What Fresh Hell Is This?

September 27, 2010


The P-G's Daniel Malloy has an interesting run down on the Altmire/Rothfus race - a race I haven't spent much time thinking about, basically because it seemed so one-sided. The reason can be summed up by something Malloy wrote:
Mr. Rothfus is at a significant financial disadvantage to the well-stocked Mr. Altmire...
According to Opensecrets.org, at last report (June 30, 2010) Almire had raised nearly $2 million and spent about $480,000 leaving him about $1.5 million. Keith Rothfus, on the other hand had only raised about $560,000 and spent $360,000 leaving him with about $200,000.

So it looked, at the beginning of July that Altmire had a war chest 7 times the size as Rothfus. I would think that's pretty much the definition of "one-sided."

But things may not be exactly what they appear to be.

Back to Malloy:
When Keith Rothfus hits the campaign trail, the bespectacled Republican attorney from Edgeworth spends a lot of time talking about 2006.

That was the year when a political upstart overcame a big fundraising disadvantage to unseat Pennsylvania's 4th Congressional District incumbent, who was tied to an unpopular president during a wave year for the opposition party. And Mr. Rothfus is looking to replicate Rep. Jason Altmire's path in what is looking like a similar electoral tide -- though this time, it's the GOP advancing on the Democrats.
For his part, though, Altmire's no Missy Hart. For starters, he's no fan of the Obama Administration:
Mr. Altmire, who unseated Melissa Hart in 2006 and went on to beat her in a rematch two years ago, is inclined to agree with the shortcomings of the Democratic Congress, and his message often can be boiled down to: Don't blame me.

His ads declare that he is not beholden to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama. He proved it, he said, by voting against some of their biggest priorities -- health care reform and a comprehensive climate bill, to name two.
He's among those mentioned in this piece in the Huffingtonpost regarding "vulnerable" Democrats distancing themselves from the Democratic Party.

ith a 7-to-1 financial advantage, Altmire can't really be said to be "vulnerable," can he? At the very least he's among those who "declared their independence" from the party, though as Cristina Silva of the Huffpo says:
The tactic could hurt Democratic turnout at a time when the party needs to protect its majority in Congress, some political strategists say.

"They want to get turnout as high as possible among those who vote for Democrats," said Joseph Bafumi, a government professor at Dartmouth College. "Running away from the president or the party might not be the way to do it."

Democrats such as Altmire, Edwards, Space and Nye stand out for defying party leaders on leading issues such as health care, but they are having to defend their independent bona fides because of the "D" after their name.
On the otherside of the aisle, Rothfus has been endorsed by Pat Toomey's old pals at the Club for Growth:
Rothfus is a Tea Party favorite, an anti-establishment economic conservative who defeated a heavily-favored Republican in the May primary despite having far lower name ID and less campaign cash. His pro-growth bona fides are further burnished by a particular notable credential. He was a Pat Toomey volunteer in the 2004 Senate primary race against Arlen Specter.
He's also moving up the latter with the RNCC. He's made it onto their "Contender" list. From the RNCC press release:
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) today announced its newest round of ‘On the Radar' and ‘Contender' candidates. By reaching the first and second step of the three-step ‘Young Guns' program, these Republican candidates have reached the fundamental benchmarks to place them on the road to victory. Now, these 23 candidates are ready to take on the Democrat establishment and return fiscal sanity to Washington.
So I guess "Contender" is the second step? I am not sure. Presumably this means more national funding for Rothfus. But I don't know that either.

Of course, the spin's begun - as is the need to unspin it. Malloy:
Mr. Rothfus' assertion that Mr. Altmire votes the party line nearly 90 percent of the time is technically true, but because the House casts votes on so many noncontroversial issues -- naming post offices, congratulating championship sports teams and the like -- that number is misleading, Mr. Altmire says. He is consistently ranked near the bottom of the Democratic caucus in party loyalty.
Misleading campaign charges? Ah, we're home.


Heir to the Throne said...

Misleading campaign charges? Ah, we're home.
Care to defend your follow progressives?
Alan Grayson Is Fighting Like A Real Democrat.

Patriotism Falsely Impugned
Democratic Rep. Grayson wrongly says that his opponent 'refused' Vietnam service; claims he 'doesn't love this country.'

Ol' Froth said...

Look over here!

Mike said...

Rothfus keeps trying to tie Altmire to Pelosi much like Melissa Hart tried to. All it really does is make Rothfus look out of touch since no one bought that argument 2 years ago, and it is unlikely anyone will now.

On important votes (e.g., health care, cap and trade, the stimulus), he votes against the Democrats as much as with them. Anyone who thinks he is a pawn of Nancy Pelosi should ask progressives what they think about Altmire.

Rothfus, on the other hand, would be a mindless follower of the Republican Party like Melissa Hart, which people clearly don't want.

I met Rothfus a few weeks ago. He seems like a nice guy, but not exactly inspiring. He made me think of the Rick Moranis character from Ghostbusters.

Whether you agree with their politics or not, both Melissa Hart and Jason Altmire were politically savvy and made a difference in Washington and their district. I just think Rothfus would get lost there, and he would not be an effective representative for our region.

EdHeath said...

Painfully Altmire is a good fit for that district. Just enough of a Democrat to be acceptable to the industrial unions, just conservative enough to be acceptable to the North Hills. As long as Altmire spends that money, in making clear what he has done in Congress, he should just be able to charm the conservatives without offending any surviving liberals too much.

I guess HTTT is just ncapable of talking about the subject of a post. I mean, yeah, the ad Grayson ran was pretty shitty, but he actually sounds like the better candidate. Not that there is anything I could do about.

Pgh_Knight said...

The problem I have with Altmire is that, while he voted against Pelosi on some important issues, he didn't come out with a definitive stance until the Dems had all the vote they needed in the bag. It was like he was given permission to vote against them to please his constituency once it didn't matter. I am thinking "election politics" here. Kind of smarmy.

rich10e said...

Pgh Knight...you got it right on Altmire...

Blue Number 2 said...

So Altmire voted the way the district wanted but you "think" he was just given permission to do so after the outcome was no longer in doubt. Kudos to you on your powers of ESP.

However, I think you give short shrift to the process. I attended several meetings with him throughout he 9 months or so and heard him be very consistent in his message and approach. He wanted very specific things in a healthcare overhaul and disliked some very specific things in the original House bill.

Ultimately the major thing he called for all along, a paradigm shift on costs, wasn't included in the bill and he voted against it. I personally was disappointed that he voted against it because I thought the bill was a reasonable compromise and isn't necessary mutually exclusive with a further bill to addresses costs at a later date.

But regardless methinks you are doing a tad bit of projecting your own partisan bias on your analysis of his vote instead of actually hearing what he said all along.

mamaluc said...

Look at this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJEgKgkx0zw. It shows Jason Altmire supporting the health bill and saying failure is not an option. The video is an hour long and his statement is about 45 mins in. Notice John Dingell is on the panel with him.

Blue Number 2 said...

You are right mamluc he does say that. But tha doesn't disprove anything else we've said. Jason always was in favor of health reform. We didn't say he wasn't. But from the beginning he set out some very specific ideas that he wanted health care reform to address. He wanted cost containment, wanted to help small businesses not penalize them and he wanted commonsense funding of the program not just a generic tax on people making over $250k.

And He worked behind the scenes to try to have the final bill reflect those ideas. Since it didn't control costs the way he envisioned he voted against it.

SWPAnnA said...

I recall the way Jason handled a hostile voter at a backyard in Cranberry Township during his first run and to the question about his Catholic faith making him Pro Life, he said: "That's not my issue, it's not why I'm going to Washington. I intend to work on Health Care." Altmire went to work with definite ideas about reforming the delivery system and controlling the cost of health care, and remained consistent. He was the ONLY Democrat wise enough to speak to Fox News almost daily during the run up to the vote. Unlike the 3rd's Dahlkemper who allowed herself to be caught by the Stupak collapse, Jason never spoke in any language but what the voters of the 4th understood. Remember, his district - though it includes much of Allegheny and Beaver County Democratic strongholds, did NOT go for Obama giving a 54% margin to McCain / Palin.http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=197