Thursday, June 21, 2012

Democrats Skipping National Convention, Seek to Distance Themselves From Obama

At least a half dozen elected Democrats announced that they will not be attending the party's upcoming national Convention at Charlotte, NC in September.

The latest no-shows who made the announcement came from two incumbent Representatives from Upstate New York who are trying to get re-elected in competitive districts.

Congressman Bill Owens [D- NY23] and Kathy Hochul [D- NY26] announced separately that they would be spending time in their respective districts and with their campaigns in lieu of attending the party's gathering in the Tarheel state. The two upstate Democrats' announced their decision a day after Pennsylvania Congressman [D- PA12] told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he would be campaigning in lieu of attending the DNC's convention this September. The April Keystone state primary pitted two Democrat incumbents- Critz and Jason Altmire [D- PA4]- against each other to vie for the newly-redrawn congressional district. Critz fended off the challenge from Altmire by winning they newly-formed district's primary by a 52% margin.

Critz, Owens and Hochul each came into office during closely contested special elections since 2009 and all three of them are facing spirited challenges from Republican opposition in their districts, leading many to observe that they're distancing themselves from President Obama for their 2012 campaigns.

Meanwhile, the Democrat delegation from the Mountain State will be under-represented as Democrat governor Earl Ray Tomblin, US Senator Joe Manchin and Congressman Nick Rahall [D- WV3] all announced they would be skipping out on the DNC convention. The three West Virginia Democrats have criticized Obama's energy policies as effectively bankrupting the coal-producing state. Under the Obama Administration, the EPA has ordered the shutdown of dozens of coal-fired power plants and during the closing days of the 2008 Presidential campaign, Obama had promised that energy prices would skyrocket while he would bankrupt the coal industry.

Critz, Manchin, Tomblin and Rahall all represent coal producing regions while Owens and Hochul's districts could benefit from natural gas exploration on the Marcellus shale should New York state ever lift a moratorium on hyrdo-fracking. Despite being abundant and domestically available energy sources, President Obama, the Democrats and their environmentalist backers have demonstrated an inherent antipathy towards fossil fuels- including coal and natural gas- as a cornerstone of their energy policy.

In late May, prominent Democrats such as former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, Newark, NJ mayor Corey Booker and Massachusetts governor DeVal Patrick were rebuked by the White House after they were critical of the Obama campaign's attacks on private equity firm Bain Capital as a means of going after presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

The convention venue itself is a point of contention among some Democrats. Although North Carolina is a right-to-work state, local officials agreed to outsource some labor contracts to out-of-state union shops. Last month, Tarheel state voters approved an amendment to the state's constitution that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. The move draw ire from the gay community, who had unsuccessfully petitioned the DNC to change venues.

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