What's your Election Day story?
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
WHYY's Peter Crimmins has put together an interesting audio piece from chats with voters at the polls around Philadelphia today.
See it below. Then let us know your Election Day story. Did you vote? What got you motivated to go out to the polls, and how'd you vote – for Senate, for governor, for Congress? If you're from Philly, did you vote to blow up the BRT?
If you didn't vote, why not? What would the political class have to do to get you fired up to use the franchise?
Here's Peter's piece, which makes it clear that this Senate election was above all a referendum on what people think about Arlen Specter. It's almost like a judicial retention election – except that the other box you can check is not simply No. It's Joe Sestak.
Peter Crimmins' report:
The nation is looking at Pennsylvania tonight to see how its U-S Senate race pans out. This is the first time Senator Arlen Specter faced voters since he switched from the Republican to Democratic party last year.
For A.B. Corneh of West Philadelpha, the decision is simple:
"I wanted to vote for Senator Arlen Specter to thank him for standing with the President and voting for the stimulus package. Without the stimulus, many homeowners would have been out of their houses. I benefit because I own several houses."
Specter has been in public office for forty-five years. For better or worse, people know who he is. Bruce Haskin is a Democratic Commitee member – he says he took a long hard look at the senior senator:
"I was leaning toward Specter, he's a known quantity. But the more closely I looked – I'm leaning to Sestak. He's lot more progresisve and consistent record. More liberal on a lot of issues. Specter's got a lot of baggage."
Specter's baggage is both a blessing and a curse. People look at his voting record during the Bush/Cheney years. They look at his ability to bring money and resources to his home state.
Jeffrey Bonner is voting for him because he says Specter has the power to get things done:
"He's got some unfinished business. With the power he has over the years, it would take him to do it rather than have somebody new come in."
But some liberals have long memories. In 1991 Arlen Specter questioned Anita Hill during a hearing about Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.
When Joyce White stepped into the voting booth 19 years later, Specter's accusation of perjury against Anita Hill would not go away.
White: "I confess that after the Anita Hill questioning in Senate, I thought it would be hard to vote for that person. And the expedient switching of parties."
That's another thing. Senator Arlen Spector swtiched from Republican to Democrat last year. Ryan Godfrey said it was disingenuous, and it made him vote against the senator:
"It was a blatantly political move. Sestak seems like a good guy."
But that same switch was an attractive feature for Lardeo Farnas. He voted for Specter because he says the Senator always came through for his home town.
Farnas: "I've been a lifelong Democrat, in this primary I know Specter – a fine man. His switch – he always voted for Philadelphia regardless of party."
What about his opponent? Although many voters said they didn't know much about U.S. rep Joe Sestak, they support him as a backlash against Specter. Many voters – even those supporting Sestak – said they didn't know much about him, and their decision was driven by how they feel about Specter. Pat Warner voted for Sestak:
"I'm torn, Specter or Sestak. Specter has done some good things, he's been in there too long. Sestak has done good things, I hope he can do the right thing."
Some voters say they respected Specter's accomplishments in office, and voted against him because they wanted a change.