Over the weekend, Politico put out its top 10 worst campaigns of 2010 and Pennsylvania earned two of the not-so-coveted spots, as Sen. Arlen Specter, R-to-D-to-lame duck- Pa., and Mary Beth Wecht Chong Buchanan were feted. Full story here, relevant excerpts below.
It's not that the party-switching Pennsylvanian ran a bad campaign, exactly. When he joined the Senate Democratic Caucus in April 2009, Specter earned the instant support of the White House and the Pennsylvania Democratic machine. He won over skeptical liberal constituencies like the AFL-CIO. He raised money, voted the right way, ran good ads and appeared with Joe Biden as often as possible.
But starting on the day he walked across the aisle, Specter left himself open to charges of opportunism that proved lethal in a year when voters have reacted against politics as usual. From his early explanations of the defection -- "My change in party will enable me to be reelected" -- to a verbal stumble in the closing days of the campaign, when he misidentified an audience as "Allegheny County Republicans," the longtime incumbent failed to quiet concerns about his motives and sincerity. Rep. Joe Sestak took full advantage of that vulnerability and bested Specter by eight points in a May 18 primary.
Mary Beth Buchanan
Former U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan took just a day to shoot her House campaign in the proverbial foot. After announcing a challenge to Pennsylvania Democrat Jason Altmire in mid-February, Buchanan appeared on a local radio show and turned a contentious interview into a total catastrophe, telling KDKA's Marty Griffin to "shut up and let me talk." As Griffin pressed Buchanan about the details of a case she prosecuted, Buchanan even suggested the host might be "running afoul" of the "defamation laws in this country."
Buchanan's GOP opponent, attorney Keith Rothfus, featured clips of the exchange in ads and outraised Buchanan ahead of the May 18 primary. He defeated her for the Republican nomination by a two-to-one margin.