Supposed anti-incumbent wave fails to hit Pennsylvania

    Some have portrayed Senator Arlen Specter’s Pennsylvania primary loss as part of a national anti-incumbency sweep. But a look at local returns shows incumbents did quite well on Tuesday.

    Some have portrayed Senator Arlen Specter’s Pennsylvania primary loss as part of a national anti-incumbency sweep. But a look at local returns shows incumbents did quite well on Tuesday.

    Every member of Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation facing a primary challenge won on Tuesday.

    Every state senator up for reelection was victorious, and only one state representative, Republican Karen Beyer of Lehigh and Northampton counties, lost.

    Among the winners: Democrat Bill DeWeese of Fayette and Washington Counties, and Republican John Perzel of Philadelphia, both of whom are facing corruption charges.

    Political scientist Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College attributes the strong incumbency showing to the pork barrel spending lawmakers were able to take credit for.

    “The fact of the matter is,” says Madonna, “when communities get new firehouses, new baseball stadiums, new convention centers, the people immediately turn out for those events. So Pennsylvania is still the home of pork and lawmakers bring home the bacon, and that often works.”

    Madonna says, as much as activists rail on government spending, voters reward state and federal lawmakers for bringing resources back to their districts.

    He says Specter’s defeat was much more a result of the longtime Republican’s party switch, as opposed to an anti-incumbent vote.

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