March 3, 2005


Hafer 'in,' Casey holds back on run for U.S. Senate (James O'Toole, March 03, 2005, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer yesterday signaled her plans to seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, and a spokesman for her successor, Bob Casey Jr., said his decision on whether to enter the 2006 contest was imminent.

Should both candidates decide to press on, that would set up a scenario that national and state Democratic leaders had hoped to avoid -- an expensive, potentially debilitating primary battle as a prelude to the Democrats' challenge of one of their prime 2006 targets, Sen. Rick Santorum. [...]

The day's maneuvering conjured political deja vu on a number of levels. Hafer, while still a Republican, waged an unsuccessful statewide race against Casey's father in his 1990 re-election as governor. She planned another run for governor in 1992, again as a Republican, but the party hierarchy turned instead to then-Attorney General Mike Fisher.

Hafer, a former Allegheny County commissioenr, got her revenge by endorsing Fisher's eventual opponent, Gov. Ed Rendell, and later switched to the Democratic Party. She had acknowledged her interest in a possible challenge to Santorum, while senior Democrats, including Rendell, had referred to her as a promising potential challenger.

But after Casey Jr. amassed a record vote total in succeeding her as treasurer, national Democrats approached him about taking on Santorum.

Many Democratic party leaders view Casey as an attractive challenger because he is a conservative on social issues including abortion and gun control, giving him the potential to offset Santorum's appeal to more conservative Democrats. [...]

Answering the Quinnipiac finding that she trailed 47 percent to 39 percent in a Santorum matchup, Hafer subsequently released a survey she had commissioned which, she said, showed her in a virtual tie with him.

Hafer, who has longed favored abortion rights, said further that her poll showed that a majority of Pennsylvania voters, and 60 percent of Democratic voters, agree with her on that highly charged issue.

Mr. Casey would make a fine Republican successor to Arlen Specter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 3, 2005 12:25 PM

Barbara Hafer might as well put on her Pelosi mask right now. And Casey would do well to follow your suggestion.

However, this is one state where blatant demagoguery on SS will hurt, unless Santorum has the presence of mind and the guts to attack the emptiness of the Democratic party first (like Liddy Dole in 2002).

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 3, 2005 12:52 PM
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