Last week, as I trekked across Pennsylvania, I ran into Rob Gleason, the state GOP chairman. On Tuesday, “the southwestern part of the state will be very important for us,” he predicts. “There are a lot of Democrats there, sure, but there are a lot of conservative Democrats — a lot of Tea Party people who are supportive of our ticket.”
Outside Pittsburgh, at a gun raffle in Glenshaw, I ran into Audrey Pritchard, a retiree whose husband worked at Westinghouse for 38 years. Pritchard describes herself as a “Tea Party Democrat” who is “fed up with how far [the Democrats] have gone to the left.” She cast a ballot for McCain in 2008, after decades as a straight-ticket voter. The turnout of Pritchard, Joe Laus, and frustrated independents may be an essential buttress for any statewide GOP victory. Some area races to watch tomorrow: PA-12, PA-4, and PA-3.
The central part of Pennsylvania, traditionally a Republican stronghold, “will be another big area for us,” Gleason says. “This is a turnout election, as it always is in Pennsylvania. We’re kind of a purple state, down a million in registration, and we have to get our vote out.” Keep an eye on PA-10, and watch for the turnout numbers in deep-red PA-16, PA-19, PA-9, and PA-5. If GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett and Senate nominee Pat Toomey hope to avoid nail-biters, this swath needs to show up in droves.
The suburban “collar counties” surrounding Philadelphia, swing-district country, is the third area of interest. “This election, I think we will do pretty well there,” Gleason says. Pat Toomey agrees. As Thomas A. Shakely reports at Battle ’10, PA-7 and PA-8 are the ones to have on your scorecard. In the east, PA-11, where long-term Rep. Paul Kanjorski is facing defeat, is another.
Today, Toomey and Corbett are jetting around the state together, along with Gleason, making stops in Philadelphia, Scranton, Harrisburg, Johnstown, Erie, and Pittsburgh. Toomey’s Democratic opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak, is in Philadelphia rallying the base. A bus tour led by Gov. Ed Rendell and Sen. Bob Casey will hit a variety of stops in the City of Brotherly Love and its suburbs this afternoon.