PA Dems Endorse Marriage Equality, Women’s Rights

I got a tingling sensation all over as Pennsylvania Democrats overwhelmingly approved a resolution endorsing marriage equality today.  In an emotionally charged meeting with impassioned speeches for women’s rights and gay rights the State Committee, meeting in Valley Forge in a hotel infamously built by non union labor, voted to enter the 21st century.  Marybeth Kuznick wrote and introduced the resolution for women, condemning the conservative war on women.  She noted in one of the caucus sessions that there is only one Democratic woman west of Harrisburg serving there in the legislature.  I met Sharon Brown who is running for Jane Orie’s vacant Senate seat to double that number.  Kuznick got a standing ovation from the women as embarrassed me then stood up to join them.

The marriage equality resolution is something I heard about several weeks ago on an “off the record” basis so I couldn’t write about until now.  Inspired by the President’s position Adams County Chair Roger Lund, married to his partner in DC, introduced a motion to waive the rules and pass the resolution.  There was much discussion in every caucus about support for the measure.  As Party Chair Jim Burn said they didn’t want it to fall short of the 2/3 vote needed to suspend the rules.  Because State Committee people weren’t provided a copy of it in their 30 day packets the rules had to be suspended for a vote on the actual resolution.  Afraid of headlines saying they refused to support the President they wanted to be the votes were there.

I went to the Southwestern Caucus thinking it would have the most vocal opposition (the Northwest Caucus actually voted against it) and I wanted to gauge the level of opposition.  Caucus Chair Jack Hanna escorted me out of the meeting and said I couldn’t attend and report on its discussions.  This is the second time in a year I’ve been tossed out of a Pennsylvania Democratic Party meeting.  The first is why I refused to attend and cover its January meeting when Berks Chair Tom Herman said I couldn’t cover his County Committee meeting.  It is against the DNC Charter to bar the public from Party meetings.  It appears I’ll have to call DNC headquarters in DC again and file yet another complaint.

A committeeman from Cambria County got very vocal at that caucus meeting invoking Biblical passages.  Of course this is a legal matter not a religious one.  The Bible also allows slavery, condemns people who eat pork and shellfish and says you shouldn’t cut your hair.  So much for ancient abominations.  The caucus voted 11-7 in support of the bill.  So, so much for throwing me out of your meeting Mr. Hanna…

Other points of contention today centered around procedures for dismissing elected committee people, a subject near and dear to my heart.  The progressive caucus wants set rules and procedures for such actions.  Also, a slate of people to represent the state on the DNC was issued and voted upon by the Chair.  This top down procedure was objected to by progressives who want and open election where anyone can run for the seats.  Burn promised reform and proposed a resolution which passed to set up a committee to devise such a system for the future.  Vice Chair Penny Gerber, off the reservation on the issue, then bemoaned the fact it would lead to floor fights.  Well, elections aren’t always pretty but that’s called democracy.  A Party which calls itself Democratic should be.

Josh Shapiro and Ed Rendell spoke to the gathering.  Montgomery County was hosting the event at the Valley Forge Radisson Hotel and Casino and Josh is now Chair of the MontCo Commissioners.  Democrats control that county for the first time in 130 years.  The former Governor spoke strongly for President Obama but refrained from any mention of his successor.  I’d love to hear his opinions on Tom Corbett.

I touched base with candidates Rob McCord, Eugene DePasquale, Missa Eaton and Rick Daugherty.  I hope to do interviews with all of them soon.

CD 15 Endorsement

I attended two of the the debates between Jackson Eaton and Rick Daugherty for the Democratic nomination to face Charlie Dent in the fall.  Neither guy inspired me as a progressive therefore I’m not going to endorse either.  I support and endorse progressives here and coming out in favor of someone not proudly flying the progressive banner isn’t my style.

My issue with Daugherty is mostly around abortion.  He notes he is “pr0 life” which means anti choice.  No person has the right to tell any other person what they may or may not do with their body.  Men, especially, have no idea what it means to be pregnant and raise a child.  He is also a hawk on Iran, the latest effort by conservatives to drag us into an unwinnable war on false pretenses.

Eaton favors cutting Social Security and said he supported the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles Commission to do so.  There were no recommendations from that body.  Someone running for Congress should know these facts before Charlie Dent slices and dices him with them.  He also supported attacks on Iran to protect Israel.  Our strategic national security interests are not those of Israel.

If I had to choose my vote would go to Daugherty on the strength of his support for organized labor but neither guy gets my endorsement.

PA-15 Congressional Debate Eaton and Daugherty

Jackson Eaton and Rick Daugherty held another debate last night, this time in Kutztown at the Kutztown Area Democratic Club.  Last Thursday they met in Annville at Lebanon Valley College.  This time the questions and answers were somewhat similar but there were some new ones.  Eaton keeps mentioning that he supports the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles Commission on deficit reduction.  That Commission issued no recommendations because they couldn’t muster enough votes supporting cutting Social Security cuts.  Embracing Simpson-Bowles means cutting Social Security.

Social Security did not cause or add tot he deficit and doesn’t need to be cut.  Daugherty advocates eliminating the wage cap which makes the program solvent for the entire future.  In fact it could increase benefits if that were done, something seniors really need.

Deficit reduction during lean economic times isn’t smart economics.  The lavish spending on tax cuts for the rich, borrowed money for wars of choice and deregulation of markets which crashed them is what created the deficits.  With the crash of markets in 2008 deficit spending is critical to recovering our economic mess.

Eaton, on the other hand, is 100% pro choice while Daugherty is not.  Rick describes himself as a Casey Democrat on women’s issues.  Sen. Casey, of course, is no friend to women’s reproductive rights.  Daugherty does support the Employee Free Choice Act.  I ran out of battery power towards the end but those questions were the same as last week.

Mike Morrill of Keystone Progress moderated the debate.

PA-15 Democratic Congressional Debate

Democratic Congressional candidates Rick Daugherty and Jackson Eaton debated last evening at Lebanon Valley College.  They are challenging incumbent Republican Charles Dent in the newly reconfigured District.  The 15th traditionally covered the Lehigh Valley and included two precincts in Berks County the last decade.  Now it reaches into Lebanon County which was in the 17th (Holden).  The CD was designed to be more Republican in order to protect Dent.

Rick Daugherty is a social worker for the Lehigh County Department of Aging and Chair of the Lehigh County Democratic Party (he has stepped down to run in this primary).  Eaton is an attorney who recently switched from being a Republican.  Neither candidate strike sme as a progressive after listening to last evening debate but I plan on interviewing each of them shortly and we’ll dig further into the issues.

One statement by Daugherty struck me when he said that 40% of federal spending is borrowed money.  That would mean that out of a trillion dollar budget we’d borrow $400 billion.  That isn’t true.  I don’t know if he misspoke or what.