(292) Sunday, November 13, 2016 – If you were rooting for Trump, send a Thank You” card to Ed Rendell.
If Rendell would have left Joe Sestak alone in the PA primary for US Senate, Democrats would not only have won that seat but also cast its electoral votes for Hillary Clinton for President.
Assuming Hillary had also won Wisconsin through a better deployment of resources, her vice president, Tim Kaine, would be breaking ties in a 50-50 Senate chamber.
For Rendell, former PA Governor, Philadelphia Mayor and Chair of the Democratic National Committee, greed has always come first.
Rendell is a fixer and rainmaker to a law firm. His job is to bring in business plums to his employer which requires friends on both sides. His influence with certain powerful office holders can border on control.
Sestak and Rendell have rubbed each other wrong since 2010. Rendell now is 2-0 in head-to-heads with Sestak.
Six years ago, Arlen Specter was convinced that his unabashed liberalism would not survive another Republican primary for a US Senate term. Democrat bigwigs, meeting in a telephone booth and not consulting with rank-and-file, welcomed Specter.
Those guaranteeing him continued ownership of that Senate seat included everyone from President Obama to Democrat Senate leaders Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer to Rendell and union bosses.
Rendell, and others, had already recruited Sestak for the Democrat Senate nomination, apparently figuring Specter would not survive another Republican primary.
Sestak had already abandoned his intentions to run for re-election in a SE PA Congressional district.
Rendell ordered Sestak to drop out of the Senate race. In 2004, the last time Specter appeared on a Republican ballot, it was my duty to inform then-Gov. Rendell that we would be supporting Specter.
Many Democrats, like myself, had always voted for Specter when he was running on the GOP ballot.
Rendell told me “I have no problem with that. In Philadelphia Specter gave me my first job.”
(My enthusiasm for Specter in 2004 knew few bounds. At one point in the primary, a campaign staffer called, asking me to dial it back a bit, at least until after the primary.)
The end, for most of us, occurred in 2009 during the financial crisis. We learned Specter’s vote for Obama’s recovery package came at a steep price. Obama agreed to swap $80 billion in infrastructure projects for a like amount in tax breaks for the rich.
Sestak stayed in the 2010 primary race and defeated Specter. He was able to muster enough votes from the rank-and-file who defied party and union bosses.
The bosses won the next skirmish. They made sure that Sestak would not have enough funds to mount a winning campaign. Even against those odds, Sestak only lost to Pat Toomey by two percentage points.
Following his loss in 2010, Sestak established himself to make another run in 2016. For five years he crisscrossed the state, appearing at both public and political events in every county, helping to raise party funds and developing a base of supporters in the tens of thousands.
He campaigned for numerous Democrats involved in local municipal elections, rarely if ever seen here.
Rendell and his power-hungry cronies had to stop Sestak once again.
In mid-2015 they decided they would throw Katie McGinty against Sestak. She had served in Rendell’s cabinet and obviously would be more responsive to him.
McGinty was chief of staff to then-newly elected Gov. Tom Wolf. She was his point person in a historic budget battle. Despite how crucial McGinty’s public service mission was, Wolf also bowed to Rendell. He released her to run against Sestak in the primary.
When McGinty could not raise enough money to fund the primary fight, Rendell turned to Schumer who controlled the purse strings of the Democrat Senate campaign committee.
About $4 million of contributions we made assuming the money would be spent against Republicans, instead was used in an “open” Democrat primary.
McGinty erased a 15-point deficit in polls and defeated Sestak. Soon we had Hillary Clinton and McGinty running for two top offices where voters had never selected a woman.
The real campaign dynamics occurred between Clinton and McGinty. They battled to see which could appeal to voters as more liberal.
Among a multitude of incidents demonstrating McGinty’s open adulation of Clinton, she found time to appear at a campaign event in Philadelphia with Jesse Jackson.
Both McGinty and Clinton seemed convinced they could win the state without mining votes in Western Pennsylvania. That was in tune with Rendell’s philosophy.
We were told their margins in Philadelphia and surrounding counties would outweigh the shellacking expected in 60 other counties.
Rendell was also partially correct in another pre-election prognosis. He said Clinton’s ground game was superior. “Neither the RNC or Republican state committee had much of a street program,” he said.
He and the Party bosses ignored Pat Toomey’s ground game. The Koch brothers and their other “dark money” friends did not sit out the 2016 election. They directed their funds to down ballot Republicans.
The Toomey-McGinty senate race – at about $180 million – was the most expensive in US history. Toomey spent money in areas where Democrats did little. This also benefited Trump.
The only Democrat with a semblance of a field operation in conservative areas was Joe Sestak.
Bottom Line: Granted, Democrats won all three state row offices Tuesday. However, they lost ground everywhere else.
Will our Party leaders put some sort of spin on Tuesday’s results? Do they even believe they owe rank-and-file an explanation?