KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Pennsylvania is once again the focus of the national political discussions and scrutiny.
A state that many political analysts say could shift the balance of power in Washington.
Tuesday MSNBC “Meet the Press Daily” broadcasted live from Wilkes-Barre to talk about the impact Pennsylvania and specifically Luzerne County could have on the mid-term elections. While looking forward to the next presidential election.
Luzerne County is considered a bellwether county when it comes to the balance of power in Washington. We spoke with the host of “Meet the Press Daily” Chuck Todd about this election year.
“Andy, Trump’s political organization is quite active in Pennsylvania. They did re-registration in 2016 and 2020. Are you seeing he’s able to flip the state for Oz? Todd asked.
“I think he can. We are a week away from the May 17 primary and in a political world that’s a blink of an eye,” Mehalshick replied.
Eyewitness news then talked one on one with Todd after the hour-long live broadcast and the race for U.S. Senate was one hot-button topic.
“Chuck, Luzerne County, and NEPA how crucial do you view Luzerne County again in this election and the presidential election two years away,” Mehalshick asked.
“Well look especially if Fetterman is the Democratic nominee, I’m very curious can he sort of, we’ve seen Luzerne County is clearly moving away a lot of union-heavy culturally conservative areas and have been moving toward the Republicans. Fetterman is trying to be a different type of Democrat. So look I think a lot of Democrats thought Biden was going to be able to slow the erosion with him being at the top of the ticket. I didn’t see the same evidence. Yes, they carried Pennsylvania but I’d argue they carried it because they did really well in the Philadelphia area. I don’t know if he really you know, he didn’t lose any more support which was important you know? To stop the bleeding so in a sense, I’m really curious can Fetterman change the trajectory that we’ve been watching,” Todd stated.
“A week away from the Primary of the Republican side Dr. Oz, McCormick, Barrette, how do you see that race-ending? Mehalshick asked.
“Well, it’s funny for a while I’ve been waiting for this sort of third candidate phenomenon it’s something we’ve seen in plenty of primaries. I’ve seen over the last 30 years where you’ll have two front runners beating the daylights out of each other at some point voters get turned off and you watch these ad campaigns and they are some third candidate benefit. I think some follows through that could be, Jeff Bartos or Carla Sands, it turns out it was Kathy Barnette. But the point is this is a familiar phenomenon to me and I would not rule her out. I think it looks like a three-way race and you know about Oz and McCormick have the same issue, which seems to benefit Barnette. Are they really Pennsylvanians and that they haven’t shaken it. Now Donald Trump’s Pennsylvania organizations of all the state’s party organizations, Pennsylvania is the strongest so I don’t think if he flips the switch it could be enough for Oz but to me, I’d be more surprised if McCormick pulls it off, feels like I’d rather be Oz or Barnette than McCormick right now,” Todd explained.
“Going into November whatever Democrat or Republican candidate should the dinner table issues people really care about,” asked Mehalshick.
“I don’t think so, you’re not going to win a race ignoring it. I do think the abortion decision is giving democrats a turnout energy issue that they didn’t have before right now all the energy looked like it was on the republican side. I do think that decision, assuming it’s going the way the leak said, is a way to fire up their base levels on the playing field. But ultimately I do think at the end of the day for a Democrat to succeed in this economic environment they are going to have to make the case. Hey, there policies everything would have been worse had they not enacted these policies. Who can make that case? Can they generate? I think it’s a tough case to make but if you can pull it off I think you have to address it. You can’t sit here and hope and wish it away, it’s not going to happen,” Todd said.
“Using your crystal ball, Dr. Oz loses the Republican nomination, what does that say about the strength of Trump especially here in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” Mehalshick inquired.
“Well I think you know it’s interesting was important he got his first win in Ohio and I do think the loss, if Oz loses it, will be a reminder it’s that ‘Trumpism’ is it matters a lot in the Republican party, but more than Trump himself. I mean if McCormick, Barnette, or Oz are the nominees it’s not as if they are running against Trump right they are all trying to run towards Trumpism. So I think actually it’s more of a reflection on Dr. Oz that Trump is not enough. You can’t just come out of nowhere without any sort of connectivity to the state and just parachute in. You know parachute in, you know McCormick has a long little more connectivity to the state than Oz does and that might be helping him more than that but I think an Oz loss is more about Oz than it is about Trump,” said Todd.
“One final question here in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania people see the national media as we saw in 2016. What’s so crucial about this county? Mehalshick asked.
“Well, part of it is Joe Biden. This is the region where Joe Biden grew up. Part of it is Joe Biden. The fact that I can already drive on the Biden Expressway, you guys moved fast on that one in the area. I think it really is more about I think, to be frank, it’s the closest area to the big media capitols of D.C. and New York where you see this phenomenon of basically the economic popular swing of Democratic party shifting to Republican and I think you see much more happening around the country, this is what’s happening all over. The shift in the industrial midwest, the rust belt, and seeing Union County infer union county that big Democratic county’s in the ’50s ’60s ’70s and ’80s all showed slight erosion in the Clinton years and now it’s like a gusher right now turning to Trump. So can Democrats stop it in certain places? Luzerne is a pretty good test case,” explained Todd.
Meet the Press Daily is traveling around the state talking with voters, community leaders, and of course voters to try to get a measure of what might happen next week when the votes are counted.