Friday, May 21, 2010

Analyst: Pork Barrrel Spending Saved Some Incumbents

Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Arlen Specter’s primary loss is being portrayed as part of a national anti-incumbency sweep.
But a look at local returns shows incumbents did quite well on Tuesday.
Every member of Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation facing a primary challenge won on Tuesday. Every state senator up for reelection was victorious, and only one state representative lost.
Among the winners: Democrat Bill DeWeese of Greene County and Republican John Perzel of Philadelphia, both of whom are facing corruption charges.
Political scientist Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College points out the scoreboard.

"183 state house incumbents sought reelection. 26 of them had opponents. And only one House incumbent lost – that person to a tea party activist up in Lehigh Valley. No other House incumbent lost renomination."

Madonna attributes the strong incumbency showing to the pork barrel spending for which lawmakers were able to take credit.

"The fact of the matter is that when communities get new firehouses, new baseball stadiums, new convention centers, the people immediately turn out for those events. So Pennsylvania is still the home of pork and lawmakers bring home the bacon, and that often works."

Madonna says as much as activists rail on government spending, voters reward state and federal lawmakers for bringing resources back to their districts.
He says Specter’s defeat was much more a result of the longtime Republican’s party switch, as opposed to an anti-incumbent vote.

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