Winners and losers – Delco Times

There is no disputing that 2020 was one of the most contentious elections in American history. So if you thought that this year’s competitions would be drama-free, you were wrong.

Consider some observations from the Pennsylvania elementary school:

Biggest Winner: Jennifer O’Mara, Delaware County Assemblywoman, D-165 of Springfield. It wasn’t that Rep. O’Mara had a grueling elementary school; indeed she was unchallenged. But for some intriguing reason, the Republican Party gave Ms. O’Mara the seat in November by failing to get a candidate on the ballot. That has to be repeated. The 165th district, which includes much of the townships of Springfield and Marple, was a longtime Republican district that Ms. O’Mara won in the 2018 anti-Trump wave with 50.8 percent of the vote. Two years later, she squeaked by again with just 51.5 percent. So it doesn’t take a genius to know that the 165th is competitive even in the worst of times for the GOP. While the new redistribution added democratic areas, the seat is still up for grabs. So it goes without saying that in a year where the GOP is heavily favored for gains, that seat would be at least a deadman and probably a skinny Republican.

So how is it possible to punt it? How did the local, regional, and state Republican campaign committees so spectacularly fail to challenge a weak incumbent? This is no offense to Ms. O’Mara. By all reports, she has a solid service record and is an able lawmaker. But in a “red wave,” the fact that the GOP died on the 165th is inexcusable. And who knows? In the event of a tidal wave landslide, this seat could have been the casting vote for a veto-proof majority.

Rep. O’Mara is now further entrenched. Unopposed, she automatically becomes the ruler for Democratic peers (and thus earns future support), while Republicans are left out in the 165th. This just goes to show that the GOP can still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Biggest loser: Congressman Conor Lamb – and possibly all Pennsylvania Democrats. make no mistake Rep. Lamb is anything but a “loser.” He’s a guy who won in a Republican-leaning district and ticks all the boxes of the “central casting” candidate: a moderate Democrat who opposed Nancy Pelosi, former Navy officer, former Assistant US Attorney, young (38), but not too young, attractive and articulate. A bit like Senator Bob Casey – but with personality and heartbeat. If he had his primaries against Lt. gov. John Fetterman won, he would have been the favorite to turn over the US Senate seat vacated by Pat Toomey – a seat that could potentially decide Senate control. And once a guy like Lamb walks in, he’s usually there for as long as he wants.

But he didn’t win for several reasons. First, the electorate on both sides has shown a propensity for strong partisanship. Gone are the days of moderate candidates appealing to bases, replaced by stumbling-to-the-bottom arsonists. In Lamb’s case, the hard-core liberal wing — activists who vote in primary elections — flatly rejected Lamb’s centrism in favor of Mr. Fetterman’s extreme left-wing progressivism. The proof is in the pudding: Lamm was lost in breathtaking fashion as Fetterman swept every single precinct.

Second, Mr. Lamb’s somber campaign simply didn’t resonate. He focused on endorsements – a category he owned – but failed to understand that A) popularity is the least transferable political asset and B) endorsements can actually work against you in today’s political environment as vast swarms of voters are fed up with status have Quo.

To be clear, Mr. Fetterman can certainly win in November, and those who underestimate him – particularly for his eccentricities – do so at their peril. However, in his fight with Dr. Oz or David McCormick two things matter a lot: 1) His far-left views (he supported Bernie Sanders in 2016) will be out of touch with many Pennsylvanians who, like many in the country, look poised to oppose the party in power to revolt, and 2) his recent stroke.

He appears to have recovered fairly well from his medical problems, but time will tell if his health affects his ability to compete. If he drops out, the state’s Democratic Party would choose his replacement and, while it’s only a guess, would look not to Lamb for the nod – since his loss was too wide and deep – but to a Southeastern congresswoman of Pennsylvania as does Rep. Chrissy Houlahan. In any case, it will be a hell of a race.

Biggest Loser Part Two: It’s great that people want to do their civic duty and want to run for office. But if they do, they should make every effort to win. Yet many seem to run — some constantly — just to get their name on the ballot or for an ego boost. What good is it if you don’t campaign, raise money, bang on the sidewalk and stand up for something remarkable? The uninspiring laggards left on a multi-candidate poll often end up as spoilers, which isn’t fair to those whose blood, sweat, and tears have been wasted in a razor-thin race. These people should give up – or grow up.

Biggest Loser (Maybe), Part Three: Granted, the Republican gubernatorial field was weak, but electing state senator Doug Mastriano, with 44 percent of the vote, probably wasn’t the smartest choice. Here’s a newsflash: Yes, there will likely be a red wave. Yes, Mr. Mastriano can win. Yes, Democrat Josh Shapiro can be beat (he barely won his Attorney General races, scoring just 51.39 and 50.9 percent respectively). So yes, anything can happen. But in real life, having the GOP standard-bearer known as the conspiracy guy who was rigged in the 2020 election isn’t the surest route to victory, especially in a state where Democrats have a 550,000 voter lead. Never say never, but Mr Mastriano needs a flawless campaign – and good luck.

Biggest Draw: Dr. Oz and David McCormick. It’s easy to say that your vote doesn’t count. Tell that to the two GOP candidates who are separated by just 980 votes from more than 1,340,000 votes cast. Both are solid, smart and articulate. According to the script, whoever wins will move right to center and put themselves in the best position to retain the seat in what is undoubtedly the nation’s most-watched race.

Biggest Headscratcher: Was there ever a question that this honor would go to Donald Trump? Love him or hate him, the former President is never boring.

Both the media and Mr. Trump himself have set his win/loss record as a harbinger of his 2024 prospects. As mentioned, most endorsements aren’t what they used to be, but Mr. Trump breaks the rule because of his unique reputation. He’s both won (Ohio) and lost (Nebraska) so far, but some of his recent moves are just plain ridiculous.

First, he’s “jumping” into the governor’s race to back Mr Mastriano three days before the election – even though the senator was light-years ahead of the competition and couldn’t be caught. So no points for the former Prez on this one. Second, he made a “anti-endorsement” of Bill McSwain in the same race – again not a bold move as Mastriano had it in the bag. Third, and most confusingly, Mr. Trump urged Dr. Oz to declare victory while raising doubts about the integrity of the election – before tens of thousands of votes had even been counted.

So let’s get that straight. The guy who’s been hammering for 18 months that his election was rigged now thinks it’s acceptable to just ignore the votes of thousands of Pennsylvanians just because his guy is holding on to a thread? And that declaration of victory would “…make it a lot harder for them to cheat with the ballots they ‘found by accident’,” he reportedly said on TruthSocial. To his credit, Dr. Oz did the right thing by ignoring Donald.

Too bad Mr. Trump hasn’t realized that every time he opens his mouth he is destroying his own credibility. After all, an election only seems to be “stolen” when the outcome may go the wrong way — but never when he and his candidates win.

In the world of embarrassing election speeches, the former president somehow outdid himself in this race. Stay tuned…

Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator whose column appears every Wednesday. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @chrisfreind.

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