Will opponents dub turnpike-leasing plan “Dubai, Chapter II?” Some political analysts believe they have found the silver bullet to kill off Gov. Ed Rendell’s proposed turnpike-leasing plan. While voters support the idea in principle, many of the major companies that bid for such leases are foreign companies. Some politicos report that when voters are asked if they favor leasing their infrastructure to “foreign companies,” that proposal “becomes as popular as the pay raise.” In Indiana, House Republicans lost two seats to the Democrats, in elections analysts said turned on the turnpike-leasing vote by the Republican incumbents. The two Indiana House members lost after they supported Gov. Mitch Daniels’ plan to lease a toll road in their state for 75 years for $3.8 billion. Those two seats cost the Indiana House GOP control of that chamber, according to newspaper accounts. Political analysts also cite the public outcry when the Bush administration initially approved a plan to let a Dubai-based Arab company run several U.S. ports. The Bush administration had to retreat and persuade the Arab company to sell the ports because the issue became too controversial.
Commonwealth Foundation response:
FYI…per the Under the Dome blurb on the Turnpike…the two House members that lost were NOT near the toll road but they were in favor of the MORE CONTENTIOUS time zone change effort. More importantly, the two house members who lost were in the two congressional districts that switched from Republican to Democrat. Similar to every other state in the nation, the Democratic wave (and the strong anti-Republican sentiments) are more responsible for those losses than was the toll road deal. Although the Under the Dome blurb is both factually and analytically incorrect on that front, it was certainly correct about xenophobia being alive and well in this debate.
The converse of that is that “the Indiana GOP lost only 2 house seats after leasing the toll road”. Which rather than scare off Pennsylvania Republicans, should make them think “damn, we should have done that last year too.”