"Stand by for the next Scott Brown. Between now and May 18 you are likely to hear much more about someone named Tim Burns," writes the LA Times today.
We won't begrudge a left coast blog from making that comparison, but it's worth going back to the Cook Report earlier this week for for why the special election in SW Pa next month is "a far cry" from the special last fall for Ted Kennedy's seat:
Does the storyline of a Republican underdog with blue-collar appeal succeeding a deceased Democratic icon sound familiar? PA-12 is a far cry from Massachusetts in its political makeup, but Republicans would surely sell a win in PA-12 as another Scott Brown-type triumph on a smaller scale. Furthermore, snapping a special election losing streak would be a huge psychological boost for the GOP and prove to press and donors that they have turned an important corner on the road back to the majority. Republicans are running a more seasoned candidate and a pitch-perfect campaign in HI-01, but are running with a stronger wind at their back in PA-12.
Pittsburger Jay Cost writes about the 12 District in the Weekly Standard:
Pennsylvania’s 12th District stretches for more than 100 miles across the southwestern corner of the state. Like the rest of greater Pittsburgh, the district has been trending Republican in recent decades, but voters here are not really “Reagan Democrats.” Whereas places like Macomb County, Michigan, famously swung to Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, southwestern Pennsylvania voted for Jimmy Carter, then Walter Mondale. Nixon won the region in 1972, but that was a blip brought about by the disastrous McGovern campaign. In reality, it was George W. Bush who broke through in the historically Democratic counties of this region in 2004—and, amazingly, John McCain topped him four years later.
If the electoral history of the 12th District is unique, the political challenge facing the Republicans there is most certainly not. Like tens of thousands of voters in the Ohio River Valley, Democrats who live in the 12th District belong to a party that—on a national level—does not really exist anymore. Southwestern Pennsylvania swung to the Democrats in 1932 and has been loyal ever since. Yet today’s Democratic party is more the party of George McGovern than Franklin Roosevelt. The members who hold the key leadership posts in the 111th Congress typically hail from far left districts on the coasts. They promote a left-wing social agenda and the redistribution of wealth to the party’s extensive client groups—labor unions, trial lawyers, environmentalists, and so on—while Middle America foots the bill.