Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Status Quo Takes a Beating in Pennsylvania

The primary results from Pennsylvania tell a story of change upsetting the status quo:
Mike O'Brien won the Democratic nomination in the 175th House District (Old City, Northern Liberties, Fishtown) despite a remarkable challenge from progressive organizer Anne Dicker, who fell short by about 300 votes.
An election like this is all about the ground game and O'Brien flooded the streets with volunteers from John Dougherty's machine. Dicker, a Howard Dean organizer, founder of
Philly for Change and a blogger for Young Philly Politics showed that progressive, reform minded Dems can make their presence felt at the polls despite being outspent by at least 20 to 1.
I got to know Mike O'Brien when he was Marie Lederer's chief of staff and I was working in Northern Liberties. He was the go-to-guy for tough problems no one else could fix
; he's the best constituent service troubleshooter I ever saw.
I knew he would be a tough candidate to beat.
Terry Graboyes, who was backed by Vince Fumo's organization, complained that Dicker was the spoiler in the race, but Ray Murphy at YPP thinks
the opposite may be true, and calls her second place finish a gain for progressives. If nothing else, she showed that a group of progressives can compete with the big boys. has a list of
thirteen legislative incuments who lost their primary elections yesterday. The list includes the top two Republicans in the state Senate, who lost because of anger over last year's midnight pay raise:
Senate President Pro Tempore Robert C. Jubelirer (R., Blair) and Majority Leader David J. Brightbill (R., Lebanon) - who together have served 56 years in the Senate - were defeated in two of the most costly legislative races in history.
As John Baer writes, "They are the first Pennsylvania legislative leaders to lose a primary election since 1964." These defeats presage trouble for incumbent legislators in November.
In another sign of a shakeup in PA politics,
a Democrat won a special election to the state Senate in overwhelmingly Republican Chester County:
Andrew Dinniman has defeated Republican Carol Aichele to become the first Democratic state senator from Chester County in memory.
In one unsurprising result, Bob Casey, Jr. easily beat two opponents for the right to challenge incumbent senator Rick Santorum:
With a decisive win yesterday, Casey showed that, despite differences with many Democrats on abortion rights, gun control, and embryonic stem cell research, he could unify the party. He easily overcame voter appeals from Center City lawyer Alan Sandals and Bucks County professor Chuck Pennacchio to put up a "real Democrat" against Santorum in November.


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