jump to navigation

Spec-Tak-Le May 17, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in politics, sports.
Tags: , ,

Bluejay fans—hi mom—I will try never go this long between blog posts again. It’s been a busy week and some. End of the semester. A few trips to Washington, DC. Also, this 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle is kicking my ass a little bit.

But it’s time to get back to business, put my thinking hat on—actually I don’t wear hats because someone told me once that they accelerate hair loss—and rant a little bit about Tuesday’s primary. If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you may have guessed that I am a registered Democrat. Actually, maybe you guessed that I am registered with the green party, but you would be wrong. As long as the de facto two party system remains, I will affiliate myself with a party that has a chance at some decision-making power. It’s not a coincidence that I picked Bluejay as the totem of this blog. I would never pick a Cardinal or any other red bird. My only choices were Bluejay, Blue Heron, Bluebird, and Indigo Bunting. But a Blue Heron is not really blue. I’ve never even seen a Bluebird. And Philly Indigo Bunting has terrible cadence. Not to mention the fact that few people would know what an Indigo Bunting is.

Anywhos, there are several Democratic primary races. There’s a “race” for the state house to replace uber-popular current Governor Ed “The Gov” Rendell, who’s prohibited from seeking a third term by state law and who will presumably take a permanent position anchoring Eagles Post Game Live on CSN. Dan Onorato has lapped the rest of the primary field in the polls—although The Gov has endorsed Philly-area State Senator Anthony Williams—but is polling about 10 points behind likely Republican candidate, attorney general Tom Corbett. Doh! In the 7th congressional district—where I live—lawyer-slash-Iraq-war-vet Bryan Lentz is leading political consultant Terese Touey for a chance to go against unopposed Republican Pat Meehan for a chance to replace the retiring Joe Sestak.

But the interesting race and the one that matters most from a political leverage standpoint is in the Senate—isn’t it always? The incumbent is 80-year old 4.75-term Republican and 0.25-term Democratic senator Arlen “Magic Bullet” Specter. The challenger is the 59-year old, 1.5-term congressman and former Navy admiral Sestak. The two are polling at a dead heat, with different polls reporting different leaders and all leads within the 3% margin of error. Many Democratic bigshots including The Gov and New York Senator Charles Schumer have predicted a slim victory for Specter. So who gets the Bluejay vote?

As I see it, the two relevant questions are: (i) which candidate is more likely to beat presumptive Republican nominee Pat Toomey in the general election? and sadly to a lesser degree (ii) which candidate will be a more effective Democratic Senator if he beats Toomey? Let’s start with the former. Sestak is a winner. He whipped Republican incumbent Curt Weldon by 12 points in 2006—I know that was the year of the anti-Bush midterm backlash, but still—and Republican challenger Wendell Williams by 20 points in 2008. And he is polling better than Specter against Toomey head-to-head, trailing by 5 points rather than 9. Meanwhile, Arlen Specter changed party affiliation in 2009 not for ideological reasons, but to avoid Toomey in the Republican primary! But this doesn’t actually mean that Specter is less likely than Sestak to beat Toomey in the general election. Specter reasoned correctly that he is too moderate for the new Tea Republican Party and would not be able to beat him in a Republican-only primary. That does not mean he couldn’t win as a Democrat in a state that has grown increasingly blue. And he has won five of these races before.

As for who would be the more effective Democratic Senator? Specter is a renowned deal-maker and power-player and has been voted one of the ten best Senators as recently as 2006—again the year of the anti-Bush midterm backlash. Despite being a Republican, he has maintained a centrist position over most of his tenure, and has even shifted to the left on social issues. He is pro choice. He is against the hateful Defense of Marriage Act. He voted against impeaching Bill Clinton. He called out the Bush White House on illegal wiretapping of US citizens. And since switching affiliations, he has voted with the White House a staggering 95% of the time! But Sestak is no slouch either. He is an up-and-coming player who House majority leader Steny Hoyer called “the most effective Freshman Congressman.”

Both Specter and Sestak have heartstring-tugging personal stories. Specter survived Hodgkins lymphoma. Sestak’s daughter Alexandra survived the same kind of brain tumor that killed Ted Kennedy. Sestak was born and raised in Delaware County, PA, where I currently live. Specter is from Wichita, KS, not far from where Mrs. Bluejay was born. Specter loves football, having given Roger Goodell a talking to regarding the NFL Network. Sestak and I share a birthday. Ay karamba! It’s enough to make Bluejay use third-person self-reference again! Why can’t we send both of these guys to the Senate and ditch Bob Casey?

At the end of the day, it may not matter. Whoever wins the primary may get taken down by Toomey. Who knows, maybe in a year or two Toomey will change political affiliation to avoid a head-to-head primary with the political ghost of Rick Santorum.

P.S. I’m sure you’ve seen these, but I hadn’t until Mrs. Bluejay sent this link. No commentary necessary.

P.P.S. And from the world of sports, I would not have predicted that the NFL would have a player from China before MLB. Who knows, maybe MLB will win the race for the first Indian player. Meanwhile, despite fewer total players—750 to 1696—MLB is dominating the NFL in terms of number of Jewish players. Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Braun (the Hebrew Hammer), Scott Feldman, Gabe Kapler, Ian Kinsler, Jason Marquis, Scott Schoenweiss, Mike Lieberthal, and 15 years from now, Bluejay Jr. (you heard it here first) vs. Sage Rosenfels, Jay Fiedler (is he still playing?), and Mike Rosenthal (is he still playing also?).



1. eema - May 18, 2010

I guess you are telling me to go vote. I’ll do it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: