The Great Purge
There were three campaigns that most people were watching in Pennsylvania last night. It turns out that four were quite interesting. In the Senate, the GOP prefered candidate, Steve Welch, was defeated by Tom Smith. Welch had come under fire in recent months for not being very up front in his positions and his previous registration as a Democrat and support for Obama and other Democrats as recent as a 2010. However, most of the focus was on putting an actual conservative in office and that discussion revolved around Sam Rohrer. In the end, this was a loss for the conservative movement. Smith supports the NDAA, war with Iran, and is neither vocal nor articulate in his positions.
In the wide open 4th congressional district, Scott Perry won the nomination. Perry discusses the 10th amendment on his campaign site, and is an engineer by trade with a good business history. However, there isn't much that is known about his either.
The 12th congressional district was the really interesting one. Incumbent Democrats Jason Altmire and Mark Critz had to go head to head due to the census removing one district from Pennsylvania. Critz got a late endorsement from President Clinton that seemed to propel him quite a bit, and Altmire didn't help his case by making some false claims about Critz's pro-life stances. However, Democrats should be wary of this victory. Altmire is a moderate Democrat. He is pro-life, opposed Obamacare, and works to reduce the deficit. He has been in office since 2006 and won a tough re-election in 2010.
Critz was first elected in a special election in 2010 and then won the general election a few months later. He doesn't have much of a record and now has to come back to the center in a state where the health care reform isn't popular and that was a key wedge used to separate himself from Altmire. Critz also voted against a recent balanced budget amendment and campaign heavily on the fact that Altmire supported it. Critz claims that it would harm Medicare and Social Security. The general election will be difficult for Critz to win given the desire of more American and Pennsylvanians to reduce the deficit.
The real shocker was the 17th district. Congressman Tim Holden has been in office since 1988 and lost to an unknown named Matt Cartwright. That means that the only two Pennsylvania Democrats to vote against the health care reform legislation both lost their primary bids.
As we have previously noted, 33 Democratic Congressmen voted against the health care reform laws that are known as Obamacare. 22 of those were out of office by the time the 2010 elections were over. Now, the first two to face primary challenges in 2012 have been removed by their own party.
So much for tolerance and understanding. So much for a big tent.