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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Zell Invades Pennsylvania

I found today’s weirdest news on the National Review Corner site (via Kos):

Harrisburg – During a radio interview late yesterday in Harrisburg, former Senator Zell Miller (D-GA) formally kicked off Democrats for Santorum, a statewide coalition of Democrats dedicated to Senator Santorum’s reelection effort. Over 7,000 members strong, Democrats for Santorum is a coalition of Pennsylvanians who share Senator Santorum’s commitment to national security, lower taxes, and less government regulation.

You can just feel the excitement, eh?In case you haven’t been following the Santorum-Casey race, the junior senator from PA, who had been mulling a presidential run, is tanking really badly. By all accounts, he’s been left for dead by national GOPers. But to read this press release, you’d think he was boldly picking up vast Democratic support en route to a smashing victory. You have to wonder why the Santorum campaign thinks flying in Zell Miller, who is neither a Pennsylvanian nor a Democrat, to launch “Democrats for Santorum” is going to do any good. Maybe they’ve bought into the old jibe (often attributed to James Carville) that Pennsylvania is composed of two cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with Alabama in between (hence the sobriquet, “Pennsylbama” or “Pennsyltucky”).Miller’s decision to play this bizarre role in a losing effort is equally puzzling, but I’ve long given up trying to figure out my former boss’ recent behavior. Maybe he’s going through some sort of Robert E. Lee delusion, invading Pennsylvania only to suffer defeat at Gettysburg. His last high-profile political gig was his unsuccesful effort to get Georgia Republicans to nominate Ralph Reed for Lt. Governor. Ending the cycle by weighing in for another doomed Republican has the virtue of consistency, I suppose. While I cannot muster any sympathy for a nasty piece of work like Santorum, I do, however, appreciate the agonies of his staff, having been involved in a couple of campaigns over the years where the smell of death was everywhere during the home stretch. You know you’re going to lose, but you go through the motions: planning events, putting out press releases, spreading rumors of The Greatest Upset in History, lying to donors about that Last Ad Buy that will turn everything around (Santorum has one up right now that appears to suggest that North Korea will immediately launch a nuclear attack on the Keystone State on the first news of a Casey victory). So probably what happened is that some lowly staffer had been beavering away for weeks on a plan to launch a Democrats for Santorum group; suggested a Zell Miller appearance would get news; and the campaign brass, spending most of their time working on their resumes, thought: “Why the hell not? Couldn’t hurt.”And thus, I suspect, the supply and demand curves met, and a politician with nothing to do came in to “help” a politician with nothing to lose. Lord knows the Santorum campaign wouldn’t have done anything really crazy like invite George W. Bush to come in.

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