If politics were tag team wrestling, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan would get in the ring against Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire in the 4th Congressional District race next fall, taking up the fight where Melissa Hart, another conservative supporter of George W. Bush, left off. And like tag team wrestling, it would be sort of fun for those of us in the cheap seats.
Whether she will run isn’t clear yet, but as the Post-Gazette reported Friday, she’s been thinking about it. The district includes northern Allegheny County, all of Lawrence County and parts of Beaver, Butler, Mercer and Westmoreland counties — a socially conservative terrain that offers a candidate like Ms. Buchanan some hope.
Still, for her to succeed, the memory of her fondness for the former president might have to fade, as would the recollection of her ill-fated prosecution of leading Democrat and former Allegheny County Coroner Cyril H. Wecht, whom she pursued with an Inspector Javert-like zeal. But Jason Altmire is a slippery grappler who has covered his political vulnerabilities well.
Too slippery, too well — in fact, moderates and liberals looking for something more than a male Melissa Hart have come to wonder what they have got. They thought they had a progressive cat and they got a Blue Dog. On climate change legislation, they seem to have an agent for coal-fired industry. On health-care reform, they seem to have the health-care system lobbyist he once was (and, yes, Ms. Hart warned us).
If Ms. Buchanan runs, the people she appeals to won’t be voting for Jason Altmire, for all his shifting. And the progressives? Unless he shows them he’s a real Democrat on issues like health care, they just might stay home.