Political Combatants Set Primary Day Expectations

By Matt Loffman

May 18, 2010 4:08pm

ABC News’ David Chalian Reports: It is Washington ritual to set low expectations for yourself and high expectations for your political opponents on election day. The top two communications chiefs for the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee appeared on ABC News’/Washington Post’s “Top Line” today for some partisan warfare this primary day. In the one Democrat vs. Republican contest of the day, the special House election in southwestern Pennsylvania, both DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse and RNC communications director Doug Heye seemed to lay the groundwork for why they think they should lose this race today. “Ed Rendell picked this day for a reason, because it gives a structural advantage to the Democrats. So the Democrats should win this today because they have three turn out machines going on with the two senate campaigns and the Critz campaign,” Heye said pointing to the Democratic Pennsylvania governor’s decision to hold the special election on the same day as a competitive Democratic primary for US Senate. “We can win now or we can win in November.  But given the structural advantage the Democrats have put in place for themselves the fact that we’re even competitive is something we’re really happy about,” he added. Democrats are quick to point out that this largely white, blue-collar district that voted for John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008 is precisely the kind of district Republicans need to win if a 2010 tidal wave is about to wash Nancy Pelosi from power. “This is a race your own political director last week said that you should win. Tom Davis, the former national NRCC chair, said this is a race that Republicans should win, as a seat that McCain took in 2008, Republicans should win this and it’s interesting that you said you would after you know, after Jack Murtha passed away. Now you’re downplaying expectations,” said Woodhouse in response to Heye’s take on the race. “Republicans should have their own turnout machine in Pennsylvania-12 and to say that because there’s a senate Democratic primary going on therefore we don’t have to turn out voters — I mean what does that say about the Republicans mechanics on their side? And I think Tom Davis actually addressed this earlier today so Republicans really have their back up against the wall because if they don’t win Pennsylvania 12 today what’s their narrative for the fall elections?,” he added. As for President Obama’s decision to avoid putting more skin in the game in Pennsylvania by showing up at the end for a get out the vote rally, Woodhouse said that the president’s political arm is working for a Specter victory and that if they fall short, the president already got a lot of benefit from Specter’s party switch. “The president has supported Arlen Specter, we’re there, Organizing for America is there supporting Arlen Specter and this race is extremely, is extremely close. And look, having Arlen Specter become a Democrat was the right thing to do. If you just look at the past year he’s cast crucial votes for health reform for other parts of the for the President’s agenda. So you know the president has demonstrated his support for Arlen Specter as have we,” Woodhouse said. You can watch the entire interview with Heye and Woodhouse HERE: In our daily Post Politics segment, we chatted with Washington Post White House reporter Scott Wilson about just how much political capital President Obama has on the line in today’s elections. You can watch the Post Politics segment with Scott Wilson HERE:

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