Election Reflections

Ok, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. I’ll admit it: that was quite a whipping we took. Like everyone else, I anticipated losses. But that was ugly, no way to sugarcoat it. The question now is, where do Democrats go from here? We need to do some serious re-evaluation, both locally and nationally, about who we are as a party, what we stand for, who are candidates are, and how we get our message out.

The first lesson that was reinforced to me was that voters have short memories. The nation’s current economic problems started under a Republican president and Congress. Yet people nationwide voted for candidates who parroted those same ideas from the Bush years, like tax cuts for the wealthy will solve everything. Democrats never effectively called out the GOP for defending millionaires and billionaires, and instead found themselves defending these perceived “tax increases” (even though those rates are set to expire anyway).

The Republican strategy of blaming President Obama and Nancy Pelosi for everything seemed to have paid off. It even almost worked against Mark Critz and Jason Altmire – two congressmen who certainly are nowhere close to Pelosi or Obama (personally or politically). I suppose if you keep saying something often (and loudly) enough, people will start to believe it.

Joe Sestak definitely deserved better. He would have made a terrific Senator – thoughtful, caring, experienced and balanced. Instead we get a guy in Pat Toomey who makes Rick Santorum look moderate.

I wonder if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is going to get its own office in the U.S. Capitol? The amount of money the Chamber spent against Democrats should have earned these high-rollers a plush corner office.

Can we please now quit hearing about the Democrats 2-1 registration edge in Westmoreland County? Over the past 10 years, we’ve learned it means nothing. People are voting Republican regardless of what their voter card says. This is not a “Democratic county” by any means.

It will be very interesting to see how the state Republicans govern. It’s one thing to run campaigns against spending, taxes and basically everything. It’s a whole other ballgame to actually run government. Our infrastructure is a mess, people with disabilities are grossly underserved, libraries are closing, and on and on. We’ll have to wait and see what needs, and group of constituents, they chose to ignore.

I wish Governor-Elect Tom Corbett well. He certainly has his hands full. I will be watching closely to see how he plans on balancing the state budget without any additional revenue, and what affect his plans will have on county government. If the costs of services are simply passed down to counties, it will be counties who are forced to make the difficult choices about revenue.

What struck me most about the losses by State Reps John Pallone and Jim Casorio were not the fact that they lost, but how. Tying them to an unpopular governor obviously worked, but it was hardly truthful. John Pallone spent the past eight years bucking the governor, and I’m not sure that Governor Rendell would recognize Jim Casorio if they were stuck in an elevator together. Further proof that if you say something enough (like negative mailer after negative mailer) people will believe it.

I am curious what others think. What can we as Democrats do differently? Is it message? It is our priorities? Is it our candidates? And what can we do to turn it around? Let me know your thoughts at tkopas@comcast.net.

Now, I know Republicans are already sizing up the commissioners’ office for next year. And based on this year’s model it’s safe to assume they will spent tens of thousands of dollars from Harrisburg politicians and special interests to distort our record. It will be interesting to see what ridiculous things will be said about your county government.

As for me, all is I can do is approach the campaign the way I approach my job – with honesty and hard work. Despite this year’s tough election, I am excited to hit the campaign trail and remind county residents about our Democratic principles and the state of county government.