Pen Statists: In Pennsylvania's Senate Race, Both Sides Are Running for the Middle

By Weigel, David | Reason, November 2006 | Go to article overview

Pen Statists: In Pennsylvania's Senate Race, Both Sides Are Running for the Middle


Weigel, David, Reason


UNTIL THE MIDDLE of August, when Virginia's Republican Sen. George Allen belched a North African schoolyard insult at a hapless Democratic cameraman, Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race was the hottest game in town. The social conservative icon Rick Santorum, a soaring star in the GOP, was in the fight of his life against state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. The Republican is the third-most powerful man in the Senate; the Democrat is the incredibly popular son of a legendary governor.

It's the race that could determine whether Democrats take control of the Senate; not coincidentally, it's easily going to be the most expensive race of the year. At the end of June Santorum had raised $21 million to Casey's $11 million. (Santorum spent a total of S11 million getting re-elected six years ago.) Hillary Clinton has stumped here, as has President Bush. As many as four Republican congressmen in eastern Pennsylvania swing districts could be ousted by a Casey landslide, or rescued by Santorum's coattails. In the inimitable phrase of Hardball host Chris Matthews (a Keystone native), "Pennsylvania is the hottest race in the country of the United States."

He could have continued: "Unless you're a libertarian."

The not-so-secret twist of Pennsylvania's

Senate race is that both candidates are trying to reshape their parties' coalitions by tacking hard to the big-government, social conservative center. Casey, an old-school liberal on taxes, wages, trade, and union issues, is also an anti-abortion, anti-stem cell research, pro-Iraq war conservative. Santorum, who started his career in 1991 as a tax-cutting, small-government conservative congressman, has evolved into a visionary Republican leader in using government to fund religious charities and pay families to stick together.

These aren't idiosyncratic stances. They're the very key to both politicians' appeal. Casey was personally recruited to run by New York's Sen. Charles Schumer and Pennsylvania's Gov. Ed Rendell, two politicians as devoted to abortion rights as a geek is devoted to Star Wars.

As National Review's John J. Miller reported in an early pro-Santorum piece, Democrats pushed Casey into the race "because they think his pro-life views may deny Santorum a vital advantage. The idea is to get pro-lifers to cast their votes on the basis of anything but abortion."

The Casey run was plotted not long after the 2004 election, when polls convinced Washingtonians that "moral values issues"--abortion, gay marriage--were keeping the Democrats at the kiddie table even as the governing GOP stumbled from blunder to blunder.

"This is a national thing," says Philadelphia Inquirer columnist John Baer. "I don't think this has much to do with the Democratic Party in the state. It's a national tactic to see how it plays. If Casey plays in Pennsylvania, you'll see a push to move the Democrats to the center in other states. This race is sort of a laboratory."

As the incumbent, Santorum didn't have to worry about his party tweaking his positions and turning him into a guinea pig. He sold out his libertarian positions without any prodding at all, thank you.

When he first saw the polls showing him trailing Casey in early 2005, Santorum dubbed himself the Republican champion of a new minimum-wage hike. He proposed a $1.10 increase in March 2005, then voted for multiple Democrat-led compromises that would have raised the minimum wage by as much as $2.10.

Santorum's chest-beating over the increase ignited the conservatives at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, who called the senator's newfound love for the poor working man too "liberal"--a label that Santorum spun into a campaign ad. (The photogenic huckster sat at a breakfast table, laughing at the way one paper called him a conservative and one called him too liberal, implying that he, like Goldilocks' favorite bowl of porridge, was just right.)

Before the Casey challenge took off, Santorum took a frontline position bucking up President Bush's campaign to introduce private accounts into Social Security.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Pen Statists: In Pennsylvania's Senate Race, Both Sides Are Running for the Middle
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.