Lt. Governor Debate

Six candidates for Lt. Governor debated Saturday at the 2014 Pennsylvania Progressive Summit.  There was little public disagreement except on the issue of fracking.  Brenda Alton and Brad Koplinski were vocal in their opposition and Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith was out of his element in his strong support of the practice.  Bradford County is on the state’s Northern Tier and is the most drilled county in the Commonwealth.  Alton was very good n the issues but no one knows who she is and she has no traction in the race.  She acknowledged there are some economic benefits but asked “At what cost?” which is the heart of the issue.  Koplinski mentioned New York’s moratorium then cited Pennsylvania’s many mistakes and said perhaps New York is waiting to learn from how we are screwing it all up.

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Brad Koplinski

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Jay Paterno

Jay Paterno, a recent entry into the race showed up and was very knowledgeable on the issues.  I didn’t agree with everything he said but he surprised me with his breadth of information.  State Sen. Mike Stack was impressive though he did mis speak about spending more on prisons than education.  We’re spending more on prisons than we are on HIGHER education, not education in total.  The straw poll came out with Koplinski on top with 59.7%, Mike Stack at 22.7%, Brenda Alton 10.4%, Mark Critz 4.5%, Mark Smith with a paltry 1.3% and Jay Paterno 0.6%.

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Sen. Mike Stack

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Mark Smith

Here’s a chunk of the debate before my battery ran out:

Rep. Davidson to Announce for Lt. Gov.

A source tells me that State Rep. Margo Davidson is about to announce her candidacy for Lt. Governor.  She has been telling folks in Delaware County she has decided to run.  The field for Lt. Governor has been filling as quickly as that for Governor as Tom Corbett continues putting his foot in his mouth every time he opens it.

Rep. Davidson would join Mark Critz in the conservative Democratic wing of this primary.  Brad Koplinski, a certified progressive, has been leading this contest for some time and has amassed an impressive list of endorsements.  Margo Davidson’s record in Harrisburg is extremely troubling and includes a vote to close abortion clinics, prevent women from purchasing abortion insurance coverage with their own funds in the new ACA exchanges and support of school vouchers.  She spoke for vouchers on the House floor, an effort which drains our public schools of desperately needed revenue.

Thus far vouchers and charter schools have siphoned $1.5 billion from Pennsylvania’s public schools.  Several abortion clinics were forced to close after the infamous ambulatory surgical center standards passed with Davidson’s help.   Others were forced to spend millions making unnecessary renovations which increased the cost of abortions.

Just because a legislator is Black and/or female does not mean they are progressive.  Margo Davidson is proof.

Democratic State Committee Wrap-Up

Pennsylvania Democrats met today in Hershey and narrowly endorsed Philadelphia Judge Joe Waters for Superior Court.  They also passed a resolution supporting President Obama’s common sense gun safety measures and sent one supporting a fracking moratorium back for revisions.  A proposed by laws change requiring all 67 county committees to adopt a uniform procedure for removing elected Committee persons is advancing.  I was told to leave the By Laws Committee meeting where it was discussed.  That, again, was a violation of the DNC Charter.

Numerous candidates held receptions last night.  Max Myers and John Hanger, both announced candidates for Governor next year, spoke with various State Committee persons for their long shot efforts.  Both Judicial candidates wined and dined the crowd and Lt. Governor candidate Brad Koplinski joined with the Young Dems for a late party in the lobby.

Former Congressman Tim Holden showed up today but wouldn’t say why.  When someone like that suddenly shows up it normally means they’re contemplating a run for some office.

Gubernatorial A-list candidates Rob McCord, Tom Wolf and Ed Pawlowski all milled around the hallways talking about their candidacies.  Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, while not availing herself of the chance to begin gaining valuable endorsement votes for next year, announced she is a candidate.  She hired State Party staffer Aubrey Montgomery immediately for her campaign.  Joe Sestak didn’t make an appearance.  If you’re a serious candidate you needed to be in Hershey this weekend.  The last two years there were only two meetings a year due to circumstances and a golden opportunity to begin talking to those who will be casting the endorsement votes in a year was critical.

Should Schwartz capture the nomination in what appears to be a strong field she wouldn’t run for re-election to Congress.  While legally able to do so from a practical standpoint she really can’t.  That’ll open that seat for State Sen. Daylin Leach.  While wholly supportive of Allyson Schwartz whatever she decides he is poised to succeed her if the opportunity arises.  Obviously it would be premature for him to come out and say so publicly.  Rep. Tim Briggs might be the obvious successor for his seat.  

When the Party went through its list of recently deceased members I half expected them to memorialize the current Governor’s deathly approval ratings (now 26%) and his chances for re-election.  Of course that’s why there’s such a strong field of contenders lusting for his position.

I was disappointed in Judge Waters.  He spent Friday telling people his opponent was anti-labor because some members of his law firm are.  In a large law firm you’ll have that.  What Waters did was guilt by association and showed me flaws in his character.  That would be akin to Mr. Wozcik saying that since Philadelphia Traffic Court Judges were indicted last week therefore Waters is also corrupt.  

Mayor Ed Pawlowski chatting with fellow Gubernatorial hopeful Tom Wolf:

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PA Dems Meet This Weekend

Pennsylvania Democrats are meeting tomorrow and Saturday at the Hershey Lodge.  The winter meeting is always interesting because it is their endorsement event.  Judicial races on the ballot this year means Friday night receptions as the candidates attempt to wine and dine the State Committee members.  The ones with the best (and freest) booze and food usually win.  I’ve actually overheard Committee people say they vote based on who has the best spread.

A lot of potential 2014 candidates should be found roaming the halls, chatting people in the bar and in the restaurant.  Tom Wolf is about ready to launch his gubernatorial effort and this week Brad Koplinski commenced his campaign for Lt. Governor.  Brad is a good guy but if Dems want to oust Gov. gasbag another unbalanced (east/west) ticket might doom them.  Not having anyone from SE Pennsylvania helped put Corbett in the Governors Mansion.

There will be interesting resolutions coming up for a vote.  I expect a lot of talk about fracking this weekend.  Snow is also expected though not enough to cause the problems they had a few years ago in Lancaster.  

I’m wondering if the Democrats are ready to apologize to me for kicking me out of the Southwestern Caucus meeting last summer.  As a result of this breach of Party rules I stopped covering their candidates.  It was the third time it happened in violation of the DNC Charter and, well you know, three strikes and you’re out.

I plan on asking various officials how they feel about the Party being so closely tied to predator priest protector Rep. Thomas Caltagirone.  Here’s a nifty quiz for them:  explain how Graham Spanier is to Jerry Sandusky as Tom Caltagirone is to child molesting priests?  How much do they want to be compared with The Second Mile?  How close do they want to be to the guy who blocked reform legislation that would have gone after those predatory priests?