Day By Day

Friday, May 26, 2006

Pennsylvania Politics -- Things are Heating Up

At last, the campaigns are moving into full swing.

This week Rick Santorum launched his media campaign with radio ads in the Pittsburgh market portraying Bob Casey as a below-the-belt mudslinger who won’t address real issues. He’s attacking Casey’s strongest points here. Thus far Casey has tried to portray himself as a comfort candidate – not harsh like Santorum, and fuzzy enough on issues so that voters with widely disparate perspectives can feel comfortable with him. So far it’s worked, and so Santorum is trying to alter those perceptions. In doing so he has a considerable advantage. During his losing battle against Ed Rendell for the gubernatorial nomination four years ago Casey did sling a lot of mud, and was called on it by the Rendell forces. As a result Santorum is in the delicious position of being able to throw the Democrats’ own words back at them.

Will it work? It’s not bad for a first volley. And it is significant that the campaign opened in Pittsburgh. That’s Santorum’s home turf and he has been polling poorly there. Rick has no chance of denting the mindlessly partisan Philly market, but if he can peel away some moderate votes in the West and firm up his base in the center of the State, he can take this thing – at least that seems to be the calculation.

Read about it here.

Meanwhile in the other major statewide contest, Lynn Swann has begun to firm up his credentials, enlisting popular former governor, Tom Ridge as his honorary campaign chairman, and issuing a serious proposal for cutting property taxes, modeled on California’s “Proposition 13” which he claimed stimulated economic growth in that state. Rendell countered by arguing that Swann’s proposal would hurt education [something of a stretch, I would think, considering that our local middle school [not the high school] here in the mountains now boasts a huge swimming pool, paid for by the taxpayers of course, and that is not even beginning to mention other frills like the expensive and elaborate passive solar heating system, also at taxpayers’ expense].

Speaking as a Pennsylvania homeowner, I am strongly in favor of anything that cuts our tax burden, especially if it begins to enforce some discipline on the grandiose visions of school officials.

Read about Ridge’s role here.

For details on Swann’s tax proposals go here.

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