Finally, the Delaware County GOP Machine thought it was safe to go back in the waters of congressional politics. Popular incumbent Joe Sestak decided to run for Senate, and the party bosses had successfully "persuaded" millionaire businessman Steve Welch to run in another district so that Pat Meehan would be unopposed for the Republican nomination.
But a rogue wave has appeared out of nowhere, as another rival seems poised to drop anchor.
Sources have told "Freindly Fire" that Dawn Stensland, a fixture on Philadelphia television news stations for over a decade, much of it as an anchor, is seriously considering a bid for Congress in the 7th District — as a Republican.
What could such a move mean for Meehan, former U.S. Attorney and more recently a candidate for governor? Plenty — and none of it good.
Stensland’s candidacy would generate an immediate buzz around the region, and not just because she is the wife of former anchor Larry Mendte, who has had his share of the negative limelight in the last year and a half. The novelty of the Stensland-Mendte situation spilling into politics would make headlines for a week or two, but a serious and aggressive Stensland campaign has the ability to throw the Meehan effort way off track.
Dawn would enter the fray as a household figure, with higher name recognition than Meehan himself. Complicating matters for the Delco Establishment is that television anchors are no longer seen as simply journalists, but celebrities with a personal connection to the viewer. People have "let Dawn Stensland" into their homes for years, making her potential candidacy one that would hit the ground sprinting.
Can she raise the money? Where does she fall on the political spectrum? Is she tough enough to wage a battle with the big boys? How can Meehan attack her without seeming like a "bully", a la Joe Biden dealing with Sarah Palin? Would otherwise GOP-faithful jump ship if they saw an alternative to Meehan?
These are all questions whose answers will unfold should Ms. Stensland decide to plunge into politics.
But several things are certain: Dawn Stensland is a charismatic and articulate public speaker, known to captivate audiences. Her candidacy would earn hundreds of thousands in free publicity. And her compelling life story, combined with her attractiveness as a "outsider" candidate running against the Establishment, makes a primary election run viable from the outset.
A lot has to happen before the Republican race in the 7th could be characterized as one for the ages, but this potential storyline doesn’t get much more intriguing.
Chris Freind, author of "Freindly Fire," is an independent columnist and investigative reporter whose readers hail from six continents, thirty countries, and all fifty states. He can be reached at [email protected]