In the 2006 election fundraising battle, Senator Rick Santorum leads his Democratic rival, Bob Casey, by nearly $10 million. But apparently, Casey is feeling secure enough to turn donations away.
Syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage sent the Casey campaign a check for $2,100, the maximum individual donation allowed under campaign finance law. Savage had previously contributed an unsavory alternate definition for the word "Santorum": "the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex." Savage took some heat from readers for supporting a pro-life candidate, but countered in his column that it's more important to unseat Santorum.
"Electing one or two pro-life Dems is the price we're going to have to pay to put reliably pro-choice Dems in positions of power all over the Senate," Savage wrote at the time. "So [supporting] Casey is a pragmatic, progressive, pro-choice bankshot."
But it's one that bounced back on Savage.
Savage's column this week, on page 73 of this issue, acknowledges being "miffed" at Casey's decision. In his blog, Savage writes that the day his donation arrived, a Casey staffer called to thank him. But weeks later, he got the call that the check was being returned.
Savage instead sent the money to Philadelphians Against Santorum, whose director, Ray Murphy, says, "We're proud to accept his money, and ... we'll smear Santorum like no one else in Philly can."
Still, Murphy is puzzled about why Casey passed on the contribution. It's unlikely Santorum would object to the money, Murphy contends: "If Santorum would ever go after Casey on it, he'd have to deal with what the word has come to mean."
Larry Smar, spokesperson for the Casey campaign, says that controversial and vulgar content in the column and on Savage's anti-Santorum Web site, www.spreadingsantorum.com, led to the decision to return the contribution. He wouldn't elaborate further on the decision ... declining to answer questions about whether the move was part of keeping a clean campaign, or whether it might alienate young voters.
Santorum campaign spokesperson Erica Clayton Wright called returning the check "a PR stunt" and says it "demonstrates how sly and sneaky Bobby Casey really is."