Of the two congressional special election in May, which is more important, Pennsylvania's 12th District or Hawaii's 1st District? Chris Cilizza of the Washington Post makes the case for PA-12:
First, the Pennsylvania district is just the sort of culturally conservative area that House Democrats will have to defend in November in race across the country.
It was the only district that went for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in the 2004 election then flipped to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) four years later.
And, Republicans have featured both President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) in their ads in the 12th, a precursor to their November strategy in swing districts -- particularly if Burns wins.
Second, the issues on which the race is likely to be decided are entirely national in scope.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has attacked former congressional staffer Mark Critz (D) on Democrats' energy policy and the health care legislation in ads. In a commercial launched this morning, businessman Tim Burns (R) takes Critz to task for opposing the repeal of the "radical" health care bill that "drastically cuts seniors' Medicare...raises taxes...and even uses taxpayer money to pay for abortions".
Third, Pennsylvania goes before Hawaii and primacy matters in these sorts of things. A loss by Democrats in Pennsylvania would prime the pump for a series of "Are Democrats headed for disaster?" stories if Djou goes on to win for days later. If Democrats can win in Pennsylvania though, they are far more able to withstand a loss in Hawaii -- writing it off to local rather than national politics.
One might suspect Cilizza of bias here. With two Democrats on the ballot in HI-1, Republican Charles Djou can win with a plurality, so it behooves liberal journalists to raise the stakes in PA-12, where at least Democrats have a one-on-one shot. Yet the mere fact that a liberal like Cilizza is now pushing the May 18 Pennsylvania election suffices as an argument for conservatives to double down on Republican candidate Tim Burns.
American Spectator readers had advance warning about the PA-12 campaign -- "Special Time in Pennsylvania," April 30 -- because some of us specialize in thinking three moves ahead of this political chess game.