In the blue state to our west, Pennsylvania Republicans managed to use low turnout to their advantage to take another Democrat legislative seat. Yesterday's Republican win in Senate District 37 extends their control of that chamber to 31-19. Republican Guy Reschenthaler defeated Democrat Heather Arnet by 10 percentage points (6,000 votes). The seat had formerly been held by Democrat Matt Smith.
Ditto for the blue state to our north, where NY Republicans easily held on to a seat the Democrats had hoped to pick up. After Republican Senator Tom Libous was convicted of lying to the FBI, Democrats were buoyed by polling that showed the 52nd Senate District in play -- even though Libous had won his last election with 59 percent of the vote. Democrats put up Barbara Fiala, a former county executive and state motor vehicles commissioner, against Republican Fred Akshar, a county undersheriff. The Republican received 79 percent of the vote, crushing the Democrat by more than 50 percentage points -- a 30,000 vote margin.
Here in New Jersey Republicans watched as all their challengers to Democrat incumbents were defeated, as well as the loss of three -- possibly four -- Republican incumbents. Much of it had to do with the intervention of SuperPACs, funded largely by the super-wealthy one-percent. It is important to note here that while the Democrats had critical assistance from SuperPACs, the Republicans did not. The Republican SuperPAC that could have made a difference, pulled a Lord Howe on our own General John Burgoyne (read Jon Bramnick) and went instead to New Hampshire. And slaughter followed that decision.
The Democrats' principal SuperPAC is the Rutgers Super PAC, so named because it is controlled by Rutgers' Board of Governors member Sue McCue (thank you, Governor Christie). Not only is Rutgers allowing Governor McCue to operate as an influence on those who fund this state university, but Rutgers will be at fault when bi-partisan governance as we know it grinds to a dead halt.
Why? Because the presence of the Rutgers SuperPAC makes it impossible for Republican legislators to cross the aisle and make difficult votes on the tough fiscal issues facing New Jersey.
The reason for this is simple: The Rutgers SuperPAC exists to destroy Republican legislators. Period. Full stop. That is its stated purpose.
Why would Republican legislators cast a controversial vote, knowing that the Rutgers SuperPAC will eviscerate them for it, while it gives their Democrat colleagues a pass? And for Republican legislators, the lesson from yesterday is that nobody will be able to save you when the Rutgers SuperPAC decides to destroy you.
When this comes to pass, Rutgers and its SuperPAC will have to take the blame for the end of bi-partisan governance in New Jersey.