Can the Democratic Party Survive the Blue Dogs?
A Case Study of PA 4th CD Representative Jason Altmire
Nov. 26, 2010
By Randy Shannon,
Treasurer, PA 4th CD Chapter, Progressive Democrats of America
Depressing the Vote – Depressing Democracy“The Money & Media Election Complex,” an article in The Nation magazine, discusses the unprecedented $4 billion spent on the 2010 election and its influence on voter turnout.
To those bankrolling the system, voter cynicism and apathy are welcome…Their interests are best served by narrowing the range of debate and participation, since that makes it easier to buy the government.
This article intends to show that the analysis quoted above is valid based on the role of Jason Altmire’s campaign in the PA 4th Congressional District.
Jason Altmire’s 2010 campaign organization was well funded by corporate donors. His message depressed voter turnout and helped defeat the Democratic ticket. Altmire’s recent 2010 victory prepared the ground for a stronger Republican challenge to the Democratic Party in 2011.
If the Democratic Party is to carry forward the legacy of the New Deal, it must work for unity around a message that aggressively fights for peace and prosperity for the working families of our district and against the Republican agenda of war and austerity.
Representative Jason Altmire Wins Close Race
Congressman Jason Altmire, a member of the Blue Dog caucus and the New Democrat coalition was returned to the new 112th Congress to represent the PA 4th Congressional District. He defeated Keith Rothfus, a Republican attorney supported by local tea party activists.
At the Beaver County Democratic Party banquet on Oct. 21st, Altmire stated that he was leading Rothfus by 16%. In a pre-election column in the Beaver County Times, J.D. Prose stated: “Anyway, various polls have shown Altmire up by 11 or 12 percent, but we expect Altmire to win 57 to 43 percent.”
As Election Day approached, Rothfus was gaining in the polls as Republicans sensed a possibility of victory. By Nov. 2nd his lead had almost evaporated and Altmire won 50.8 to 49.2 percent, a thin margin of4,025 votes.
Altmire trailed Rothfus in Allegheny, Butler, and Westmoreland Counties by 9,189 votes. But Altmire led by 13,214 votes in Beaver, Lawrence, and Mercer Counties.
Jason Altmire’s Stance: Democrat In Name Only (DINO)
In his Nov. 6th column “Are Democrats an endangered species in Beaver County?”, J.D. Prose stated: “Independent research…has shown that Republicans are turning the county into a political graveyard for Democrats up and down the ballot … except if you’re U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire.”
In an article in the Pittsburgh online examiner, Rachel Kowalick, a conservative commentator, highlighted Altmire’s political stance in this election.
Altmire’s campaign strategy at this point seems to be running like hell from the Democratic leadership and agenda, while reminding voters that he’s popular as well as moderate. His first campaign ad is all about his willingness to “stand up to the President… and Nancy Pelosi.” And in today’s Trib-Review, he’s quoted as saying, “I spent the summer in my district…and everywhere I went, people told me they were happy that I took a stance against Pelosi and Obama’s policies.”
Kowalick summarized Altmire’s campaign “as a Democrat who’s against the Democrats.”
Columnist J.D. Prose in the October 10, 2010 Beaver County Times wrote:
Over the last several weeks, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire has been dubbed a poster boy for Democratic incumbents running against the Democratic Party. Here are a few examples:
“Democrats running scared” trumpeted talkingpointsmemo.com in the headline for a story in which Altmire was Exhibit No. 4.
“Mr. Altmire is running away with it, by running away from the president,” wrote the Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Weisman.
Alison Harding wrote on CNN’s Political Ticker blog that “… many Democratic candidates facing tough races are distancing themselves from the national party …” and she then cited Altmire’s ad that “touts his independence from President Obama.”
Even that other Times — the one in New York City — pointed to Altmire’s ad bragging about his vote against health-care reform for a story on Democratic woes.
As a leading politician in the 4th Congressional District, it is Jason Altmire’s political stance that is playing a major role in “turning the county into a political graveyard for Democrats up and down the ballot.” Continue reading It’s a Good Time to Review Our Tactics & History with ‘Blue Dogs’