Could the unthinkable happen in Unionville on Election Day?
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
It’s not even Labor Day yet and Election 2016 is already deeply into weeds of crazy, with apparent Russian Intelligence hackers seeking to impact two local congressional races, the local Corporate Republican Liberation Front is up to its old tricks and once unthinkable scenarios are now entirely plausible — Unionville and environs could be totally represented by Democrats in 2017 — in all things ballot related.
Seems like a good time to break out a little Warren Zevon — who nearly 40 years ago seemed to exactly capture the zeitgeist of the 2016 election season with “Lawyers, Guns and Money.”
As all things Donald J. Trump turn all the norms of a campaign season on its heads, there’s the report this week in The Hill — the newspaper that covers Congress – that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC or D-Trip) was hacked, presumably by Russian Intelligence, which appears to be acting as an agent of the Republican Party this cycle.
The Hill details the information presumably acquired by the Russian Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki (SVR) — the successor to the KGB (there seems to be wide law enforcement consensus that the hacker Guccifer 2.0 is in fact being run out of the SVR) — showing the D-Trip had a lot of issues in finding candidates to run in the Sixth and Seventh Congressional Districts, seats they saw as vulnerable.
Assuming the documents leaked are accurate — and as always you have to wonder a bit with leaked documents, especially when foreign intelligence services are involved — they paint a picture of chaos in the thinking and candidate recruitment of the D-Trip.
In the sixth, the DCCC tried really hard to get the formidable Marion Moskowitz to run against freshman Ryan Costello — but Moskowitz, a rising Democratic star, declined, citing her personal friendship with Costello (and yes, there are Democrats who are friends with Republicans). The D-Trip correctly surmised that Mike Parrish, who won the nomination by default, was a financial Hindenberg — a poor fund raiser who has left a trail of debt, mangled filings and chaos, while underperformance this cycle. Despite targeting the seat and knowing that Parrish was wreckage, the DCCC was unable to find an even slightly capable candidate, all but assuring a Costello victory in November.
The D-Trip didn’t do any better in the Seventh (America’s Most Gerrymandered Congressional District (TM) ), recruiting a very reluctant candidate, Bill Golderer, who went on to lose in the primary badly to Mary Ellen Balchunis, who faces incumbent U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan this fall.
As it turns out, the DCCC had to step in to even collect enough signatures to get Golderer on the ballot — and Golderer wanted to quit the race on a number of occasions, even apparently, telling supporters he wanted out.
Both Costello – a freshman in district that only leans Republican — and Meehan should have been vulnerable in this cycle, especially with the impact that Trump seems likely to have in down-ballot races, but the DCCC really botched their efforts, in part by failing to work with locals on the ground to get a better sense of the district and opportunities.
Speaking of opportunities: imagine this scenario: you live in Unionville, safely Republican since basically the Civil War, and wake up, either thrilled or in a cold sweat of horror with this possibility — you may find yourself entirely represented in the state legislature and Congress by Democrats, not to mention the White House, come January.
I’ll give you a moment to either do your happy dance or to shudder uncontrollably — depending on your political outlook.
OK, is it likely? Maybe not — a lot of things would have to fall right for Democrats, starting with a slaughter at the top of the ticket, probably in excess of 12 points. In the East Marlborough area (the actual municipality the mythical Unionville exists in), Democrats have a solid chance of a win in the 16th Congressional District — Christina Hartman is just about within the margin or error in polling against Republican Lloyd Smucker and has out-raised him and has more cash on hand right now in the battle to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts.
In the 158th State House District. Democrat Susan Rzucidlo has (as on the most recent reports) out-raised Republican Eric Roe and internal polling suggests this race is also in play, as Roe’s youth and very conservative positions seem a mismatch with this moderate, old school Republican area.
In the U.S. Senate race, Sen. Pat Toomey finds himself being drowned by Trump, down as much as five points to Democrat Katie McGinty, who frankly should go buy a lot of lottery tickets, as she may be the luckiest political candidate on Earth.
So, as of this writing, wins by Hartman, Rzucidlo and McGinty are extremely viable under the current conditions and likely if Trump’s numbers worsen as the fall goes on.
Which brings us to the last piece of the puzzle: the 9th State Senatorial District. Democrat Marty Malloy lost to Republican Tom Killion in a special election in April, but the fall election turnout always seemed to favor Malloy in the fall race. Another concern for Killion: Delaware County Republican senate candidates — like Dominic Pileggi — have struggled to get votes in Chester County. If turnout is big in places like Chester City and Killion struggles in Chester County, that seat could be in play, as well, making for a Democratic sweep of Unionville.
Unthinkable, yet, it might happen.
As you might imagine, we get lots of notices of political endorsements — and generally don’t make much of a big deal about them, because well, the voters don’t much seem to care, either. And yes, we do make our own — typically we’ve been willing to look beyond party and give the nod to the candidate we think will serve best. We fully expect to endorse candidates in both parties this fall as well.
But we do take notice of the endorsements of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry (or really, the Corporate Republican Liberation Front, CRLF), which slipped out its endorsements quietly on Friday. This may shock you, but once again, the primary criteria for making endorsements by the group was, you guessed it, which letter followed the candidate’s name. Spoiler alert: if it was an “R” it worked out pretty good for those candidates. If it was a “D,” not so much.
But hey — unlike 2014 when they just chatted amongst themselves over martinis at some Fat Cat Club — at least they sent out questionnaires and in some cases, actually interviewed Democrats before rubber-stamping the GOP slate.
So, there’s that.
Chester County Democratic Committee Chair Brian McGinnis allowed it was a small step forward, even if the process was, once again, rigged.
“Our candidates did receive questionnaires, however, the people that reviewed them are connected with the Chester County Republican Committee,” McGinnis said.
Still, this group that mostly represents big law firms, banks, big Pharma companies, big developers and corporate big wigs (all beloved groups, of course), is and has been an arm of the county Republican Party and should just admit it. As it doesn’t represent small business people (I know, I am one), independents or Democrats (God forbid), I think an honest renaming as the Corporate Republican Liberation Front would clarify matters for everyone.
To help with the transition, we even built a new logo for the organization:
You’re welcome, glad we could be assistance.
Let us know if you need t-shirts.