Senator Bob Casey endorsed Barrack Obama for President this morning and I am very surprised on a couple of fronts as I would have thought that he was a more natural fit for Hillary Clinton's base of support and agenda. Casey is the ultimate Blue Collar Democrat and the 2006 field was cleared for him on the theory that he could do very well (for a Democrat) in the mountainous regions of the state which is the base Republican areas. And he did that, but I still have the question of a counterfactual that any Democrat with a pulse and no necrophiliac tendencies could have done well in 2006 versus Santorum, but that is an argument for another day.
Mike Tedesco of Comments from Left Field, who did a lot of work for Chuck Pennachio (I did some policy writing for Chuck, but Mike worked his tail off), Casey's much more liberal primary challenger in 2006, has a great piece of analysis on the Casey endorsement and some history.
If you are a long time reader of Comments you will recall that Bob Casey played the role of DSCC insider in the 2006 Pennsylvania Senate primary to choose a Democratic candidate to unseat Rick Santorum He was pitted against an unknown insurgent liberal party outsider (and my candidate) Chuck Pennacchio. At the time the struggle I faced was in convincing my party-insider friends that Chuck was a viable candidate. Sadly, it was not to be mainly because of the huge support Casey received from the Pennsylvania Democratic party establishment in the form of Governor Ed Rendell, Senator Chuck Schumer and all the hundreds of committee people spread across the state who vote their loyalties.
Today, that same party establishment is now split with Schumer and Rendell riding on Clinton's bandwagon and their golden boy, the man they called the future of the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania, Bob Casey coming out for Obama.
At minimum, this will allow some party insiders who may have wanted to support Obama but had no self-serving (self preserving) reason to do so in the form of party support to now take that leap of faith. It also says to to my old friends in PA, those folks that make up the PUMP Democrats, who are you going to support the old guard, or the new?
Casey's endorsement is a surprise and is very valuable to Obama because he can serve as a validator for conservative Democrats in the central part of the state that Obama is okay. If Casey appears at Obama's side and says he is a going to be a good president willing to listen to conservative Democrats, this is a very credible and valuable validation. It will not allow Obama to win central state congressional districts as Casey does not have much of an organization still on the ground, but it will help Obama keep the margins and thus the delegate counts close.