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Hart Attack

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Missy vs. Jason: the grudge match. Welcome to the sequel, coming to a voting booth near you in 2008.

Melissa Hart had been sailing along in the 4th Congressional District as its congresswoman since the legendary stolen-election year of 2000. Hart did not have to steal her election, and the last thing she expected was that her friend would steal the seat out from under her in 2006.

Actually, Jason Altmire didn’t really steal it. He just campaigned like a crazy bastard and ran in a year when anti-Bush fever was starting to really catch fire.

But imagine if you were a congressperson who happened to be good friends with the Altmires across the street. Your kids played with their kids. One of the grownups who dropped by was Jason, a lobbyist for UPMC, with whom you became friendly. You even worked with him on some health-care issues.

Then one day Jason decided to run against you. You’d teach that punk kid a thing or two. That pipsqueak didn’t know who he was fucking with.

Well, Altmire fucked with Melissa Hart, and at the end if the day, she’s the one who got screwed. At least that’s how she sees it.

In a recent interview with KDKA-TV’s Jon Delano, Hart claimed that she was the victim of negative campaigning and an effective tactic of nationalizing the local election. I have a different take. I think there are a lot of regular folks in Western PA, and the regular folk have a good bullshit detector. And part of that bullshit detector allows them to smell arrogance a mile away. It’s one reason my buddy Cyril Wecht lost to Jim Roddey for Allegheny County executive in 1999. And Hart, both Dems and Republicans will tell you, became shockingly more arrogant as time went on.

That’s why I don’t think she even conceived of a possible loss to the upstart/former friend Altmire. That’s why I believe she decided to run again about five minutes after she realized she lost. Missy is not just disappointed. She’s not just humbled. (Actually, I don’t think she’s humbled at all.) She’s freaking pissed.

Missy told Delano she didn’t get a chance to “get to substance” in the 2006 campaign. Hey, welcome to modern campaigning: Whether you get there or not, few people pay attention, unless their individual ox is being gored. Most just watch the television ads, catch a little bit of the TV news, breeze through some of the newspaper coverage, and make their decision.

Missy was reminded that Altmire accused her of voting with President Bush 98 percent of the time. “Of what relevance is that,” she sniffed, “on what particular issues?” Jesus H. Christ. If you vote with someone 98 percent of the time, do you really need an issue-by-issue breakdown to prove that you’re a freaking rubber stamp? Missy was also put on the House Ethics Committee by former Speaker Denny Hastert and her old buddy and fund-raiser pal Tommy “the Hammer” Delay. Those are two guys who appreciate the value of a quality rubber stamp.

As to her notion that this local election was nationalized, wars gets pretty local when neighborhood boys and girls start coming home in boxes. And when your congresswoman continues to spew Dubya-like rhetoric as if this disaster is a good thing, it’s easy to figure out that she has to go. Not to mention the I-know-it-all, my-way-or-the-highway hubris that emerged from that infamously sour puss.

Hart declined to criticize Altmire by name during the Delano interview, but I don’t doubt she’s going to go negative big-time. She claims that she was advised by politicos and colleagues to go negative, but acts as if she’s above that kind of campaign. That’s crap. She tried the keep-above-the-fray strategy, which works if you’re way ahead. Which she was. But she ignored polls showing the political quicksand she was standing in, and she sank fast.

During the Delano interview, Hart mentioned the “designation of I-376” that she got done with President Bush as a legislative accomplishment. This is what she’s clinging to? Boys in a box vs. an official highway designation?

Missy’s going down again. She’s wasting her time. And I’ll be enjoying every minute of it.

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