By Kevin “Coach” Collins
Pennsylvania businessman and TEA party candidate Scott Wagner has become Karl Rove and the Republican establishment’s latest nightmare. Snubbed by the GOPe, Wagner pulled off a major upset and won an open Pennsylvania State Senate seat in a special election held Tuesday in the state’s 28th Senate district.
While Wagner’s victory was a huge shock by itself, the way Wagner defeated his Republican and Democrat opponents has to be alarming to the GOPe: Wagner wasn’t on the ballot so he had to win with write-in ballots which he did rather handily.
Of the approximately 22,300 votes cast, Wagner crushed the hand-picked Republican candidate Ron Miller by an unofficial 10,595 (47.7%) to Miller’s 5,704 just (26.6%). Worse still for the GOPe, the Democrat who posed next to a “Rain bow” flag at her headquarters drew within a single point of Miller at 25.7%.
From the day he announced his candidacy, Wagner made it clear that he was running against what the Republican Party has become. Opting to go the write-in path to victory and winning so easily has to bring party officials lots of sleepless nights. Republican write-in campaigns are rarely successful and often end up backfiring and electing the Democrat in special elections.
What might be still worse for the GOPe is that Wagner’s win came after he and his supporters executed a carefully constructed plan which can be duplicated in other parts of the country. Wagner’s campaign team grew for seven months topping out at hundreds of volunteers eager for a fight.
After Wagner shared his plan with his “army” they became more energized by each attack from the GOPe. This put both the state and local Republican Committees in a total lose-lose defensive posture. They could not sit by silently and ignore Wagner; but the harder they hit him, with ads they probably planned to use to support their own candidate, the stronger Wagner got.
Wagner’s victory taught the GOPe a lesson about negative nasty ads. Those “bombs” don’t work when the other guy has a message voters want to support. Wagner’s response to their ads was staying on the TEA party message of taking back the power the GOPe has squandered, after his stunning victory he commented, “I never said a single slanderous thing.”
The TEA party message trumped the GOPe’s lies once again.