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Tuesday, November 01, 2005
 
THE PA CONNECTION

The Alito nomination was a great political move. Think the Democrats are fighting from a position of strength today? That circus in the Senate was a stunt -- and stunts are political risks that parties on the winning side of an issue do not take.

Much of the political advantage hinges on one state: Pennsylvania.

The longer and dirtier this nomination fight gets, the more likely it is that Senate races in PA (and other competitive senate races) will spend time focusing on issues like abortion and the role of the courts in American society. The Democrat candidate in Pennsylvania is the son of the late Governor, Bob Casey, one of the last remaining pro-life Democrats to hold major office in the United States. The problem is, he is pro-choice (that's the minimum price of admission to hold office in the Democratic party these days). My guess is that most Pennsylvanians don't have any idea where he stands on issues like abortion and the courts. My guess is that the crucial swing voters -- blue collar Dems -- simply assume he has the same views as his father on cultural issues. So the longer this goes on, the more likely it is that Casey will have to speak out -- if he speaks out in favor of Alito -- that hurts the Dems effort to Bork him. If he speaks out against -- that helps Santorum.

The fact that Alito serves on the bench in a federal court in Philadelphia also puts Specter on the spot. It is almost impossible to believe that they would not have some personal knowledge of one another over the years.

Oh, and another factor there are a lot of Italian Americans in Pennsylvania. PA actually ranks fifth in the nation in percent Italian in the population. According to the 2000 census. Pennsylvania has 1.4 million Italian-Americans... that's 11.6% of the population.

Italians are a huge part of the crucial voting block in Pennsylvania. They are Catholic and working class people, for the most part. While Italians are not as ethnically conscious as they used to be, there is still a strong sense of pride when an Italian American goes to the head of the class. Borking Alito isn't a good political move, period.

My guess is that Democrats make enough of a fuss to raise money and position for the nomination, but the Senate caucus as a whole will not have heir heart in it. Landreiu, Nelson, and other Red State Democrat Senators surely learned the lesson from Daschle. They will be more interested in shifting the focus to areas where they think they can score more points -- Rove, Libby, etc...


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