Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Pennsylvania Whisper

Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary has absolutely nothing to do with Iowa outside of dropping a few clues about November.

Tuesday's election proved to be the exception to a number of campaign rules.

One of them says low turnouts help incumbents. Not this time.

Only 18 percent of the state's voters went to the polls, but they ousted 17 lawmakers, including the two most powerful members of the state Senate -- Majority Leader David J. "Chip" Brightbill, R-Lebanon, and President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer, R-Blair County.

Another says a big-money advantage is the ticket to winning.

Again, not in every case. Jubelirer and Brightbill's campaigns outspent their challengers -- John Eichelberger and Mike Folmer, respectively -- many times over. Both still lost big.

A third says incumbents have the edge over challengers, because they have name recognition and a record of hometown accomplishments in their favor.

Well, that one didn't pan out, either.

Voters sent incumbents packing in numbers not seen in nearly 30 years. The deep-seated outrage over last summer's pay raise of 11 percent to 54 percent for state officials was cited as the principal reason. …

…Some cited a rift within the state Republican Party over legislative leaders' acceptance of spending and tax increases pushed by Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell. Of the 17 lawmakers who were unseated, all but four were Republicans. The GOP controls the state House and Senate.

Others cited a growing discontent with legislative practices, including the swift passage of bills without full debate. … (link to Patriot-News)

Pennsylvania is irrelevant to Iowa politics in a direct sense; but indirectly, this election day drumming taken by incumbent Republicans suggests trouble in November, particularly if Iowa Republicans are viewed as out of touch and arrogant (poll test, please).

It’s important to voters that their pols stay rooted to their party philosophy, which probably explains some of Mike Blouin’s problems; he’s a pro-life corporatist in a pro-choice union party. What does this mean for Iowa Republicans? They may need to own up to some bad votes while making sure they show off a few battle scars from fighting for Republican ideals.

A lucky break on that front is this year’s senior tax cut, it reaffirms Iowa Republicans are committed to cutting taxes, and that is a theme that works all the way around. Iowa Republicans need to keep talking about holding the line on all types of taxes. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking sales taxes (even on ciggs & beer) or property taxes or Iowa income taxes, Republicans core values don’t support raising taxes for additional government spending. That is a powerful message and Republicans shouldn’t let it get lost in the campaigns back and forth over politics and policymaking mechanics.


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