In the May 18 elections – which were mostly intraparty primary races – one contest pitted a Republican against a Democrat in a special election to fill the House seat vacated by the death of liberal activist Democrat John Murtha of Pennsylvania.
Republicans touted the race in the 12th congressional district of Pennsylvania (PA-12) as a test of strength for the GOP. They enlisted a conservative Tea Party businessman named Tim Burns and predicted that he could take the seat held by Murtha since 1974. Observers said that a Burns victory would have been a bad omen for the Democrats in the November election, and liberals breathed a sigh of relief when Democrat Mark Critz took the seat by a modest 8 points.
Democrats now are saying that if Republicans cannot take a seat in a socially-conservative Reagan-Democrat district like PA-12 that voted for John McCain in 2008 in a time of growing disenchantment with Obama and Washington, then the GOP is not nearly as strong as it is pretending to be for the Fall elections.
Not so fast.
First, PA-12 has a 2 to 1 Democrat registration advantage and Critz had the full support of the Murtha political machine, since he had worked on Murtha’s staff. Second, PA-12 is full of blue-collar union members, being part of an old industrial/coal belt region near Pittsburgh. Third, those union voters have been energized by pro-union Obama and by a big union effort on behalf of Critz. Fourth, an important May 18 Democrat statewide primary race in Pennsylvania brought out many activist Democrat primary voters who voted for Critz. Yet still Critz’s win was only 8 points.
So the idea that this is a somewhat conservative district where a Republican could win is only vaguely true, while national Republicans played their cards wrong by touting the race. But what is strikingly true is that Critz did not even run as a Democrat. He ran in spirit as a Republican – as a pro-gun, pro-life, anti-ObamaCare and anti-cap-and-trade conservative.
Thus since there was not even a real ‘Democrat’ in the race, this is a sure sign of conservative strength. But when a Democrat and a Republican are running on the same platform in an overwhelmingly Democrat district, the Democrat is going to win. Period.
And PA-12 is precisely not the kind of district that Republicans need to win in November. The GOP is not going to win downtown San Francisco. It needs to win back more moderate districts that so-called ‘conservative Blue Dog’ Democrats have picked off over the years. And there are many of them.
Here’s another important factor in PA-12: Having been a member of Murtha’s staff, the voters were assured that somehow Critz would keep bringing home federal money by the truckload like Murtha did, even though the national trend is moving rapidly away from federal spending and deficits, and high taxes.
In other words, Critz buttered his toast on both sides, as Obama did during the 2008 election. This is another reason he won – by pandering all over the political spectrum, as Obama did.
And Critz is no conservative Democrat. He is a liberal. And Critz and Burns will meet again in November.
Now we shall see how Critz actually votes in Washington. Because we have seen time and time again how the Democrat party has enlisted so-called ‘Blue Dog’ Democrats who run as ‘conservatives’ against Republicans to win in swing districts. Yet those Blue Dogs often vote liberal once they get to Washington, under the gun of the lefty Democrat leadership of Nancy Pelosi.
And since the Ancient Media, including the newspapers in many Blue Dogs’ home districts, generally will never highlight this dichotomy, the Dogs have gotten away with it.
This is a real challenge for the GOP. But there is a solution. It is called a ‘voting record’ and today people are much more interested than ever before in how their representatives are voting. And since Critz had not been an elected official and thus had no voting record but only campaign promises, Burns and the GOP could not point to any votes cast.
In many elections across the country next November, however, the voters will review how their Blue Dogs actually voted and whether those votes comport with the national trend against Washington. When many Blue Dogs are exposed as libs, the GOP is going to be strong.
Meanwhile, Obama is not going to make any sudden moves between now and November. He knows that his agenda is unpopular and that many Democrats are on the line. So there will be not a big, liberal ‘smoking gun’ vote for Critz or other lefty Blue Dogs that will reveal their true colors.
If Critz is re-elected in November, then he will have a real record in November 2012 when he comes up again for re-election. And then a Republican will be able to make a challenge based on Critz votes and not Critz promises.
Over the next few years, as the economy stagnates and joblessness remains high under Obama leadership, voters are going to have to make some real choices. More spending simply is not tenable. Certainly there will be big spenders who will be re-elected in black inner-city districts and in wealthy Democrat suburbs where economic issues are having less impact than across the broad spectrum of Americans struggling with everyday problems like taxes. But overall, the trend is toward fiscal conservatism.
It will be important for Republicans to hit hard on actual votes cast. Meanwhile Democrats are going to not only seek to bedazzle voters with smooth talk about occasional conservative votes, but are going to enlist their media friends to slant the election in every way possible.
Republicans need to have a strong spine for the future. Obama has stirred a sleeping giant in the conservative movement. People who never were active in politics suddenly are as alive as activist Democrats have been for decades. This is a good sign. And we need the conservative to speak out forcefully, and to use every tool to fight media bias and political trickery.
Democrats said all sorts of wonderful things about the PA-12 victory, saying among other things that it showed that congressional races still are about local issues. In other words, they took Critz’s bring-home-the-bacon strategy as influencing voters in the district. But bringing home the bacon is contrary to the nation’s fiscal reality.
Voters today are savvy and sensitive to old-fashioned politics which went out the window with the recession. Voters today are looking for authenticity and real solutions to our current problems. And if Republicans and conservatives stand up on genuine issues of both local and national importance, they can win back the House in November.
Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can print out for free my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.