Posts Tagged ‘Jason Altmire’

Jason Altmire (PA-4) Headed for Defeat?

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Remember Jason Altmire? The Blue Dog Democratic representing Pennsylvania’s 4th District who didn’t roll over when Nancy Pelosi snapped her fingers, and voted against ObamaCare? Thanks to that, while scores of his fellow Democrats were booted out of office in the Great Red Wave of 2010, Altmire hung on to his seat.

It appears his luck has run out. During redistricting, Pennsylvania lost a seat, so Altmire’s district was merged with the 12th District, and early returns show him losing to 12th incumbent Mark Critz (who won the seat in a special election after the death of pork king Rep. John Murtha).

Either way, he 12th should be a pickup opportunity for Republican candidate Keith Rothfus, who had no primary challenge and finished Q1 with $385,000 on hand.

The Magic of Self-Delusion (or Why Nancy Pelosi Would Rather Die Than Let You Keep Your Own Money)

Monday, December 13th, 2010

The deal Obama struck to extended all the Bush tax cuts is good for America, and also good for the Republican Party. When it was struck, however, the liberal howls of outrage made me think of one other outcome which, while not as good for the nation, would be even better for Republicans: If Nancy Pelosi blocked the deal, the Bush tax cuts (and long-term unemployment) temporarily lapse until the new Republican House takes over in January, at which point they pass a tax cut extension at least as strong as the Obama deal, and probably stronger. So in order to make the point how opposed Democrats are to letting rich people (or “rich” people) keep their own money, they’re willing to let the long-term unemployed stop getting checks for a month (and probably longer), delay economic recovery at least that long, let Republicans pick up an even bigger victory and take all the credit for the deal, make Obama look weaker and make the Democratic Party in general, and Pelosi’s House Democrats in particular, look even more petulant, shrill, and extreme.

That appears to be exactly what’s going to happen. It’s like some perfect storm of liberal fail.

The reasons why House Democrats are undertaking such counterproductive and self-destructive behavior probably requires the insights of a psychiatrist more than a political scientist. In the 2010 elections, voters rejected the liberal agenda about as thoroughly as any domestic political agenda has been rejected in our lifetimes. After two years of trying to push the most liberal agenda since LBJ’s “Great Society” expansion of the welfare state in the 1960s, Democrats suffered massive losses, most dramatically in the House, for a switch of 63 seats. For a graphic depiction of how thoroughly liberalism has been rejected, take a look at this Real Clear Politics map of incoming House seats:

Not only are liberals unwilling to consider why their agenda was rejected by voters, they’re unwilling to even consider that their agenda was rejected. Rather than face up to that unpleasant fact, the nutroots have embraced a far more psychologically satisfying (if political suicidal) explanation for their tidal wave of defeats: Democrats lost the 2010 Election because they just weren’t liberal enough:

I’m sure I could come up with 10-15 other examples. It’s like that episode of The Critic where Jay Sherman remembers being rejected by a woman he was trying to pick up: “Eww, I don’t like that memory at all! Let’s look at it again through the magic of self-delusion!” All those congressmen lost because they just weren’t as awesomely liberal as I am! High five! Inside the liberal reality bubble, the Democratic Party’s biggest mistake was getting Blue Dog Democrats to run in marginal districts in the first place, and if they had just run people with positions closer to Nancy Pelosi or Alan Grayson in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania, they would have done better.

Of course, outside the liberal reality bubble, this idea is a laughably naive exercise in vainglorious wish fulfillment. It’s also easily disproven. Take a look at the contrasting fates of Tom Perriello and Jason Altmire.

Perriello was the golden boy Democratic freshman Representative from Virginia who was not only the darling of liberals, but also loftily declared that he would rather vote for ObamaCare and be defeated than vote against it and be re-elected. Democrats pulled out all the stops to save his seat, sending him $1.6 million over a 10-day period and having Obama appear personally on his behalf. If the nutroots theory that liberals just needed a candidate worth fighting for to lure them to the polls to assure victory were correct, Perriello should have been a shoe-in. He lost.

Altmire, by contrast, was one of those loathsome “Blue Dog Democrats” that so many liberals feel are merely Republicans in disguise. He voted against ObamaCare. If liberal theories were correct, disheartened liberals should have assured his defeat. He won in a year that fellow Blue Dogs who voted for ObamaCare were being slaughtered.

So the current Pelosi-lead liberal temper tantrum is impossible to explain given the objective political needs of the Democratic Party. However, it’s all too easy to explain given the psychological needs of liberals.

For years liberals have believed that majority status (like The New York Times and black voters) was their unquestioned birthright. Never mind that between 1968 and 2004, a Democratic Presidential candidate had topped 50% of the popular vote exactly once (the post-Watergate Jimmy Carter, who managed to garner a whopping 50.08% of the popular vote in 1976). For them, Republican victories were aberrations from the supposed norm. They truly believed that America was a “center-left” nation, despite polls consistently showing twice as many Americans identified themselves as conservatives rather than liberals. They believed people like John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira who assured them Democrats were the natural majority party, and would take over their natural role as lords of the earth any day now.

And then the 2006 and 2008 election seemed to confirm the theory. Yes! This was it! This was their moment! Finally all of their dreams would come true! Obama was one of them, and with the House and Senate firmly in Democratic control, he would completely replace all the intolerable policies of his predecessor, “that idiot Bush.” He would end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, close down Guantanamo Bay, legalize gay marriage, use Keynesian economics to fix the economy, and nationalize health care. The liberal moment had arrived at last. It was so close they could taste it.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the liberal nirvana. What the rest of us call “real life,” and what liberals attributed to an ever-expanding cast of villains (Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Rasmussen Reports) they lumped together as “the right-wing noise machine” inexplicably rose up to thwart their righteous will. The economy stayed broke, and if the Stimulus did anything it made it worse. The Tea Party happened. Cap-and-Trade went down in flames. Obama figured out that Bush’s anti-terror policies weren’t bad at all now that he was the one who had to deal with the problems. Democrats managed to pull the Zombie ObamaCare over the finish-line despite widespread opposition, but it was a far cry from the glorious platonic idea of a fully nationalized, single-payer system that existed in their mind’s eye (and nowhere else). Then the voters, the same voters liberals believed in their heart of hearts was naturally liberal, rejected them. They were like a football team a mere quarter away from winning the Superbowl, only to have the opposing team rack up three touchdowns on them in the last five minutes. How can this be happening? What did I do to deserve this?

When a party gets walloped in an election, usually it takes time to reflect on why voters might have rejected its message, and what parts of that message (and the party) need to be changed. If you’ve seen All That Jazz (and if you haven’t, you should; it’s a great movie), then you’re probably familiar with the Kubler-Ross grief cycle: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Obama has moved on to at least the third stage, but House Democrats and the nutroots can’t get past the first two.

Conservatives have many interests that might supersede politics: Family, jobs, religion. But for many liberals, the political is personal. As far as they’re concerned, there’s Good (represented by Big Government run by liberals and doing the things liberals want it to do), and there’s Evil (big business (unless its unionized), rich people (unless they went to the right schools), Fox News, etc.). They believe the same things all their Facebook friends and newspapers and TV shows and NPR agree with! It’s inconceivable to them that people of good will might disagree with them.

After all, they’re Good! The other side is Evil! That’s why they write books with names like What’s Wrong With Kansas? rather than Why Can’t We Convince Kansas To Embrace Higher Taxes and Bigger Government? They’ve spent the last 20-years believing that voters are liberals, so it’s impossible that voters rejected liberalism itself. That would be tantamount to voters saying they rejected them personally. That’s unpossible! After all, they’re awesome! No, this could only have been happened because the voters have been tricked. Liberalism didn’t lose, liberalism was stabbed in the back. Hence the hunt for traitors and scapegoats that snatched away their prize at the last moment.

To actually listen to what voters were telling them would mean abandoning the worldview that they’ve clung to so fervently for so long. Thus every bit of cognitive dissonance only makes them cling more fervently to the belief that voters haven’t, didn’t, couldn’t reject liberalism itself. After all, they’re awesome, aren’t they? Aren’t they? Voters sent them a message good and hard, but they have to deny it, because their denial is all they have left. Liberalism can never fail, because whenever it appears to, then ipso facto it wasn’t really liberalism that was failing, just like Communist apologists claim that all those failed Communist states weren’t really Communist, because communism never fails inside the platonic fantasyland of their Marxist imaginations.

And into this seething cauldron of anger and denial comes Obama, blithely announcing the deal to extend the Bush Tax Cuts. After all, Obama still has to govern the nation for the next two years. Clearly the economy is isn’t responding to Obamanomics, so something else needs to be done. And if the Bush Tax Cuts expire, Obama knows that Democrats are the ones that will get the blame for the biggest tax hike in history. So he cut the best deal he thought he could, knowing he would have even less leverage after the Republican House took over in January.

In essence, Obama was saying that voters had indeed rejected liberalism. He was ruining their denial! Here was their traitor at last: Obama the secret Republican.

So the House, under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, decided to stand and fight on the only issue that seems to unite their base: Their hatred of the wealthy, and their love of other people’s money. The idea that money might belong to the people that actually earned it, rather than the federal government, fills them with rage. Here was their line in the sand: We have to screw the rich, even if it means screwing the poor and the middle class in the process! Even if it makes them more unpopular. Even if the Republicans will just pass a deal even less to their liking in January. So they have to oppose extending the Bush tax cuts, even though it will make the rest of the nation think they’re even more petty, vindictive, and out-of-touch than they already did. When it comes to preserving their wounded egos, rationality goes out the window. If it comes down to voters rejecting liberalism, or liberals rejecting reality, then to hell with reality. It’s no longer about policy, it’s about pride.

And pride goeth before a fall.

Selected House Democrats Who May Be Swamped By The Coming Tidal Wave

Monday, October 11th, 2010

So how bad are Democratic House members doing this election? According to the National Journal, pretty bad. They count 60 seats among the most competitive and another 19 very close. Of those 79 House seats in play, 72 are currently held by Democrats.

As for where Democrats are spending their money, six of the seven districts the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is spending money on went for Obama by more that 54%. They say that they’re trying to “nail down” relatively easy seats before moving on to harder ones, but that makes absolutely no sense; if you really want to help the marginal seats, you start helping them out first, because they need the most work. No, this smacks of triage, and suggests that the DCCC considers most districts below that line as good as gone.

There are a number of interesting races and names that should be familiar to regular BattleSwarm readers, either from being in Texas or having been mentioned here before:

  • Chet Edwards (TX 17) comes in at #7. (I would say that Edwards is the last remnant of the old Texas Blue Dogs, but I didn’t know that Henry Cueller (TX-28) was an actual member of the Blue Dog Collation, which Edwards is not.) Edwards voted against ObamaCare and Cap-and-Trade, but did vote for the Stimulus and the TARP bank bailout. District is heavily Republican; went for Bush by 68% in 2000, 70% in 2004, and 67% for McCain. His opponent is Bill Flores.

  • Suzanne Kosmas (FL 24) comes in at #9 on the list. You may remember this BattleSwarm piece on her back when she was a wavering no vote on ObamaCare; as I predicted, she was easier to flip to a Yes vote that Rep. Jason Altmire (PA 4), who I also profiled, and who stuck to his no vote. Which goes a long way toward explaining why Kosmas is likely to lose her seat, while Altmire isn’t on the list of endangered Democrats. Go figure. She also voted for the Stimulus and Cap-and-Trade. (Kosmos was first elected in 2008, so she didn’t vote on TARP.) District went for Bush in 2000 by 53%, Bush in 2004 by 55%, and McCain by 52%. Her opponent is Sandy Adams.
  • Indiana’s open 8th congressional district, held by Brad Ellsworth, who is leaving for a Senate run (which polls show he’s currently losing by 17 points), comes in at #11. The contest is between Democrat Trent Van Haaften and Republican Larry Bucshon. Ellsworth was of the theoretically Pro-Life members of the Bart Stupak bloc that rolled over for Nancy Pelosi on ObamaCare. District went for Bush by 57% in 2000, 62% in 2004, and for McCain by 51%.
  • Paul Kanjorski (PA 11) comes in at #15. Another Stupak bloc turncoat. Voted for TARP. Voted in favor of the Stimulus, but evidently decided oversight was so unimportant that he that he only attended three of the ten Pennsylvania Stimulus Oversight Board meetings. Has a reputation as a big spender: “Asking Paul Kanjorski to make sure our tax dollars are being spent wisely is like asking John Dillinger to keep an eye on the bank safe.” (IBID). Yesterday’s LinkSwarm mentioned how he earmarked $10 million for a business run by his own family. District went 54% for Gore, 53% for Kerry, and 57% for Obama. His opponent is Lou Barletta.
  • Steve Driehaus (OH 1) comes in at #16. Another Stupak-blocer who rolled over to let Nancy Pelosi rub his furry belly. In addition to ObamaCare, he voted for the Stimulus and Cap-and-Trade. (He was elected in 2008, and so didn’t vote on TARP.) District went 51% for Bush in both 2000 and 2004, but only 44% for McCain. His opponent is Steve Chabot, who held the seat for 12 years before Driehaus edged him 52%-48% in the Obama wave of 2008.
  • Kathy Dahlkemper (PA 3) comes in at #20. Yet another turncoat Supak-blocer Pelosi flipped for ObamaCare. Also voted for the Stimulus but against Cap-and-Trade. Wasn’t in Congress when TARP was voted on. District voted 51% for Bush in 2000 and 53% in 2004, and McCain edged Obama by a mere 20 votes in 2008. Her opponent is Mike Kelly.
  • Speaking of Stupak, Michigan’s open 1st congressional district comes in at #35. Realizing that his betrayal of his Pro-Life position to pass ObamaCare made him electoral toast, Stupak declined to run for reelection, leaving the battle to Democrat Gary McDowell and Republican doctor Dan Benishek. District went for Bush by 52% in 2000 and 53% in 2004, but 50% for Obama.
  • Ciro Rodriguez (TX-23) is off the list of top 60 races, but shows up in the “Knocking on the Door” section. Another Stupak bloc turncoat. In addition to ObammaCare, he voted for the Stimulus, but against Cap-and-trade and TARP. His district went for Bush by 54% in 200 and 57% in 2004, but for Obama by 51%. His opponent is Francisco “Quico” Canseco. Rodriguez came to national attention recently thanks to his defensive tone when constituents asked him to defend his vote on ObamaCare:

Time permitting, I’ll try to do additional posts on each of those races, plus a few others (including some longer shots that just might pay off in a tidal wave year). But if you’re looking for places your campaign contributions might be the most effective at unseating Democrats, the challengers linked to above are certainly worthy of your consideration.

References

Rep. Jason Altmire to Vote No on ObamaCare

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Altmire announced he would vote against ObamaCare. He was mentioned as a “must flip” for Pelosi in a lot of publications.

Here’s the profile I did on him last week. Glad to know his constituents made him see the light.

Potential ObamaCare Flip Target Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (FL 24)

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Last week we discussed Rep. Jason Altmire as a possible “No-to-Yes” flip vote on ObamaCare. The other two names listed were Bart Gordon (TN 06), who has announced his retirement, and Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (FL 24). Let us now turn to the latter.

How important is her vote? Obama set aside 15-20 minutes to personally pitch ObamaCare to her last week.

Rep. Suzanne Kosmas

According to her campaign website, “Suzanne has utilized her experience as a former small business owner to become a leading advocate for small business issues. She has introduced or sponsored legislation to ease the burden of health care costs for small businesses, to institute a payroll tax holiday, and to cut taxes for entrepreneurs.”

Hmmm, since ObamaCare would force many small businesses to provide insurance or pay penalties, I fail to see how you could vote for it and still be considered pro-small business.

She voted against Obama’s 2009 budget in April 2009, one of only 20 Democrats to do so, which might indicate either that she has some fiscal conservatives leanings, or perhaps only that she lives in a very competitive district and was given leave to vote No by Pelosi as political cover since she didn’t need Kosmas’ vote.

She voted No on ObamaCare last time, and explained her reasons thus (including worries about the staggering cost), but her website makes her sound like she would be willing to flip to a Yes vote.

Her District

In central Florida, District 24 sprawls from NASA to Disney World. (Insert your own Mickey Mouse joke here.) McCain edged Obama 51% to 49%, indication that it’s very much an evenly divided swing district, and very possible to flip Republican, especially if ObamaCare passes.

In 2008 she beat Republican Tom Feeney, largely on the basis of his ties with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Kosmas herself is no stranger to tainted money; it was only two weeks ago that she decided to give the U.S. Treasury the $14,000 she got from Rep. Charlie Rangel, despite the fact that his problems paying his taxes came up well over a year ago.


Rep. Suzanne Kosmas’s $17,000 Friend

This time around, she’s attracted a well-funded political outsider as a Republican challenger: Craig Miller, the former CEO of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

Miller is more likely to prove a formidable opponent than one Larry Sinclair, whose claim to fame (such as it is) is writing a book alleging that he “engaged in homosexual acts with then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama [in 1999], who during these trysts not only procured cocaine for the author, but also smoked crack cocaine while being fellated.”

Her Backers

The Sunlight Foundation noted that Kosmas (along with Altmire, Frank Kratovil, Scott Murphy, Glenn Nye, Michael McMahon and Betsy Markey) as “as potential vote-flippers on the health care reform bill [heavily] reliant on campaign funds from party leadership and online progressive activists,” as all seven list “Leadership PACs (political action committees) in the top three career industry donors.”

Other than Rangel, her backers include Michael G. Helton, the President of NASCAR (if I had to guess, I would estimate that the overwhelming majority of NASCAR enthusiasts are opposed to ObamaCare), who gave $2,400, as did two members of private equity fund The Tavistock Group. She seems to be favored by lawyers and real estate interests, as well as liberal feminist PAC EMILY’s List (she voted against the Stupak Amendment). She has less-obvious health care industry ties than Altmire, but Peter J. Licari, the president of Complete HealthCare Resources, gave her $1,000.

Also among her donors is a John W. Holloway, who gave her $2,400 and listed his occupation as “self-employed/poet.” Since the number of people who make even $2,400 a year off poetry is probably vanishingly small, I think we can safely assume that Mr. Holloway’s money comes from being the son of ABC Fine Wine & Spirits founder John D. “Jack” Holloway.

Contact Information

Here’s her main contact form.

Here’s a meeting request form.

Here’s here office contact information from her website.

Congresswoman Suzanne M. Kosmas
Washington D.C. Office
238 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2706
Fax: (202) 226-6299

Local Office
Congresswoman Suzanne M. Kosmas
1000 City Center Circle, 2nd Floor
Port Orange, FL 32129
Phone: (386) 756-9798
Fax: (386) 756-9903

Congresswoman Suzanne M. Kosmas
12424 Research Parkway, Ste 135
Orlando, FL 32826
Phone: (407)-208-1106
Fax: (407)-208-1108
Toll free number: 1-877-9-KOSMAS (1-877-956-7627)

Here’s a page to request a speaking engagement from Rep. Kosmas.

I would suggest trying to contact her through her reelection campaign website, but that page unhelpfully states “You cannot send more than 3 messages per hour. Please try again later,” despite my not having sent a single message. Methinks that many people unhappy with ObamaCare may have tried that route already…

Conclusion

Kosmas is probably more likely to flip to a Yes than Altmire who, since my post last week, has sounded more like he’s leaning toward the No camp. Kosmas, not being in the Stupak group, is going to be a harder sell to keep a No. However, should she cave-in on ObamaCare, Republicans should have an excellent chance of flipping her seat in November.

ObamaCare House Scorecard Update: Is Rep. Jason Altmire, PA 04, Flipping to Yes?

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Here is an updated list of where Democratic House members stand on ObamaCare, courtesy of Take Back Medicine. All evidence points to Pelosi not having the votes, but that assumes that the Stupak 12 can’t be bought off, and things are very much in flux.

One of the interesting things on that list is that they show three original No votes on ObamaCare flipping to Yes this time:

I hope to examine each in turn, but for now let’s focus on Altmire.

Rep. Jason Altmire

Altmire sounds like less than a firm “Yes” in this Fox News interview, although he does think that the Senate bill plus reconciliation will provide more cost containment than the House bill he voted against. Of course, if the Senate ObamaCare bill passes the House, it can become law without any reconciliation…

He also says he’s waiting on the CBO score.

Tea Party Protesters are targeting his office.

Personal Background

Interestingly, Altmire saw firsthand how the attempt to pass ClintonCare wrecked many congressional careers:

“It was clear [the White House] was trying to do everything all at once, and even I knew at the time that in the districts like the one [Florida Democratic Rep. Pete] Peterson represented, it had no chance of getting political support”

Also interesting is that he worked as “a lobbyist for the Federation of American Hospitals.” They’re one of the Big Medicine backers of ObamaCare.

District Background

Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District lies just north of Pittsburgh on the Ohio border, and is competitive-to-leans-conservative. According to these handy figures compiled by folks on the other side, it went for McCain over Obama 55% to 44%, and went for Bush over both Kerry and Gore.

ObamaCare doesn’t seem to be particularly popular among Altmire’s constituents:

PA-4 Jason Altmire
81% worry the health bill will raise their taxes.
93% say it’s very or somewhat likely that his vote will matter in November.
30% favor health bill while 58% oppose.
29% favor use of reconciliation 60% oppose

There are rumors that Pittsburgh Steeler great Lynn Swann, who ran as a Republican for Governor in 2006, may jump into the race against Altmire.

His Backers

According to Open Secrets, three of the top five industries contributing to Altmire’s campaign are related to the health care industry:

Top 5 Industries, 2009-2010, Campaign Cmte
Industry Total Indivs PACs
Health Professionals $74,160 $18,160 $56,000
Mining $53,100 $37,100 $16,000
Lawyers/Law Firms $51,446 $34,246 $17,200
Hospitals/Nursing Homes $50,350 $20,850 $29,500
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $47,421 $9,375 $38,046

A list of his biggest donors. Notice the donations from HealthSouth CEO Jay Grinney.

Also of interest: Joel W. McCleary, who you may remember from his ties to the late John Murtha.

Contact Information

Here’s the contact information from his House website. If you live in PA 04, you might wish to contact the Congressman to let him know of your opposition to ObamaCare:

Main Offices

Please direct all written correspondence to the Aliquippa District Office.

Aliquippa Office
2110 McLean Street
Aliquippa, PA 15001
724-378-0928
724-378-6171 (fax)

Natrona Heights Office
2124 Freeport Road
Natrona Heights, PA 15065
724-226-1304
724-226-1308 (fax)

Washington, D.C. Office
332 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
202-225-2565
202-226-2274(fax)

Satellite Offices

Cranberry Township Office

Cranberry Township Municipal Building
2525 Rochester Road
Cranberry Township, PA 16066-6499
1:30 pm to 5:00 pm – First and Third Thursdays of every month

Ellwood City Office

Ellwood City Municipal Building
Lawrence Avenue
Ellwood City, PA 16117
2:00 pm to 6:00pm – 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month

Farrell Office

Farrell City Building
500 Roemer Blvd
Farrell, PA 16121
9 am to 1:00 pm – 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month

Murrysville Office

Murrysville Municipal Building
4100 Sardis Road
Murrysville, PA 15668
2 pm to 4 pm – Second Tuesday of every month
4 pm to 7 pm – Fourth Tuesday of every month

New Castle Office

Lawrence County Government Center
430 Court Street
1st Floor Caucus Room
New Castle, PA 16101
8:00 am to 4:00 pm – Every Wednesday and Friday

Ross Township Office

Ross Township Municipal Building
Recreation Center
1000 Ross Municipal Drive
Pittsburgh,PA 15237
9:00 am to 12:00 pm – First and Third Thursdays of every month

Here’s an email contact form.

Here’s a page to request a personal meeting with Altmire. That page also supplies an email address altmireschedule@mail.house.gov to contact for a personal meeting.

You might also consider trying to contact him through his campaign’s website.

Conclusion

If Altmire does vote in favor of ObamaCare this time around, PA 04 would be a prime target for Republicans to flip in November.

Updated: More protests at Altmire’s offices.