wouldn't get it anywhere else.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | December 23, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company