From Tom Barnes
HARRISBURG -- Gov. Ed Rendell is very good at two kinds of post-game commentary -- discussing Philadelphia Eagles’ wins or losses, as an analyst on Comcast cable TV in the fall, and discussing why election results turned out as they did.
Since the new NFL season hasn’t started yet, Mr. Rendell today was focusing on Tuesday’s primary elections, especially on why his friend of 44 years, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, was defeated by challenger Joe Sestak.
Mr. Specter had two big problems, Mr. Rendell said: the "anti-incumbency factor’’ that is causing a number of office holders around the nation to be swept out, and Mr. Specter’s controversial switch to the Democratic party last year after 30 years as a Republican.
"Some people don’t like politicians who switch parties, no matter what the reason,’’ Mr. Rendell said, but adding that he is convinced Mr. Specter switched for the right reason, "so he could go on working for and delivering for the people of Pennsylvania.’’
When Mr. Rendell was the Democratic mayor of Philly in the 1990s, he said Mr. Specter helped the city greatly, even though he was a Republican at that time, and added Mr. Specter has brought federal funds to many Pennsylvania areas.
Other factors that hurt Mr. Specter, the governor said, included the chilly, rainy weather in most of the state on election day, which held down the turnout, especially in the Philly area, where Mr. Specter is strongest. "Arlen needed a big turnout’’ in order to win, the governor said.
Statewide, the turnout was a mere 23 percent, he said, and was even worse, below 20 percent in Philadelphia. "That is pitiful,’’ he said.
He also said some of the TV ads by both Mr. Specter and Mr. Sestak had "a negative tone, which turns some people off.’’
Polls showed that many Democrats were undecided late in the campaign, but many of those undecided voters "broke late and broke for Sestak,’’ he added.