Thursday, August 03, 2006

Santorum and the Art of Distraction

Doesn't Bob Casey's campaign get it?

Santorum and his peeps have political smarts. They know that Carl Romanelli will have the same impact on this race that a 7 year old relieving himself in the waters off Wildwood Crest has on the ocean levels. Santorum realizes Romanelli isn't going to siphon enough voters off Bob Casey to make any real difference.

But, if the Casey camp has to spend some of its (far less than Rick's) cash on hand and force some of its top people to waste precious manhours and devote strategy sessions to the "Green problem", for a couple of weeks, while Rick goes off to beat the drum on immigration or some other hot-button issue, then what an accomplishment for the Santorum campaign. As a bonus, they've now got people -- bloggers, press, and real folk -- talking about Romanelli and how much Casey is hurt by this. Casey looked, to most of the people on the street, at least, fairly unstoppable. But, by not spending a dime of its own cash on hand, the Santorum campaign has managed to create an impression of vulnerability in the Casey drive to November, and gotten the press to talk about "Casey's Romanelli problem", instead of Casey's message (whatever that is).

The Patriot-News has an editorial today creating some sympathy for the poor Greens, which can't help the Casey cause as they are preparing to challenge the Green petitions:

There is a lot to be said in be half of the two-party political system. But it becomes too much of an old-boy, incumbents' protection club when third-party candidates are required to overcome a very stiff challenge to get on the ballot. Indeed, it is just plain wrong that it requires a mere 2,000 qualified signatures for Republican and Democratic statewide candidates to get on the ballot, while third-party candidates have to come up with a whopping 67,070 this year. That's anti-democratic and eliminates candidates and ideas that could lend interest to races that turn off millions of Pennsylvanians who find no inspiration compelling enough to bother to vote. . . . The Green Party appears to have reached that threshold by collecting more than 90,000 signatures, reportedly with the aid of supporters of Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, who is running well behind Casey in the U.S. Senate race. Santorum could be helped if Green Senate candidate Carl Romanelli can siphon some votes away from Casey.

From CityPaper.net comes this report of Washington Post's Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist David Broder's warnings at the Eastern Regional Conference of the Council of State Governments in Philadelphia:
Addressing Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race, Broder said, "Casey should not take his current lead for granted. And if he does, he may be in for a surprise because Santorum is a fighter."
Will Bunch is talking about the unusual situation of uber-conservatives giving big bucks to the decidedly left of center Romanelli and how Casey can be hurt by this:
Federal Election Commission records show that all $66,000 of the money raised by the Green Party came from donors who back conservative causes or GOP candidates, particularly Santorum. And it's Santorum who benefits if liberal voters desert Casey for the Greens.
His compatriot, Attytood, gives Romanelli's positions full play, lists Casey's conservative credentials, and talks about the harm to Casey:
For a guy who's positioned himself as the candidate of the left in the Pennsylvania Senate race, Carl Romanelli has some very strange bedfellows on the far-right side of the mattress. The Green Party candidate -- who'll likely siphon some votes from liberals angry at Democrat Casey's conservative views on abortion, gun control, and other issues -- has a real shot at making the fall ballot thanks to an effort funded with $66,000 in donations to the Green Party of Luzerne County (where Romanelli lives) that paid for his petition drive. As you may have read over the last couple of days, it's now being reported that many of these donors are allies of GOP Sen. Rick Santorum, who will benefit if disaffected Democrats defect to the Green Party. A most brazen ploy indeed, yet that doesn't even begin to capture the stunning level of cynicism here.
And in every news report on the issue, Romanelli talks about how hard it was to get on the ballot with the oppressive signature requirement, Santorum talks about inclusiveness, and Larry Smar (Casey's brain), sounds like he's whining. This from the AP:
"I think I've demonstrated the fight I've brought to this campaign, because we weren't going to let a system bully us out of an election," Romanelli said yesterday. . .
Casey campaign spokesman Larry Smar said Santorum was actively encouraging Romanelli's candidacy to hurt Casey. "This is about stealing votes from Bob Casey," Smar said. . .
Santorum campaign spokeswoman Virginia Davis said Santorum welcomed Romanelli's candidacy because he is willing to debate the senator. . . . "We welcome participation by a third-party candidate who shares a commitment to sharing his views on the issues," Davis said.
It is hard for me to see what Casey gains from challenging Romanelli. If Casey boots Romanelli, it will still cost him a coupole of weeks of message and manpower. If he loses, his overreaction elvates Romanelli's status.

A Goolge search for Carl Romanelli turned up 75,000 hits today. I didn't think to save the searches I've done before all this hit, but it was a boatload less. I think it's pretty fair to say that Romanelli would not have gotten any of this attention if Casey had responded like Romanelli was irrelevant. Instead, CASEY has managed to make him a factor.

Is now a bad time to remind Democrats what happened when Casey had that 26-point lead over Rendell with 8 weeks to go in the 2002 Gubernatorial primary?

2 comments:

phillydem said...

Here's what Casey gets, keeping a spoiler off the ballot who could take enough votes away in a three way race to give Santorum the win.

The hard fact is the Greens couldn't
find enough Pennsylvania voters interested in signing for their candidate(s) despite gathering signatures since May. Then they laid down with the dogs and now are surprised they've gotten up with fleas.

Tough cookies you and the Greens are offended by Casey's challenge. That's the hardball politics you are always claiming Casey won't play. The Casey people are about winning and are absolutely right in doing everything they can to boot Romanelli off the ballot.

The Greens sold out to the GOP and are a willing partner in the Santorum reelection campaign.

No legitimate liberal would work against his or her own interests by helping to elect a person who is opposed to the entire progressive agenda when they could help a candidate who help move at least part of their agenda forward.

A Big Fat Slob said...

Here's what Casey gets, keeping a spoiler off the ballot who could take enough votes away in a three way race to give Santorum the win.

I guess that's the fundamental difference. If Casey runs a halfway compentent campaign, Romanelli is a non-factor. Casey is running against one of the least respected Senators in the nation, in a state that gives Bush lower ratings than Nixon got when he resigned.

How could Casey not win going away. I mean, he's up by double digits with only a few months to go. I mean, it's not like he has a history of blowing insurmountable leads against a tough, smart campaigner . . . . oh, wait. I see your point.