Sunday, May 28, 2006

PA Primary Republican defeats = 13 Democrat defeats = 3

Republicans who went to the polls ousted 13 Republican incumbents in Pennsylvania.

Only 3 Democrats were sent packing by fellow Party Democrats.

There was also a near record-breaking low voter turnout, according to some reports, only 20 percent. While historically, Primaries don't bring out the Party masses, the norm for voter turnout in non-presidential Primaries has been about 30-34 percent.

While challengers may not have had enormous amounts of money to spend in comparison to the incumbents' war chests, opponents had as valuable a commodity, free publicity.

News media, radio talk shows, and increasingly utilized internet web-blogs and cable network programming all generating daily publicity for the anti-incumbency movement.

Even with the unparalleled attention given to the pay-raise - payjacking - slam to the taxpayers (deserved attention, but nonetheless unparalleled), this primary saw such low voter turnout.

That fact hasn't been factored into much of the follow-up commentaries, let alone follow-up "news" articles.

Such is the case in this piece.

Pay raise leveled field in primary
By Brad BumstedSTATE CAPITOL REPORTERFriday, May 26, 2006
HARRISBURG - Fat political war chests, traditionally an advantage for incumbents, weren't the determining factor in many key primary races for House and Senate seats, a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review analysis shows.

Armed instead with a powerful message -- opposition to incumbents' support of a 16- to 54-percent legislative pay raise in July -- many challengers were able to compete and, in some cases, win with a lot less money than their opponents...

...Money didn't make a difference for Jubelirer and Brightbill, whose races were two of the three most closely watched at the Capitol. But in House Minority Whip Mike Veon's heavily Democratic Beaver County district -- where economic issues trumped the pay raise -- campaign spending remained a factor.

Voters outraged over the pay raise defeated 17 legislative incumbents last week -- 13 of them Republicans. But the pay raise was only one factor in their losses, said former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey, president of the national Club for Growth.

"Rank-and-file Republicans were upset with the leadership of Republican legislators," Toomey said. "The pay raise was one of the catalysts. It was definitely not the whole story."

A new factor: the money available to little-known challengers, said Toomey, who donated $13,000 to Folmer. ...

...In almost all the races statewide in which incumbents were unseated, they still had a financial advantage, said G. Terry Madonna, political science professor at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster County.

Veon prevailed, likely because voters in his district believe their incumbent could best deliver jobs and state grants, Madonna said. The Beaver Falls lawmaker, who garnered 60 percent of the Democratic vote against challenger Jay Paisley, spent $664,000 through May 1. Paisley spent about $26,000.

Veon pummeled Paisley with TV ads in Pittsburgh -- spending $326,355 on 556 spots. Two weeks before the primary, Veon saturated the market.

His race "shows a bit of difference between Democrats and Republicans and what they expect from their elected officials," said Matthew Brouillette, president of the Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative think tank. "You saw many Republicans disgruntled with their legislators for acting like Democrats."

Still, voters tossed out rank-and-file Democrats who voted for the pay hike: Rep. Frank Pistella, of Bloomfield; Rep. Kenneth Ruffing, of West Mifflin; and Rep. Frank LaGrotta, of Ellwood City, Lawrence County.

"I think the pay raise overshadowed everything else," said John J. Kennedy, an assistant professor of political science at West Chester State University in Chester County.
Conservative groups were able to "piggyback" on the pay issue with other issues of concern in GOP districts, Kennedy said. ..

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