In my own Pennsylvania congressional district (the 4th, west and north of Pittsburgh), the number of votes cast in 2006 were just over 230,000. However, in the 12th District (south and west of Pittsburgh) – the one represented by John Murtha – there were only 200,000 votes.
What happened to the other 30,000 votes in the 12th? After all, every congressional district has about the same number of people (just under 700,000). So why are there dramatically fewer votes in the 12th?
There are several related reasons. One is that there more unregistered adults in the 4th. Another is that many people there don’t exercise their right to vote.
Why don’t they? In their heart of hearts, many residents don’t believe their votes really count. Sadly, they’re more right than wrong.
In John Murtha’s own Johnstown and surrounding Cambria County, the only people – with rare exceptions – who get elected to office are Democrats. In most cases, Democrat officeholders run either unopposed or with token opposition.
In Murtha’s case, he’s “served” the people of the 12th District for 35 years. He almost never has anything like serious opposition. A partial exception was in 2006 when Diana Lynn Irey ran an intense campaign against Murtha, getting nearly 80,000 votes. Murtha got roughly 120,000 votes.
In many ways, Diana, my friend and political ally, out-campaigned Murtha. For example, she got a total of 7,000 contributions that came from every state in the Union. In contrast, Murtha got 6,500 contributions, although his average donations were much larger than Diana’s.
How on earth can William Trower Russell compete with Murtha? One way is to focus on all those unregistered (or registered but non-voting) people in the 12th.
In my previous column, I mentioned “Mel” (Melanie), an unregistered voter who favors Trower Russell. There are tens of thousands of people like her in the 12th. Trower and his supporters need to get them identified, registered, and committed to his campaign.
People like Melanie recognize that much of what Murtha has supposedly “done” for Johnstown and the 12th consists of government handouts. When Murtha is gone, the annual handouts will go with him.
In short, he has done nothing to help ensure that communities get permanent, sustainable jobs. What he’s “accomplished” is to hand out hundreds of millions in taxpayer money to companies that pay him off with lavish campaign donations. (Read the Seattle Times "favor factory" story on how Murtha trades your tax dollars for campaign contributions.) What he does is legal, but of course it's highly immoral.
William Russell differs from Murtha in that he wants to bring REAL jobs to the 12th District – not government-financed, make work jobs. Frankly, most companies – the ones that provide lifetime employment – want nothing to do with a district represented by a corrupt, bullying tax-and-spend liberal like Murtha.
In my chat with Melanie last week, I said, “You know that eventually all those ‘jobs’ Murtha created are going to dry up?” Melanie, a wise young woman, said: “Bingo. You got that right.”
If William and his supporters – of whom I’m certainly one – establish a strong, continuing voter registration program, it will be possible to eliminate a significant portion of Murtha’s lead.
In short, voter registration is a key. The Russell campaign can do so by telling potential voters this: “It’s true that in the past your vote didn’t count. But there’s a ‘new Sheriff in town,’ and this time your vote is going to make a real difference."
Every weekend between now and the election, Trower and his supporters must be out registering -- and energizing -- potential supporters. There will have to be some handholding that might involve taking people to registration centers through the 12th.
In general, every new voter added with bring along at least one more voter -- sometimes a spouse, sometimes a friend from work or school, and sometimes a neighbor. Register 10,000 new votes and, almost magically, the "synergy" results in about 20,000 votes The approach I'm outlining should appeal to people who are registered but have assumed that voting against Murtha is a hopeless cause. Diana Irey brought a good chunk of those people to the polls in 2006 – and Trower needs to bring the rest of them.
To win in the 12th, Trower will need approximately 115,000 votes. That number assumes he will take roughly 8,000 votes from Murtha. It also assumes that most of the new registrants will vote for Trower.
It’s a steep uphill climb, but with a tremendous effort led by Trower and his campaign manager, Larry Stiles (former Marine), it is doable.
Note: I will reprint this on two of my other blogs: MurthaMustGo and SmartPolitics101. In general, my contributions to those sites will be distinctive, but in this case I'm cross posting.
In remembrance of 9/11/2001, I'm asking all my visitors to make a contribution to Trower Russell at his site. I'm suggesting either $9.11 or $20.01 (or more, if you wish). Thanks for your support!
One of the arguments used to support the idea Murtha is unbeatable derives from the very large registration edge held by Democrats in the 12th congressional district. However, a good-sized number of those "registered Democrats" rarely vote Democratic.
The same is true in my own district, the 4th. There are about 50,000 more registered Democrats than Republican. However, Republican Melissa Hart won three congressional elections in the 4th -- and lost only by a slender margin in 2006, a very bad year for Republicans nationally.
In the state of Kentucky, there are 1.6 million registered Democrats and barely one million GOP registrants. Yet Kentucky has four (out of six) Republican congressional representatives, and two Republican U.S. Senators. Until recently, the Govenor of the state was also a Republican, although he was unseated because of a hiring scandal.
Yes, there are more Democrats in the 12th congressional district, but that fact alone will not determine the election results. If Trower Russell can sell the idea that he is a superior candidate -- something that's absolutely true -- he will win.