(Worth replaying this one now that Erin Molchany’s reelection launch is coming up a couple Mondays from now. Harry Readshaw is the worst Democrat ever!)
We’ve been talking about strong vs. weak political parties here this week, and about party endorsements in particular, but I’m not sure how helpful it is to talk about this stuff in such broad terms, since each specific contest presents unique strategic challenges.
Fortunately, state redistricting has presented us with about as clear-cut an example as we could want of amember-vs-member battle where a strong party would take sides, and a weak party wouldn’t.
I’m referring of course to House District 36, where 36-year-old progressive Erin Molchany and 71-year old conservative Harry Readshaw were drawn into the same district, and will compete against each other for the party’s nomination in 2014.
The differences between the two candidates are huge, with Molchany’s positions clearly lining up much better with the Democratic Party platform.
Rep. Erin Molchany, D-Mount Washington, said she voted against the bill because it “creates separate and unequal health care for women in Pennsylvania,” disproportionately impacting lower- and middle-income women.
Then there was that time he sent this crazyass handwritten letter to a female constituent who had the temerity to write him in opposition to the Republicans’ transvaginal ultrasound bill, which he co-sponsored. This dude thinks he got elected Vagina Controller.
Rep. Readshaw was also a member of ALEC, the right wing corporate bill factory, until April 2012, and only left because Keystone Progress publicly shamed him into it. One ALEC bill that Readshaw enthusiastically supported was Daryl Metcalfe’s version of Arizona’s “papers please” anti-immigration bill, and he even appeared with Metcalfe at the news conference introducing the bill. He claimed on the Marty Griffin radio show that Pennsylvania could balance its budget by targeting illegal immigrants which is obviously completely wrong.
He also recently appeared with a group of rightwing politicians, including Republican Senator Pat Toomey,at a pro-gun rally in Harrisburg aimed at snuffing out any meaningful political response to the Sandy Hook massacre:
In Pennsylvania, being pro-gun is not just for Republicans.
Representative Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny) had one of the most powerful comments.
“Guns are not to blame for criminal activity no more than the pressure cookers, and the nails, and the BB’s, and the explosives are to blame for that tragedy that happened in Boston last week,” Readshaw said.
In short, Readshaw is one of the most conservative Democrats out there. He’s out of step with Democratic voters on women’s health and privacy, on abortion, on immigration, and on guns. He’s a terrible standard-bearer for the party’s platform.
Erin Molchany, by contrast, is one of the best Democrats around. She was endorsed in her primary contest by Equality PA and by Keystone Progress, and this year she endorsed progressive hero Bill Peduto over Jack Wagner for Pittsburgh Mayor. She’s been a force for good within the party’s growing progressive faction, and at just 36 years old, she has tons of potential to be a future candidate for Congress or for state Senate or another higher office.
So this is an obvious, obvious choice for the voters, but it’s also an obvious choice for the Democratic Partyto ensure that the better party standard-bearer definitely gets this seat. A strong party would not only endorse Molchany over Readshaw, but would follow through on that endorsement by supplying her with sufficient party resources – money, field volunteers, donor lists – to lock down the nomination.