Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cornyn And Chocola On Opposite Sides Of Pennsylvania Senate Battle Between Specter And Toomey


Although NRSC chair John Cornyn continues to encourage primary challengers to poor senile Jim Bunning (R-KY)-- and continues to urge Republican donors to not contribute to his flagging re-election campaign-- the far right Texan wouldn't dare try any such thing against another endangered Republican, Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter. Funny how Cornyn and Bunning have almost lockstep obstructionist voting records-- they rate #89 and #90 out of the 100 senators in terms of willingness to support progressive legislation-- while Specter's record is the closest to the Democrats of any Republican-- even closer than Olympia Snowe's. In fact, so far this year, on critical issues, Specter has the exact same score as reactionary Democrat Ben Nelson (NE), 35.71; they rate 58 and 59.

So why would Cornyn seek to undermine the endangered true right-winger Bunning while supporting the equally endangered but barely Republican Specter? Cornyn knows Bunning will continue voting the obstructionist party line and he dismissed the idea that Bunning would resign in anger to get revenge against McConnell and himself by allowing Kentucky's Democratic Governor to replace him with Dan Mongiardo. So while Cornyn is hissing in the ears of the big GOP donors at the oil companies and war contractors not to donate to Bunning, he's writing letters to Pennsylvania Republicans urging them to forget about far right fanatic Pat Toomey and to stick with Specter. The letter:
March 26, 2009

Dear Friend,

I write today to you and other Pennsylvania GOP leaders on behalf of my friend and colleague, Arlen Specter. His re-election in 2010 is vital if we are to regain our majority in the Senate.

As I survey the political landscape of the upcoming 2010 elections, it’s clear we need more candidates that fit their states. While I doubt Arlen could win an election in my home state of Texas, I am certain that I could not get elected in Pennsylvania. I believe that Senator Specter is our best bet to keep this Senate seat in the GOP column. A vote for Arlen Specter is a vote for denying Harry Reid and the Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate.

The political math for Republicans in 2010 is tough. We must defend 19 of our Senate seats-- six of which are in states (such as Pennsylvania) won by President Obama. The Democrats have to defend just 17 of their 59 seats, only two of which are in states Senator McCain won. With just 41 Members in the Senate Republican Conference, it’s vital that we focus our limited resources on growing the party and beating Democrats.

The fact that Pennsylvania has become a reliable “blue state” for the Democrats isn’t the only reason they’re targeting Arlen. For example, they didn’t like it when he:

• Declared recently he would vote against cloture and oppose the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as 'card check'

• Voted against the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” (which would enable government censors to prevent local radio stations from carrying conservative talk radio)

• Cast the deciding vote to defeat a bipartisan tax hike in December 2007

• Led the GOP’s effort to repeal the Democrats’ increase of the Alternative Minimum Tax rates

• Voted for the Reagan and Bush tax cuts

• Sponsored the Flat Tax, the Balanced Budget Amendment and Line-Item Veto

• Sponsored the Flag Protection Amendment

• Voted to keep “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance

• Voted for the Partial Birth Abortion Ban and Defense of Marriage Act

• Sponsored the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

• Stood up for Israel’s right to protect her citizens against terrorist attacks

• Protected the individual right to bear arms enshrined in the 2nd Amendment

• Sponsored the bill to deport convicted felons who are illegal aliens

Arlen and I do not agree on every issue, but as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), I rely on Senator Specter for advice and counsel on key issues. As a fellow member of the Judiciary Committee, I’ve seen Arlen’s strong leadership first-hand. His work shepherding through the confirmations of Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Alito was unparalleled.

My job as head of the NRSC is to guide the GOP back to a majority in the Senate. I can’t do that without Arlen Specter. With him as our nominee, I can target our campaign resources toward beating Democrats and growing the Senate Republican Conference. Please join me in that effort.

Thank you.

Sincerely Yours,

Senator John Cornyn

Pretty desperate-sounding, but this was part of the payback for Specter to switch his support as an Employee Free Choice supporter to an opponent who has sworn to join the Republican Party filibuster of the bill. CQPolitics reported this morning that round one went to Specter. You may recall how Specter started running an ad early this month that Toomey claimed was slanderous. Specter removed it from his own website. The upshot was that "Specter has shown himself to be an ugly campaigner who can’t get his facts right, while Toomey has demonstrated his ability to respond quickly and counterattack ruthlessly." Are extreme rightists were happy. Not so fast, says CQPolitics.
Specter is already well known, and well-disliked by GOP primary voters. Nothing Toomey is going to do is going to change that, and nothing Arlen Specter is going to do over the next 12 months is going to change that, either.

Toomey, on the other hand, is not well known, despite having served three terms in Congress representing the Lehigh Valley and having run a strong campaign for Specter’s seat six years ago. In fact, Toomey is barely known at all-- in a recent Quinnipiac University Polling Institute survey, 78 percent of all state voters (and even 73 percent of Pennsylvania Republican voters) said they didn’t know enough about him to form an opinion. Toomey is, for all intents and purposes, a blank chalkboard.

The communications challenge for both campaigns, then, is simple: Define Pat Toomey. And the next 12 months will determine how it’s accomplished and by which team.

Specter’s team is hard at work, trying to define Toomey as a greedy former Wall Street trader who is now on the take from the greedy Wall Street traders who brought down the house and got us into our current financial mess. Specter’s team is trying to raise Toomey’s negatives to something approaching the same level as Specter’s negatives, among GOP primary voters.

By controlling the terrain of the conversation so far, they’ve done themselves and their candidate well.

Toomey’s team, on the other hand, has responded to and rebutted Specter’s charges. But Toomey’s team should not be working to raise Specter’s negatives. They’re already plenty high enough, and they show no signs of going down. In fact, Specter’s attacks against Toomey are going to drive Specter’s own negatives even higher-- there’s always recoil against attacks.

Instead, Toomey’s communications team should be hard at work building Toomey’s positives. Toomey’s team should ignore Specter tactically-- that is, don’t respond to Specter’s daily provocations-- while smothering Specter strategically, by offering his own compelling positive vision for Pennsylvania’s and America’s future.

Right now, Specter’s team must be quietly laughing at Toomey’s team.

And the winner is... Democrats.

Meanwhile, Toomey has resigned from the neo-fascist operation he has headed, Club For Growth, leaving it in the hands of another bizarre fanatic, Chris Chocola, who was defeated after chalking up a startlingly extremist voting record in his 2 weird terms in Congress. A spoiled and pampered multimillionaire heritage kid, Chocola has spent immense sums of family money to win election to Congress. He ran on a pledge to privatize Social Security, bitching that Bush wasn't right-wing enough, two ideas he shares with Toomey and most other Club For Growth loons. He was considered suspiciously-- even shrilly-- anti-gay to the extent that usually suggests someone is sneaking around and blowing strangers in public toilets. No photos of Chocola have surfaced yet.

Chocola, who raised huge sums of money from every right-wing fringe group and from corporate PACs wanting to buy easy votes on the Budget and Ways and Means committees, was the sixth biggest recipient of tainted funds from Tom DeLay's PAC. His biggest single donor in his catastrophic re-election bid in 2006 was from Club For Growth which funneled $150,000 into his campaign. Now he's busy intervening against Snarlin' Arlen on behalf of Toomey in what's shaping up to be the dirtiest primary in America. Many congressional Republicans tell us they detest Chocola and were privately overjoyed when he lost his seat to right-wing Democrat Joe Donnelly, who votes with the GOP against Obama's vision for America more frequently than any other Democrat. A short post at NRO helps put into perspective why Chocola is so hated among Republican lawmakers.
The Club's most significant and most controversial activity since its inception — its involvement in Republican primaries on behalf of conservative candidates, even at times against Republican incumbents-- will definitely continue.

"You can't get the right policy without the right people voting," Chocola said.  "When I was in the House, we had enough seats, we just didn't have enough votes. One of the things I came away with is that the enemy is not really the Democrats, it was the Republicans. We just couldn't get enough votes to take political leadership... I think we lost the majority because we didn't live up to expectations about what people expected us to do. I think if we'd done entitlement reform, tort reform, we might have expanded our majorities."

Aside from targeting Specter, other Republicans likely to feel the wrath of Chocola's lunatic fringe operatives next year are Michiganders Vernon Ehlers and Fred Upton, who Chocola is said to personally hate, and North Carolina conservative Walter Jones, who is a co-sponsor of the new campaign finance reform bill, the Fair Elections Now Act, which drives corporate shills and plutocrats like Chocola into a hysterical frenzy. (By the way, co-sponsors, besides Jones and Specter, are mostly clean government progressive Democrats: Donna Edwards (D-MD), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jared Polis (D-CO), Alan Grayson (D-FL), Rush Holt (D-NJ), John Larson (D-CT), Jim Himes (D-CT), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Michael Capuano (D-MA).

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At 5:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did Cornyn really write "17 of 59" Democratic seats?

He's conceding to Franken? I thought he was supporting Norm Coleman to the death!

2010 should be a good cycle. Excited!


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