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What Democrats won (and what they didn't) in PA-12

Pennsylvania Rep.-elect Mark Critz (D-Pa.) and the Democrats won a big special election victory on Tuesday. But did the Democratic agenda win too?

Critz is a pro-gun, anti-abortion rights Democrat who vocally opposed his party's recently passed health care bill, as well as its cap and trade energy bill.

He also kept President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) at arm's length throughout the campaign, preferring to establish his independence from his party and wage the battle on local issues. (Republicans, on the other hand, relentlessly attacked Pelosi and Obama in a series of ads in the district that, ultimately, didn't work.)

In the battle after the battle, which is always the more interesting fight, Democrats are working to drive the idea that their policies won the most votes on Tuesday, too.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) noted at a press conference Thursday that Republicans did their best to link Critz with the health care bill, cap and trade, Obama and Pelosi and failed on all fronts.

"In the Critz race, it didn't really matter what he said," Van Hollen said. "A lot of ads were run against him as if he had been in favor of climate change legislation. He prevailed anyway."

Van Hollen also pointed out that, while Critz opposed the health care bill he also opposed Republican efforts to repeal the bill too. "Mark Critz was strongly against repeal of health care; his opponent ran on repealing the health care bill," Van Hollen said. "People don't want to repeal the health care bill; they don't want to re-fight that issue."

The formula for victory in Pennsylvania's 12th district was a familiar one for Van Hollen. He's also ridden socially conservative candidates to victory in special elections in conservative districts in Louisiana, Mississippi and New York over the last two years.
The difference this time was that his candidate was vocally against Democrats' landmark legislative victory of the day.

When Rep. Scott Murphy (D-N.Y.) won his special election in March 2009, he was in favor of the big Democratic legislative accomplishment at that time - the economic stimulus package. Shortly after Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) was elected in another upstate New York district, he voted for the Democrats' health care bill.

But Republicans insist that Critz's positioning in a district that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won -- albeit narrowly -- is evidence that the Democratic national agenda simply won't sell in competitive districts across the country this fall.

"This hard-fought race gave us an early preview of what Democrats will attempt to do in the fall in order to survive," National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) said after Tuesday's result. "They will steer clear of publicly campaigning with President Obama and Speaker Pelosi, distance themselves from the Democratic agenda, and attempt to co-opt Republican positions on the issues."

The midterm message battle boils down to this: will local or national issues dominate?

Democratic strategists make the case that their races will be about creating jobs in the district and other issues of local import rather than the policy prerogatives of Obama or Pelosi.

Republicans counter that the first vote every single Democrat casts is for Pelosi as speaker and, therefore, they are backing the national party agenda -- no matter how much they argue the opposite.

The Pennsylvania 12th district win is a powerful point for Democrats' "all politics is local" argument. But, one special election is not the same thing as an election day with 50+ competitive races as Republicans learned painfully in 2006 when their attempts to localize the midterms ran into a Democratic wave surging across the country.

-- Aaron Blake

By The Fix  |  May 20, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Next: House Republicans try to stop bleeding from PA special election loss

Comments

"He also kept President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) at arm's length throughout the campaign, preferring to establish his independence from his party and wage the battle on local issues."


What sane congressional candidate runs on a platform of hid relationship to the Majority leader? Tying Critz to the Republicans' boogie person Pelosi was a moronic example of their drinking their own Kool-Aid.
You should mention that!

Posted by: BobSanderson | May 22, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

First, Critz and remember all those Blue Dogs sounded like conservCenter people. Then they got to Congress and voted straight Dem-Obama-Nan-Harry down the line. Few differed from the Prez on any major issues. They lied when running in their districts. The Pubs were dopes not to point it out. If they do so in Nov., they may win a few purple seats and some Blue Dog seats. Whether they win 51 seats as Cook and Ras. says is possible, it is up to the voter who realizes that a vote for any Dem is pure socialist pacifist support. Liberals only win in real liberal districts and that since 2006 has been proved over and over so they must sound like conservs in many swing , purple, and reddish districts. In Blue safe districts, they can sound like Bill Ayers. It will not matter.

Posted by: phillyfanatic | May 21, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

First, Critz and remember all those Blue Dogs sounded like conservCenter people. Then they got to Congress and voted straight Dem-Obama-Nan-Harry down the line. Few differed from the Prez on any major issues. They lied when running in their districts. The Pubs were dopes not to point it out. If they do so in Nov., they may win a few purple seats and some Blue Dog seats. Whether they win 51 seats as Cook and Ras. says is possible, it is up to the voter who realizes that a vote for any Dem is pure socialist pacifist support. Liberals only win in real liberal districts and that since 2006 has been proved over and over so they must sound like conservs in many swing , purple, and reddish districts. In Blue safe districts, they can sound like Bill Ayers. It will not matter.

Posted by: phillyfanatic | May 21, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

The danger of voting for this democrat in the general election is that once he goes to Washington, he will change his tune or be forced to vote with the democrat bloc. Doesn't matter what positions he voiced during the campaign. He will be considered a democrat first once he gets to Washington. Look what happened during the health care vote. Voters, beware. The democrat party is not your parent's democrat party anymore.

Posted by: rdemczuk | May 21, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

RobT1 -- try to stop whining and just go away now -- you lost.

Posted by: drindl | May 21, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I'd really like to see Democrats across the country, especially the ones who voted for Obamacare and Obama stimulus, run against the Obama agenda like Critz did in Pennsylvania. That would be very amusing. With the things Critz ran on, pro-life, pro gun, anti-tax, anti-Obamacare, anti-stimulus, you'd have thought he was a Republican. The mistake the Republicans made is that the citizens of this district have bee conditioned for years to live off the government gravy train and like addicts you can't expect them to go cold turkey all of a sudden. Critz ran on Republican issues and promised the voters in the PA 12 that he'd keep federal pork flowing in, in reality that'll be very hard for a freshman congressman, something the real Republican couldn't do. Once Critz has gotten to Washington and been forced like the rest of the Democratic caucas to take some of those Pelosi/Obama liberal big government votes the voters in the PA 12 will have a better understanding of who he really is. Besides the PA 12 will dissapear after the 2010 census anyway.

Posted by: RobT1 | May 21, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

37th doesn't understand the the Democrats really are committed to a Big Tent. You don't have to vote with the party all the time, but you do have to be with the party most of the time. Murtha operated as Murtha, but he was still a Democrat representing the interests of his CD. You have to allow dissent in the party.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 21, 2010 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, it's just funny how Republicans seem to think it's such a crime to have some ideological variety within a party. ZOMG, Critz will only vote with Obama 80% of the time now! He's basically a Republican.

I'm not sure what Republicans are so excited about this November. The only seats they will take are those of other conservative Dems. And if those guys are basically Republicans, it's just a wasted effort, isn't it?

Posted by: DDAWD | May 21, 2010 1:26 AM | Report abuse

"You can not run a person like that - call him a democrat - and then call it a victory for the democratic party OR for the democratic message."

It is indeed a victory for the Democratic Party; they keep a seat.

In case you didn't notice, Critz isn't significantly different from his late boss, who was a longtime Democrat of good standing. Critz isn't even the most conservative Democrat in the House.

Posted by: SeanC1 | May 20, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

BULLETIN: OBAMA ASKS FOR, GETS RESIGNATION OF DENNIS BLAIR, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2010/05/exclusive-president-obama-to-replace-director-of-national-intelligence-dennis-blair.html

My comment to the above ABCNews.com thread appears to have been posted to a "spoofed" web page -- another apparent "man in the middle attack" by a covert government surveillance program that serves as a pretext for ideological censorship of "targeted" citizens (see story, "U.S. Gov't Censors Net Political Speech of 'Targeted' Americans," at NowPublic.com/scrivener). The spoofed page gives government censors the option of censorship. Perhaps this "Fix" posting will serve as a prophylactic.

So, with thanks to Chris Cillizza and Wa-Po, and to counter apparent internet censorship by elements among the security- intel "community," I post the comment here (for some reason, the censors don't mess as much with WaPo):

***

Could Blair's apparent acquiescence to heinous Bush-legacy multi-agency covert programs of microwave torture, community-based vigilante harassment and ideological internet and telecom censorship of American citizens deemed to be "dissidents" or undesirables have anything to do with this move? Now read this by a veteran journalist:

http://nowpublic.com/world/u-s-silently-tortures-americans-cell-tower-microwaves
http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america
OR NowPublic.com/scrivener re: "Obama: Take Down Fusion Center Gestapo..."

Posted by: scrivener50 | May 20, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

The one thing I hope the corporate media finally figured out from yesterdays elections is this:


The Teabaggers are not new voters who are suddenly "waking up". They're the same people (Republican base nuts) who reflexively vote Republican every single election, faithfully. They voted for Bush twice and they voted for McCain in 08.


Out of necessity, they've rebranded themselves as Teabaggers because they already trashed the Republican brand name during the Bush years.


For those of you who are counting, the results of Tuesdays election makes it 7 straight special elections that have been won by Democrats.


I'm sure the Republican/Teabagger wave will start building any minute now.....


http://www.eschatonblog.com/2010/05/maybe-next-one.html


Posted by: DrainYou | May 20, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Maddow just gave a brilliant 10 minute history lesson on civil rights and explained why racists like Randy, who want to bring back segregated lunch counters, are so dangerous. Thank you, Dr.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 20, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Broadwayjoe, since you love Rasmussen polls so much, here's one of my favorites.

"Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, following her signing and passionate defense of the state’s new immigration law, now claims 45% of the vote in the state’s Republican Primary field. That’s a 19-point gain from a month ago and puts her well ahead of all her challengers."

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elections2/election_2010/election_2010_governor_elections/arizona/election_2010_arizona_republican_primary_for_governor

Posted by: SuzyCcup | May 20, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

The bill says, paraphrasing, it shall be a crime to be "living while brown" in Arizona. Ron-Ron and Randy Paul couldn't have written it better.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 20, 2010 9:01 PM

Did you go to the same school as Holder and Napolitano?

Posted by: SuzyCcup | May 20, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

The bill says, paraphrasing, it shall be a crime to be "living while brown" in Arizona. Ron-Ron and Randy Paul couldn't have written it better.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 20, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Cup, normal people stop reading a poll after they see the name "Rasmussen." Get serious.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 20, 2010 8:42 PM


Stop reading? At least normal people can read. Did any of obama's goons, like Holder and Napolitano, ever learn to read at all? Maybe the "huge" 10 page AZ immigration bill was just too much for them.

Posted by: SuzyCcup | May 20, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Cup, normal people stop reading a poll after they see the name "Rasmussen." Get serious.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 20, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Alright, where's Leichtman at? Quit hiding in the shadows. What happened to your theory that Hispanics would move away from Republicans over the Arizona immigration bill? Latest polls show Rick Perry increasing his lead over White - 51% to 38%.

Big hair counts. White looks like an armadillo.


http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/05/rasmussen-poll-perrys-lead-over-white-in-tx-gov-race-jumps-to-51-38.php

Posted by: SuzyCcup | May 20, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Mr Cillizza writes, "Democratic strategists make the case that their races will be about creating jobs in the district..."

Huh?? Did anyone tell obama about this? I guess he's too busy letting a Mexican condemn the United States in front of Frozen-Face Nancy Pelosi and her democrats in the House. I bet obama finally wakes up when the unemployment rate reaches 10%.

Posted by: SuzyCcup | May 20, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

I suspect that as long as this conversation remains simply about Paul's defense of businesses' right to discriminate against blacks, he'll be fine

Posted by: DDAWD | May 20, 2010 6:12 PM


Rand is already fine. He got 59% vs 34% for the democrat in a Wednesday night poll. Rand is not Martha Coakley. The democrat will never catch him.


http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elections2/election_2010/election_2010_senate_elections/kentucky/election_2010_kentucky_senate

Posted by: SuzyCcup | May 20, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

ATTENTION TEAM OBAMA: How can politics matter when political speech in America is CENSORED by chain-of-command disrespecting bureaucrats?

HOW COVERT U.S. GOV'T WARRANTLESS SURVEILLANCE USES 'SPOOFED' (FAKED) WEBSITES TO IMPOSE IDEOLOGICAL CENSORSHIP ON THE INTERNET

• If you are "targeted" by a rogue fusion center warrantless surveillance program for your politics, your comment to a political blog may appear only on a "spoofed" page visible over your connection, not on anyone else's. The censors especially seem to fear the free expression of opinion at Politico.com -- where this writer's comments do a disappearing act.

http://nowpublic.com/world/u-s-govt-censors-net-political-speech-targeted-americans

AND WHAT WOULD PROMPT THIS DRACONIAN CENSORSHIP?

Perhaps, this article documenting Homeland Security's microwave cellular "torture tower" weapon system -- silently irradiating, impairing and harming extrajudicially "targeted" Americans:

http://nowpublic.com/world/u-s-silently-tortures-americans-cell-tower-microwaves
http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america
OR NowPublic.com/scrivener re: "Obama: Take Down Fusion Center Gestapo..."

Posted by: scrivener50 | May 20, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Margaretmeyers:

135K voted in the Special but only 129K voted in the Primary. 3K voted Libertarian in the Special.

There were more D and fewer R votes in the Primary than in the Special. From this, 37th&0 has deduced that the Rs will win more votes in the General than the Ds.

What? That is not obvious to you? 37th&0 may have to explain it again fifteen more times until you begin to question your own basic arithmetic skills. Better that you tell him that you understand perfectly, if you must commerce with him, at all.

Posted by: MoreAndBetterPolls | May 20, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

"The Pennsylvania 12th district win is a powerful point for Democrats' "all politics is local" argument. "


Especially since they have won the last 12 special elections.

Posted by: drindl | May 20, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

"The Pennsylvania 12th district win is a powerful point for Democrats' "all politics is local" argument. "


Especially since they have won the last 12 special elections.

Posted by: drindl | May 20, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=05&year=2010&base_name=rand_paul_and_the_hard_part_ab

Paul's defenders will argue -- as conservatives did with Barry Goldwater -- that Paul himself is not a racist. Indeed, Paul said he finds racism abhorrent and would not frequent a segregated business. And Paul rather incoherently defended his position as being "the hard part about believing in freedom." This is a key statement because it rather poignantly expresses the utter selfishness at the heart of Paul's argument against the Civil Rights Act.

Paul would never face the actual "hard part" of his vision of freedom, because it would never interfere with his own life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness. Rand Paul would not have been turned away from a lunch counter, be refused a home, a job, or denied a loan, or told to sit in the black car of a train because of his skin color, or because of the skin color of his spouse. Paul thinks there is something "hard" about defending the kind of discrimination he would have never, ever faced. Paul's free-market fundamentalism is being expressed after decades of social transformation that the Civil Rights Act helped create, and so the hell of segregation is but a mere abstraction, difficult to remember and easy to dismiss as belonging only to its time. It's much easier now to say that "the market would handle it." But it didn't, and it wouldn't.

Sadly, the Civil Rights Act has been too often portrayed as a victory for black people rather than a victory for the country, which is part of why people are willing to defend Paul's position as principled. But the Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination based on "race, color, religion, sex or national origin." The position Paul is ultimately taking is that he believes businesses should be able to discriminate not just against black people, but against women, Jews, Catholics, Irish people, and on and on.

I suspect that as long as this conversation remains simply about Paul's defense of businesses' right to discriminate against blacks, he'll be fine, thanks to the lingering embers of American racism. But that's fundamentally not what he's arguing, and I suspect that his allies will find the larger implications of his position much harder to defend.

-- A. Serwer

Posted by: DDAWD | May 20, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I can only think that everyone involved -- Republicans, Democrats,TEA Party -- did a hot wash on this Tuesday night and spent a lot of time on lessons learned on Wednesday. That would be the thing to do if you wanted to continue winning.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 20, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Critz must ignore the progressvie agenda or he will be toast in the next election!

Posted by: mwhoke | May 20, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

37th,

I voted here in Pennsylvania -- the only way a registered Democrat could vote for Burns would have been to write him in. I didn't see any articles about 13,000 write-in ballots and, holy smokes, that would have been 10% of the total vote so we would have heard about it.

Put down the pipe.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 20, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Once the election was validated, as required by MA law, Scott Brown was sworn in the second he wanted to be sworn in. First he wanted time to gather a staff, but apparently that took a lot less time than he thought, so he moved it up a week and got sworn in a week earlier than he originally wanted.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 20, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Funny how the Republicans didn't want to swear in Scott Brown right away


And yet Critz gets the speedyGonzalez treatment.

Just ANOTHER ITEM IN THE BIN OF DEMOCRATIC HYPOCRISY.

.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 20, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse


Chris


Did you look at the numbers for PA 12 ???

Critz lost a great deal of democratic voters.

There were 13,000 democrats who voted in the democratic primary who crossed over and voted for Burns.

Burns needed a little over 18,000 democrats to cross over and vote for him to win.

So Critz did NOT hold all his democrats - in fact of the 22,000 democrats who did NOT vote for him in the primary, 13,000 went over to Burns.

In the Special election, Burns held all the votes of his Republican opponents - PLUS the 13,000 democrats.


That is the story of the difficulty of the district.

The district MAY be worth watching in the fall - because then the Independedents will be voting -


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 20, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

You can not run a person like that - call him a democrat - and then call it a victory for the democratic party OR for the democratic message.

Sure - where would Obama be today if he was pro-gun, pro-life - and opposed his health care reform ???


Seriously folks.

.

Posted by: 37thand0street | May 20, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Anyways, wake me up when Republicans manage to get someone elected who isn't the second most liberal Republican in all of Washington today.

Speaking of which, Scott Brown voted for cloture on FinReg. I assume the teabaggers are preparing their primary challenge to Brown as we speak.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 20, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

so as long as Dems run against the liberal party line, they stand a chance of winning? As long as they denounce the national leaders : Reid, Pelosi and Obama, they can get into office. As long as Dems run against everything that Dems stand for, they are allowed one last chance, but only if the district is overwhelmingly Democrat to begin with.

Otherwise, they get thrown out. Hmmm. that is some conclusion.

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 20, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

What the Democrats won in PA-12 was the money race. The Republicans spent nearly one million dollars (say it like Dr. Evil) and came up with bupkis.

If I'm a Republican donor, I'm thinking maybe I'll hold on to my cash for another few election cycles.

Even if Djou benefits from a split vote in Hawaii, the big money bundler-types will be holding off from forking over cash for a losing cause.

Posted by: Bondosan | May 20, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I think the Dem agenda scored a victory. Critz is a prolife, progun, anti-healthcare, anti-cap'n'trade Dem, but I don't know if Republicans have been paying attention, but there's a ton of prolife, progun, anti-healthcare, anti-cap'n'trade Democrats. Critz isn't the only one. And yet somehow, the Dem agenda hasn't stalled on the Congressional side (different story with the Senate) Pete Sessions didn't say anything profound. Of course Democrats will shy away from Obama's or Pelosi's agenda if that's what their district calls for. They have been doing this for years. If Republicans are just starting to figure this out now, then they are even dumber than I thought.

But it does show that Republicans won't necessarily be able to get away with lying. Despite the fact that the RNCC spent 10% of their cash on hand in this single race, they weren't able to pin any of the nonsense on Critz. And that's bad news for them. The best thing the Republicans have is their ability to swiftboat. That is by far their strongest weapon. If that doesn't work, then they've got nothing.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 20, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Chris, he was already sworn in before you posted this so the "elect" is incorrect.

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | May 20, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

What the Dems won in PA 12: a member of their caucus.
What they didn't: a flaming liberal. They also didn't get a 100% 'no' vote, which is more than a pyrrhic victory.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 20, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

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