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Pennsylvania Primaries Will Have Major National Implications on Democratic-Republican Seats


On May 18th, Pennsylvanians will have the opportunity to go to the polls and choose their party’s nominees for the general election in November. Unfortunately, few will do arlen specter joe sestakso.

According to USA Today, the percentage of age-eligible people who voted in states that had primaries for governor and/or U.S. Senate seats in a midterm election (like this year in 2010) has been consistently under 10%. Pennsylvania, like most states, uses a closed primary, meaning that citizens can only vote for members of their registered party. In Pennsylvania, a person must register for the major party or their choice within 30 days of the primary. This year, that date was April 19th. Also, voters registered as independents cannot vote in a closed primary.

A closed primary system, coupled with a low voter turnout, brings out the most hyper-partisan members of the Republican and Democratic parties. Little wonder voters in November often say, “I don’t like any of these candidates”. Perhaps they should have participated in the primaries when their opinions statistically mattered the most.

With that said, hopefully readers will become informed and take part in the primaries on Tuesday. At the state level, the primaries for Governor are the most important. In the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary, Dan Onorato, an Allegheny County Executive, Ex-Allegheny County Controller & Ex-Pittsburgh City Councilman leads the following candidates in a four-way race:

· Joe Hoeffel, a Montgomery County Commissioner, Ex-Congressman & '04 US Senate Nominee

· Jack Wagner a State Auditor General, Ex-State Senator, Ex-Pittsburgh Council President & USMC Veteran

· Anthony Williams, a State Senator., Ex-State Representative. & Non-Profit Group Founder.

In the Republican contest for governor, Tom Corbett, current Attorney General & Ex-US Attorney has a healthy lead over the Sam Rohrer, who is a current State Representative & Businessman, and a Tea Party favorite.

There are also contests for Lt. Governor, State Legislatures, and State Senators.

The Pennsylvania primaries are important because they have national implications. Each of Pennsylvania’s nineteen Congressional Districts in the House of Representatives will hold elections, too. The Republicans need to win 40 seats to control the House; some polling organizations are predicting a Republican gain as many as 50 seats. One district race that is instantly pertinent in this discussion is the special election in 12th District, the late John Murtha’s old district. This once safely Democratic district where Murtha reigned for 35 years is now a toss-up. Longtime Murtha aide Mark Critz, 48, vows to carry on his former boss's legacy, while Republican businessman Tim Burns, 42, tries to leverage anti-Washington passion by treating his opponent as an incumbent tied to the liberal policies of Barack Obama. This special election is the first competitive matchup of the 2010 cycle, and the stakes are high: Both parties are showering the district with high-wattage names and an overwhelming amount of paid media. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent about $650,000 on the race and the National Republican Congressional Committee nearly $700,000. This race may foreshadow of the intensity of the elections to be held in November.

Though there is a great deal of national attention on this special election, the most intriguing contests are the U.S. Senate Primaries. Pat Toomey faces conservative and Tea Party favorite Peg Luksik in the GOP primary, but poll numbers show Toomey winning easily. It was Pat Toomey that forced Senator Arlen Specter to switch parties in April 2009.

Arlen Specter realized that he was gong to face a very strong primary challenge from the right-wing Toomey. To Republicans, Specter became Judas by casting votes that would secure passage for both Barack Obama's stimulus package and his health care plan. Fearing he could not beat Toomey, who narrowly lost to him in the 2004 G.O.P Primary, Specter tried shoring up his liberal credentials and became a Democrat.

Despite the millions of federal dollars that Specter brought in to Pennsylvania during his 30 years of service, endorsements by labor groups and even President Obama, many Democrats do not trust the Senator. Specter, it turns out, is haunted by his Republican past. Many Democrats are skeptical of a man they hold responsible for helping put conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, John G. Roberts Jr., and Samuel A. Alito Jr. on the Supreme Court, and for supporting the economic policies of former President George W. Bush.

And in the Democratic Primary, Specter faces a real Democrat in U.S. Representative Joseph Sestak , a sophomore Congressman and retired 2-star rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. He says Specter is an opportunist who switched parties because he thought he couldn't win the Republican primary. Sestak’s ads have relentlessly attacked Specter’s close ties to Republicans and his opportunist party switch:

These attacks have worked. According to a Rasmussen Poll, Among Democratic Primary voters, Sestak leads for the first time this month with 47% support to Specter’s 42%.

If Democrats want to keep their seat, they better vote for Sestak. In a potential match up in November, Pat Toomey would easily beat Senator Arlen Specter (50% to 38%). Some pundits even predict that Specter has about an 80% chance of losing to Toomey.

But Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate contest is a dead heat if his Democratic opponent is Congressman Joe Sestak. Against Sestak, Toomey gets just 42% support, while his Democratic opponent earns 40% of the vote.

On Tuesday it will be imperative there is a better voter turnout for the Pennsylvania primaries as there is a lot at stake on the local, state, and national level.