Wednesday, March 22, 2006

NOW Endorses Sandals: Why Didn't They Endorse Pennacchio?

Well, this certainly is some big news.

Immediately, my reaction was one of disappointment. This is bad news for Chuck, I thought. Chuck's message is finally starting to sink in across Pennsylvania and the publicity from an endorsement by the National Organization for Women could have really jumpstarted his campaign. Hearing NOW PAC endorse Sandals was quite a shock to my system. Why on Earth would NOW PAC endorse the progressive candidate with less grassroots support? Why would they ignore Pennacchio's political experience and support a neophyte like Sandals, when their positions are pretty much the same? On the face of it, this doesn't really make sense. So what's the deal?

NOW PAC claims that Sandals "will best protect and advance our rights in the U.S. Senate." As if Pennacchio wouldn't do the same. Sandals' website claims that, "Alan is pro choice; he believes that abortions should be safe, legal and rare." That sounds a quite similar to what Pennacchio's website says: "Chuck believes that abortion should be safe, legal and rare." Except that Chuck's website continues with the following:
He believes that a woman's right to have control over her own reproductive choice is inviolate, and as our Senator, he will stand up to protect this fundamental Constitutional guarantee. While people of good conscience disagree on the propriety of abortions, it is the right of a woman to determine whether abortion is appropriate or not.
So, save me the garbage about Sandals being better on abortion.

For all things political, the answer, of course, is money. Think about it, NOW PAC--like any political action committee--is an organization that works to elect candidates who support their special interests. NOW PAC will assist the Sandals' campaign with money and publicity in exchange for his support when legislation they care about comes to the Senate floor. Effectively, Sandals is beholden to this interest group

Chuck Pennacchio, on the other hand, refuses to accept PAC money of any stripe. Despite the fact that Pennacchio vehemently favors reproductive rights, he will not be beholden to any interest group, including those with whom he agrees politically.

So, think about it from NOW PAC's perspective. They want to spend money on a candidate who they can have in their back pocket. Sandals and Pennacchio are rather similar on the issues, but Pennacchio doesn't want to be under their thumb. Bingo! Sandals is their man. Regardless of the fact that Chuck has political experience and is in a better position statewide, NOW PAC, by its very nature, cannot support Chuck Pennacchio.

With this endorsement, Sandals is back in business. Earlier, I posted on my worries about Pennacchio and Sandals splitting the progressive vote (here and here). I had not heard much from Sandals' campaign and was hoping that he would fade away, leaving Pennacchio as the sole competitor to Bob Casey, Jr. With NOW PAC dumping money and publicity into Sandals' campaign, it looks like that won't be happening.


At 3:00 AM, Blogger Charlie Crystle said...

Sandals gave in to NOW's pressure. He went from supporting parental notification to no notification, to saying a 13-year-old child needs no guidance of an interested party. He wanted the 15 minutes of fame. He caved.

Now, I don't know about you, but for me, I'm tired of politicians caving just for the sake of political advancement and expedience.

At 3:21 AM, Blogger Shlomo Boudreaux said...


I absolutely agree with you. This is exactly why I support Chuck Pennacchio: by not taking any PAC money, Pennacchio is not beholden to their interests.


At 8:02 AM, Anonymous Austin said...

I'm a Chuck supporter and I never thought much of Sandals but in reading about this I've lost all respect for Sandals and Now.

At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Matt said...

I'm a Chuck supporter, but I have to ask: why would NOW PAC come out and support a candidate who wouldn't accept money from them? If they supported Chuck, they wouldn't be able to put money into the race; now, they can.

I've always thought that Chuck's stance on PACs is his greatest strength and his biggest liability. In today's political world, it's near impossible to succeed without taking PAC money. I give Chuck credit for fighting the good fight, but he set himself up with a pretty big mountain to climb.

Of course, this is exactly what we need right now -- idealists who walk the walk. I just wish that there was a way for more people to hear him talk the talk. Sadly, that is most easily accomplished, these days, through the radio and tv spots that PAC dollars can buy.

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Shlomo Boudreaux said...


I agree that "Chuck's stance on PACs is his greatest strength and his biggest liability." It's a tough stance to take, but one that is sorely needed in Washington.

To address your question, NOW PAC endorsed Sandals, not NOW itself. Without contributing PAC money, the National Organization for Women could have said, "Hey, go vote for Chuck" (preferably in a more elegant manner than that), creating a buzz for Pennacchio and unifying the progressive vote around him, because of Pennacchio's strong grassroots appeal. Instead they have likely guaranteed the splitting of the progressive vote, because Pennacchio will never stop fighting.

NOW could have very easily said, "We support Chuck Pennacchio. Go to his website and contibute." That way, PA would have one strong progressive candidate in the race who gets a media buzz and more money. Also, NOW PAC could spend its limited resources on other pro-choice candidates.


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