The NY Times published a piece today about Pennsylvania Democrats who are warning their party that nominating either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren for president would help ensure Trump would win the state in 2020. But this isn’t a vague concern about electability. This is something very specific. Pennsylvania lieutenant governor John Fetterman and Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto both believe the national fracking ban Warren and Sanders are promising would wipe out hundreds of thousands of local jobs if it were enacted. They say the “leave it in the ground” message is a loser in the state:
“In Pennsylvania, you’re talking hundreds of thousands of related jobs that would be — they would be unemployed overnight,” said Mr. Fetterman, who endorsed Mr. Sanders in 2016 before Donald J. Trump won his state, pop. 12.8 million, by just over 44,000 votes. “Pennsylvania is a margin play,” he added. “And an outright ban on fracking isn’t a margin play.”
Mr. Peduto said “the Warren-Sanders, ban-all-fracking-right-now” position would “absolutely devastate communities throughout the Rust Belt” and pit environmentalists against workers at a time when Democrats need both.
“If a candidate comes into this state and tries to sell that policy, they’re going to have a hard time winning,” he said…
A November poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Cook Political Report found that only 39 percent of Pennsylvania swing voters saw a fracking ban as a good idea, even as nearly 7 in 10 of those same voters said they supported the idea of a “Green New Deal” for the environment.
State Representative Robert F. Matzie, also a Democrat, told the Times that no candidate running on a fracking ban could win the state. “He’s quite frankly probably the only guy you could stand onstage with in Beaver County,” Matzie said, referring to Joe Biden.
The Times points out that the number of jobs connected to renewable energy in the state (about 90,000) is still greater than the number directly working on fracking (about 30,000), but the industry claims a lot more jobs (over 350,000) are dependent on those 30,000 jobs. In any case, the point is that Trump isn’t campaigning on a plan that would wipe out the 90,000 renewable jobs overnight. But Warren and Sanders are threatening the 30,000 fracking jobs with elimination. That’s a tough sell to people in the rust belt who have seen what happens when major industries disappear.
The Times spoke to a group of union members, all Democrats, who said they supported Hillary Clinton in the last election. “If we end up with a Democratic candidate that supports a fracking ban, I’m going to tell my members that they either don’t vote or vote for the other guy,” one of the union members told the Times. Are Democrats listening?