Salena Zito | Yes, Pennsylvania Really Is Up for Grabs

Bucks County is no sure thing for Romney. It is your classic Philadelphia “collar county” that swung to Obama in 2008 and back to Republicans in the gubernatorial, U.S. Senate and U.S. House races of 2010. It is a mix of suburban neighborhoods, rural farms and pockets of manufacturing — a haven for Philadelphians seeking a home outside the city.

It is no sure thing for Obama, either: Recently released election results from April’s primary show that 100,000 Democrats across the state opted not to vote for the president while casting votes for other Democrats. In Bucks County, 2,000 left the Obama ballot unchecked.

Obama held a town-hall meeting here in April 2011, part of a short-lived tour promoting his “clean energy” platform; he visited Gamesa Wind USA in Fairless Hills, where mighty U.S. Steel once had a massive steel-production campus.

Not mentioned at that event was that the foreign-owned wind-turbine manufacturer operated largely because of a $22.8 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That stimulus money followed $10 million in grants, loans and tax credits from the Rendell administration to establish three plants promising to create 1,250 jobs within seven years.

So far, the company has underperformed by more than 400 jobs. Last week, it scrapped its third wind-turbine installation in a month, claiming uncertainty due to the possible end of federal tax credits that have facilitated wind-power development for more than 10 years.

Wind provides less than 1 percent of the state’s energy needs — so that’s the kind of thing that causes Bucks County swing-voters to give Romney a good, hard look. Especially when he talks about energy jobs in shale, coal and natural gas that promise prosperity across the state.

 

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