One of the Young Guns at today’s NRCC meeting was Jim Renacci, who’s running against Ohio Democrat John Boccieri, one of the Democrats who flipped from “no” to “yes” on the health-care bill. Boccieri cited as the decisive factor in his decision his mother’s fight with cancer when he was a child. (He had voted “no” a few months earlier, so perhaps he just remembered it.)
A poll out today shows Republican Renacci ahead, 47 percent to 35 percent. If I were a former mayor who was up 12 on an incumbent, I’d be doing back flips, but Renacci seems like a supremely even-keeled guy, only offering the well-worn comment, “The only poll that matters is the one in November . . . every day’s a new day in the campaign. We’re going to keep making the point that the incumbent votes the way Nancy Pelosi wants . . . Right now, this district is effectively represented by Nancy Pelosi.”
By comparison, Hazleton, Pa., mayor Lou Barletta was practically giddy, and he’s got some good reasons. The Democrat he’s running against, Paul Kanjorski, beat Barletta by 3 percentage points in 2008, while Obama was carrying the district by 17 percentage points. Kanjorski just won a three-way Democratic primary with 49 percent of the vote. IT consultant Brian Kelly ran on a Tea Party–style platform, raised no money, spent no money, and finished with 17 percent; Kelly then endorsed Barletta.
One other reason Barletta’s smiling? “Kanjorski [and his allies] spent $7 million last cycle, and they went up on the air in June, the earliest anybody went up on the air against a challenger. . . . He’s not going to have $7 million this cycle.” Kanjorski has a little under $1 million on hand.