Monday, 25 October 2010


The State of Pennsylvania is usually of electoral interest - but 2010 will focus national attention on a number of key races. The state has, as does every state - however large or small - two seats in the Senate, and 19 in the House of Representatives. The senior Senator in the 111th Congress has been Arlen Specter - who has represented the State since 1981 - 28 years as a Republican - but since April 2009 as a Democrat.

The Senate seat is being contested by Pat Toomey (Republican) and Joe Sestak (Democrat). Cook describes the race as a "toss up". Rasmussen reported on Friday that while Toomey's support has held up - Sestak's has increased sharply, bringing Toomey's lead down to only four points. President Obama will be in Philadelphia on Saturday.

A number of the House seats are also competitive

PA03 - is currently held by Kathy Dahlkemper (Democrat), serving her first term in the House. She is being challenged by Mike Kelly. This has been a Republican leaning seat - which in 2008, the year Dahlkemper was elected, McCain won the district - by just 17 votes. It is the most north-western of the Pennsylvania districts - which includes the city of Erie. Cook has this leaning Republican.

PA04 - is listed by Cook as leaning Democratic. The district is on western side of the state, to the north and north east of Pittsburgh. Jason Altmire has served two terms. He is being opposed by Republican Keith Rothfus.

PA06 - is held by Jim Gerlach, the Republican incumbent who has served this south eastern district since his election in 2002. Cook lists the seat as "likely Republican". It may be closer than would have been expected since Gerlach announced initially that he would not stand for re-election in order to run for Governor, but rejoined the race in January 2010. Gerlach's Democratic challenger is Manan Trivedi, an Iraq war veteran. The redrawing of the district for 2002 led democrats to claim that who argued it "looms like a dragon descending on Philadelphia from the west, splitting up towns and communities throughout Montgomery and Berks Counties"

PA07 - the seat which Joe Sestak is standing down from to run for the Senate. The resulting "open" seat is now listed by Cook as "leans Republican". Bryan Lentz is fighting to save the seat for the Democrats - and faces Patrick Meehan, formerly the federal prosecutor for Philadelphia. The seat covers suburban Philadelphia and most of Delaware County.

PA08 - The northern suburbs and Bucks County (named for the county in England that I technically live in - Milton Keynes is now a Unitary authority) make up the 8th District, held in the 110th & 111th Congresses by Patrick Murphy. He is another veteran standing in Pennsylvania for the Democrats. He is opposed by Mike Fitzpatrick. Cook regards this seat as a toss up.

PA10 - Chris Carney also has served in the 110th and 111th. Also like Murphy his seat is listed as a "toss up". The district covers the north east of the State. The republican challenger is Tom Marino.

PA11 - a district, to the south of the 10th, which includes Scranton (home of the American version of "The Office" - and a city which some of my family emigrated to in the early part of the twentieth century. When we spent a family holiday in the Poconos we visited the city - which struck me as architecturally reminiscent of the area in South Wales where my family came from) and Wilkes-Barre. For more on this area see my post of 24th FebruaryPaul Kanjorski is the Democratic incumbent. President Clinton will be coming to support him tomorrow in his home town of Nanticoke (Tuesday 26th). His Republican opponent will be Lou Barletta, who is making his third attempt to unseat Kanjorski. This seat is also listed as a "toss up"

PA12 - Currently listed by Cook as "leans democratic", theis was the seat held since February 1974 by Jack Murtha. His successor, Mark Critz won the special election (the American name for what Brits call a "by-election) on May 18th. He is being challenged by the Republican Tim Burns. His website asserts "My name is Tim Burns and I am NOT a politician". I try to be balanced and non-editorial in this blog - but nothing irritates me more than candidates who make this claim. Not only are the people making it politicians in fact - they show the attribute they claim to hate most - they lie. The district in the south west of the state.

PA17 - Tim Holden's seat is listed as "Likely Democrat". He has represented the seat which CQ describes as "East-Central" of the State, and which includes Harrisburg, since 1993. His Republican opponent is Dave Argall.

So eyes will, again, be on Pennsylvania.