A Captain Renault post: Right on cue and as expected and planned, the Corbett Bonusgate investigation and pre-election indictment of Democrats proved to be a jackpot for the House and Senate GOP. With Corbett's very significant help, the state House and Senate GOP were able to weather the huge Obama storm in PA.
Corbett's strategy was transparent and successful: Use the favorable press attention from Bonusgate as the cornerstone of his own re-election effort, investigate and indict Democrats before the election, delay "investigating" or charging Republicans until after the election (if ever), and give every Republican legislative candidate a great issue to use against every Democratic opponent. It would be a great strategy if the media and the voters will let you get away away with it. And now we know -- they did -- and so it was. Go figure.
One of the two competitive State Senate races (there were only two competitive Senate races in the state) is the best example of the success of the Corbett/GOP Bonusgate strategy at work. The 47th Senate district is historically a strong Democratic district in Western PA made up of most of Beaver County and part of Lawrence County. Sen. Jerry LaValle has held the seat since 1991 and he has coasted to re-election ever since. This was such a strong Democratic Senate seat that the Republicans never even put a token opponent on the ballot against LaValle since his first election.
Once LaValle announced his decision to retire and not run for re-election the Democrats in that area, according to press reports, quickly coalesced around Rep. Sean Ramaley as the consensus Democratic candidate to replace him. By all accounts in the state Capitol, Sean Ramaley was a very solid legislator and an all around very nice, well spoken, and soft spoken guy. I have asked many people about him over the last few months and the response was always the same: "He's one of the nicest guys you will ever meet in politics". Ramaley seemed like a sure thing for Senator in this Solid Democratic district. But Tom Corbett had other ideas about this senate seat and in a very partisan move that shocked Democrats and non-partisan observers statewide, Corbett indicts "nice guy" and sure winner Rep. Sean Ramaley on very flimsy "evidence" in July along with Veon and the 10 others.
We all know the rest of the story. Ramaley is forced to remove himself as the Democratic Senate candidate and the Republicans use "Bonusgate" as THE issue in this Senate campaign and win the race with a little known Republican candidate by a margin of 59,195 to 44,995.
It is almost hard to believe that in 2008, after the whole country watched what Alberto Gonzales did to politicize the US Justice Department, that Corbett could get away with a political assassination by political prosecution. But he did.
One lesson learned from the Gonzales episode is that it took almost 2 years for the Main Stream Media to finally expose what Gonzales and his partisan prosecutors and staff were doing to the US Justice system despite the best efforts by bloggers and others who called Gonzales out very early in the process. The MSM was skeptical and dismissive of the early efforts by progressives and others who were trying to blow the whistle on Gonzales. A lot of damage was done in the meantime.
And so it is here in PA.
More on Corbett's Bonusgate gifts to the House Republicans in future posts.