BY JOE SHAHEELI/ Â The great and only debate between incumbent US Sen. Bob Casey and Republican contender Tom Smith did little to move the few percentage points separating Casey from Smith, though Smith claimed victory. Casey supporters saw the quiet, self-effacing Senator getting his points across, as Smith seemed to fumble on several issues.
Both were definitely not debaters in any sense of the word. Each missed golden opportunities to devastate the other. Gov. Rendell, if he were watching, had to be reacting like Coach Andy Reid as the Eagles played worse than sandlot football last Sunday.
Casey lost the opportunity to make Philadelphians fully aware of how effective he has been, since most were watching the Atanta Falcons de-feather the Eagles. He has had a presence in Philadelphia, but not at voter rallies. Instead he has spent much of his time here at fundraisers. Since he wasnâ€™t spending much of that money on local television, we suggest he write a big-enough check to Democrat Chairman Bob Brady to fund election-day efforts.
Right-leaning pollster Rasmussen reports Casey still ahead by at least a percentage point, which, by Rasmussen standards,Â is consideredÂ â€œessentially a tie,â€ based on their report 9% of those polled were still undecided. The poll also shows a heavy turnout is expected.
Casey, strong at the beginning of this election cycle, blew away a strong lead with a lackluster campaign, failing to bring early to voters his positive efforts on their behalf.
Both candidates were lucky the other wasnâ€™t able to take advantage of remarks in which each which left themselves wide open for killer jabs.
The narrowing of the race drew criticism fromÂ former Gov. Ed RendellÂ who blamed Caseyâ€™s shrinking polling lead on a â€œnon-campaign.â€ But instead of being helpful, his remark was reported as aiding that slippage.
Rendell had not realized Casey had a campaign — but not in the Philadelphia television market where he had no buys, depending on the fact the city Democratic juggernaut is expected to deliver him about a 350,000 majority. Republican Tom Smith made it a campaign byÂ outspendingÂ Casey 3 to 1 in August and early September, particularly in the Philadelphia market.
Caseyâ€™s media consultant, Saul Shorr, a veteran of many political wars, blasted Rendell for not knowing Casey did air a couple ads in Philadelphia and has another running now. Caseyâ€™s CampaignÂ Mgr. Larry Smar was quick to follow up with the fact both Rendell and Casey could be considered a twosome and on the same page for 16 years.
Caseyâ€™s last-minute ads in Philadelphia may stem some of his support shrinkage.
CITY REGISTRATION SEEN IN STATE TOTAL
As reported in the Philadelphia Public Record, the cityâ€™s registration numbers are weaker than they were in the 2008 presidential election. This was backed up by a report the Commonwealth totals show 3% fewer registered voters than in fall 2008, an unusual slip that political analysts blame on a drop in voter enthusiasm across the country.
The Stateâ€™s data show Democrats especially experienced a slump, bleeding 229,396 registered voters in Pennsylvania since the last presidential race. Republicans are down 112,796 registrants, but voters unconnected to either major party grew by 7%, or 73,043.
As of a week ago, the state had 8,487,093 voters, down from 8,755,588 in November 2008, despite a 2% population gain.
Giving the Obama campaign team in this state some relief is the fact Democrats still hold a 50-37 percentage registration edge over Republicans, down only one point from 2008
JUDGE TERESKO QUITS THE BENCH
News Judge Alan Teresko has resigned from his post as a judge in the Court of Common Pleas came as a surprise to many of his colleagues, some of whom were dismayed at â€œhis sudden decisionâ€.
Teresko earned a reputation as a decision-maker who cut to the quick when it came to deciding on political challenges filed against candidates in this cityâ€™s primaries.
GOT TO HAND IT TO STATE AFL-CIO
The AFL-CIO â€˜s nearly 5,000 labor activists in Pennsylvania made over 500,000 phone calls to voters, knocked on over 500,000 doors and had handed out nearly 1.5 million fliers at worksites across the state. On the phone, at the door and in the work place, the message was the same; President Obama and Senator Casey deserve the vote of working Pennsylvania families.
â€œPresident Obama and Senator Casey will cut taxes for the middle class, protect Medicare and end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas,â€ said AFL-CIO State Dir. David Driscoll-Knight. â€œThatâ€™s why working people in Pennsylvania will support President Obama and Senator Casey on election day.â€
Twelve hundred canvassers were out on Saturday, Oct. 20, and from the number of phone calls weâ€™ve received at home, we can testify to laborâ€™s effort.
CONGRESSWOMAN SCHWARTZ A DEM NATIONAL VOICE
Now a surefire favorite to win a fifth term to her 13th Congressional seat, Congresswoman Allyson Schwsrtz is now considered a rising star among the party faithful. A seniorÂ on the influential Budget Committee,Â she is finding herself called on to speak for the party on national legislation battles.
Schwartz has been successful passing major legislation in her relatively short tenure, including bills to provide small-business tax breaks to veterans and ensure seniors have better access to primary care.
Schwartz stands out for another reason: Of Pennsylvaniaâ€™s 20 congressional lawmakers, sheâ€™s the only woman. Itâ€™s a distinction sheâ€™s quick to note â€” suggesting that at least part of her drive is fueled by the notion of fighting for the stateâ€™s underrepresented women.
LOOK TO SEE MORE MINORITY INSPECTORS
Attorney and 5th Ward Republican Leader Mike Cibik, chairman of the Republican Leadership Council, reports hundreds of Republican minority inspectors have been filed and will fill polling-board positions election day.
â€œThrough the past few months,â€ he said, â€œwe have seen several hundred new minority inspectors get filed in areas that have been a challenge for our party. This project has brought dozens of new Republicans into our party and we are great to see a diverse group that includes African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans.â€
GOVERNOR EXTENDS ABSENTEE-VOTE DEADLINE
Gov. Tom Corbett ordered the deadline for county election offices to receive applications for absentee ballots to be extended, on a county-by-county basis, depending on whether the county courthouse was closed for business any day this week due to Hurricane Sandy. Philadelphia Co. was open for business through deadline day and is not included.