Holden, Altmire Bite the Dust

Newcomer Matt Cartwright stunned Blue Dog Tim Holden and Mark Critz bounced Blue Dog Jason Altmire out of Congress tonight.  This is progress for Pennsylvania.  Ironically Holden loved his new District map so much he twisted arms in the state legislature to approve the redistricting.  It cost him his seat.

In other races Kathleen Kane will lose to david Freed in  November, Gene Stilp won in PA-11 to challenge Lou Barletta using, as he Tweeted, grassroots and social media.  Rick Daugherty defeated Jackson Eaton in PA-15.

Erin Molchany won the nomination for the 22nd State House seat, Marty Schmotzer will take the seat until January and various other races are still close.  My friend Joe Haas swept to victory in House 187 over Bill Bispels who really didn’t mount a campaign,  

CD 12 Endorsement

One of the fiercest battles this year has been the fight between current Congressional incumbents Jason Altmire and Mark Critz in the redrawn 12th Congressional District.  Since Pennsylvania lost a seat due to the census Republicans packaged these two men together in the new 12th.  Altmire is a very conservative Democrat who defeated radical right Representative Melissa Hart for his seat.  Critz inherited his when Jack Murtha passed away.

Jason Altmire is someone who votes with Republicans most of the time on key issues, in key votes.  His Democratic credentials are more questionable even than Tim Holden’s.  In fact he makes Tim look like a liberal.  I cannot support someone with such a right wing voting record.

Mark Critz has been a staunch supporter of Labor though and has a more moderate voting record.  He is not a progressive by any stretch of the imagination though.  The shenanigans surrounding his election in a special election still hang over him but he is the better choice in this conservative region of Pennsylvania.  I won’t endorse him because he is not a progressive but there is a clear choice in this race for union workers and their families.

News & Notes April 10, 2012

State Representative Dante Santoni Jr. has endorsed Democrat Mark Rozzi to succeed him in the 126th (my) District.  This is significant not only because Dante is the incumbent but because it is a clear break from his mentor Tom Caltagirone who is supporting Frank Denbowski.  I see far more Rozzi signs in yards in the District, maybe 10-1.  This is a safe Democratic seat with a tea bagger running on the GOP side so the primary will determine the winner.

The interesting 22nd District is also seeing a clear front runner in Erin Molchany.  Pittsburgh City Councilman Bruce Kraus is her latest endorsement.  Mark Schotzer, anointed by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party in the special election, admittedly stole $50,000 from Allegheny County taxpayers and failed to pay $25,000 to the IRS the last time he was in public office.

David Axelrod was home in Philadelphia to endorse Patrick Murphy for Attorney General.  The former Congressman knows President Obama well and worked with him while in Washington.  Murphy also secured the endorsement of the Pennsylvania National Organization for Women,  significant because his primary opponent is Kathleen Kane.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will be at Penn tomorrow on their Joining Forces Anniversary Tour.

Mark Critz and Jason Altmire held a debate in Johnstown illustrating why neither is a progressive.  They argued over balanced budget amendments, illegal immigration and funding for Planned Parenthood.  Meanwhile a woman has launched an attack website against Critz foe refusing to support her against her allegations of women being raped while serving in the military.  Critz sits on the Armed Services Committee.

Rick Santorum has an event today at the Gettysburg Hotel at 2 PM.  He then travels to Lancaster Bible College where he will appear with his wife and James Dobson at 7:15 PM.  Mitt Romney will be on the PA-Delaware state line at the Mendenhall Inn with Chester County Republicans at 7:30 PM.  The Inn is on Route 52 south of Chadds Ford.

Critz Cries Foul on Altmire Ad

Mark Critz, engaged in a rabid primary race against fellow Democratic Congressman Jason Altmire in the revamped 12th CD, called his opponent out today in a press conference call.  Altmire aired an ad criticizing Critz for voting “present” on the Ryan budget last year.  The plan, up again now, destroyed Medicare as we know it, privatizing the successful government health plan for seniors.  The Democratic strategy on that vote was to have everyone vote present to force Republicans into going on the record for or against Medicare.  Altmire was one of only 16 Democrats who stranded from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s efforts and voted No instead.  Congressman Bob Brady and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky spoke supporting Critz’s explanation of his vote.  Here’s the Altmire ad:

The Critz campaign issued this statement earlier today:

At the time of the April 2011 vote, Politico reported that “Democrats asked all their members to vote ‘present’ on the conservative Republican Study Committee’s budget – an attempt to force it through the House – but failed. And illustrating the unease with which some still view Democratic leadership’s plans, more conservative lawmakers in the minority – like Pennsylvania Rep. Jason Altmire, Georgia’s John Barrow and Oklahoma’s Dan Boren – bucked Pelosi and Hoyer.”

The Democrats planned to allow the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee’s budget to go through in an attempt to sideline the less absurd (yet still draconian) Ryan Budget, which was more likely to pass. The thinking was that the Senate would never pass the fringe Republican Study Committee’s budget, but might pass Ryan’s, so the Democrats voted “present” to force the Republican Study Committee’s budget through the House in order to gain a tactical advantage and preserve Medicare as we know it.

The ultimate irony of Altmire’s ad is that by not playing along with Democratic leadership, Altmire actually worked to advance the Ryan Budget!

To claim that Democrats in the 12th District should vote against Critz for his procedural vote on the budget obscures the fact that Altmire was actually helping the Republicans pass the Ryan Budget by not voting with Critz and the rest of the Democratic Party.

At the time of the vote, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said he was “disappointed” in Altmire and the small handful of others who did not vote present, saying “I was disappointed that they did not follow what I think was a strategy to highlight the position of the Republican Party.”

“I am very disappointed that Jason Altmire would distort my record on this,” said Mark Critz in a statement. “I stood with my Democratic colleagues on this vote as a way to kill Congressman Ryan’s budget that ended Medicare.”

The most remarkable part of this story, aside from the extreme distortion itself, is that the ad is narrated entirely by Congressman Altmire. I say that this is remarkable because Altmire knows the exact circumstances of the procedural vote, and surely remembers the tactical nature of the Democratic leadership’s decision. Rarely are attack ads with such flagrant falsities narrated by the candidate themselves-these types of wild assertions are usually done by a deep, scary voice from an outside organization.

News & Notes March 27, 2012

As we near the one fourth mark of the year this also means the end of the first quarter fundraising period for federal candidates.  This means our inboxes will be full of emails asking for contributions.  Campaigns cost money so give until it hurts.  We’ve seen what the alternative is…  That’s far more painful.

I’ll be in Philadelphia tomorrow for an interview so blogging will be light.  Unfortunately, with the new texting law blogging while driving is against the law, lol.  I do so wish there was a train!

The Steel City Stonewall Democrats have endorsed Erin Molchany for Chelsa Wagner’s House seat.  Her opponent once stole $50,000 from Allegheny County taxpayers and reneged on $25,000 in taxes to the IRS.  This one’s a no brainer unless you sit on the PA Dems Executive Committee.

Bill Clinton endorsed Kathleen Kane for AG.  The co-owner of an anti-worker, anti-union trucking company co chaired Hillary’s presidential campaign in her region in 2008.  The Clintons are famous for their loyalty.  Its just too  bad they aren’t showing that same loyalty to their union friends.

Meanwhile the AFL-CIO endorsed Patrick Murphy for the post.  If you’re a working person there’s no choice in this primary.  For some insane reason they also endorsed Tim Holden after swearing they wouldn’t following his votes against working people.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is conducting its 40th anniversary state convention in Philadelphia this week.  Speaking tomorrow will be D. Alexander Bullock, Chapter President of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Foundation in Detroit.  I’ll be interviewing him following his speech about voting rights, union organizing rights, voter education and voting registration.

The Critz campaign says their internal polling has them within 7 points of Jason Altmire.  That still spells defeat.

I applied, yet again, to the Pennsylvania Treasury Department for funds owed me from years ago.  They advertise these unclaimed monies periodically and a relative let me know I was on the list.  I applied for my money two years ago and they never responded.  Rob McCord, I want my money and I want it now.

He’d better listen to me because Pat Robertson says I’m possessed.  Heaven knows what I might do…   Oops, I meant hell.

People on the right wing are asking what makes the Trayvon Martin case national news.  it’s national news because of the Stand Your Ground Law and the fact the local police department didn’t do anything against a man who stalked, attacked then murdered a teenager for the crime of walking while Black.  If you cannot understand how this is major news you are dumb and ignorant.

The Pennsylvania Civil Rights Network has some details on the lawsuit against Tom Corbett filed for his corruption while Attorney General.  Juicy stuff.

Activist Roxanne Pauline shot this video of HHS Regional manager Joanne Grassi speaking recently in Scranton:

March 5, 2012

A Commonwealth Court Judge has ruled Jason Altmire stays on the ballot.  Mark Critz challenged the residency of an Altmire staffer who circulated nominating petitions.  Documents were presented at Friday’s hearing showing both residences.  If it had been me I’d have gone with where she watches TV.  From the Critz camp (Mike Mikus):

“We disagree with the judge’s decision and are currently exploring our legal options. It was clear from the beginning that the Altmire campaign violated the law in numerous instances and the fact that they withdrew approximately 400 signatures – nearly 25 percent of the total they submitted – demonstrates that our case is very strong.”

Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates (of which I’m a Board member) is looking to hire someone for healthcare financing.  We are seeking a person with experience with Medicaid, a Pennsylvania department or legislative body with strong research and relationship building skills.

Equality Pennsylvania is urging everyone to sign a petition urging Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott to support marriage equality.  Sign it here.

Extreme, violent weather killed 38 more people last week.  Idiots continue claiming climate change isn’t happening while we’re witnessing the results constantly.  Isn’t it too bad that people are dying because of those who choose to live in a fantasy world?  Meanwhile morons like Ron Paul say the corporate sponsored weather fatalities are too bad, the government shouldn’t pay for it.  He is right about one thing:  it’s the business community which needs to pony up and pay.

Indiana wants to give homeowners permission to kill cops.  The NRA supports the police assassination bill.

The Catholic Church, the folks who brought us the Dark Ages and the Inquisition, think they are dictating morality to us by insisting that contraception is evil.  These are the very same people who thought priests molesting boys was OK.  So much so that Cardinal Bevilacqua had a list of pedophile priests shredded and Allentown Bishop Edward Cullen conspired to do it.  So much for moral authority…

When women in Virginia dared stand up for their rights they were met by police in riot gear.  31 were arrested.  When are we going to begin arresting these paramilitary police who are violating our rights?

The Department of Justice is investigating Chesapeake Energy for violations of the Clean Water Act.  I should disclose that I’ve known about the DOJ investigation for about a year but chose not to divulge that knowledge so as not to jeopardize the investigation.  They have been on the ground in Pennsylvania for some time.

People in Dimock are finally going to discover what is in their water.  If you saw Gasland you know they light their tap water on fire.

Opponents of Voter ID presented 70,000 signatures today in Harrisburg.  Instead of creating jobs Republicans spent their time working on a bill to deprive thousands of their right to vote.  They based this on the assumption that people impersonate others at the polls.  This is a non existent problem.  Why don’t these reactionaries just fess up and be honest about what they do?  Quit lying to us and be honest for once.  This isn’t about dead people voting (because it doesn’t happen) it’s the Deny Democrats the Right to Vote Act.

Minnesota State Rep. Mary Franson thinks if you get food stamps you’re a wild animal.  See, some of these whackos do say what they think.  The bad news is that they’re batshit crazy.

Critz Challenges Altmire Petitions

Congressman Mark Critz is challenging Congressman Jason Altmire’s position on the April primary ballot by contesting 942 of the signatures of his nominating petitions.  Altmire filed 1651 signatures and 1000 are required for the federal office.  If successful Critz would eliminate his opponent without firing a single shot in a heavily watched race.  Because of reapportionment Pennsylvania lost a Congressional seat and Republicans controlling the process (along with Democrats Bob Brady and Mike Doyle) pitched these two incumbent Democrats against each other.

The rules for gathering petition signatures are strict and every candidate is provided with a list of the rules when filing to run with the Pennsylvania Department of State.  In addition these rules are listed on its website.  There’s really no excuse to violate them as widely as it appears Altmire did.  Critz alleges that a staffer for his opponent circulated petitions while not residing within the District.  That would disqualify every signature on those petitions.  In this instance that would mean 610 signatures.  Subtracting that figure from the 1651 filed and he’s perilously close to being disqualified.  Only 42 additional ones need to be disallowed.

Here’s the list as supplied by the Critz campaign:

610 Defective Circulator’s Affidavits

115 Line Information Omitted

87 Illegible

85 Nicknames or Initials

79 Not Registered

66 Omitted or Incorrect Municipality

64 Line Information in the Hand of Another

38 Not Registered at Address

33 Not Registered Democrats

24 Invalid Dates

22 Duplicate Signatures

17 Struck Before Filing

16 Struck by Pennsylvania Department of Commonwealth

12 Signed After Circulator’s Affidavit Dated

8   Printed Signatures

1   Printed and Signed Different Names

Judges often won’t disqualify for minor mistakes such as listing the wrong municipality or dates depending on the individual case.  They tend to define their decisions based upon the intent of the voter.  If that is clear they’ll uphold the signature.  There certainly appear to be enough justifiably contested signatures here to threaten Congressman Altmire’s career.  If, indeed, one of his staffers not living in the District filed as the circulator he has no legitimate legal recourse to uphold those 610 signatures and his career will be over.  There’s no excuse for such a mistake but a confidential source told me earlier this week there, indeed were, problems with a circulator.

Most of the new District lies in Altmire’s old District so most of the voters there know him better than Critz.  That could also work to his disadvantage in a Democratic primary though because his voting record shows he’s actually an elephant in a donkey costume.  Critz hasn’t been in office long having succeeded the late John Murtha in the old PA-12.

I’ve had my problems with both of these conservative Congressmen in the past, particularly with the way Critz was selected by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party after Murtha died.  He’s far superior to Altmire, in my estimation and should be the choice for Democrats in this election.

Update:  From the Critz campaign:  “Actually, the 610 number is attributed to multiple circulators. His staffer accounts for 385.”

This means there were more circulators not eligible to do so for Altmire.  Really bad judgment by someone high up in that campaign if true.

GOP Can’t Agree on Redistricting

Republicans in Harrisburg are so busy blocking women’s abortion rights, denying the poor, disabled and elderly the right to vote and allowing energy companies to rape our land without consequence they can’t get redistricting done.  None of them can seem to agree on a plan and time is quickly running out.  Candidates cannot announce, organize and fundraise until they know in which district they reside.  This, of course, provides a significant edge to the GOP Congressional majority.  How convenient.

The Party in complete control of the process is fighting over how to redraw the boundaries while eliminating the one seat Pennsylvania lost due to the 2010 census.  While trying, all at once, to force a runoff between Dems Jason Altmire and Mark Critz Rep. Mike Turzai wants to be in that district so he can run for the seat.  That also means making it more conservative.  Guys like Jim Gerlach want more GOP voters but the likes of Joe Pitts, Pat Meehan and Mike Fitzpatrick say “not at my expense.”  

It’s become quite a conundrum for Republicans and if that means screwing the voters, the people and their potential opponents all at the same time it appears they’re prepared to do so.  This is why we need an independent, non partisan organization doing Congressional reapportionment.  If there was ever a better argument for taking the politics out of the process this is it.

Altmire To Vote “NO” On Debt Limit

Congressman Jason Altmire announced today he will vote against raising the debt limit:

“I intend to vote against raising the debt limit today because this legislation fails to make the real and immediate spending cuts needed to get our fiscal house in order. I do not want our country to default on its debts. However, for the long-term stability of our economy, the worldwide markets need to see that the U.S. Congress is willing to make the difficult decisions needed to rein in our budget deficits. This bill does not do that.

“Although increasing the debt limit does not authorize any new government programs or new spending, it does chart a path for the future. In order to prevent us from finding ourselves in this exact same situation down the road, we must enact long-term spending cuts and meaningful budget reforms now.

“The need to increase the debt limit this summer presents us with the opportunity to take steps that will put our nation on a sound fiscal path. I look forward to working with my colleagues to use this moment for real progress on our fiscal future.”

Such a vote would be extremely irresponsible and imperil the nation’s security.  A national default of America’s debt would raise interest rates horrifically forcing taxpayers to should more and more expenses to investors.  It would immediately drive the recovering economy into a 1930’s era depression and cause thousands of Altmire’s constituents to lose their jobs and homes.  He isn’t fit to sit as a Member of Congress.


News & Notes January 5, 2011

Republicans officially took over the PA State House yesterday with the swearing in of new Members.  On their agenda will be the privatization of the state controlled sale of alcoholic beverages, an Arizona style anti-immigration law requiring all of us to carry either our birth certificates or passports everywhere (papers) and another marriage amendment.  They also want to insure no woman can access abortion services in any of the new health care exchanges.  This will reintroduce Pennsylvania to back alley butchers and cost many mothers their lives.  So much for being “pro life.”  

John Boehner was just elected Speaker of the House as the GOP also took control of the U.S. House.  First on their agenda is repeal of the health care law.  Of course they cannot do it but they’ll waste time and money for some political theater.  If they actually were serious about jobs and the deficit they’d strengthen the Affordable Care Act.  Eleven Blue Dog Democrats voted for Heath Shuler as Speaker rather than Pelosi.  No wonder they took a special shellacking in November.  This move was a fumble.  Both Tim Holden and Jason Altmire showed the yellow streaks on their backs.

Robert Gibbs announced today he is leaving the White House.  With 2012 looming Barack Obama’s top aides will be heading for the campaign office.  The anticipated arrival of Bill Daley os CoS is troublesome as the Prez keeps careening towards the right.  So much for all this nonsensical “socialism” hysteria.

The President’s left hand must be sore today after signing a slew of bills yesterday.  I have the list if anyone is interested.

Tom Corbett’s CoS will be Bill Ward from Pittsburgh.  His team is beginning to come together as the inaugural of January 18th comes into view.

If Larry Medaglia is serious about running for Mike O’Pake’s State Senate seat he sure is slow getting things together.  It seems someone else has already registered the domain name larrymedaglia.com.  Getting your name protected is the first thing you do when considering a race.  

Speaking of that remember the battle royal I had with the Berks County Democrats over my use and ownership of the domain BerksDemocrats.com?  They actually passed a resolution (which is still active) to sue me for doing so.  I used to have a local political blog with that name and so owned the domain.  The blog had a prominent disclaimer on its masthead that it wasn’t affiliated with the County Party.   Well, just for fun I allowed the url to expire last July to see if they’d purchase it.  They haven’t and so six months later I’ve repurchased the domain.  I want to see Tom Herman try to sue me now since I gave him ample opportunity to buy the name and he failed to do so.  Whatever flimsy case he thought he might have had against me just flew out the window.  What an idiot!

Mike Morrill and Keystone Progress have revealed that far right wing corporation Chick Fil A, a restaurant chain, is sponsoring anti gay marriage rallies in Pennsylvania.  It sounds like public demonstrations outside their outlets is in order.

As the Afghan government disintegrates, the Iraqis continue trying to form one nearly a year after elections a major Pakistani moderate was assassinated yesterday.  Extremist elements in that dangerously unstable nation (sound familiar?) are threatening what stability remains.