As you may know, Blue America has endorsed progressive activist Alexandra Hunt for the Philly congressional seat, currently occupied by corrupt status quo hack Dwight Evans. Conveniently, another candidate inserted himself-- with less than $5,000 in his campaign account-- into the race. A rather quietly announced candidate for Pennsylvania’s 3rd congressional district appears to be another source of establishment tactic to take down insurgent campaigns. If you're a regular DWT reader, you already know that establishment Democrats all over the country have been utilizing a tactic of recruiting a "progressive" candidate to run against their competitive insurgent opponent in order to confuse voters and divide the vote, ultimately conceding to the establishment’s hold on a district. It is unethical, bad practice, and in Austin Rodill’s case, poorly concealed.
For starters, Rodill’s website is an exact duplicate of Brigid Callahan Harrison’s website. Harrison ran in New Jersey’s 2nd district during the 2020 cycle and lost to Amy Kennedy in the Democratic primary. If you click on Rodill’s "About" page, it links directly to her website. She was a mediocre South Jersey machine candidate-- a machine very much related to Dwight Evans' Philly machine.
Recruiting candidates to confuse and dissuade voters is a common tactic especially used by Florida politicians, and not just Democrats. Sex trafficker Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is currently being sued for it, but Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) was long the queen of this tactic, using it even to protect Republican buddies of hers. It’s essentially "rigging the process and stacking the deck" or "smoke and mirrors." However, discouraging authentic primary challenges is a completely undemocratic process.
Primary challenges to incumbent politicians-- especially in what amounts to one-party districts like PA-03-- demonstrate that party affiliation is not enough and can push the incumbent in one direction or another. Primary challenges show how party building in a democracy ought to work-- from the ground up. The key measure of a politician’s suitability for office should not be the promises they make on the campaign trail, but the candidate’s track record of seeing social movements as vital partners in governing.
Let’s be clear, there’s nothing democratic about planting a candidate in a race to divide voters. Sorry, Austin, it looks like you’re just a pawn in the messy, vicious game of politics.