Pat Toomey

What is Pat Toomey Doing? Inequality and America's Future

A blog post by Stephen Herzenberg, originally published at Third and State.

Let me connect three dots for you. Draw your own conclusions about the impact of Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey’s proposal in the super committee to reduce the federal deficit.

Dot Number 1 — The American middle class is shrinking: The New York Times reports this morning that the middle class is shrinking in America — based on where people live.  In 2007, the latest year studied, 44% of families lived in middle-income neighborhoods, down from 65 percent of families in 1970. A third of families lived in very high-income or poor neighborhoods now, up from just 15 percent of families in 1970. The case example used to illustrate this national trend — the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

Awful Campaign Ad files: Xenophobia and the PA Senate Race

I’ve read about them, but it’s only recently that I’ve actually seen the anti-Toomey attack ads on the few television shows I watch. And, you know, that xenophobia thing just isn't working for me.

This ad has a sister version featuring the sound of a broken fortune cookie while the narrator says, “Pat Toomey. He’s really not for you.”

Gongs AND fortune cookies! There's so much to go after in Pat Toomey. Sending jobs overseas isn't off-limits either - but parlaying in xenophobia offends as well as clouds the message.

These ads are apparently part of a national trend reported last month by the New York Times on the latest punching bag from both political parties: China.

With many Americans seized by anxiety about the country’s economic decline, candidates from both political parties have suddenly found a new villain to run against: China.

From the marquee battle between Senator Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina in California to the House contests in rural New York, Democrats and Republicans are blaming one another for allowing the export of jobs to its economic rival.

In the past week or so, at least 29 candidates have unveiled advertisements suggesting that their opponents have been too sympathetic to China and, as a result, Americans have suffered.

The ads are striking not only in their volume but also in their pointed language.

One ad for an Ohio congressman, Zack Space, accuses his Republican opponent, Bob Gibbs, of supporting free-trade policies that sent Ohioans’ jobs to China. As a giant dragon appears on the screen, the narrator sarcastically thanks the Republican: “As they say in China, xie xie Mr. Gibbs!”

According to the Times, the anti-China sentiments are bi-partisan, 19 from Dems (including PA’s Jason Altmire) and 10 from Republicans. But that doesn’t make them any less bizarre or alienating, especially from the Democratic end. For example, the ad referenced by the Times above from Congressman Space (D-OH) uses images of a San Francisco Chinese New Year celebration to strike terror in the hearts of all those fearful of, er, gongs, fortune cookies, lion dancers and foreign tongues. Because when you're dealing in stereotypes what's it matter whether it's Asian or Asian American?

So, while I may be voting tomorrow for Sestak, I’ll be doing so with somewhat less enthusiasm, and it will be based on Pat Toomey’s record and what I still hope are Congressman Sestak’s principles and beliefs about making Pennsylvania better. Because in a state where we’ve received national attention for anti-immigrant sentiments, adding another layer to that damaging echo chamber just isn’t what PA needs.

PA Senate Summary

A lot has happened in the past week in regards to the PA Senate race:

First, a new Keystone Poll shows Arlen Specter is not all that popular:

The strong backing of Democratic Party leaders has done little to change slumping public support for the party's newest convert, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. Only 28 percent of all those surveyed say that he deserves re-election, according to the latest Keystone Poll, and double that number say it's time for a change.


Back in March, before the switch, roughly half the voters in each party said that Specter was doing an "excellent" or "good" job in the Senate.

Those numbers have plunged in the latest survey. Whereas 57 percent of Democrats gave him good or excellent ratings in March, only 46 percent rate him as highly now. Among Republicans, 49 percent rated his job performance as good or excellent in March, and only 18 percent gave him those ratings last week.

The support that is he somewhat holding onto is that of Democrats. If there is a real primary, or if Arlen doesn't come out strong for the Obama agenda, those numbers will sink, too. Further, in a match up against Sestak (with a very big MoE), the poll has it at 33-13. For an ultra incumbent like Arlen, being that much below 50 percent is very, very dangerous, and adds to worrisome trend lines in polls of the race:

And that is without Sestak doing any campaigning... Sestak is edging ever closer to a run. Word is that he will not announce for a month or two, but, he has made it pretty clear that he is in.

While that Keystone poll was in the field, Arlen was supposed to speak at the convention of the United Steelworkers. They dis-invited him. (Read this whole post, because it is pretttty funny.) If labor leaves him, he is really screwed.

Given all of that, and in an attempt to head left, he recently said that he is for a public health care option, after scoffing at it right after he switched parties. No one said Arlen wasn't good at making you a little dizzy.

On the Republican side, ultra-right Pat Toomey has effectively been cleared for the general election, as local Congressman Jim Gerlach has said he will not run.

Good Bye, Arlen Specter

Holy moly:

Incumbent Senator Arlen Specter trails former Congressman Pat Toomey by 21 points in an early look at Pennsylvania’s 2010 Republican Primary. Fifty-one percent (51%) of Republican voters statewide say they’d vote for Toomey while just 30% would support Specter.

Specter is viewed favorably by 42% of Pennsylvania Republicans and unfavorably by 55%, according to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of voters in the state. Those are stunningly poor numbers for a long-term incumbent senator. Specter was first elected to the Senate in 1980.

These are Santorum-esque poor numbers. Yet they aren't in the general election, but his own friggin primary. Is it possible that Specter will really end his Senate career by being absolutely crushed in a GOP primary? I guess, but I really cannot see it. If this keeps going, I have to believe we will hear something from him, be it a retirement, or him leaving the GOP.

When you are a GOP incumbent and you are down 21 percent in a primary, you will lose, no matter what regressive slights of hand you try to play. After screwing workers all around the Country, he deserves it.

State of the Race: 2010 US Senate

We haven't talked about it much, but the last few days have seen a number of developments in the US Senate race.

First, ultra-right wing ideologue Pat Toomey has hinted that he is going to make a primary challenge to Arlen Specter. Toomey, who almost beat Specter the last time out, has said that Arlen's vote on the stimulus bill has made him think about running. He would present a very real danger to Specter under any circumstances, because he will have lots of money, he is now well known, Specter will not have Rick Santorum or George Bush campaigning for him, and with Obama-caused defections of moderates, the PA GOP has become even more conservative than in 2004, when Toomey almost won.

Second, and related, a Susquehana poll was released, and it has basically shown that if a credible conservative candidate runs, like Toomey, Arlen is in deep, deep trouble.

HARRISBURG -- A new statewide poll shows 53 percent of Pennsylvanians -- and 66 percent of Republicans -- want someone to replace Sen. Arlen Specter.

Asked whether they think Specter, a Philadelphia Republican, has done his job well enough to win re-election or whether they'd prefer a "new person" in that job, registered voters by a 53-38 percent margin said it's time to give someone else a chance, according to the poll by Susquehanna Polling and Research. Eight percent were undecided.

The numbers might reflect Specter's vote as one of three Republican senators who enabled passage of President Obama's $787 billion federal stimulus package, said James Lee, president of Harrisburg-based Susquehanna polling. But they reflect long-standing dissatisfaction among Republican conservatives with Specter's record, he said.


Among registered Republicans, 66 percent favored a new senator and 26 percent backed Specter. The margin of error on that question was plus or minus 5.9 percentage points.

Almost half of registered Democrats (49 percent) favored Specter over someone new (42 percent.) The margin of error was 5 percentage points, Lee said.

Those are crazily bad re-elect numbers. If Toomey runs, Specter could not only lose, but do so by quite a bit.

Third, because of one and two, the talk begins anew that Specter should switch parties, and finish out his time in politics the way he started, as a Democrat.

As that poll shows (I think it is done by a GOP firm, so, take it with a grain of salt), Specter would appear to have better numbers amongst Democrats. However, those numbers are high amongst Democrats because... he is a Republican. In other words, Democrats have warm feelings for him because he sometimes bucks the party line and comes to our side. However, in a state trending ever-more blue, I don't think Specter, who would become the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, would be nearly as popular.

Dan Pohlig, who worked for Joe Hoeffel in his race against Specter, has his own take here.

Bottom line: If Pat Toomey runs, and Specter doesn't switch, he is gone. It strikes me then, that it would really benefit Democrats to get a credible statewide candidate, instead of everyone and their mother running for Governor.

Catching Up: Arlen Specter Vulnerable in the Senate

A bunch has happened over the past few days. Let's start with a poll from Research2000/DailyKos, of the 2010 PA Senate race, which shows Arlen Specter as pretty vulnerable, in the primary to uber-nut Pat Toomey and in the general, as well.

Specter (R) 43
Toomey (R) 28
Undecided 29

Specter (R) 45
Matthews (D) 44

Specter (R) 48
Murphy (D) 36

Specter (R) 49
Schwartz (D) 35

Toomey (R) 35
Matthews (D) 46

Toomey (R) 36
Murphy (D) 44

Toomey (R) 36
Schwartz (D) 42

In other words, let's go Pat Toomey!

I am not particularly thrilled with Schwartz, Patrick Murphy or Chris Matthews as the Democratic candidate. Schwartz does things like vote for the bankruptcy bill and the Patriot Act, part deux. I just don't see her winning, nor being a very good Senator. I think she will run a centrist, quiet campaign against a guy who is perceived as very centrist and is liked. So, why then will they vote to replace the guy they know? Unless there are strong, clear contrasts, Specter will win, period.

And Patrick Murphy, who I would certainly favor amongst this group, has made some pretty bad votes in the House over the last year.

I would like better choices. How about Kathleen McGinty, for example, who was considered for the head of the EPA by Obama? She just pulled herself out of the running for the EPA due to family issues, so, she may not be particularly interested. But if she ran, not only could we get the first female Senator from PA, but we would have someone who would instantly be the Senate's top expert on the environment and renewable energy.

(The same poll shows the Democratic primary very close.)

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