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Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chair Jim Burn recently vowed a more robust messaging campaign out of Party HQ attacking Gov. Tom Corbett, and Pennsylvania's Republican legislators in the swamps on the Potomac and Susquehanna. True to form, within hours of the third roll call vote of the 112th Congress, the party communications apparatus was in full swing, alerting reporters that freshmen Reps. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, and Lou Barletta, R-Hazelton, had skipped out on a crucial vote and thus were derelict in their electoral duties.

"By skipping votes one of their very first votes, Mike Kelly and Lou Barletta already let down their constituents and they had not even made it through the first day," Burn said in a news release. "The people of Pennsylvania sent Lou Barletta and Mike Kelly to Congress to fix the problems facing the commonwealth and the country, but Mike Kelly and Lou Barletta did not even bother to show up. Yesterday, Mike Kelly and Lou Barletta let down their constituents, and they have got their careers in Congress off to a disgraceful start. Mike Kelly and Lou Barletta should be ashamed of themselves."

As promised, the Dems were aggressive and immediate. But were they stretching it too far?

First off, the release is factually inaccurate. It states that Kelly and Barletta missed "the vote on the House rules package - a set of procedures that will guide all of the business undertaken by the House of Representatives over the next two years." In fact, they skipped a procedural vote related to the rules package that dealt with allowing delegates from the District of Columbia and the territories certain voting rights. Both men arrived in time to vote for the rules package itself, as shown here.

Also, the aforementioned missed vote was an unexpected one. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, of D.C., offered a motion out of the blue, prompting Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., to quickly counter with a motion to table it. Caught off-guard, members had to rush back to the chamber to cast their votes -- but 20 didn't make it in time, Kelly and Barletta among them.

The word from Kelly's office was that he was off-site meeting with supporters who had come down from Northwest Pennsylvania to celebrate his first day as a Congressman. Normally he wouldn't be hard to reach, a spokeswoman said, but the House has yet to issue functioning BlackBerrys -- the manna and constant companion of Congressmen and staff -- so they weren't able to get word to Kelly in time and he missed the vote.

Kelly learned a few valuable freshman lessons: 1. Never stray too far when a vote can arise at any time; 2. A Congressman has to be reachable always; and 3. There is no beginning or end to political season. But the Pennsylvania Dems should at least check their facts.

obamaphilly

Maybe it's because he visits so damn much?

We told you this morning about Rick Santorum's abysmal numbers in his home state in a theoretical matchup against President Barack Obama in 2012. Public Policy Polling's second data dump this afternoon reveals that he's about in the middle of the pack of top presidential contenders in the key swing state -- and no one is beating POTUS at this early stage.

Proud Tar Heel Tom Jensen's polling firm has the numbers in hypothetical matchups:

Mike Huckabee, trailing 47-44 and Mitt Romney, trailing 46-42 are both within the margin of error against Obama and appear they would make the state much more competitive than John McCain did when he lost by 10 points in 2008.

The other two leading Republicans would see about the same fate as McCain in the case of Newt Gingrich - who trails 50-40 - or a much worse one in the case of Sarah Palin who trails Obama 51-36. The last time a Republican candidate lost Pennsylvania by a margin that large was Barry Goldwater in 1964. We also tested Rick Santorum as a home state candidate and his performance falls somewhere in the middle, trailing 48-40.

The numbers are a potentially damaging sign of how Mrs. TLC will perform outside of Tea Party country. Also interesting to the pollsters was how Obama is holding onto the state's independents:

The most striking thing in the Pennsylvania poll might be the independents. Exit polls in the state last year showed Pat Toomey winning them by 10 points in the Senate race and Tom Corbett with an 18 point advantage with them in the Gubernatorial contest. But Obama has a double digit lead with them against every single one of the Republicans - 12 points over Huckabee, 18 over Palin and Romney, and 20 over Gingrich and Santorum. That's a pretty clear early sign that the strong Republican advantage with independents in 2010 was more of a one time thing than the beginning of a long term trend.

A WVa court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether to hold a special gubernatorial election to replace Joe Manchin this year, or hold off until next. Unions are calling for an election immediately but acting Gov. and state Senate president Earl Ray Tomblin would like to hold it in 2012. (WV Record/Politico)

UPDATE: Tomblin's latest plan is asking voters to approve a new Lt. Gov. position, and have that official take over when the governor's seat is vacated. (This wouldn't solve the immediate issue, however.)

Presidential numbers are ugly for Rick Santorum here in Pa, according to Public Policy Polling -- not only does he trail fellow Republicans in a hypothetical primary matchup, but he trails Obama too:

-Only 38% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of him to 44% with a negative one. His numbers are particularly bad with independents whose ratings of him break down 30/54.

-Santorum trails Barack Obama 48-40 in a hypothetical contest, despite the fact that Obama's approval numbers in Pennsylvania continue to be under water. Most striking are a 20 point advantage for Obama with independents and the fact that he pulls 79% of Democrats while only 72% of Republicans are committed to Santorum.

-Most worrisome for Santorum are his GOP primary numbers though. The 54% of home state Republicans with a favorable opinion of him is well behind the 64% who like Mike Huckabee and the 63% who like Sarah Palin, equal to the percentage who like Newt Gingrich, and just a hair above the 52% who like Mitt Romney.

(h/t GrassrootsPa)

You knew this was coming. The National Republican Congressional Committee hits Johnstown Democrat Mark Critz for his vote in support of Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader:

Washington— Despite America's resounding rejection of the failed policies forced on the American people over the last four years, Mark Critz showed that it's business as usual in Washington today as he voted to keep former Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. In handing Pelosi the leadership of their party and voting to keep her in charge of the House, Democrats have proven that they plan to completely ignore any lessons from the midterm elections and will continue to advocate for the same job-killing policies that have contributed to America's economic decline.

"This vote is symbolic of the complete disregard Mark Critz has for the American people and the message they sent in November," said NRCC Communications Director Paul Lindsay. "With this first vote, Critz's constituents can clearly foresee that he will continue to support the same job-killing and big-spending policies rejected by the American people at the ballot box. Instead of learning from the midterm elections and listening to voters, Democrats have rehired the one person who may be most responsible for the reckless agenda that has left middle-class families with fewer jobs and mountains of debt."


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