Will Obama and Casey Break the Rules in PA?

Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania will today endorse Barack Obama. Obama nation is thrilled about this.

My question-Will they destroy a truism in doing so?

In all walks of life there are aphorisms, truisms, and accepted wisdom held to be true due to long experience-to the point where they are considered something more than a rule but less than a law. But rules are meant to be broken.

One rule in politics is that a US Senator cannot be elected president-too much time in Washington, too many procedural votes to tie them up, etc. In fact, that is likely one reason that Obama ran this year instead of waiting.

Well, there are three fighters left in the ring, and all have U.S. Senator in front of their names. One rule down.

Another rule concerns the value of the endorsement of a U.S. Senator. While it is better to have folks with you than against you, history has shown time and again that typically it is the governor who has more political control than the US Senators. There are some exceptions (the Byrd Machine being one), but numerous candidacies from Dick Russell to Ed Muskie and on to the present have assumed that support of US Senators gave them great chances in a given state, only to find that a governor the candidate didn’t have in his camp had already wired the state for the opposition.

So, will Obama and Casey break the rule that says that Governor’s have more pull within a state than a US Senator does?

There may be another rule in play, analogous to that in the Princess Bride of “don’t get involved in land war in Asia!”…and that rule is “Presidential contenders should stay out of a state party’s internal politics”

Ed Rendell, Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania, has long been in Hillary’s corner. His support is one of the reasons Pennyslvania has been considered part of the Clinton Firewall. I do wonder about the whole “Casey Democrats” thing, though…I thought they were called “Casey Democrats” because of Senator Casey’s father, a former Governor of Pennsylvania, for whom Ed Rendell was the natural successor. Moreover, there are aspects to this effort as being more than just a fight between Obama and Clinton…it also has aspects of being a backyard throwdown between PA’s two biggest Dems to see just who is the biggest kid in the playground.

Rendell defeated Casey for the Democratic nod for governor in 2002, and was reelected in 2006. He will have been out of office for two years when Casey comes up for reelection. I have to wonder how much of the Casey endorsement is an effort of sorts to head off a Rendell candidacy in 2012.

Just another twist and turn to an already interesting year…


One thought on “Will Obama and Casey Break the Rules in PA?

  1. I wouldn’t look for Rendell to challenge Casey in a primary. That seems highly ulikely. If you are looking for an interesting bit of subtext to this endorsement, I think it may be found in the 1996 Democratic Convention. It was the Clintons who refused to allow Senator Casey’s father to speak at that convention. I wouldn’t blame him for nursing a grudge over that insult to his father.

    Overall, I think Casey endorsed because he thinks Obama would be both a better president and a better candidate. Obama at the top of the ticket would certainly be better for more conservative Democrats like Casey and in purple states like Virginia.

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