Casey’s Slipping Lead Golden Opportunity for Pennacchio

Earlier this week Quinnipiac released a new poll showing Bob Casey Jr.’s lead over Rick Santorum has slipped from 18 to 12 points (overall margin of error is +-2.6 percent) since their last poll in October. Now forget for a moment that Quinnipiac decided not to poll either of the other two Democratic candidates running against Casey in the May primary (Chuck Pennacchio and Alan Sandals) – which could easily be interpreted as electioneering since, Quinnipiac is a public polling company and it is not their job to determine which candidates will be taken seriously or not. With the primary only five months away, asking questions like; “If the 2006 election for Senator were being held today, and the candidates were Bob Casey Jr. the Democrat and Rick Santorum the Republican for whom would you vote? ” is in my opinion denying the public information about all of the candidates in this race. So yes, just put that aside for a moment because that is not what I am here to talk about today.

Most Casey supporters will focus on the fact that he still holds a sizeable lead over Santorum as justification for his being the anointed Democrat in the race. But one only need look closer at the survey to see that this sizeable lead is really a paper tiger.

When it is pointed out to pro-choice Casey voters that he and Santorum both oppose legalized abortion, 63 percent of the Democrat’s supporters say they still will vote for him, while 22 percent say they will not vote in this race.

Take that 22 percent out of the equation and Casey’s lead evaporates as it did when he was the odds on favorite to beat now Governor Ed Rendell. At the time Casey held a similar double digit lead going into the primary over Rendell and ended up losing by double digits. The reason? Some say it was because Rendell recognized Casey’s weakness as an anti-choice candidate and exploited it by convincing upwards of 10,000 pro-choice Republicans – mostly women – to switch their registration in order to vote for him. This was a brilliant strategy and one Casey should fear repeating itself.

Currently Casey’s biggest challenger, Chuck Pennacchio, recognizes this weakness as well and is stumping all over the state picking up supporters at a rapid pace. While his campaign is not highly financed, this should not be seen as a negative because he has refused to take corporate PAC money, something Casey certainly can not say. In an interview earlier this week with Family Life TV in Kittanning Pennacchio had this to say about the money issue;

“We turn that to our advantage by running against the money, I’m happy to be running without that albatross (of corporate donors).”

It is also worth noting that the issues of choice and lobbyist influence are not the only areas in which Pennacchio differentiates himself from Casey. On those issues that should matter most to Pennsylvania Democrats* Pennacchio looks like the only Democrat in the race.

REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE
Pennacchio For
Santorum Against
Casey Against

IRAQ EXIT STRATEGY
Pennacchio For
Santorum Against
Casey Against

EQUAL RIGHTS
Pennacchio For
Santorum Against
Casey Against

EXPANDED STEM CELL RESEARCH
Pennacchio For
Santorum Against
Casey Against

TAKES CORPORATE PAC MONEY
Pennacchio No
Santorum Yes
Casey Yes

UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE
Pennacchio For
Santorum Against
Casey Against

PROTECTING JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE
Pennacchio For
Santorum Against
Casey Against

DEATH PENALTY MORATORIUM
Pennacchio For
Santorum For
Casey Against

LIVING WAGE
Pennacchio For
Santorum Against
Casey Against

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
Pennacchio For
Santorum Against
Casey Against

*source: www.chuck2006.com

I will repeat what I have stated all along about this race, Pennsylvania Democrats deserve to make up their own minds about who is best suited to challenge Rick Santorum in a general election, not have it decided by power brokers in Washington. It is my opinion that Chuck Pennacchio is a people’s candidate formed in the mold of Paul Wellstone and someone I would be proud to call Senator. Check him out and if you agree feel free to donate a couple bucks to the cause or sign up for his mailing list and help him get elected.

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