Update on 2010 Pennsylvania Race for Arlen Specter’s US Senate Seat

Cong. Joe Sestak
Cong. Joe Sestak
by Randy Shannon
Only two years ago Pennsylvania voters gave Bob Casey a victory over the Republican ultra-right darling Rick Santorum in the U.S. Senate contest, and sent several Republican Congressmen packing.

The 2008 election results in Pennsylvania saw a stronger shift of the electorate to the left across the whole political spectrum.  In 2008 first-term Democratic Congressmen like Joe Sestak and Jason Altmire strengthened their positions while Kathy Dahlkemper defeated 3rd CD Republican Phil English to gain another Democratic seat in Congress for Pennsylvania.

Barack Obama won Pennsylvania with the help of central rural counties in Pennsylvania shifting to the Democratic column for the first time in decades while the suburban counties around Philadelphia accelerated their shift to the Democratic column. Even though the rust belt along the Ohio River lost Democratic votes, the margin was small. Beaver and surrounding counties voted about 48% for Democrat Barack Obama.

Perhaps more importantly for the 2010 race for U.S. Senator, over 22,000 Pennsylvania Republicans changed their registration to Democrat.

The upshot of these developments is the uneasy alliance between the Heinz-Hillman financial oligarchy and the far-right Mellon-Scaife group has collapsed. The Hillman strategy has been to control Pennsylvania politics by funding conservatives in the Democratic Party primaries and centrists in the Republican primaries. Sen. Arlen Specter has been one of their best investments. He has been able to maneuver for 16 years to prevent labor and progressive forces from gaining a political voice in Washington.

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