Blue Dog Dems Lose — The Party Opts for Left-Wing Extremists
From the Huffington Post:
The polarization of Pennsylvania politics continues as the Democratic Party purges itself of moderates.
Reps. Tim Holden (D-Pa.) and Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), both members of the dwindling conservative Democratic coalition, lost their primary races on Tuesday. Before the defeat of the two incumbents, there were just 25 Blue Dogs left in Congress, after the coalition’s members were wiped out in the 2010 election.
Holden lost to progressive candidate Matt Cartwright, an attorney who attacked the incumbent for voting against President Barack Obama’s health care reform. Holden is the second House member to lose to a newcomer in the 2012 primaries. The other lawmaker was Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio). Both were also targeted by the anti-incumbent super PAC, the Campaign for Primary Accountability.
Getting a progressive Democrat into Pennsylvania’s newly redrawn 17th Congressional District was a priority for progressive groups, including MoveOn and the League of Conservation Voters. The latter ran the largest independent expenditure campaign in the race, which included a $230,000 TV ad buy on broadcast and cable networks in the Scranton media market. The spot criticized Holden for opposing Obama’s clean energy plan.
The League of Conservation Voters “targeted Representative Tim Holden for defeat explicitly because he has opposed policies that will curb harmful global warming pollution and build a clean energy economy,” said Gene Karpinski, the group president. “Tim Holden is the first candidate this cycle to lose because he is out of the mainstream on global warming and clean energy, but he won’t be the last.”
As National Journal pointed out, Cartwright was able to level the playing field in terms of money, “loaning $380,000 to his campaign and banking dozens of high-dollar donations from fellow trial lawyers and family members.” Besides the League of Conservation Voters, the Campaign for Primary Accountability threw in more than $350,000 to oust Holden. The incumbent, meanwhile, received just $95,000 in outside help.
Altmire lost to Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.) in the state’s newly redrawn 12th Congressional District. Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature combined the seats of the two incumbents in redistricting, after the state lost a seat in the recent reapportionment.
Altmire was initially seen as the frontrunner in the race, but Critz received more than $83,000 in support from organized labor. Altmire also angered many progressives because he voted against Obama’s health care reform; Critz did not take office until after the Affordable Care Act passed.
Tim Holden was my congressman and, though I disagreed with him on many issues, I found him to be reasonable and have voted for him in the past. Only a rabid partisan could see his defeat by an ambulance chaser, heavily funded by national far-left wing activist groups, as a good thing. This marks a significant turning point in Pennsylvania Democrat politics. The party has turned its back on reason and moderation and is moving rapidly toward the extreme left.
This leftward lurch by Pennsylvania Democrats poses real dangers and will require a massive effort on the part of Republicans and moderates to counter. Cartwright’s opponent in the Fall will be Tea Party activist Laureen Cummings. She starts with a tremendous deficit. Not only is Cartwright well-known in the northeast due to his firm’s incessant advertising on local media, but Dems outnumber Republicans in the district by 24%. To win Cummings will have to have solid support from Republicans while at the same time reaching out to independents and Holden’s old moderate supporters. Can a Tea Party candidate attract moderate and Democratic votes? It will be interesting to find out. It seems to me that the only way she can do so is to emphasize Cartwright’s radical extremism, and that will require major media buys. She needs money, folks. Here‘s a link to her website. See if you can’t throw a few bucks her way.