Friday, October 13, 2006

PA Senatorial Race Boils Over in Debate.

Things are heating up here in the Keystone State. Yesterday KDKA, a local broadcasting company, aired the first debate between senatorial incumbent Rick Santorum and challenger Bob Casey. I didn't get a chance to hear it live- it was originally recorded during the workday, and played for the public at 7PM last night. I had some drawing to do, and the soundtrack was classical music... evidently it would have been difficult to concentrate if we did listen to the debate. I have heard excerpts from the debate, and it is patently obviously that the gloves came
off.

This political campaign has been spirited from the beginning. Santorum has raised at least $21 million to retain his seat, yet he still trails the challenger by double digits in the polls. There's not much he can point to besides some pork-barrell projects that he has pushed through to garner some modicum of support from his constituents. The truth of the matter is that this is truly a referendum on the direction this country has taken in the last six years. Santorum has been active in the political strategy that has proven to be devastating to the credibility of the leadership of this nation. His relationship with the K Street lobbyists has been well documented. His pandering to the reactionary moralist constituency that he shares with the president has been embarrasing to many in this state. And it's surely refreshing to hear him taken to task by his opponent.

Casey finally brought the type of confrontation that many have been pleading for these oh-so-many years. With a deliberate strategy of provocation, he was able to frustrate Santorum to the extent that the Senator's strenuously repressed madness was exposed for all to see. Today I had the opportunity to listen to the Marty Griffin show on KDKA AM talk radio. This is an unashamedly conservative media outlet, and while Griffin is probably the most moderate personality of the station, he is certainly no progressive. His listeners definitely lean to the conservative side. The general feedback of those who called in today bodes well for Casey supporters. Those who are unwavering loyalists of Santorum can and will not be persuaded otherwise. But there were quite a few who originally were leaning toward the incumbent, that because of the debate, are either going to sit out this election or hold there nose and cast their vote for Casey. There seems to be a general perception that Santorum is crazy and desperate- not a good combination for an elected federal official. I've written before about Santorum's rabid foreign policy agenda- we simply cannot afford to retain him as a high-ranking member of the
Senate.

I'm not naive about State Treasure Casey. He is not the ideal candidate to represent my interests. He is clearly trading on the name recognition that comes with being the sone of a former governor. Besides his pro-life stance, I know very little about his political beliefs. But we've come to such a desperate situation here in Pennsylvania that we need to throw our support behind the lesser of two evils. Casey very well may end up being completely ineffectual in the Senate. But that is easily preferable to the representation that Santorum had given us over the last 16 years.

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