Pennsylvania has generally been considered a “blue” state in the last two election cycles. Yet this year, there are several conservative candidates with solid leads, and several “swing” districts that have a chance to switch sides. Pennsylvania will be a bellwether for the success or failure of conservatives to start retaking the country.
In the Senate, Pat Toomey has consistently lead Joe Sestak to replace Sen. Arlen Specter. Toomey, who gained a nationwide reputation for fiscal conservatism as former President of the Club for Growth, has shown leads ranging from 4-8% in polls over the past month. Sestak, who knocked off Specter in the Democratic primary, is one of the most liberal members of the House. He is being burdened by the unpopularity of the Obama agenda.
Columnist George Will has highlighted the race in Pennsylvania 8 between incumbent Patrick Murphy and Mike Fitzpatrick as a key race for the state. The district contains part of Philadelphia, as well as suburban and rural parts of Bucks and Montgomery County. It is the home to a lot of blue collar conservatives. Fitzpatrick won this seat in 2004, only to narrowly lose it in 2006. Murphy, meanwhile, was the first Pennsylvanian to endorse Barack Obama’s candidacy for president, and has voted in lock-step with the Obama agenda. Murphy scored a 16 (F) on the Liberty Central scorecard, meaning he is one of the most liberal members in the House.
There are several other key House races. In Pennsylvania 3, small businessman Mike Kelly leads incumbent Kathy Dahlkemper by 6%. Dahlkemper was one of the most liberal members of Congress, although she now claims to be a “fiscal conservative with an independent streak” on her campaign website. Pennsylvania 4 and 11 are also among Liberty Central’s top races. Pennsylvania is a critical state for 2010. It features some of the most liberal members of Congress, which may not sit well with the state’s blue collar constituency, which tends to hold common sense and conservative values.