Does Democratic victory in PA-12 have implications for Indiana?

Last night, Democrat Mark Critz won the special election to fill Jack Murtha’s old seat in Pennsylvania’s 12th district. This race in a swing district (Voted Kerry in ‘04, McCain in ‘08) was hyped by Fox News and many Democratic sources as a bellwether race.

Critz’s solid victory brought out the usual spin from the GOP, but Democratic strategist Paul Begala pointed out that there was a good reason for this Democratic victory (partial transcript below):

Begala: "Mark Critz ran attacking the Republican for – guess what – cutting spending! He attacked him for being against Medicare. He attacked him for wanting to privatize Social Security. He attacked on the very sorts of issues that Democrats generally win on."

Even Politico, usually a faithful transcriber of every GOP press release, credited Critz’s Democratic message:

In the case of Critz, that meant hammering Burns as being in favor of outsourcing jobs overseas and highlighting his willingness to cut Social Security benefits – significant liabilities in an economically-beleaguered and aging congressional district.

Case in point:

While no two elections are exactly alike, it’s not hard to draw parallels to races here in Indiana, and especially to the Senate race between Brad Ellsworth and DC lobbyist Dan Coats.

Last week, Coats endorsed the Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which called for the privatization of Social Security and the elimination of Medicare. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee immediately picked up on it and attacked Coats for this giant giveaway to his former lobbying clients on Wall Street.

The GOP and Coats will try to paint the Ellsworth as a lackey of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, like Tim Burns did in PA-12. (In fact, they’re doing it already. I think it’s mandatory for every post on their anti-Ellsworth propaganda site to mention Pelosi at least once.) But as this special election showed, a 50-foot tall cartoon Nancy Pelosi can’t compete with Democrats who run on the issues – even in a district where Obama’s approval rating is as low at 35%.

Democrats can win in tough districts if we emphasize our values and priorities – and that shouldn’t be hard to do against a lobbyist who worked to help his clients ship American jobs overseas and wants to raise taxes on 90% of Americans.

(Crossposted at BlueIndiana)