Saturday, February 18, 2012

Why Rick Santorum Lost Pennsylvania

His name was on the lease but he didn't live there
Rick Santorum was once one of my U.S. senators, but that ended abruptly after the 2006 election when he lost by 18 percentage points, a record for an incumbent. I've been asked a lot recently why he got clobbered since Pennsylvania trends toward the conservative side, and the answer is easy: He went off the deep end.

This took the form of ranting against gays, Iran and religious freedom. He showed his children the dead fetus of a child that his wife had miscarried and remained an outspoken proponent of the war in Iraq at a time when Pennsylvanians, like Americans in general, had turned against it.

Had that been all, Santorum probably would have defeated Robert Casey Jr., who arguably is the most conservative Democratic senator, but there was more. Lots more:

* He make considerable political hay outside the state by visiting the deathbed of Terri Schiavo, the woman at the center of a national right-to-die controversy, but many Pennsylvanians were offended and Casey ran an effective television ad playing up the visit.

* While he listed his legal residence as a small house in the Pittsburgh suburb of Penn Hills, he raised his family in northern Virginia and rented out the house.

*
He cyberschooled five of his children in the Penn Hills school district, which cost it $72,000 in cyberschooling fees. The cash-strapped district was unsuccessful in its efforts to get any of the money back and Santorum was unapologetic about taking it.

*
He founded Operation Good Neighbor, a faith-based urban charity, in 2000, but most of the money went not to community groups but to salaries, rental fees and consulting fees to a network of politically connected lobbyists, aides and fundraisers.

In summary, Pennsylvanians thought they were being gamed by Santorum. And they were.

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The cash-strapped district was unsuccessful in its efforts to get any of the money back and Santorum was unapologetic about taking it.

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He showed his children the dead fetus of a child that his wife had miscarried and remained an outspoken proponent of the war in Iraq at a time when Pennsylvanians,
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