by Kyle Sammin
Wednesday, 9
November 2022
Dispatch
13:13

Blame weak candidates for G.O.P.’s loss of Pennsylvania

Republicans squandered a good opportunity to win
by Kyle Sammin
Newly-elected senator John Fetterman. Credit: Getty.

Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania we have learnt that candidates matter. Of the two big races on the midterm ballot — for governor and for senator — only one of the four candidates represented the consensus choice of his party and campaigned as a big-tent centrist: Democrat Josh Shapiro, who won easily over his Republican opponent, Doug Mastriano. 

Shapiro cleared the primary field early and built on a long record of officeholding as a reasonable, middle-of-the-road Democrat. He came to the race with a record of keeping spending and taxation under control in his time as county commissioner (a local executive office) and of good relations with the police, many of whom endorsed him in his reelection as state Attorney General two years ago.

From there, Shapiro moved even more to the centre by endorsing a school choice measure pending in the legislature, a departure for the candidate who had been the favourite of teachers’ unions for years. It was probably a smart shift, given the backlash against the failures of the public school system during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

In contrast, the Republican nominee, Mastriano, emerged from a bruising primary and failed to unite his party. His campaign was anaemic, his relations with the press were hostile even for a Trump-backed Republican, and his political positions were extreme enough — especially on the issue of whether the 2020 election was stolen — to give many more moderate Republicans reason to vote against him. It all added up to what looks to be, when the votes are all counted, a ten-percentage-point win for Shapiro.

In the Senate race, neither Democrat John Fetterman nor Republican Mehmet Oz had Shapiro’s level of support, and the race had tightened significantly before Fetterman was declared the winner last night. Oz, while moderate and tempered in his pronouncements, never fully gained the trust of a divided Republican party. Fetterman, though he was the clear winner of the Democratic primary, staked out positions so far to the Left on crime and spending that he alienated the same moderate voters who embraced Shapiro. 

Had the “red wave” turned out to be as massive as Republicans hoped, it might have carried mediocre contenders over the finish line. But in a more normal than expected electoral environment, the state party apparatus must shoulder the blame for not taking the lead in finding strong consensus candidates and helping them to win their primaries. 

Other big states like Florida and Ohio tallied their ballots quickly and efficiently, while the Keystone State was slower to announce Fetterman the winner. Nevertheless, the capture of a Republican-held Senate seat bodes promisingly for the Democrats’ chances of retaining the chamber.

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Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
22 days ago

Candidates matter and Toxic Trump matters. He is utterly poisonous to GOP chances.
RE: Ohio. Look at the vote gap between Trump-backed Vance and the other GOP candidates, he was incredibly far behind them. Look at how Walker is doing compared with Kemp in Georgia. How did Bolduc do compared with Sununu in New Hampshire?
I wonder how much the reappearance of Trump over the last week swung people away from holding their nose and voting for his candidates? There he was, out on the trail, doing down DeSantis, cheap shots at Mike Pence. Why? Because he can’t help it.
With any luck these results are the nail in the coffin for this guy and he won’t bulldoze through the primary. And I hope to goodness he doesn’t run as a third party candidate in 2024.
People interested in a Republican resurgence in 2024 get down to your local primary and vote for the non-Trump candidate.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
21 days ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

He’s running Caty. I wish he wouldn’t. I believe Trump served his purpose and it’s time for others to take over (like the guy who swung his state WAY red last night – DeSantis.) But Trump’s not about the good of the country or the good of the party. He’s about the good of Donald Trump.
And I fear we can’t beat him in a primary.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
21 days ago

I have to say, I am optimistic seeing the reaction to these results. I see a lot of fingers pointing at Trump. I’m not sure he would win a primary. 2016 he benefitted from being one of a very large primary group and having outsider status. This time around I highly suspect his competition to coalesce around a viable candidate (and I agree, DeSantis is very much the obvious person here, but there are others too) and this will be too much for him.

Dominic A
Dominic A
21 days ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

Yes.
The GOP needs to move on from Trump – and to understand the faults that led to the toxic phenomena. And over on the left, the Dems need to understand their capture by neo-marxist wokery, and move on.

The GOPs problem is classic conservative in form – near worship of an individual patriarch who, it is claimed, will restore great traditions, which have been attacked by moderns. Reminiscent of – Putin; Rev Jim Jones etc
With the Dems, is classic socialism problem – there is no one person at fault, but a collective of moderns hypnotised by a ‘Brave New World’ vision. Reminiscent of Mao’s Red Guard attacking the ‘four olds’ of – old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
22 days ago

PA faced an impossible choice: a celebrity, daytime TV doctor who had lived in the state for less than 2 years vs. the former mayor of a near ghost town who can no longer string 3 coherent sentences together.
The campaign was incredibly negative on both sides. When I was in PA about 3 weeks ago, the ad running most often on TV was “Dr. Oz tortured puppes!” No wonder people were turned off by the whole thing.
I’ve got to be honest, if I lived in PA, I probably would have stayed home too.

Last edited 22 days ago by Brian Villanueva