Sunday, February 14, 2016

Casey and Change

You don't see much change in politics or politicians. Sen. Bob Casey is proving to be an exception to that rule.

Casey and Change

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

As someone who, after a quarter-century of covering politics and government, has very little faith in real policy change for the better, I must say I'm impressed with Sen. Bob Casey's change on guns.

"After Newtown, I made a substantial shift in my positions," Casey says.

This was during the 7 a.m. hour on Monday's edition of "Morning Joe" on the MSNBC cable news network. You can watch it here.

Casey stressed his support for congressional votes on an assault-weapons ban, limiting magazine clips and adopting universal background checks.

This comes from a Pennsylvania pol born and raised in the Keystone State's long-entrenched trifecta for electoral sucess -- pro-life, pro-labor, pro-gun -- in a state with nearly a million hunters.

But it also comes from a pol who's career, and that of his late father's, is rooted in working for children in issues such as early education, health-care and health insurance coverage.

So it makes sense that the slaughter in Newtown touched him deeply enough to pull away from past allegience to the NRA.

The change is not without risk. As Casey correctly pointed out Monday morning, he'll get heat from pro-gun constitutents for abandoning a core tenet of his politics and he'll get heat from gun-control advocates asking what took so long.

Former Gov. Rendell, appearing with Casey on the program, noted Pennsylvania has the second highest NRA membership among the states.

But Casey argued the measures to be considered have nothing to do with talking guns from anyone or impacting hunting or limiting self- and home-protection.

"I think it's time to act," the state's senior senator said.

I have little, nearly no faith that Congress will pass new gun laws; and zero faith that, if it doesn't, Pennsylvania will. But it gives me some hope that at least one higher-office Pennsylvania incumbent is showing some common sense, some willingness to rethink a core position -- and some guts. 

Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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