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Gerlach internal poll boasts massive lead (Updated)

Gerlach internal poll boasts massive lead (Updated)

Congressman Jim Gerlach’s (R-6) campaign on Tuesday released an internal poll showing the incumbent with a huge, 65-point lead over primary challenger Steven Welch, in its latest attempt to paint Welch’s candidacy as a futile effort that would only hurt the GOP.

A poll memo from the Republican polling firm Wilson Research Strategies said that, if the primary were held today, 71 percent of primary voters would back Gerlach, compared to 6 percent for Welch and 23 percent who remain undecided. Like other internal campaign surveys, only the poll memo was released, making it impossible to evaluate the poll in detail.

But it seemed more intended to bolster the argument that Welch will make it harder for Republicans to hold the 6th District seat in November.

“Republican voters in southeast Pennsylvania know Jim very well and they have already reached the conclusion that he is doing a good job in Congress and should be returned to Washington for another term,” campaign pollster Chris Wilson said in a statement. “With solid numbers like these, Jim is a virtual lock to win the Republican primary. Any primary challenge to Jim Gerlach at this point would only serve Nancy Pelosi and Democrats in Washington.”

There’s no reason to doubt that Gerlach would hold a wide lead three months before the primary; he’s a four-term congressman, going up against a political newcomer in Welch who has, so far, only introduced himself to voters through contact efforts like direct mail. But Welch, a wealthy biotech entrepreneur, is expected to spend heavily on his own campaign, and when he eventually begins flooding the airwaves, Gerlach could see his lead narrow fast.

The poll memo also sought to warn Welch against trying to run from Gerlach’s right, saying that 91 percent of “very conservative” voters view the incumbent favorably. The poll memo said the telephone survey of 300 likely primary voters was conductd Feb. 9-11, with a margin of error of 5.6 percent.

Gerlach was running for governor until last month, when he dropped out of the race to seek reelection instead. Having already stepped away from a run for Congress in the 7th District in favor of former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan, Welch said he was staying staying put in the 6th District primary to offer voters a “new direction.”

Click here to see the poll memo.

UPDATE—Welch issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon: “I appreciate Congressman Gerlach confirming what everyone already knows. While I do not have strong name identification, when 6th District voters know they have a choice, 1/3 of likely Republican voters either support my campaign or are undecided. I continue meeting with voters and local leaders, and I look forward to sharing my message about responsible results and a new direction in Congress.”

February 16, 2010 at 1:34 pm

--Dan Hirschhorn

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comments

comments [32] | post a comment

  1. Mancini

    Feb 16th, 2010

    Go Girlie, Squelch Welch!

  2. David Diano

    Feb 16th, 2010

    I’ve got a question…

    If Gerlach is as strong as he claims, why does he need to hide behind an internal poll?

    Were the 300 polled from Gerhard’s donor lists?

    I’m pretty sure that Welch could generate an “internal poll” where he got more than 6%.

  3. Mancini

    Feb 16th, 2010

    Welch could do that by voting for himself multiple times.

    Just like he contributed 500K to his own campaign to make himself look like a champion fundraiser.

    He’s a democrat in republican clothing, that’s worse than a wolf in sheep’s clothes.

    Sorry Diano, no soup for you.

  4. Phillip

    Feb 16th, 2010

    For once I would like to hear Diano actually say something nice,positive about some one,other than himself and Gil.

  5. Kevin

    Feb 16th, 2010

    I’m a Democrat who lives in the district, but am I wrong in thinking PA-6 republicans aren’t, on the whole, “very conservative”? Sure, some of them are, but this is still the Philly burbs, and not the T.

    It makes sense for Welch, with his background, to run as a moderate, pro-small business, pro-family Republican. There is definitely room for the anti-incumbent message to ring through in primaries, too.

    Jim Gerlach has become another Boehner-ite, lock-step GOP obstructionist. I remember when he called the stimulus a “spending orgy” – but I’m sure he’s probably already taken credit for some of the projects funded by it in the district.

  6. yes

    Feb 16th, 2010

    yea, Kevin you are dead on with that. I don’t think Gerlach is going to beat Welch that easily, if at all, and I think if dems. can stay on message they have a shot to win PA-6. (hopefully they don’t kill themselves in a primary)

  7. politigator

    Feb 16th, 2010

    Wilson Research Strategies is one of the top GOP polling firms in the nation and if Welch had been smart enough to do a poll to see what his ACTUAL chances would be of winning in the 6th district, he would have discovered that folks in the 6th wont’ take kindly to jumping districts, trying to buy a congressional seat, registering as a Democrat in 2008, voting for Obama in the primary, switching his pro-choice stance to pro-life, pandering to the conservative movement or by giving the only political contribution he ever made to Joe Sestak and on and on and on. Gerlach hasn’t won his Democrat district cycle after cycle by accident. Everyone forgets he was THE ONLY ONE in the Southeast to survive the Obama wave. HUM let’s see, a wet behind the ears ex-liberal novice, a crazy ultra left Dem who is also self funded and looking for a place to park his backside or a seasoned tough fighter that wins everytime???? The only ones who wouldn’t take Gerlach in this fight is either Democrat or brain dead.

  8. laughing

    Feb 16th, 2010

    I think Jim should be worried that 29% of his own staff are either undecided or going to vote for Welch.

  9. robin's whood.

    Feb 16th, 2010

    why would they worry? why spend the money on a poll? this race is going to be close….no worries.

  10. David Diano

    Feb 17th, 2010

    “Gerlach hasn’t won his Democrat district cycle after cycle by accident.”

    It was no accident that the 6th district was constructed by careful GOP gerrymandering to be tailored specifically for Gerlach and span multiple counties to make it harder for Democrats to coordinate to overcome his built-in advantages.

    I don’t care how “top” Wilson Research Strategies may be as a GOP polling firm. If it’s an “internal poll”, that gets released it’s suspect. If it’s an internal poll that’s not released, it’s a disaster.

  11. Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D.

    Feb 17th, 2010

    Commentary – Part I

    Here is the deal; the below-characterization is precisely correct, and it was the reason I have spported Gerlach in the past.

    “…folks in the 6th won’t take kindly to jumping districts, trying to buy a congressional seat, registering as a Democrat in 2008, voting for Obama in the primary, switching his pro-choice stance to pro-life, pandering to the conservative movement, or giving the only political contribution he ever made to Joe Sestak…”

    But what he did to Curt Schroder is what has motivated some people to support Steve Welch, who has otherwise demonstrated surprising naivete in foreign policy. [Witness his inability to appreciate the failure of the so-called Oslo "peace initiative" when it was thrice SPELLED-OUT for him @ a recent appearance; repeating an "I'm for Israel" mantra doesn't work, witness the high AIPAC scores of many D's who are actually squishy when pivotal issues arise.] Pat Sellers, of course, harbors a neo-isolationist foreign policy that negates his otherwise earnest mien.

    Therefore, although many are aware of what Jim feels he needed to do–as a representative of his Philly-collar district–with regard to his voting-record, we also REQUIRE specific recompense for his having bumped-around from potentialy challenging Toomey for Senate, to challenging Corbett/Rohrer for Governor, and now to flipping into his fall-back posture…re-election.

    By whatever mechanism, I would want to “hear” that Jim has AGRESSIVELY advocated for Curt to be provided a LEADERSHIP position in Harrisburg. Otherwise, although we all know how ego-driven Welch obviously has been, Jim can anticipate ongoing receipt of barbs from those who feel discomfiture with what he has unnecessarily done to an ethical, hard-working, highly-popular state-rep. We want him to win, but we will redirect our enthusiasm until he “does the right thing.”

    [--to be continued--]

  12. Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D.

    Feb 17th, 2010

    Commentary – Part II

    Elsewhere are numerous candidates who are both within the Establishment and the Tea Party Movement. Jim should “take a page out of the book” of Mike Fitzpatrick, who welcomes an open primary because inter-alia, “If I can’t win against these high-quality Republican competitors, I don’t deserve to run against Murphy in November!”

    I recently blogged regarding the Bucks County race, pointing-out that the four remaining competiors might ponder seeking lower-level public offices. [http://www.pa2010.com/2010/02/a-crowded-8th-district-primary-comes-to-philly/comment-page-1/#comment-10323] I am not the be-all-and-end-all of what is transpiring, but I have often adopted a disinterested posture…while “putting my $$$ where my mouth is.”

    That is why, in addition, why I have adopted a “tough-love” posture when placing my conclusions into the ether…for critique. For example, Josh Quinter’s ongoing candidacy was a motivator for me to have blogged on what has been transpiring in MontCo and NE-Philly [http://grassrootspa.com/2010/02/15/in-pa-13-dachowski-mcintyre-falgoust-withdraw-adcockquinter-gop-primary-remains/]. Jim may feel buffeted by events, but he has a responsibility to repair damage for which he is totally responsible.

    To corroborate my perspective, I invite the disinterested reader to observe how Guzzardi was “Welcomed” into the Lt.Gov. race [http://grassrootspa.com/2010/02/16/bob-guzzardi-running-for-lt-governor/#comments]. Despite his having adopted highly critical postures against R’s (as well as D’s, of course), only one disparaging comment required refutation. Jim would do well to recognize the power of public opinion, as manifest in the blogosphere.

    That is why, again, Jim is cordially invited to advocate on behalf of a beloved political leader whom he has wounded. Nothing is forcing him to host a testimonial, but everything is prodding him to recognize the strengths of this loyal colleague.

  13. interesting

    Feb 17th, 2010

    Dr. Sklaroff-I understand your point, but didn’t Schroder also go back on his word to run for his old House seat? How is that any different?

  14. Peter Asher

    Feb 17th, 2010

    Gerlach’s campaign manager is a V.P. at Wilson Research Strategies. I’d like to see the results of an independent poll.

    Gerlach guaranteed that he would not run for reelection. In return, the party bosses convinced Welch to run in the 6th instead of the 7th. Welch dumped a ton of money into this thing only to have Gerlach renege and the party bosses abandon him. I hope he stays in and gives Gerlach hell.

  15. David Diano

    Feb 17th, 2010

    Peter-
    Well, that really puts the poll into perspective. That’s some great inside-baseball type information.

  16. Nick C.

    Feb 17th, 2010

    Gerlach is the candidate. Don’t be delusional people.

  17. Bird in hand

    Feb 17th, 2010

    These are the same guys that tried to put Gerlach up 27 points on Corbett in July 2009 right?
    http://www.gerlachforpa.com/pdf/WRSGerlachforPAJune09.pdf
    How’d that work out for him?

  18. hey bird in hand

    Feb 17th, 2010

    hey bird in hand, you’re an idiot. if you read beyond the first paragraph, that poll said gerlach was losing 39-11%. that question you refer to as evidence that they provide somehow junk data says clearly if based on their bios they would chose gerlach by that margin. i’m assuming they asked that question since statewide people dont know anything about gerlach. and guess what? gerlach dropped out of that race.

    legitimate pollsters won’t put forth junk numbers people. and wilson research is a legit polling outfit. so trash them all you want, but this is where the electorate is at the moment. and even if it is “off” let’s say even by double the margin of error, 10 points – Gerlach is leading 61-16…that’s still a tremendous deficit that begs the question, why on earth is welch running

  19. Bird in hand

    Feb 17th, 2010

    “Hey bird in hand”. Thank you. I am an idiot. While being gratuitiously insulted by a Gerlach troll certainly did hurt my feelings, it also opened my eyes, and made me read the entire poll. I had no idea that a “legitimate” poll made the following obeservations about Gerlach’s gubernatorial chances:

    “The initial gubernatorial ballot proves that Tom Corbett’s support is half a mile wide, and half an inch deep, and proves there is a clear path to victory in the primary for Jim Gelach”… That’s a keeper.
    “Among voters who have an opinion of Gerlach, he leads on the ballot with 36% to 32% for Corbett…” Did peoples’ opinion of Gerlach change later in the year once the pollster stopped asking questions like “If you think Tom Corbett strongly believes in unicorns, would you vote for Jim Gerlach?”
    “After asking a series of questions regarding the background and resumes of each candidate running for Governor…Jim Gerlach is the clear front runner in the primary and virtually all of Corbett’s support is evaporated” I’m picturing this question: Would you support a sitting US Congressman in a gubernatorial election against a lifelong state employee?
    “The informed ballot shows Gerlach with a substantial lead; Gerlach 52% Corbett 19%…” What information was fed to the “informed ballot” Gerlach Good, Corbett Bad?

    There’s about seven or eight more beauts in here that I didn’t identify, but I do have to share this final nugget, “Overall the poll results indicate that Jim Gerlach is well positioned in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary and has a clear path to victory in 2010″ Well that clear path certainly got a lil muddled didn’t it?

    If past is prologue, we can expect Gerlach’s withdraw speech any day now. I mean, how can someone so well positioned to win a statewide race, lose soooo much momentum in so little time to withdraw like Gerlach did? Unless, of course the poll that touted him as, “well positioned” and a “front runner” was so blatently identified as a push poll that it does more harm then good for the candidate its trying to push. Based on that update above, I’d tell your boy to get ready to spend more then this high school student council election poll. Doesn’t look like Welch or his cash on hand are goin anywhere.

  20. [...] incumbent Congressman Jim Gerlach (who jumped in, and then out, of the Senate race) released some internal numbers showing him with a gaudy 65-point lead in a prospective primary. The poll, by GOP pollsters Wilson [...]

  21. John Giles

    Feb 18th, 2010

    Sklaroff anoints Sellers as a “neo-isolationist” but doesn’t himself address the federal government’s finance problems. Sellers correctly notes that there is no recourse other than to dramatically restructure the government’s scope and scale of operations and that whacking 100% of the non-military discretionary spending won’t do it. So he is also correct in his observation that the military budget must be right-sized. Looks like honesty and political courage to me, a commodity that neither Gerlach nor Welch seem to demonstrate. Perhaps we should just “cut wasteful spending.”

  22. SickOfIitAll

    Feb 18th, 2010

    Im with John Giles, knocking Seller all you will and call hima neo-isolationalist (without understanding the term) but not addressing the issue yourself is simply an adult version of a childish insult.

    We are not the policeman of the world and trying to aiding in bankrupting this nation.

  23. Nonno

    Feb 18th, 2010

    If the article is correct by stating “Republican voters in southeast Pennsylvania know Jim very well and they have already reached the conclusion that he is doing a good job in Congress and should be returned to Washington for another term,” then the Republican voters have their heads buried in the sand. Gerlach was one of 25 Republican Traitors that voted for and passed the Banker’s Bailout. One of the largest act of thievery against the American People.

    Chris Wilson also stated “With solid numbers like these, Jim is a virtual lock to win the Republican primary. Any primary challenge to Jim Gerlach at this point would only serve Nancy Pelosi and Democrats in Washington.”

    I beg to differ, if the Democrats need a vote from across the isle, who will they call? Their good ole buddy Jim! My only questions are: What did Gerlach get in return for selling out the American People? What will the price be for a HealthCare vote?

    Maybe Mr.Wilson thinks if you tell a story long enough, people will believe it as fact.

  24. Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D.

    Feb 18th, 2010

    I will reply to interim-queries:

    1. Unlike Gerlach, he never pledged not to re-run for his seat. This is illustrated by the fact that the two people who had expressed interest therein IMMEDIATELY withdrew, deferentially. Neither publicly nor privately did he pledge not to re-run; this contrasts with Gerlach.

    2. Welch is, indeed, giving Gerlach [richly-deserved] “hell,” but Welch is fatally flawed, for reasons aforementioned.

    3. It is not surprising that internal polling–if made public–is going to favor the campaign that “bought” it; this is not dissimilar to how a lawyer will spin a client’s status…telling him/her what is desirable to hear. Nevertheless, it would not be surprising that he would be receiving this level of support when few people have yet heard of his [weak] competition.

    4. I spoke with Sellers and sent him documentation on the Iranian Nukes, but he continues to avoid confronting this existential threat to Western Civilization. Therefore, regardless of $$$-concerns during upcoming years, he has failed to fact-facts that carry immediacy…thus the conclusion that he is, indeed, a neo-isolationist.

    5. We are not the world’s policeman, perhaps, but we need to be pragmatic; the UN is paralyzed by China (and Russia) and, thus, the apologists for Sellers must confront today’s IAEA Report…or admit they are consciously ignorant of stark reality.

    6. Gerlach has a generally OK record, as a Republican and, under proper circumstances, will generally vote as he views his District…as its representative. He is worthy of respect and, thus, all Republicans should hope he is both renominated and re-elected.

    7. Gerlach is basically a good-guy, albeit excessively ambitious and–as noted–neglectful of a loyal colleague. He is obligated to do SOMETHING to provide Curt some degree of durable recompense.

  25. William Faust

    Feb 18th, 2010

    Bob – You wrote that Iran is an “existential threat to Western Civilization” due to “the Iranian Nukes” for which you sent Pat documentation.

    You may refer to media reports that stated that Iran had informed the IAEA that it “will increase its ability to make nuclear warheads” and that its uranium enrichment was “just below the threshold for high enriched uranium.” Those reports were generated from a Feb. 5 AP article titled “Iran moves closer to nuke warhead capacity.” The AP withdrew it on Feb. 9 after their information was debunked and they substituted one titled “Iran to stop enrichment if given nuclear fuel.” Note that the threshold for weapons grade fuel is 90% and that IAEA reports confirm that Iran had not been able to break 3.5%.

    The problem with the AP’s substitute article is that Iran had on Feb. 2 accepted Western demands for third-party (French) enrichment of 3.5% stock to 20%. The product was to be used in fuel rods in their US-built Tehran reactor which produces medical isotopes for 850,00 Iranians who rely on nuclear medicine. You must be aware that Iran’s acceptance was rejected. They have thus indicated that they will perform their own enrichment. The IAEA reported on Feb. 10 that Iran is proceeding with a “modest” program to enrich 11 pounds of 3.5% stock in 164 centrifuges, but they cited the program in a letter as being in technical violation for proceeding too quickly.

    On Feb. 18, the AP ran an article titled “3 World Powers Criticize Iranian Enrichment” (Russia, France, US) in which the AP echoed Western concerns that Iran seeks nuclear weapon. Ironically, however, the article also disclosed that such powers had, in a letter leaked to the AP, questioned whether or not Iran indeed has ability to produce 20 percent enriched uranium. Additionally, MI6 have disclosed belief that Iran does not have the capacity to produce the fuel rods.

    IAEA Director Yukiya Amano himself has disclaimed any evidence that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

    Fundamentally, however, the cited media reports are about nuclear payload being mounted into a warhead, none of which exist.

    Iran will remain mired in the third world for decades. Its per capita GDP is close to that of Botswana. It represents no threat to the Constitution.

    I am not speaking for Pat in these comments but in my own capacity. You should revert to him on this matter, but I believe that you have labored under bad information.

  26. John Giles

    Feb 19th, 2010

    On Domestic policy, one must conclude that Jim Gerlach has gone astray in his quest for Blue votes. There was no excuse for his Banker Bailout vote. On the heels of that, his vote for Cash for Clunkers principally sold cars for Japan and Korea, loaded up American households and the government with more debt, and destroyed many good cars in the process. What was Jim thinking? Does he has a grasp of economics?

    His sponsorship of the Card Check bill to deprive workers, under threat of union organizing, of secret ballots struck at the heart of American democracy. They’re just workers and Jim needed some union support, right? Throw them under the bus.

    When power is elevated over principle, it should not be a surprise if the outcome should turn out to be neither. We do not need another Arlen Specter.

  27. Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D.

    Feb 19th, 2010

    Rejoinder #1:

    http://www.philly.com/inquirer/world_us/20100219_IAEA__Iran_may_be_trying_for_warhead.html

    IAEA: Iran may be trying for warhead
    By Warren P. Strobel and Margaret Talev

    McClatchy Newspapers

    WASHINGTON – The U.N. nuclear watchdog said yesterday that it suspected that Iran may be trying to develop a nuclear warhead that could be placed atop a missile – its sharpest challenge to date of Iran’s claims to be pursuing an exclusively peaceful nuclear program.
    The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency conflicts with a 2007 U.S. intelligence community assessment that Iran halted its nuclear-weapons program in 2003. It is more in line with reported European and Israeli estimates that Iran, along with enriching uranium that could fuel a nuclear bomb, is experimenting with constructing a warhead.

    The Vienna-based IAEA said it had collected “broadly consistent and credible information” from various sources about Iran’s military-related nuclear activities.

    “Altogether, this raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile,” it said.

    Senior Obama administration officials called the report disturbing and said the U.S. assessment of Iran’s nuclear ambitions was under review as part of a new National Intelligence Estimate. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The 10-page IAEA report also confirms that Iran has begun enriching uranium to a purity of nearly 20 percent, closer to what is needed for nuclear bomb fuel.

    A U.S. official, however, said Iran was producing about 100 grams a day of the 20 percent pure uranium – at a rate that would take it five to seven years to have enough for a bomb if it were enriched further. Weapons-grade uranium is roughly 90 percent pure.

    Perhaps more worrisome, the IAEA said Iran has moved most of its current stock of low-enriched uranium to a pilot enrichment plant, indicating it is planning to convert it to the more pure form.

    The steps Iran is suspected of taking toward a warhead have been cited in previous IAEA and media reports.

    The agency’s overall conclusions, however, suggest a hardening stance from the IAEA in dealing with Iran under the agency’s new director-general, Japan’s Yukiya Amano.

    The report also seems likely to affect high-stakes diplomacy over new sanctions on Iran. China is resisting a U.S.-led push for new action by the U.N. Security Council.

  28. Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D.

    Feb 19th, 2010

    Rejoinder #2:

    The issues you raise are assuredly problematic, illustrative of why I preferred Curt Schroder.

    http://www.freindlyfirezone.com/index.php/local-news/item/6-explosion-in-the-6th-congressional-district-could-the-implausible-occur?

    Is State Rep. Curt Schroder A Dark Horse For The Endorsement?

    Hollywood couldn’t have scripted the drama any better in the GOP’s nomination race for Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District.

    Try to follow along:

    Four-term incumbent Jim Gerlach tells the world — repeatedly — that he would NOT seek re-election, opting instead to jump into the gubernatorial fray.

    Based on Gerlach’s word, popular Chester County State Representative Curt Schroder announces he would seek the GOP nomination for the open seat, raising nearly $200,000 in just a few months. Based on political sources close to the race, he was clearly on the path to the Chester County endorsement. (Chesco accounts for a majority of the district, which also includes parts of Montgomery and Berks counties).

    But in September of 2009, a wrench is thrown into the mix. After running in another congressional district for half a year, self-funding 33-year old millionaire Steve Welch bows to pressure from Party bosses, quitting his effort in the 7th Congressional District (CD) to make way for former gubernatorial candidate Pat Meehan, long a favorite of the Delco Machine. He then jumps into the 6th CD race, despite the fact that he does not live in that district.

    After the New Year, Schroder, Welch, and several lower-tier candidates kick their campaigns into full gear, only to be shell shocked to learn that Jim Gerlach has changed his mind once again, and would be running for Congress after all.

    Are you getting all of this?

    Rep. Schroder, sensing fundraising difficulties if he chose to oppose the incumbent, begrudgingly dropped out of the race. Welch, with his ample funds, is still vying for the nomination.

    So where does the race stand?

    It’s anyone’s guess.

    Over the last month, several straw polls of Chester County committee people provide a startling picture of the volatility in the Republican ranks. Gerlach received less than 60% of the vote in the first round, and only slightly more the following week. Given that these committee folks are the same ones who will vote to endorse a candidate at their convention this Saturday, Feb. 20th, (where 60% is necessary to earn the endorsement), and they have known the incumbent for well over a decade, many eyebrows have been raised. There is a growing sentiment that perhaps an election is in order — not a coronation.

    Both candidates have major political baggage which makes the outcome of both the May primary and November general election far from certain.

    Congressman Jim Gerlach

    In a typical election year, the power and resources of incumbency trump most challengers, particularly in a primary. But 2010 is shaping up to be an explosive year where anything can happen, and no scenario is off the table.

    That said, Gerlach retains the upper hand at this point. His name recognition is vastly superior to that of newcomer Welch, and his brand, for now, is still largely a positive one.

    Remember that for the last eight years, Gerlach’s opponents and well-funded special interests have spent a fortune — a conservative estimate is well over $10 million — painting the congressman as a far-right-wing conservative Republican out of touch with the 6th District. Since Pennsylvania’s GOP primary is a closed one, meaning only Republicans can vote in it, that label is not a bad one to have.

    Combine that with Gerlach’s proven ability to win general elections in otherwise horrid years for Republicans (2006 and 2008), and it’s hard to argue with conventional wisdom that the incumbent will once again triumph.

    But things have changed, and Gerlach is carrying some new negatives which could prove decisive in the primary—and perhaps the general.

    For starters, the campaign is broke. Since Gerlach’s warchest was transferred to help fund his failed gubernatorial bid, the congressional campaign had only $5,000 cash on hand as of just a few weeks ago, although staffers claim they have commitments for several hundred thousand dollars.

    Against a typical opponent, the lack of funds at this point might not be a huge issue. But against a self-funder like Welch, who has already pumped in over $500,000 of his own fortune and has $650,000 cash on hand — with millions more if he needs it—, the lack of a significant warchest should be disconcerting to Gerlach.

    On the issues, Gerlach will have to deal with conservatives’ wrath because of his voting record in a number of hot-button areas. The Congressman voted in favor of TARP (the first major bailout), the Medicare Prescription Drug program, commonly described as one of the largest expansion of welfare benefits in U.S. history, and Cash for Clunkers, while major increases in the deficit and national debt occurred on his watch. And here’s the kicker for many fiscal conservatives: much of this spending took place while Republicans were in charge of the House, Senate and White House.

    If Gerlach can be tied into the “Business As Usual” crowd that is “part of the problem,” with voters believing that it shouldn’t just be an anti-Democrat year but an anti-incumbent one, he could be the recipient of a severe voter backlash.

    But the one issue above all that could doom Gerlach is his support for Card Check, the bill proposed by labor unions that, among other provisions, would eliminate the secret ballot in union elections. Card Check is such a make-or-break topic for a huge number of Republicans that this issue alone could be enough to topple an incumbent.

    According to the AFL-CIO website, Gerlach, along with former GOP colleagues Curt Weldon and Mike Fitzpatrick, all signed on as sponsors of Card Check in 2006. However, the Gerlach campaign denies that he favors Card Check, pointing to his vote in 2007 against the bill.

    But in this environment, playing coy and stretching the truth could put an incumbent on the unemployment line very quickly.

    The reality is that these three Republicans played games in 2005 and 2006, deciding to take both sides. Figuring that the GOP would be in power for decades (a woefully short-sighted outlook), Gerlach and Company thought that they could appease Big Labor by signing onto a bill that would never see the light of day.

    Which was correct, for about another year, until Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats were swept into power.

    His 2007 vote against Card Check has done little to mollify conservatives, who continue to think Gerlach’s heart leans toward Labor.

    Despite meaningless polls showing Gerlach with a sizable lead over his unknown opponent, the potential of millions being unleashed on the 6th District Republicans in the coming weeks by Steve Welch, combined with many who are still fuming because of Gerlach’s broken word on retiring from Congress and backstabbing Curt Schroder, makes this race not just far from over, but one that hasn’t even begun.

    Steve Welch
    New to the political scene, Welch comes to the table with the most important weapon in campaigns: money. After selling his successful bio-tech company for a large sum, he decided on a foray into politics as his next professional move.

    For six months, he ran unopposed in the 7th District, where Democratic incumbent Joe Sestak is not seeking re-election. Instead, Sestak is challenging Arlen Specter for U.S. Senate. The open seat became quite attractive for Pat Meehan, whose gubernatorial bid never got off the ground.

    It’s here that Welch’s baggage began to pile up.

    After repeatedly stating that he would remain in the 7th District race, even against a Meehan challenge, Welch yielded to Party pressure and abandoned the race. His decision to change his sights to the 6th District, even though he was not a resident, was viewed by many as a failure in his first real test of independence. Instead of standing by his principles, he caved in to the Delaware and Chester County party bosses.

    The carpet-bagger issue was so difficult to overcome that Welch moved into the 6th District several months ago.

    And even though the residency issue has been resolved, Welch continues to feel Republican wrath on a number of other issues.

    First, he played loose with the truth when he claimed to have raised more than $250,000, when public records showed that number to be only $50,000. It’s one thing to slightly round up fundraising numbers, but such a huge discrepancy rubbed many the wrong way. This was the kind of doublespeak that voters have come to expect from Congress.

    (NOTE: In all likelihood, Gerlach did the same thing. After claiming he had raised $1 million in the governor’s race, campaign finance disclosures put that number at a quarter million dollars less.)

    Much more detrimental to Welch, though, is his Democratic past —the very recent past. Many GOP activists are having a difficult time reconciling how Welch can be part of the solution for the Republican Party when he:
    A) Gave money to Democrat Joe Sestak. And Sestak is no ordinary Democrat, but one of the few who can make Arlen Specter look conservative.
    B) Registered as a Democrat in 2006, and remained a D through the 2008 election, switching back to the GOP before running for Congress.
    C) Admitted voting for Barack Obama in the 2008 primary election.

    Given these facts, it’s a tough sell for Welch to claim he is a “lifelong” Republican.

    While money doesn’t solve everything, it keeps one in the game. Whether or not Welch’s funds can alleviate his major negatives remains to be seen.

    If he is able to make a strong showing at the nominating convention, and makes Jim Gerlach the issue for why a change is needed, he remains a serious threat to the incumbent.

    But the $64,000 question is whether committee people and the Republican voters of the 6th District will:
    A) determine that Gerlach is damaged goods and needs to go, and
    B) if Steve Welch, with his Democratic ties, is the answer.

    For those looking for another option, chew on this possibility:

    What if, at this week’s convention, a committee person decides that enough is enough with candidates whose veracity and judgment are seriously flawed, and nominates a candidate with a solid Republican track record? Someone with the credentials and experience necessary to represent the 6th District better than the current field?

    What if someone nominates State Representative Curt Schroder?

    He may yet have the support of the committee, and could, at the very least, deny the endorsement to Gerlach or Welch.

    Crazy? Sure— in most election years. But so was the unthinkable result in Massachusetts with Scott Brown’s victory.

    This is 2010. Change is already upon us, and the rising tide may yet turn into a raging tsunami.

    Chris Freind is an independent columnist and investigative reporter whose news site, The Artorius News Bureau, is slated to launch in this month. Readers of “Freindly Fire” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. Freind also serves as a weekly guest commentator on a Philadelphia-area talk radio show, WCHE, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

  29. Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D.

    Feb 19th, 2010

    Rejoinder #3:

    http://www.facebook.com/reqs.php#!/welchforpa?ref=mf

    Welch For PA I believe that a “deficit commission” is a step in the right direction. My hope is that Congress will follow suit, with a focus on reining in wasteful spending and reducing our national debt.

  30. Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D.

    Feb 19th, 2010

    Summary:

    John, William, Others:

    I have documented exhaustively and comprehensively the Iranian Threat; this ELIMINATES Sellers as a reasonable alternative, inasmuch as SECURITY is the major charge within the Constitution to the elected leadership.

    I have documented pragmatically and contemporaneously the stark realities within the 6th District that are reminiscent of my prior support for Gerlach and my subsequent support for Schroder; this ELIMINATES Welch as a reasonable alternative, inasmuch as his D-lib tendencies have been recently re-revealed.

    “Are we there yet?”

  31. John Giles

    Feb 19th, 2010

    The Congressional oath is not sworn to support and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic. It is sworn to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Slight difference.

    The Founders’ clear intent in crafting the document and with respect to such oath was to value liberty above all else. We could be well treated slaves in a quisling government with an intact Constitution and be secure. Security is not the major charge within the Constitution to the elected leadership. It is liberty.

    “We are there now.”

  32. Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D.

    Feb 22nd, 2010

    distinction without a difference

    if we’re fried by a nuke, we’re not free

    as someone said, the constitution isn’t a license for foreign countries to assume control over America [paraphrased]

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