In 2006, Bob Casey Jr., then the Pennsylvania state treasurer, defeated Rick Santorum and took his seat in the US Senate; presumably only after having it steam cleaned. Not that Casey wanted anything much to do with Dan Savage, the columnist who had helpfully made the alternative definition of "Santorum" one of the best demonstrations of the power of trolling for the prior three years. But in '06, Casey's campaign actually declined a donation from Savage; Casey's finance director thanked him, but suggested maybe Savage could give the money to a group working against Santorum so Casey wouldn't get flak for taking the donation. That was back when Dems were happy to talk about civil unions but frightened of gay marriage, and Casey just plain wussed out on the chance to bring a "weeks-long debate about feces, lube, and assfucking" to the Senate race, as then-Wonket Dave Weigel put it. But Bob Casey has come rather a long way since then, and he now supports marriage equality. He might still be a bit shy about a full-on embrace of buttsechs talk, however.
Caution seems to have been a theme for Bob Casey, at least for much of his Senate career, when he was a reliable vote for just about anything Barack Obama might want him to support, especially healthcare reform. That reliable party loyalty worked pretty well for Casey, but was fodder for a well-produced but tedious ad from 2012 that blew a lot of money to make one joke: Maybe Casey and Obama are actually twins separated at birth, ha-ha!
Casey's actual GOP opponent in 2012 managed to offer one of the less-memorable variations on Todd Akin's dumbass explanation of why rape babies must be carried to term. The guy said he knew all about rape babies, because a woman in his own family "chose life" in what he said was a "similar" situation, but which turned out to be a babby born "out of wedlock," not a rape-baby, which if you think really hard about it, is not so similar after all.
Somehow, Casey managed to squeak out a 9-point win that year, although it was down from his 17-point victory over Santorum.
Look At This Asshole Running Against Bob Casey. Just Look At Him.
With Pennsylvania having gone narrowly to Donald Trump in 2016, Bob Casey found his way onto those lists of most-endangered Democratic senators for 2018, although usually down near the bottom. His Republican challenger this time out is an actual congressman, US Rep. Lou Barletta, who has Donald Trump's enthusiastic backing.
Barletta made national news in 2006 when, as mayor of Hazleton, he enacted a package of Git Tuff On Messicans measures that endeared him to rightwing jerks not only across Pennsyltucky, but to immigrant haters across the country. The ordinance allowed the city to impose fines on landlords who rented to illegal immigrants, and to revoke business licenses of employers who hired them. Not surprisingly, the measure was tossed in federal court, and Hazleton had to pay out $14 million in fees to the attorneys who helped overturn it. But it was great for Barletta, who rode the notoriety to a seat in Congress, where he's been an immigration hard-liner ever since.
Barletta is comically devoted to Trump; he was one of the first congressional Republicans to back the Great Man, co-chaired Trump's Pennsylvania campaign, and more recently, enthusiastically defended Trump's family separation policy, insisting it would be a terrific deterrent against future illegal border crossing. Besides, said Barletta, it's all about THE LAW:
In America, we have laws [...] when you commit a criminal offense, children, you will be separated during the custody. So I don't think we should have separate laws for people who come in the country illegally and other laws for American citizens.
Of course, when citizens are nabbed for a misdemeanor, their kids aren't flown across the country and possibly taken away forever, and records of their connections to their parents aren't usually lost or destroyed, so there's that, too.
Ah, but once Trump pretended he'd ended family separation, Barletta thought that was brilliant and wonderful too, proclaiming,
I too didn't want to see children separated [...] I'm the father of four daughters and eight grandchildren. I didn't like it. I felt like most people.
You know, like most people whose campaigns have scheduled a July 20 fundraiser where the featured speaker is Nigel Fucking Farage. That choice has resulted in predictable outrage from liberal snowflakes who call Farage anti-Semitic simply because he said last fall on his radio show that "the Jewish lobby, with its links with the Israeli government," is probably a bigger problem in the USA than Russian cyberwar on our elections. Not surprisingly, Dead Breitbart's Society For The Propagation Of The Dogwhistles jumped in to defend the honor of Farage and Barletta against such scurrilous attacks, because everyone know it's liberals who hate Israel and hence all Jews. Besides, Farage merely wants to protect traditional European culture from immigrant masses, nudge-nudge, and how could anyone think that's bad?
The Farage fundraiser is far from Barletta's only flirtation with some pretty scummy types, as CNN's Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massie explored in some depth earlier this year, even before Barletta won the primary. When Barletta was Man of the Immigrant-Bashing Hour in '06, one of the many rightie outlets that interviewed him was the blandly-named "American Free Press," which has promoted Holocaust denial and the very smart theory that 9/11 was a Jewish plot. The interviewer, Mark Anderson, is a charming fellow who thinks the Bilderberg Group runs the world, and who, more recently, in 2015, called Elie Wiesel a "Holocaust survivor" in scare quotes, complete with a sales link to a book titled The Holocaust Hoax Exposed: Debunking the 20th Century's Biggest Lie.
Oh, but that -- and Barletta's other appearances onstage with other creeps -- is very unfair guilt by association, Barletta's deputy campaign manager, Jon Azur, told Kaczynski and Massie, because Barletta strongly opposes "hate, bigotry, and racial supremacy in all its forms," and also when he was mayor and at the center of a worldwide story, he didn't have time to vet every last journalist or Holocaust denier who came to interview him, you see. He's no racist, and has no idea why racists keep sucking his dick. So stop harping on that interview with a racist site, will you? And certainly don't read it, because it quotes a Barletta media statement that previews Donald Trump's campaign announcement:
Some come to this country and refuse to learn English, creating a language barrier for city employees. Others enter the country illegally and use government services by not paying taxes or by committing crime on our streets, further draining resources here in Hazelton. Recent crimes -- such as a high-profile murder, the discharge of a gun at a crowded city playground, and drug busts -- have involved illegal immigrants [...] They eventually migrated into Hazelton, where they helped create a sense of fear in the good, hardworking residents who are here legally.
Oh, hell, like that would hurt Barletta with the crowd he appeals to, anyway.
Trump Made Bob Casey Angry. We LIKE Bob Casey When He's Angry.
As we say, for much of his Senate career, Bob Casey was a fairly bland, nice-guy Democratic moderate, whose public persona, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Tom Ferrick said, could "make Al Gore look like Little Richard." Casey also likes to remind audiences he's been compared to oatmeal.
Casey's one split from the Democratic mainstream is his position on abortion: a devout Catholic, he has voted for anti-abortion measures like the Republicans' (thankfully doomed) attempt to ban abortions after 20 weeks. That stance seems to truly be a matter of (we'd say misguided) principle, not political convenience, since Democrats rightly condemned the vote, and it certainly hasn't won Casey any points with Republicans. They claim Casey's not truly "pro life" because he also votes to fund Planned Parenthood, because like some crazy liberal, he thinks women's health and birth control are important, too, and even likely to reduce abortions. So no, he won't get our presidential endorsement. But even before Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Casey vowed he'd oppose any nominee selected for Trump by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, so we'll give him that.
In recent years, he's rethought his stance on gun control -- Sandy Hook did that -- as well as on marriage equality and immigration. And when Donald Trump rolled out his first travel ban, Casey left a glitzy charity ball, in tux and tails, and went to Philadelphia's airport to meet with protesters and Muslim travelers who were being blocked.
Trump's appointment of Steve Bannon to the National Security Council the same day, really pissed Casey off too, and Casey started firing off angry tweets and doing all he could to oppose Trump nominees:
Casey, the son of Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey Sr., was suddenly transforming into some kind of social justice fighter like his dad. He told Philadelphia magazine that after Trump slagged the judiciary for blocking the Muslim ban, "I felt at that moment and moments like that duty-bound to say something," because
I grew up in a household where parents had reverence for institutions, as we all should. It doesn't mean you don't question them. [...] But this blanket smearing of an entire branch of government — they go through exhaustive confirmation, their lives are turned upside down, they must live up to a judicial code of ethics. This constant denigration of judges, for a ruling on what I would call a Muslim ban — to say that's beyond the pale doesn't even begin to describe the outrage. Therein lies deterioration of part of our government.
Casey also fought the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Education secretary because of her apparent sympathy for accused campus rapists, and especially for her preference for private over public schools. He says he cautioned her, in a one-on-one meeting, "If you are confirmed, you become the Secretary of Education, not the Secretary of Private Education."
Look, just go read that Philadelphia profile on Casey's evolution into something far spicier than oatmeal. It's damn good reporting. It really conveys the sense that Bob Jr. is growing into the mold of his father, who installed a New Deal-style statue of "the Pennsylvania workingman" in front of the governor's mansion and told his then-speechwriter Pau Begala, "I want the sons of bitches who live in this mansion to see it every day." The article notes the statue has "since been moved."
Casey doesn't appear all that endangered; his fundraising has outpaced Barletta's by a six to one margin, although it's a safe bet Barletta will have lots of outside money coming in, plus Donald Trump campaigning on his behalf. Mike Pence is already set to headline a fundraiser for Barletta this month, set for three days after the one starring Farage. For now at least, Casey is outpacing Barletta in independent polls -- one June poll showed him with a 17-point lead, and another gave him a 15-point lead. Of course, you never know what may happen between now and November, so we're happy to advise you to send some money Bob Casey's way.