McGinty to Enter Senate Race

Democrats desperate to derail Joe Sestak’s career have apparently succeeded in recruiting Katie McGinty to run.  Sestak angered Dems when he ran against GOP turncoat Arlen Specter six years ago.  He won that race then lost a narrow race to Pat Toomey in 2010 when a big Republican wave swept them into offices they still hold.  Ed Pawlowski was the first challenger recruited but he went down in a ball of flames following an FBI raid of his offices a few weeks ago.  McGinty is their latest pawn.

McGinty is Tom Wolf’s Chief of Staff in the Governor’s Office and leaves at a critical time because negotiations on the state budget continue.  This isn’t a good time for Wolf to lose his COS though he has several strong potential replacements.  Mary Isenhour, TJ Rooney, David Sweet and John Hanger are considerations for the job.

Katie ran poorly statewide in her only previous experience as a statewide candidate.  Running for Governor against Wolf and others she placed a poor fourth.  He chose her to run his statewide campaign then appointed her COS.  The Fresh Start campaign failed in electing down ballot candidates and, in fact, the GOP expanded its hold on Harrisburg leading to the present budget crisis.  How an inexperienced and failed candidate can successfully challenge Sestak at this point show the desperation of state and national Democrats to get even with him.  The result is they may well lose a Senate seat they should be primed to win.

Toomey is very vulnerable after a rabidly partisan voting record and voting support for the austere Ryan budgets.  He goes around Pennsylvania telling people he supports their causes then votes against them in Washington.  As a first term Senator this is when he’s most vulnerable.  If he wins re-election it will be very hard to unseat him as a twelve year entrenched incumbent.

Democrats seem blind to this in their tunnel vision about Sestak.  Vengeance is more important than victory.  They must deny Joe the seat more than deny it to the GOP.  The former Congressman and Admiral has already been campaigning for two years and on July 4th he said he had 600 volunteers distributing campaign material at parades.  Even if national Dems pour money into Katie’s campaign and create a media war Joe has shown his media ads can be devastating.  Then he has that large ground operation established…

McGinty’s claim to fame statewide was her tenure as DEP Secretary under Ed Rendell.  A pro-fracking candidate for Governor she received significant money from the energy industry.  She also served in the Clinton Administration.

I simply don’t understand why Democrats would choose to deplete Sestak’s cash reserves in a contested primary and leave Toomey in a position to win.  She has just ten months to build a staff, craft a message (I supported Specter!) and overtake the Admiral.  The thinking here is that he’ll shoot her down.  Unfortunately the effort may bring us six more years of Pat Toomey in the Senate.  Stupid.

Update:  Mary Isenhour has been named the new Chief of Staff.  I’d be surprised if Rooney didn’t take her previous job.

Sestak Talks Healthcare

Senate candidate Joe Sestak visited West Reading this morning to discuss healthcare.  He walked .42 miles from Reading Hospital to Chatty Monks cafe with about 30 supporters.  The distance reflects the 422 miles he walked across the Commonwealth this spring.  Joe spoke at length and in detail about the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) and the beneficial effect it is having on people’s lives.  The CBO estimates that it is already reducing the deficit by $100 billion over the next decade.  16.4 million Americans have gained healthcare coverage under the Act though many more remain uninsured due to Republican Governors who refuse to enact Medicaid expansion through the program.

He also spoke about issues such as long term care and elder abuse and often compared details with his career as a three star Admiral in the Navy.  He criticized Sen. Pat Toomey for voting for war then against veterans health care.  You can’t send our young people to war then not take care of them when they return.  That’s the deal we strike with our military, a sacred covenant.  If we can’t afford to care for our veterans once they come home don’t send them in the first place.

Pawlowski, Fleck Shut Down As Feds Close In

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski has suspended his U.S. Senate campaign following a raid on City offices last week by the FBI.  Thursday his political consultant Mike Fleck also shut down his firm H Street Consulting.  Democrats had recruited Pawlowski to run against Joe Sestak in the Senate primary.  Now they, again, have egg on their faces as it appears he’s headed for an indictment.

Allentown just completed the PPL Center, a local convention hall and hotel which hosted the Pennsylvania Democratic Party meeting last month.  It was a horrible venue for such an event and I left early Friday evening and didn’t return because the venue was so bad.  The entire thing was designed to be a launching pad for Pawlowski’s campaign.  Oops.

Fleck has run the Mayor’s political operations for some time and expanded south to Reading where his tendency to ignore election laws and regulations got that Mayor in some hot water recently.  Fleck has never seen an election law he respected.  I always advised candidates going against his clients to expect some last minute illegal shenanigans.  I was never disappointed.

This is yet another black eye for PA Dems who seem to be lost in the woods under Chair Jim Burn.  The decision six years ago to back party switcheroo Arlen Specter blew up in their faces when Sestak beat him in the primary.  In a big GOP sweep year Pat Toomey narrowly beat Sestak for the Senate seat when other Democrats lost in landslides across the Commonwealth.  Then last year they lost Tom Wolf so badly he created a shadow Party apparatus and simply ignored them.  So, in the space of six years the Pennsylvania Democratic Party has completely alienated their two top candidates:  the sitting Governor and their U.S. Senate candidate.  After disrespecting Sestak six years ago they dug their hole deeper by recruiting Pawlowski to challenge him this time.  Oops.  The only seat Ed is going to get next year is likely in a ten by ten cell shared with Fleck.

Joe Sestak Interview

I sat down for an interview this afternoon with US Senate candidate Joe Sestak.  We covered a wide variety of issues but the conversation kept returning to the issue of trust.  Trust in the integrity of our elected officials.  Towards the end of the interview I accidently knocked the video camera and Joe cracked a joke about it.

I’ve known Joe since he was in Congress representing Pennsylvania’s 7th District in suburban Philadelphia.  I covered several of his events then and also his Senate contest six years ago versus Arlen Specter and Toomey.  Enjoy our conversation.

Toomey Signs Iran Treason Letter

Sen. Pat Toomey was one of 47 Republican Senators who violated the Logan Act of 1799 by signing a letter drafted by Sen. Tom Cotton.  Addressed to the government of Iran it attempts t interfere with President Obama’s diplomatic initiative to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.  Republicans prefer starting a massive war rather than using diplomacy to diffuse the situation.  This was also their policy in dealing with Iraq.

We’ve seen how well that worked.  War with Iran could provoke a new World War.  Why would anyone seek to undermine what seems to be a promising diplomatic victory?  Sen. Cotton, newly elected from Arkansas, met with major defense contractors shortly after getting his letter published in the media.  Critics assailed the letter for getting the constitution wrong and for the treasonous nature of its contents.  The Logan Act prohibits such conduct and it is a crime known as sedition:  treason.

The fact that Toomey had no problem violating the law plus the edict that domestic politics stops at the shoreline doesn’t bode well for his re-election chances.  Former Navy Admiral Joe Sestak is currently on a walking tour across the Commonwealth in his campaign to win the seat.  

Casey Supporting Nomination of Tea Partier For Federal Bench

Sen. Bob Casey is supporting the nomination of a radical Tea Party member for the federal bench in a secret deal with Sen. Pat Toomey.  David J. Porter is in the mold of a Samuel Alito and has extreme ties to right wing organizations such as The Federalist Society and the Center For Visions and Values.  The nomination would have to be approved and made by President Obama.  This can only be stopped by contacting both the White House and Senator Casey’s office.  The nomination could be announced as early as Thursday.

Keystone Progress has a petition page set up where you can also express your shock at this move.  For some reason the President has been nominating Republicans to the federal bench here in Pennsylvania.  Do you think George W. Bush nominated any liberals?  No.

Why Casey would accede to Toomey’s extreme ideological leanings is a question only he can answer.  Normally federal judicial nominations go through a state’s U.S. Senators for approval before being announced by the White House.  Casey can stop this move.

Porter has written an op ed for the Post Gazette calling for the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act which just provided almost 15 million Americans with health care.  The Center calls for the Supreme Court to find for Hobby Lobby in the recent religious discrimination case.  Such a far reaching decision would allow companies to deny you any health care they considered offensive according to their personal religious beliefs.  In fact if you worked for a Christian Scientist you could be denied health care for any conditions at all.

The views expressed on the Center For Vision and Values are far right extremism at its worst.  David J. Porter is an extreme ideologue who isn’t fit to sit on a federal bench.

News & Notes November 5, 2013

Today is election day, get out and vote.  You can’t complain if you fail to participate.

Thanks to Sen. Toomey for his vote on cloture regarding ENDA.  I know he was flooded with calls so thank you to everyone who contacted his offices.  You made a difference.

Congressman Jim Gerlach is one of those opposing ENDA in the House.  No one should be fired from their job simply due to their real or perceived sexual orientation.

We now have almost 20,000 homeless students in Pennsylvania.  Gov. Corbett is failing our children.

Because Gov. Gasbag refused to expand Medicaid for the poor many Pennsylvanians are going to go without needed health care.  It is a right because everyone deserves to live.  Governors who refused to participate fully under the ACA have contributed to the rollout problems because their residents must go to Healthcare.gov instead of state websites.  Another failure by our Governor.

Corbett rolls out his re-election campaign this week in a statewide caravan.  Even his fellow Republicans think he doesn’t deserve re-election.  No one has the guts to stand and run against him yet however.  You can call this campaign trek “Dead Governor Walking.”  He’s dead meat in 2014.

I love how the GOP keeps giving us such entertaining national figures about whom we can write.  Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz are their latest gifts.  Paul plagiarized Gattaca in a speech in Virginia then challenged Rachel Maddow to a duel (if it were still legal to do so) for calling him out on it.  Cruz is simply a blogger’s dream figure.  His father is even better material.

Food stamps were reduced last week.   In a time when failed conservative economic policies have thrown millions of Americans into poverty we shouldn’t be taking food from children and veterans.  While I’m against subsiding giant corporations such as Wal-Mart and McDonalds by providing SNAP benefits for their employees because these firms refuse to pay living wages let us not penalize or demonize poor, working Americans.

Donate to your local food pantries to help alleviate the burden.

Seventy five percent of the state thinks pigeon shoots should be outlawed.  Senate Bill 510 would make them illegal.

Katie McGinty is supporting Sen. Tim Solobay’s bill for expungement of minor criminal records.  If someone stays out of trouble for seven years minor misdemeanors can be expunged.  Senate Bill 391 is a good idea.

More bad news for Gov. Gasbag:  he’s spent $6.4 million of your tax dollars on outside legal fees thus far.  About half of that has gone to consultants for his lottery privatization scheme.  At least someone has hit the lottery…  The Voter ID law is also costing us bucks.  Meanwhile the state spent a million dollars advertising the law when it wasn’t even in effect for today’s election.

Toomey Votes Against Sandy Relief

Sen. Pat Toomey screwed his own constituents by voting against Hurricane Sandy Relief.  The Lehigh Valley, where he lives, was hit hard by the superstorm.  Allentown and Bethlehem were hit by 70 mph winds during the storm.  Our neighbors in New Jersey and New York were devastated.  What does it say about Pennsylvania when we abandon our neighbors in their time of need?

It’s bad enough Toomey doesn’t believe in science and is part of the problem regarding climate change but at some point he has to be accountable for the damage those beliefs create.  This vote was obnoxious.

Arlen Specter Succumbs to Cancer

Former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter couldn’t beat cancer the third time around.   He passed earlier today at age 82.  One of the last moderates serving in Washington he was challenged by Tea Party favorite Pat Toomey until it forced him to switch parties in an effort to retain his seat in 2010.  He wound up losing that primary to Congressman Joe Sestak.

The Senator began his career as Philadelphia District Attorney as a Democrat before switching parties and serving for thirty years as a Republican Senator.

I disagreed with many of his votes, particularly Supreme Court Justices (among his legacies are Scalia, Thomas, et al).  After he returned to the Democratic Party the State Committee meeting in Pittsburgh was, essentially, a welcoming back celebration.  He posed with his wife Joan in the donkey tie given him by then Gov. Ed Rendell:

The Friday evening of that State Committee meeting I was at the hotel reception taking pictures and getting stories when Brad Koplinski, the Senator’s campaign political director, saw me and offered to introduce me to the Senator.  Now recall that I hadn’t been particularly kind to the Senator over years of blogging so I winced at the coming onslaught of criticism (an occupational hazard when you write about politically powerful people) from the Senator.  Instead he was polite and gracious.  Not all politicians are when face to face with a blogger for whom they’ve been a regular target.  That’s my lasting impression of Sen. Specter:  above all he was a gentleman.

The President released this statement this afternoon:

Arlen Specter was always a fighter.  From his days stamping out corruption as a prosecutor in Philadelphia to his three decades of service in the Senate, Arlen was fiercely independent – never putting party or ideology ahead of the people he was chosen to serve.  He brought that same toughness and determination to his personal struggles, using his own story to inspire others.  When he announced that his cancer had returned in 2005, Arlen said, “I have beaten a brain tumor, bypass heart surgery and many tough political opponents and I’m going to beat this, too.”  Arlen fought that battle for seven more years with the same resolve he used to fight for stem-cell research funding, veterans health, and countless other issues that will continue to change lives for years to come.  Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Joan and the rest of the Specter family.

Political Felon Heads Romney’s Pennsylvania Finance Team

Mitt Romney has officially named Bob Asher as Finance Co-Chair in Pennsylvania.  He is a convicted felon and served a year in federal prison for corruption.  He and late Treasurer Bud Dwyer were caught taking a $300,000 kickback to the Pennsylvania Republican Party in return for a state no bid contract.  Asher was Chair of the PA GOP at the time.  He is now a national Republican Committee man and raises and distributes large sums for Pennsylvania Republicans.  Dwyer infamously shot himself in a live television press conference rather than go to prison.

Why is Mitt Romney using a convicted felon to raise money, when we know the corrupt practices used by this man?  The other finance c-chair is Chritine Torretti and Tom Corbett and Pat Toomey are the Chair of the campaign.  Have none of them any shame to sit alongside Asher?

When you purchase Asher Chocolates you’re putting your money indirectly into Mitt Romney’s campaign.