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RealClearPolitics Politics Nation Blog

 

Blog Home Page --> House -- Pennsylvania -- 10

Biden, Pelosi Fundraise Today In Philly

By Kyle Trygstad

Vice President Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are headlining a fundraising luncheon in Philadelphia today to benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Bryan Lentz, who's running for the Philly-area 7th district seat.

As pa2010.com first reported in June, this big-money fundraiser was formed by combining two events -- Biden for Lentz, Pelosi for the DCCC -- which were originally planned separately for the same day in the same city. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports 200 attendees are expected, paying $1,000 to enter and $5,000 to mingle with Biden and Pelosi.

The fundraiser will be a boon for Lentz, a state representative who continues to trail the fundraising pace of his Republican opponent, Pat Meehan, a former U.S. Attorney. Lentz raised $230,000 in the last two months -- $215,000 less than Meehan. As of July 1, Lentz has $786,000 left to spend, and Meehan has more than $1.1 million.

The split fundraiser will also help the DCCC keep its sizeable cash-on-hand advantage over its Republican counterpart, a key metric in what's expected to be a difficult year for Democratic House candidates. Through the end of May, the DCCC had more than $28 million to spend, compared with $12 million for the National Republican Congressional Committee. New reports for the committees are expected this week.

Both candidates are running to replace Democrat Joe Sestak, who's vacating the Philly seat he wrested from Republicans in 2006 to run for Senate. The race has had its highlights already, with Lentz showing up to a Meehan press conference at the state capitol in June to rebut the Republican's accusations that he was tied to the Bonusgate corruption scandal.

Meehan is an NRCC "Young Gun" and carries great expectations to win back the seat. Many political observers see this as one of the Democrats' more vulnerable seats, and RCP currently rates the race Leans Republican.

With Pelosi in town, Meehan began airing a 60-second radio ad last week tying Lentz to the speaker's liberal image, a tactic used by Republicans in many districts this year. "The Nancy Pelosi political circus is coming to town. Coming to our area to support Phila-liberal Bryan Lentz," the ad's announcer says, according to the Inquirer.

After a weekend at home in Wilmington, Delaware and the event in Philly, Biden -- who's been raising money for Democratic candidates across the country -- will later head further south to Baltimore for a fundraiser for Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley before returning to Washington. O'Malley is running for re-election against former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, whom O'Malley defeated in 2006.

PA 10: Carney's Big Mo

It's a Republican district, but Democrat Chris Carney may have found the right formula for keeping the district. A Lycoming College Polling Institute survey polled 441 likely voters between 10/19-23 for a margin of error of +/- 4.7%. Carney and Republican Chris Hackett were tested.

General Election Matchup
Carney........50 (+4 from last, 9/08)
Hackett.......35 (-1)

Hackett, who had to get through a nasty GOP primary for the right to face Carney, is seen in a net-negative light by voters, with 41% viewing him unfavorably and 35% viewing him favorably.

PA 10: Carney (D) +15

It took Democrats 46 years to take back Pennsylvania's Tenth District, and Rep. Chris Carney has no interest in giving it back. A new independent poll shows he may not have to. The Franklin & Marshall College poll, conducted 9/30-10/5, surveyed 713 registered voters for a margin of error of +/- 3.6%. Carney and businessman Chris Hackett were tested.

General Election Matchup
Carney...........48
Hackett..........33

Survey director Terry Madonna told the Scranton Times Carney leads because of a fractured Republican base following an ugly primary. "If these numbers showed Hackett with 80 percent support among Republicans, this thing would be over," Madonna said.

Club Bats .500

An increasingly aggressive Club for Growth went one-for-two last night as Republican primary voters headed to the polls in Pennsylvania. The conservative anti-tax group spent thousands on behalf of two candidates in the state, one running to replace retiring Rep. John Peterson and one running for the right to face Democratic Rep. Chris Carney in November.

In Carney's Tenth District, based north of Scranton, Chris Hackett emerged the winner in a Republican primary that featured two wealthy businessmen. The Club for Growth backed Hackett and spent more than $60,000 on advertisements slamming his opponent, Dan Meuser. That amount was a drop in the bucket, though, compared with the amount each candidate spent from their own wallets. Hackett gave $590,000 to his own cause through March 31, while Meuser loaned himself nearly $929,000.

Hackett now goes on to face Carney in a district that gave President Bush a 20-point margin in 2004. Carney won the district in 2006 after beating incumbent Republican Don Sherwood, who got himself in trouble when police in Washington responded to a domestic disturbance complaint between Sherwood, who is married, and a woman who claimed to have been his mistress for five years. Still, Carney won by just a 53%-47% margin. This year, Carney has prepared for a stiff challenge, with more than $966,000 in the bank through April 2. But while Hackett's war chest is likely tapped after the primary, his ability to loan himself more money and backing from the Club, which can bundle contributions on his behalf, should make him financially competitive, and quickly.

Carney's district, based near Scranton, where Hillary Clinton has deep roots, voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic presidential contender. While Scranton itself voted three-to-one for the New York Senator, surrounding counties based in Carney's district gave her percentages ranging from the low to the mid-60s.

In Peterson's Fifth District, a geographically sprawling area that stretches from State College in the middle of Pennsylvania north to the border, Club-backed candidate Matt Shaner, a developer, finished third to local Republican Party chairman and nursing home director Glenn Thompson in an incredibly narrow race. The Club spent more than $72,000 in the contest on Shaner's behalf, running ads in the final days that hit candidates Jeff Stroehmann and Derek Walker.

Thompson, unscathed amid the bitter primary, won 19.5% of the vote to take the GOP nomination. Walker finished second, just 14 votes ahead of Shaner at around 17.5%, and Stroehmann finished fourth with 13.6%. Five other candidates failed to break double digits. Thompson will face Clearfield County Commissioner Mark McCracken, who won the Democratic primary with 41%, in November.

Close to 71,000 Democrats turned out to vote in a district that gave President Bush a 22-point margin in 2004, while nearly 69,000 Republicans cast ballots. Democrats turned out for the presidential contest, while Republicans had no similar top of the ticket race to drive up their numbers. Hillary Clinton won all but one of the district's fifteen counties; the one she lost, by a 60%-40% margin, was Centre County, where Penn State University is based.

Republicans suggest that Obama's loss in Pennsylvania could be trouble should he become the Democratic nominee. "Barack Obama's abysmal performance last night in some of Pennsylvania's swing congressional districts should be taken as a terrible sign for Democrat incumbents," NRCC spokesman Ken Spain told Politics Nation. "Should he become the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama's disdain for gun-owning, church-going Pennsylvanians could potentially create a huge drag on Democrats running down-ballot." Carney's and Peterson's districts are largely white rural voters, a segment of the population with whom Obama has had serious trouble making inroads.

For the Club for Growth, news last night was mixed, though their intense focus on House races so early in the cycle suggests they are plotting to play a more active role throughout the year. So far, the Club has already seen one of their candidates beat an incumbent Republican, when State Senator Andy Harris beat Maryland Republican Wayne Gilchrest in February. The group is also running ads in Louisiana, Alabama and California, and is likely to play in a Colorado primary as well.

Of course, Pennsylvania has a special place in Club for Growth President Pat Toomey's heart: He's a former member of Congress from the state, and came within a few thousand votes of knocking off Senator Arlen Specter in the GOP primary in 2004.