Yeah, so the Neanderthal Electorate of Pennsylvania -- whose main issues of concern are traditionally God, guns, and banning gay marriage -- did the unprecedented last night and booted Russell Nigro off the State Supreme Court, the first time a Pennsylvania jurist has ever lost a retention vote. It was close down to the last precincts, and I know this because I was watching the numbers all night.
Gov. Rendell must now nominate a replacement who, with the confirmation of the Republican-controlled Senate, will serve until 2007, when a new justice will be elected for a 10-year term.
When I called a political source with the news at about 2AM, he said to me, "You know who [Rendell]'s planning to nominate, right?" I pleaded ignorance.
"Oh, the fix is in," he replied. "He's gonna nominate Nigro."
Only in Pennsylvania could this kind of buzz not be taken with a grain of salt: the people decide to chuck a judge, who's promptly renominated to his old seat.
The move would be suicide for the guv's re-election campaign -- Ed (a former professor of mine at Penn) has already got Western Pennsylvania dead-set against him and the phrase "Nobody Pays for The Raise" has already come to my political mind -- so I won't believe it 'til I see it. But the word is, indeed, out there....
And as for Virginia, the hissyfits of the Jerry Kilgore cheerleaders continue. I was watching Hannity & Colmes last night -- don't ask -- and the race was presented as a battle of surrogates which really came down to the outgoing governor Mark Warner vs. George Allen.
The Republican George Allen, for the politically challenged, is another former governor who now occupies a Senate seat from Virginia. Appearing on "Meet the Press" a couple weeks back, it was a moment which has become known in political circles as "Leave No Republican Constituency Behind." Even if Allen wrote "I AM RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT IN 2008" in neon on his forehead, it couldn't have been clearer; he was playing a one-man game of Twister at Russert's table, as presidential hopefuls often do, in an attempt to cover all the bases.
Well, the Kilgore campaign [and, by extension, Allen] blew it -- think of entering a best-of-seven series up 3-0 and getting rocked in four straight games, because that's what they did. Just last night, I made some calls in Virginia and spoke with five Evangelical conservatives, the kind of people who would've been raising money and doing GOTV (get out the vote) for the Republicans, who sat on their hands and didn't vote because the tone of the race (i.e. Kilgore's death penalty fetish in lieu of substance) turned them off.
Attention now, immediately, turns toward the 2006 Congressional midterm and gubernatorial races. In Pennsylvania, the top of the ticket will be the Armageddon of faith-based politics -- Rick Santorum vs. Bob Casey Jr., a race which Santorum will lose and then cry "martyr" to the Republican base in the hopes that they'll acclaim him as Successor of Bush in the 2008 primaries.
And in Maryland, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, an African-American Republican (and former seminarian), is looking like he'll pick up the Senate seat being vacated by the Democrat Paul Sarbanes. Steele has widespread independent appeal and is a captivating speaker with an amazing story and very hopeful message about opportunity and promise. He is, in a word, the future of his party.
Already, scared black Democrats are taking to gutter tactics, calling Steele an "Uncle Tom" and pelting him with Oreo cookies.
Seems they learned a thing or two from the St. Blog's crowd.