Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Chuck Pennacchio v. Alan Sandals: What's the Deal with Alan Sandals?

What is the deal with Alan Sandals?

In case you were unaware, Bob Casey Jr. is running against two primary opponents: Chuck Pennacchio and Alan Sandals. While I've made a great deal out of Chuck Pennacchio, I have not really mentioned Alan Sandals. In fact, I've had a hard time finding much info on Alan Sandals outside of his own website. In the Blogosphere, there is a mixed reaction to Pennacchio. Many bloggers, like myself, fervently support Pennacchio. We loathe Santorum and find Casey too conservative to be a real Democrat. Others, like Kos, don't think Pennacchio is viable and will countenance Casey thinking he can beat Santorum. But what about Sandals?

After searching the Google's "Blog Search" and diaries from Daily Kos and MyDD, I found hardly anything written on Sandals, other than his being a candidate in PA's Senate race. Granted, there are a decent number of hits when searching for "Alan Sandals" on Google, but that does not address his lack of blogger support. Many of Sandals positions are quite similar to Pennacchio's positions, and he has raised more money than Pennacchio, so why does he almost entirely lack netroots support?

Here are some possible reasons why the Blogosphere prefers Pennacchio to Sandals.

  • First off, Pennacchio has charisma and is believable. When I met him at a rally in State College, Pennacchio wasn't just captivating; he made me want to get off my ass and help him fix this country. Pennacchio made me believe in a politician, which is a rare thing. I can't say whether or not Sandals has the same personal magnetism, as I have not heard him speak. However, such an affecting personality is rare.
  • Pennacchio seems to have a stronger grassroots following. Sandals submitted over 5,000 signatures and Pennacchio submitted over 4,200 signatures. However, Sandals' signatures were collected by paid supporters, while Pennacchio's were collected entirely by volunteers. If Pennacchio can petition just as well as Sandals without having to pay his people a dime, Pennacchio's followers must really believe in him.
  • Pennacchio is a history professor who studies diplomacy and national defense, while Sandals is a well-regarded lawyer specializing in pension, healthcare, and retirement issues. There are lots of lawyers in the Senate, but Pennacchio offers something unique while Sandals does not. Frankly, this country is desperately in need of leaders with a historical perspective.
  • Sandals dumped a lot of his own money into his campaign. Sandals is better funded than Pennacchio because he was wealthy to begin with. Almost all of Pennacchio's money has come from individual donors. While Sandals believes in public funding of elections, Pennacchio has sworn not to take any PAC money, thus actively practicing what he preaches.
  • Pennacchio is more progressive than Sandals. Both men agree on abortion, stem cells, the environment, election reform, etc. However, unlike Sandals, Pennacchio supports living wage legislation (raising the minimum wage to $9.00 so that people can get out of poverty), rapid withdrawal from Iraq, and fair trade with the rest of the world.
  • Pennacchio has been campaigning for far longer than Sandals. Sandals formally entered the race on July 15th 2005, while Pennacchio's campaign began in November of 2003. This is actually a little depressing. I'm not sure why Pennacchio doesn't have higher name recognition if he has been pushing this for so long.
Clearly, Pennacchio is the better candidate for Pennsylvanian progressives. However, both men are good candidates and Senator Sandals would be preferable to Senator Casey. I'm not as convinced that Sandals has what it takes to beat Santorum, but if he becomes strong enough to beat Casey, then all bets are off.


At 9:59 AM, Anonymous rebecca said...

The biggest difference between Alan Sandals and Chuck Pennachio is who will have a better chance of beating Rick Santorum, and that candidate is Alan Sandals. Alan appeals to moderate Republicans and more conservative Democrats as well as Progressives, without sacrificing true Democratic values like choice.

If the goal is to get rid of Santorum, and I believe that's what all of us want, then Alan is the candidate to do that.

At 1:28 AM, Blogger Shlomo Boudreaux said...


I agree that the goal is to remove Santorum from office. In fact, I would certainly choose Sandals over Santorum in an election. However, I have to respectfully disagree with you rationale. Pennacchio and Sandals have very similar positions on most issues. What precisely is so much more radical about Pennacchio than Sandals?

If attracting moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats is the goal, then we should be supporting Casey. If we are trying to fire up the base, then Pennacchio is the answer, because he already seems to have a stronger grassroots following than Sandals. Like I said, I have nothing AGAINST Sandals, I just BELIEVE in Pennacchio.

At 2:10 PM, Blogger Charlie Crystle said...

Sandals said in the League debate that he doesn't support Fair Trade. He's a "free trade" Democrat who supports outsourcing American jobs in the name of free trade.

Chuck believes in Fair Trade, and that human rights, worker's rights, the environment, and adherence to trade agreements is critical to the health and wealth of American families.

Another difference is Alan campaigns very little. All that money, and just a blip. I wonder if Sandals is there simply to split the vote. Was there a deal, made, Rebecca?


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