Deserving of a Serious Look, Chuck Pennacchio

The race to unseat Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (R) is arguably the most contentious and likely the most important race of the 2006 mid-term election cycle. Some are saying that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R) is not long for this position and, assuming the Republicans continue to hold onto a majority of seats and Santorum is to win, he will be the next in line for the role of Majority Leader. This prospect has so frightened moderate Democrats like Hillary Clinton (D), Chuck Schumer (D), and PA Governor Ed Rendell that they all took the unprecedented measure of backing a candidate more than a year before the Democratic primary.

The candidate they chose to put their collective political weight behind is Pennsylvania State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. This decision caused a major uproar among many in the Democratic party due to Casey being perceived as “Santorum-light” for his pro-life and anti-gay positions. It would seem that the reason for this early backing by the Democratic establishment is due in large part to their desire to build a significant war-chest for the general election. Theory has it that if the Dems can run an unopposed candidate it will give them plenty of time to build up the funds necessary to fight the ugly race that no doubt will ensue in 2006.

While that is all good in theory there are many people, myself included, who feel that it is criminal to deny Pennsylvanians the right to choose THEIR candidate in this race. The media and Democratic party willing, that candidate may very well be one history professor from Eastern Pennsylvania by the name of Chuck Pennacchio (pronounced pen-OCK-e-o).

(Chuck Pennacchio speaking @ Roland’s in the Strip, more pictures here.)

I had the unique pleasure of spending a couple of hours with Pennacchio on Friday along with a few dozen others when he visited Roland’s in the Strip and I can tell you that the U.S. Senate would be lucky to count a man like him in it’s ranks. Prior to the “speechifying” I had the opportunity to talk with him one-on-one and I walked away with the distinct impression that standing in front of me was a man who has what it takes to win over both Democrats and moderate Republicans.

While he is most definitely a member of the “democratic wing of the Democratic party,” his populist commitment to average Pennsylvanians of all persuasions, as evidenced in his strong opposition to the “K-Street Coalition,” will ring true across party lines. Pennacchio’s offers a principled contrast from what is being dished out by the Democratic party establishment in the form of Bob Casey Jr.; to paraphrase him, this campaign is about inclusion, Democratic party reform, embracing the constitution, and civil and equal rights issues. Hammering home the fact that he is a man of principle Pennacchio said,

“If you elect me to the U.S. Senate I will be on the losing end of more 99 to 1 votes than any Senator in history.”

One issue that he is championing that should be well received by all is one of voting rights. Pennacchio is pushing a grassroots voting rights movement with the explicit goal of creating Federal voting standards. Some of these standards include same day registration and paper trails for all forms of voting.

I was recently asked how seriously Chuck Pennacchio’s candidacy is being taken as an alternative to the establishment choice of Bob Casey. My answer to that question is two-fold; everyone who is serious about getting the best representation for the people of Pennsylvania must take a long hard look at Chuck Pennacchio, with that said he will only be taken seriously if he can prove that his campaign can raise money. Put money in the bank and there is no reason why Chuck Pennacchio can not be the Democratic nominee to defeat Rick Santorum in November 2006.

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