Rep. Paul Kanjorski, the 73-year-old, 13-term Democrat from eastern Pennsylvania, looks to be having a rough reelection bid and a new poll bears that out. Kanjorski is facing Hazelton, Pa. mayor Lou Barletta for the third time, and Kanjorski has been having a gaffe-prone year.
Now a new poll, albeit from a Republican firm, shows Kanjorski trailing Barletta 52 percent to 41 percent.
The poll covered a dozen House districts in the eastern U.S. conducted for the conservative American Action Forum (players include Jeb Bush, former Sen. Norm Coleman, and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge) finds big opportunities for Republicans on Democratic turf.
The survey hit 400 voters in Democrat-held districts in Connecticut, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. And while the GOP-leaning pollsters behind the survey were cherry-picking districts, the numbers are still striking.
In only two of the districts - Connecticut's 5th (Northwest: Danbury, New Britain and Litchfield), represented by freshman Rep. Tim Murphy and West Virginia's 3rd (South: Huntington, Beckley and Bluefield) represented by 17-term Rep. Nick Joe Rahall - did the Democrat have a substantial lead. In both cases the lead was about 10 points - low for a longtime incumbent like Rahall.Four of the districts had Democrats holding on to leads in or near the polls' margin of error -- Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., Rep. Scott Murphy, D-N.Y.; Rep. Bill Owens, D-N.Y., and Rep. Dan Maffei, D-N.Y. Himes and Maffei were both elected in 2008 and Murphy and Owens hail from the neighboring upstate New York Districts where Democrats won 2009 special elections.
In the other six races, the Democrats were behind:*Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-Fla. (-3)*Rep. Mark Critz, D-Pa. (-4)*Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Va. (-5)*Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa. (-11)*Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pa. (-14)*Rep. Chris Carney, D-Pa. (-15)Of all these, it's Kanjorski that shows me just how rough the year is shaping up to be for Democrats.
The other five are all newbies - Carney is a sophomore, the other three are freshmen. It's not surprising to see their districts swinging back to red. But Kanjorski's district is safe Democratic, true-blue, Union territory.
Kanjorski, is the number two Democrat on the House Financial Service Committee and played a big part in crafting Wall Street legislation. He got in trouble for expressing his concern that an increasing number of welfare recipients are "average, good American people" who are "not minorities and they're not defective." Kanjorski also won some enemies in his football-crazed district for being the only member of the state's congressional delegation who did not back the nomination of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno for a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
But Kanjorski has survived gaffe-filled years against the very same opponent before. If Paul Kanjorski is in real trouble, then Democrats had better buckle their chinstraps.