11/3/2010—Well, I’m glad the political news was not worse. I am surprised and gratified that Pat Toomey won by only a small margin over Joe Sestak.
Now, since this was essentially an open seat because the incumbent, Arlen Specter, lost in the Democratic primary, two questions. First, why was it so close? Sestak was perhaps the most liberal candidate in any seriously contested Senate race in the country. He did not run away from President Obama but tried to explain the bailout and Wall Street regulation. He proposed a public option for healthcare reform. Pennsylvania is not an overwhelmingly blue state. (Republicans held the State Senate going in to the election and now control the Governorship, one Senate seat and both houses of the legislature.)
Either Sestak was a great candidate or the Democratic record was not that bad. Or a combination of both. So, maybe that bodes well for the future.
Second, would Pat Toomey have won if not for the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision freeing up corporate money to influence elections? The Post-Gazette story shows that a lot of independent expenditure money did flow in. (story here). Tomey had all summer to advertise without opposition. And right up to the end, Sestak was swamped. Still he almost won. Corporate interests bought the man they wanted: low taxes for the rich, low regulation and low spending overall. That corporate power is the world we now live in.
Finally, could Arlen have saved this seat for the Democrats? Maybe. But there was a lot of enthusiasm for Sestak that Arlen would not have been able to tap.