If Pennsylvania’s U. S. Senate race went to the candidate most qualified to promote economic growth and create jobs, it wouldn’t be a race at all. Incumbent Republican Pat Toomey is one of the prime authors of the JOBS Act that cuts red tape and makes it easier for businesses to access capital; Toomey led the fight to stop the EPA’s power-grab to bring all the nation’s waterways under its regulatory authority, a move that would be especially harmful to farmers, manufacturers, and developers; and he is one of the leaders in the fight to repeal ObamaCare, a costly, faltering health care system funded by taxes on businesses and the middle class.
Katie McGinty is the antithesis of private sector growth. As Governor Tom Wolf’s Chief of Staff, she helped craft the governor’s unprecedented tax increase plan; she supports a federal cap-and-trade energy tax at the cost of nearly 70,000 PA jobs; she supports expanding ObamaCare.
“Overspending, overregulation, and mounting debt are keeping the economy mired in the slowest recovery from a recession in U.S. history,” said PMA President David N. Taylor. “To break free from economic stagnation, America needs the pro-growth leadership of Pat Toomey in the U.S. Senate.”
But qualifications are only part of what gets a candidate elected, as PMA Chairman Fred Anton reminded us at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference just a few weeks ago. Many more factors come into play including a significant one this election year -- the party’s nominated candidate for president.
Toomey will have to run ahead of the Republican nominee for president, said Kyle Kondik from the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. And possibly well ahead.
“It has very little to do with the particulars of the Senate race in Pennsylvania,” Kondik wrote in an analysis of Toomey’s re-election bid before the April primary elections. “Rather, it’s because of the potential for the GOP nominee to drag down Toomey even against a relatively mediocre opponent.”
The Center for Politics calls the race a toss-up.
The registration numbers alone make it an uphill fight for a Republican running statewide; Democrats outnumber Republicans by a million registered voters in Pennsylvania. Those numbers don’t reflect the fact that Toomey is a strong campaigner or take into consideration his qualifications, and the momentum on the Republican side displayed in the primary that could very well carry over to November. Newsmax’s John Gizzi said that Toomey is, “One of the hardest working Senators in Washington.” He continued, “He can always be relied upon to be at Union Station every Thursday to head back home to work in the district.”
“In the primary, just over 50 percent of registered Republicans voted,” said G. Terry Madonna, Professor of Public Affairs and Director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College. “The Democrats had just over a 40 percent turn-out. The Republicans need to keep that exuberance into November.”
Money will pour into the race from the Super PACs, special interests, and political non-profits not required to disclose donors (dark money) as it did for McGinty in the last few weeks of the primary campaign when she was double digits down to Joe Sestak. Most predict the total amount spent will end up well beyond the $75 million in the Toomey/Sestak race six years ago.
The stakes are enormous. If the Democrats don’t take Pennsylvania, their chances of taking the U.S. Senate fall off dramatically, political experts say. If they do take Pennsylvania, they will almost certainly take control of the Senate.
The Democrats need four seats to tie, which will be enough to gain control if they win the presidency. They need five if they don’t win the presidency. As of April 25, the Center for Politics had two races, Wisconsin and Illinois, going from Republican to Democratic, and four other states besides Pennsylvania as toss-ups.
Norm Ornstein, political scientist and scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, said Democratic control of the Senate and the White House won’t result in a “flowering of liberal legislation. In two years there will be three times as many Democrats up as Republicans in the Senate,” Ornstein said. “They will have to face the voters.”
However, as Anton warned at the Leadership Conference, the most consequential policy changes will occur in the trenches of government, with judicial and agency appointments. And with the rule changes covering nominees the Democrats bullied through the Senate in 2013 - effectively going from needing 60 votes to approve judicial and executive nominees to 51- it will be much easier to place the Leftists at the front line of the battle.
If it all falls into place for the Democrats, expect even more business-as-enemy policies from the federal agencies and the courts stacked with anti-business judges. Presently, there are 87 vacancies on the federal bench, with 61 nominees pending. The most important of these, of course, is the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the death of conservative champion Justice Antonin Scalia.
In late March, the court gave public sector unions a huge victory when it deadlocked 4-4 on the Friedrichs v. CTA case giving unions the right to keep deducting dues from non-union workers – forced unionism. After the High Court heard oral arguments on the case in January, and before Scalia’s death, most predicted that compulsory dues would be ruled unconstitutional. (The Center for Individual Rights filed a petition for the Supreme Court to re-hear Friedrichs v. CTA when a new Justice is confirmed.)
In another instance, it was Scalia in early February who led the Court’s granting a stay that halted the implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Rule, the Obama Administration’s signature effort to destroy the coal industry. The D.C. Circuit expects to hear oral arguments on June 2. It’s expected to issue an opinion late in the summer.
The federal Courts. The EPA. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The National Labor Relations Board. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The list of the battle lines goes on. The potential to harass business and even further stymie growth is daunting. The challenges of these times require the leadership of Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey.