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Accidentally lending Pennsylvania Democrats a hand

Mark Mardell | 21:09 UK time, Thursday, 4 November 2010

Oh, the irony of politics.

I hear a report from Murrysville in the state of Pennsylvania that a Republican campaigner against healthcare reform is kicking herself because she may have saved Democrats a seat.

Jason_Altmire.jpg"I spoke to Jill Cooper in a diner near the William Penn Highway in March, where she told me how furious she was about healthcare. Ms Cooper went on to organise a protest outside Congressman Jason Altmire's office. After a lot of public agonising, he decided to vote against healthcare, and Ms Cooper reckons that may have saved his political skin.

The Democratic friend I interviewed with her, John Cicco, has written to me saying that since my visit to Pennsylvania, "Jill has been elected the Chair of the Murrysville Republican Committee".

And on 2 November, each Republican on the ballot, including governors, US senators and state representatives, replaced a Democrat, with Murrysville providing large margins in its support, Mr Cicco added.

The only Democrat on the ballot who survived the Republican landslide was Jason Altmire," he said.

"We laughed about it, but he waited and waited until he knew his vote didn't matter. He should have been a leader and told other Democrats that it was a bad idea, but changing his vote kept him safe," Ms Cooper told me.

This upset aside, Ms Cooper is exultant about election night. She says 2 November represents a big change and the people elected to Congress have to realise that.

"Most people are now more engaged, Democrat and Republican. They're talking about running for local office. During Bush we, I, fell asleep but now we've wised up. They call it [the] Tea Party, but I call it engaged citizens, Republican, Democrat or Independent. We are saying to the new people, 'We trust you.' The Republicans have a second chance. Lower the taxes. Cut spending. But we are not going to fall asleep again," she said.


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