Poll: After Flooding Crisis, a Big Boost for Corbett

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Tom Corbett handling of the recent flooding crisis has earned the Governor a significant boost in job approval, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

The Governor has apparently rebounded from his summer doldrums and negative approval rating, and now enjoys a favorable job performance rating by a margin of 50 percent to 32 percent. That represents 10 points of net approval from his August numbers, 44 percent positive job marks to 36 percent negative.

The pollster did not delve into the cause for Corbett’s growth, but its seems more than likely to do with his approach to the flooding crisis. Among all demographic groups tracked in the poll, voters in area heaviest hit by the floods – northeast PA – showed the sharpest spike in approval for the Governor (from 31 percent in Quinnipiac’s August 3, 2011 survey, to 48 percent today). His approval among women increased 8 percent.

“Gov. Tom Corbett’s batting average with women and Republicans has surged, getting him to the important 50 percent benchmark in approval rating,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a press release.

“Compared to struggling first-term Republican Governors Rick Scott in Florida and John Kasich in Ohio, two other swing states, Gov. Corbett’s .500 average makes him an all-star candidate.”

Voters also like the Governor as a person by a wide margin, 52 percent to 12 percent. They approve his policies by a much narrower 42 to 37 percent.

Approval for the state legislature is hovering at 31 percent, in line with the general trend over the past few years.

Approval for freshman Senator Pat Toomey is down slightly from the August poll; his 43 to 32 percent job approval reflects a statistically insignificant net drop of 2 percent.

In other policy issues, voters believe 62 to 30 percent that the economic benefits of Marcellus shale gas drilling outweigh environmental concerns. Even Democrats back drilling 50 – 41 percent.

Voters support 64 – 27 percent a new tax on gas drilling companies, with 51 to 37 percent support among Republicans.

They support privatizing liquor stores by a margin of  62 to 31 percent, oppose privatizing health care in state prisons 43 to 37 percent, and oppose 64 to 28 percent privatizing the operation of state parks.

9/29 Morning Buzz

Quinnipiac Poll: A survey released yesterday was a veritable grab bag of interesting tidbits. PA voters aren’t keen on the proposed changes to the electoral college; Obama’s PA disapproval is still above 50 percent, but he defeats all Republicans in head-to-head matchups; Bob Casey floating near the magic 50 percent number; and Perry is on the rise.

Stay tuned to PoliticsPA later this morning for a Q-pac poll on Governor Corbett’s performance and opinions on some of the issues in Harrisburg.

Countering the Electoral College: The National Popular Vote Initiative announced this week a 10-day advertising push in the Harrisburg media market consisting of full-page newspaper ads and a 60-second radio spot to capitalize on the attention to Pileggi’s Electoral College plan

Dick Morris PA-Sen Shoutout: Tim Burns hasn’t yet decided on a U.S. Senate bid, but he’s already drawing a bit of national support. Conservative pundit Dick Morris singled out Burns for a brief shoutout this week in a post about Republican chances of retaking the U.S. Senate.

Allegheny Exec: Democrat Rich Fitzgerald is on TV in the Allegheny County Exec race, and also rolled out a plan for transparency in County government.

Electoral College Plan: In case you missed it, one of the the most interesting aspects of the Republican plan to split PA’s electoral votes is the high-powered, bipartisan group behind it.

National
The Hill: Conservative Dems try to persevere amid low Obama poll numbers
The Hill: DOJ asks Supreme Court to hear largest suit on healthcare reform law
Fox News: Obama’s swing state blitz yields little
Catholic Online: Santorum’s little engine that could gains steam in Iowa
The Hill: Budget rep. wants supercommittee to take on permanent Medicare payments fix
LA Times: Santorum’s latest debate foe is a South Carolina voter
Washington Post: Gingrich to release new “Contract With America”
Inquirer: Texas Gov. Rick Perry pitches jobs in Philly fundraiser
Politico: Chris Christie leaves 2012 run question open, attacks Obama

Statewide
State House Sound Bites: Pa voters say, 52-40, don’t change electoral votes system
Capitolwire (Paywall): Bill Would Change Regulatory Definition Of ‘Small Business’
Philly.com: PA, OH voters turn thumbs down on Obama re-elect
AP, Houston Chronicle: Ex-speaker’s aide: Pa. employees helped campaign
Philly Clout: Romney and Perry neck in neck in new Quinnipiac Poll of PA
Phillynow: Republican Legislature may back off voter disenfranchisement bills for all the wrong reasons
Carlisle Sentinel: Harrisburg fiscal bill passes House
Morning Call: Race to take on Casey gets crowded
Newsworks: Educators, Pa. lawmakers wait for Gov. Corbett to act on charter schools
Newsworks: Pa. House sends teen driving bill to governor
Newsworks: Poll finds most Pa. voters against changing electoral vote distribution

Philly
Philly.com: Montco commissioners press to fix radio system
Philly.com: Mayor Nutter’s infomercial protested by off-tv opponent

Philly Burbs
Phillyburbs.com: Postal workers rally to thank Fitzpatrick
Phillyburbs.com: Fitzpatrick questioned on flood relief
Daily Times: Postal workers rally outside Meehan office
Daily Times: End of Era II: ConocoPhillips announces plans to close Trainer plant
AP, Business Week: Biofuel company moving HQ to suburban Philly
Phillyburbs.com: Bill of no benefit
Phillyburbs.com: Merck to pay EPA $1.5 million in fines at West Point, Riverside
Phillyburbs.com: Bucks Rep. Kathy Watson’s junior-driver bill passes
Daily Times: Democratic candidates rally for “new direction”
Daily Times: Ex-Montco pol faces new charges
Montgomery Media: Former Limerick supervisor indicted on additional charges

Pittsburgh
Tribune-Review: Your Tax Dollars at Work: Chandeliers, Luxury Cars, a Bowling Alley
Tribune Review: $34 Million in Gaming Revenue Targeted to Allegheny Development
Tribune-Review: Governor to get Bill to Impose Limits on Teenage Drivers
Tribune-Review: Action of Congress on Flood Relief Awaited
Tribune-Review: Former Businessman Smith Jumps Into Senate Race
Tribune-Review: Onorato Vows He Won’t Join Mayor’s Race
Tribune-Review: Judge to Rule Soon on Peters Township Gas Drilling Referendum
Post Gazette: Poll Shows Voters FAvor Current Electoral College System
Post Gazette: Clash Over Abortion Measures Renewed in House
Early Returns: Exec Attack #28
Early Returns: GOP Vulnerable, Poll or Not
Early Returns: Daily Santorum: Near Tie With Obama in Pa
CBS: Pa Republicans Making Push To Overhaul State’s Electoral College System
Early Returns: Vernon camp releases Senate poll

NEPA
Times Leader:Funding For Luzerne County’s 911 On Decline As Officials Face Crunch
Times Tribute: Flash Flooding Hit Abington
Times Tribute: Evan Demands Doherty ‘justify’ Scranton Budget Plan
Daily Review: Emergency Projects let by PennDOT
Pocono Record: PA Lawmakers Want To Fill In The Gaps -Brittany H
Times Leader: Marino hopes for flood relief
Pocono Record: Barletta supports HUBZone for Monroe
York Dispatch: Postal workers rally at Platts’ office in support of legislation

North by Northwest
Times News: Feds seek agreement in Erie pollution case
Times News: Program on natural gas leasing held in Conneaut Lake
Courier News: Stay granted in execution for Clearfield man
Sun Gazette: Postal workers thank local representative for support

Lehigh Valley
Morning Call: Bethlehem City Council race hits YouTube
Morning Call: Bethlehem schools get better credit rating
Reading Eagle: Flooding almost deadly for commissioner
Express Times: Easton police officer facing theft charges

Southwest
Indiana Gazette: ICTC, Union at Odds
Indiana Gazette: EPA Hearing On Gas Drilling Pollution Held in Pittsburgh
Indiana Gazette: Report: Health Insurers Up Fees
Indiana Gazette: Officials Defend New TVs for Jail
Indiana Gazette: Orie’s Trial Set for February
Daily American: County Candidates Address Concerns at Forum
Daily American: Development Council Encouraging Small Business Owners to Work Together
Altoona Mirror: Postal Unions Protest HR 2309
Altoona Mirror: Several Schools Skipping Obama Speech
Altoona Mirror: Frankstown Supervisors Pick a Replacement
WJACTV: New Poll On Iowa Shows Romney On Top
Beaver County Times: Christie Again Says He Isn’t Running for President
Observer-Reporter: Constitutional Expert Tapped for Hearing on PT Referendum

Opinion
Tribune-Review: Tribal Politics
Tribune-Review: Pensions Undeserved
Post Gazette: People With Guns Kill: And States Should Decide Who Gets to Own a Gun
Beaver County Times: Use Common Sense in Voting
Observer-Reporter: Cutting Budget Deficit About Cash, Not Class
Express-Times: Charlie Dent’s support of polluters no way to rescue economy
Philadelphia Weekly: The Philly GOP is still a mess; Maybe Karen Brown can help
Philadelphia Inquirer: Coroners want secrets to be taken to the grave

Blogs
Commonwealth Foundation: Reading Is Poorest City In U.S.
Keystone Progress: NEA TV Ad Urges Congress To Pass American Jobs Act
Big Government: In Philly, Photo ID Required For Food Stamps, Not Voting
Keystone Politics: How The No Tax Pledge Leads To Dumber Government
Keystone Politics: Raja Releases Plan For Public Transit In Allegheny County
Keystone Politics: FEC Fines Callahan For Campaign Fund Misuse
Philadelphia Weekly: Mayor Nutter’s infomercial protested by off-TV opponent

Dick Morris Gives Tim Burns a PA-Sen Shoutout

By Brittany Hundzynski, Contributing Writer

Tim Burns hasn’t yet decided on a U.S. Senate bid, but he’s already drawing a bit of national support.

Conservative pundit Dick Morris singled out Burns for a brief shoutout this week in a post about Republican chances of retaking the U.S. Senate. Morris lists Pennsylvania among a list of states the GOP can target, saying, “Tim Burns would be great.”

Burns told PoliticsPA earlier this month that he is leaning toward a run.

On his blog, Morris argued that there are already strong Republican candidates in 12 seats now held by Democrats. He claimed that each seat could be won in a 10 to 15 point landslide.

Morris is an author, pollster and political consultant. He served as an advisor to Bill Clinton and a strategist for Republican Chirsty Milhos, among numerous others. He’s a frequent commentator on the cable news circuit.

Morris was a guest at a fundraiser during Burns’ run for Congress against Mark Critz in 2010. He further solicited fundraising help from his own supporters.

“Tim lost the special election fill John Murtha’s seat last year but he is neck and neck with Mark Critz who won the seat. He has an aggressive campaign going on and can probably take this swing seat in a rematch,” he wrote in October 2010.

Fitzgerald Launches Fall TV Campaign; Introduces Transparency Plan

By Natalka Karaman and David Gerber

A bit of Allegheny Exec news from the past week.

Fitzgerald hits TV

“Kids,” launched this past Friday, is Rich Fitzgerald’s first television ad for his fall campaign. It was also the first ad of his primary campaign this spring (with a few small tweaks).

The ad features Fitzgerald’s eight children, who discuss their dad’s humble college experience (he drove a cab to earn money to go to Carnegie Mellon), and his business expertise as an entrepreneur. All eight of his children have an individual spot during the ad. Consistent with his “jobs, jobs, jobs,” campaign platform,  Fitzgerald concludes the ad with, “As County Council President, I cut waste, saving taxpayers millions. And as County Executive, I’ll work to keep our jobs and futures here.”

“I am excited to be on the air with my new television commercial,” Fitzgerald said.  “I am proud of my record of saving taxpayers money and my record in business of making other companies more energy efficient which allows them to create more jobs.  Most importantly, I am proud of my family and I am running for County Executive to create jobs so my children – and all of our children – will be able to get jobs here.”

Watch the ad here.

This morning however, Raja, another county exec candidate, responded bitterly that the ad is “30 seconds worth of lies” and attempts to set the “record straight.”

The facts in the ad are disputed by Raja and his campaign team, claiming that Fitzgerald has not created any private sector jobs with his own company, he spent $100,000 to upgrade his office even though the budget was tight, that he created the highest tax in Allegheny County history (Drink Tax), and that unemployment went from 3.1% to 7.1% during his time as County Council President.

James Genovese, Raja’s campaign manager said, “The only thing honest about this ad is Rich’s children’s names. Rich needs to own and set his record straight. A record of doubling unemployment, wasteful spending and higher taxes, by every imaginable way he has failed Allegheny County. It’s time for a new direction.”

Transparency, or Politics?

Fitzgerald also released a four point plan that focuses on making the Allegheny County Government more transparent to it’s citizens.

Fitzgerald said that making government more open and transparent will make it easier for county residents to hold elected officials accountable and that his record on transparency has led to low taxes and kept the cost of county government low.

“Transparency in government leads to lower costs because the politicians know people are watching them and that is why I fought so hard for more open government throughout my career,” Fitzgerald said. “My plan would make Allegheny County government even more transparent and make it easier for taxpayers to hold elected officials accountable.”

The plan consists of the following four major agenda points:

Developing the Allegheny County online checkbook: Create the Allegheny County Online Checkbook so taxpayers can track how every dollar is spent by the county.

Disclose all lobbying on behalf of the county: Disclose all information regarding the county’s lobbying efforts at the state and federal level and that it should be easily accessed online by county taxpayers.

Posting county ethics forms online: Make it easier for residents to obtain elected officials’ financial information by posting all Statements of Financial Disclosure online so that any interested party could obtain the forms easily and at any time.

Making campaign finances more transparent: Upgrade the campaign finance website to allow interested parties to obtain more information regarding political contributions.

Raja says Fitzgerald is just playing politics.

“Are political calculations the only thing you consider when making decisions?” he blasted.

The Raja campaign argues that Fitzgerald opposed two row office referendums, amounting to an attempt to stall reform.

“This is another example of politics as usual from Fitzgerald,” said Genovese. “Fitzgerald blocked reform until it became politically advantageous for him to support. This is not leadership. It is political hackery.”

ICYMI: The Power Behind Electoral College Plan

By Brittany Foster, Contributing Writer

Editor’s note: In case you missed it, one of the the most interesting aspects of the Republican plan to split PA’s electoral votes is the high-powered, bipartisan group behind it. Capitolwire and Capitol Ideas had this story last Thursday, and we here at PoliticsPA just realized we hadn’t posted this article.

PA Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s legislation to change the Electoral College in PA has experience a meteoric rise to infamy, many thanks to the people behind it.

The group pushing the bill is known as All Votes Matter and has already spent nearly $200k on their efforts in Pennsylvania. The spokesman of this group is Charles Gerow, a high powered political consultant known for his work on the Republican side. Gerow’s firm, Quantum Communications, Long Nyquist and Obermeyer-Rebman have joined together to form All Votes Matter’s triumverate of lobbying and communications.

For this year alone, the group has budgeted a third of a million dollars in order to get this legislation through the House and Senate. However, they have refused to release the names of their donors. Gerow has admitted that he believes most are from within Pennsylvania.

Despite it’s rapid fundraising and media coverage, All Votes Matter has only been in official existence since it filed to lobby in May of this year. Geared toward “civic minded individuals,” many suspect that its inception was to fight the National Popular Vote compact that has also gained steam this year.

The National Popular Vote legislation would enter Pennsylvania into the commitment to allocate all of its electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, obviously. States representing 132 votes have already joined the compact and Rep. Creighton introduced it to Pennsylvania this past summer. Fomer Casey staff and current communications professional Tony May speaks on behalf of this legislation and assures voters that it is both constitutional and upholds the idea of “one man, one vote.”

Both plans have their strong supporters and opponents but Sen. Pileggi is less than thrilled about the current conversation surrounding his bill.  “I’m disappointed that the people aren’t focusing on the issue. Usually when people start to talk about motive and personalities, that means they’ve conceded that the issue is not something they can argue about. I’ve tried to focus the conversation on the issue of proportionality and the issue of the disconnect between the popular vote and the electoral college vote.”

All Votes Matter and National Popular Vote, both represented by PA political titans, are sure to continue to butt heads as they both try to change Pennsylvania’s presidential politics.

National Popular Vote Initiative Launches Electoral College Ads in PA

By Brittany Foster, Contributing Writer

National Popular Vote is endeavoring to take back the spotlight back from PA Sen. Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s Electoral College plan. They announced this week a 10-day advertising push in the Harrisburg media market consisting of full-page newspaper ads and a 60-second radio spot.

It’s a playful ad that starts out like a play-by-play at a baseball game. You can listen to it here (h/t Capitol Ideas).

“It’s going, it’s going, it’s gone! A home run! But stand by folks, the baseball Electoral College is chewing this one over. Philly loses; they lose! Sorry folks, under electoral college rules, the team with the most runs doesn’t always win.”

NPV proposes a different way to allocate electoral votes. They seek to join states in a compact to distribute all of their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote to ensure that that winner becomes president instead of a state by state winner take all system or Pileggi’s plan to give away votes by congressional districts.

Although Tom Golisano, spokesman of NPV and Pileggi agree that changes need to be made, they harshly disagree on the method. “The congressional district idea takes a bad system and makes it worse. It does not guarantee the presidency to the candidate who earns the most popular votes in all fifty states and replaces battleground states with battleground districts. We urge legislators to consider the National Popular Vote initiative as a commonsense, non-partisan reform.”

Committed to the ideal that the person with the most votes should win, the NPV plan would make all votes equivalent, “When more than 200 million Americans live in flyover states and are virtually ignored by candidates who seek the presidency, the right reform is required,” said Golisano.

Creighton introduced this bill over the summer and it has already passed in enough other states to represent 132 electoral votes, 59 percent of those needed to win the presidency.

Here’s the full transcript of the ad:

“It’s all tied up folks, bottom of the 9th, the bases loaded, here comes the pitch – Golly did he get a hold of that one! It’s going, it’s going, it’s gone! A home run! But stand by folks, the baseball Electoral College is chewing this one over. Philly loses; they lose! Sorry folks, under electoral college rules, the team with the most runs doesn’t always win.

“In real life, the team that scores the most runs wins but the candidate who gets the most votes doesn’t always win the election. It’s happened four times in our nation’s history. So if we’re going to change how Pennsylvania’s votes count for president, shouldn’t we switch to the only system that guarantees the winner actually wins?  Support the National Popular Vote Initiative. The winner should win.”

Poll: Perry Up, Electoral College Plan Down

By Brittany Foster and Keegan Gibson

A Quinnipiac poll released this morning is a veritable grab bag of interesting tidbits.

Pennsylvanians aren’t keen on the proposed changes to the electoral college; Obama’s PA disapproval is still above 50 percent, but he defeats all Republicans in head-to-head matchups; Bob Casey floating near the magic 50 percent number; and Perry takes a chunk our of Romney’s PA support.

Electoral College

Pennsylvanians prefer the current operation of the Electoral College to PA Sen. Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s congressional district plan by a 52 to 40 percent margin.

Voters in the Commonwealth also believe that the plan has been tailored to help Republicans win votes in the state 57 – 32 percent.

“Overall, most Pennsylvanians think the proposal is being presented to give partisan advantage to Republicans. By large margins, Democrats and independent voters are not buying that ‘will of the voters’ argument,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director at the Quinnipiac Polling Institute.

“The survey, not surprisingly, comes down along party lines. With 20 electoral votes at stake in a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, Republicans see an advantage in having electoral votes divided between candidates based on the individual congressional districts they win,” said Malloy.

But even among those Republicans, they aren’t pulling huge support. “Democrats especially are opposed, while independent voters side with them. Strangely, Republicans are not strongly in favor of the change,” Malloy added.

In addition to the lackluster numbers from every party affiliation, a majority Pennsylvanians also believe that the congressional district plan will dilute their importance in presidential elections which the poll also examined.

2012 Presidential Election

Voters say Obama does not deserve a second term by a 51 to 44 percent margin, and disapprove of his job performance 54 to 43 percent. Believe it or not, that’s an improvement from Quinnipiac’s previous poll on August 2nd.

Obama is in a virtual tie with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 45 – 43 percent with the President at a slight advantage. Former PA Senator Rick Santorum comes in second with Pennsylvanians but still trails Obama 42 to 45 percent. Texas Governor Rick Perry, the newest entry to the race, follows the president 40 to 46 percent.

These numbers haven’t changed much since the August poll. “Despite the debates and the fiery campaign rhetoric, there is not much movement in the presidential race,” Malloy said.

In the Republican primary, Perry has syphoned support from several candidates but none more than Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. He leads among self-identified members of a Tea Party (20 percent) as well as born again Evangelicals (16 percent).

Overall, Romney leads the field with 18 percent, Perry bounded into second place with 16, and Santorum dropped from 14 down to 12 percent. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who has not indicated that she is planning a bid, dropped from 12 down to 8 percent. Bachmann had the furthest drop, from 11 down to 6 percent. The field was rounded out by Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Godfathers Pizza CEO Herman Cain at 5 percent each, former House Speaker (and Harrisburg native) Newt Gingrich at 4 percent, and former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman at 2 percent.

2012 Senate Race

Senator Bob Casey is still shy of the magic 50 percent mark that signifies a safe incumbent, but he comes close in this poll. His approval rating is positive 46 to 30 percent, a 2 percent drop in approval and 1 percent bump in disapproval since August. 48 percent of voters say that he deserves another six year term, up 1 percent from the previous poll.

Casey tops an, “unnamed Republican challenger,” by 50 to 31 percent, the latter being a fairly accurate description of the GOP field so far.

Methodology

These polls were conducted through live phone calls to cellular and land lines from the week of September 21 – 26. The survey reached 1,370 registered voters, 541 of whom are registered Republicans. The margin of error is 4.2 percent in either direction.

9/28 Morning Buzz

Tom Smith is in: Coal industry veteran and former Tea Party leader Tom Smith officially announced his U.S. Senate candidacy Tuesday morning in the first of a two-day a fly-around tour of the state.

McCaffery in for AG: A long time coming, Daniel McCaffery has officially announced his candidacy for Attorney General, making him the third Democrat to enter the race officially.

Internal Vernon Poll: John Vernon may be a new face on the political scene, but the results of an internal poll released Tuesday by his campaign show he has a profile that resonates with the GOP base. The survey also shows Casey below the magic 50 percent mark.

Primary Challenge for Casey?  Add another Tea Party name to the growing list of candidates for U.S. Senate, with a caveat: this one’s a Democrat and a former candidate for Congress.

PA Schools Lawsuit: State Reps. Bill Kortz and Marc Gergely are encouraging school districts that have been hurt by the nearly $1 billion reduction in education spending to join together in a class action suit against Gov. Tom Corbett to get funding increased.

FEC Fines Callahan: Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan has been fined by the Federal Elections Commission for using $9,932 of funds from his mayoral campaign for his congressional campaign, Colby Itkowitz of the Morning Call reports.

National
Stateline: Teachers Increasugly Look to Mountain States for Jobs
Times Tribune: Vice President Biden Calls Duryea Residents To Keep Abreast Of Storm Recovery
Capitolwire (paywall): Former President George W. Bush Regales Biz Crowd

Statewide
Capitolwire (paywall): GOP Congressman Ask Legislative Leaders To Sideline Electoral Bill
Capitolwire (paywall): Gov. Corbett Mulls Using Gas Royalties To Repay Borrowed Transportation Funding
Capitolwire (paywall): Senate Democrats Announce $1.2 Billion Jobs Proposal
Capitolwire (paywall): Scarnati Says Liquor Privatization Report Says Tax Increase May Be Needed
Capitolwire (paywall): Scarnati Says New Shale Fee Should Raise $200 Million, With No Reduction In Other Taxes
Capitolwire (Paywall): Senate Judiciary Committee Reports Out DNA Testing, Death Penalty And Record Expungment Bills
Capitolwire (Paywall): Emergency Housing Program Activated In Wake Of Tropical Storm Lee, PEMA Director Says
Market Watch: Congressman Fattah applauds Dept. of Education report: lower teacher salaries = less opportunity for African American, Latino students
Morning Call: Casey foe kicks off Senate campaign
Danville News: Shale gas site neighbors: we know the drill
Times Leader: Electoral changes hit resistance
Tribune Review: Fingers point at ex-House speaker in corruption trial
Foxphilly: Pa. lawmakers consider disaster proposal
Newsworks: Hurricane Irene is more than a memory for those applying to D-SNAP
Newsworks: Pa. nurses seek state regulation of staffing levels
The Mercury: 114 still living in shelters weeks after tropical storm Lee
Daily Times: Pa. Senate panel OKs secrecy for autopsy records
Daily Times: Bill to put new limits on teen driver’s advances

Philly
Philly.com: Nutter gets free airtime as GOP foe protests outside
Philly.com: Montco controller candidate cries foul over deposition claim
Phillynow: Mayoral candidate Diop Olugbala fights to get his name, or the name he would prefer on the ballot
CBSPhilly: Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich visits Philadelphia to screen documentary

Philly Burbs
Phillyburbs.com: Teva breaks ground on new distribution center
Phillyburbs.com: Fitzpatrick may face tea party challenge
Phillyburbs.com: Chris Smith is pushing Senate to pass autism bill
Montgomery Media: Borough Council approves parking, paving projects
Bucks Local News: election 2011: Republican candidates for Lower Makefield supervisor pledge to refuse salary, challengers respond
Bucks Local News: Mercer County candidates forum scheduled for Oct. 20

Pittsburgh
Tribune-Review: Mailing Urges Pittsburgh Residents to draft Dan Onorato for Mayor
Tribune-Review: RAD Proposes Funding Increase for Next Year
Tribune-Review: More than 100 People Take Sides at Hearing on Electrical Billboards
Tribune-Review: City Proposes Settling Excessive Force Lawsuits
Post Gazette: Former Coal Company Owner Enters Race for U.S. Senate
Post-Gazette: Clash Over Abortion Measures Renewed in House
Post-Gazette: State Dept. Hears From Kansas, Texas on Oil Pipeline
Post-Gazette: Healthcare Ruling Could Be Sooner
Early Returns: Onorato: No Mayoral Run
Early Returns: Daily Santorum: Attention Pays Off

NEPA
Times Tribute: Region’s Unemployment Rate Up Again

South Central
AP, Patriot News: County congressmen talk business at breakfast

North by Northwest
Erie Times News: Erie to open bids for delinquent tax sale
Centre Daily Times: State College police announce new crack down on drunken driving
Sun Gazette: Hearing to close school
Sun Gazette: Housing stock worsened by flooding
StateCollege.Com: State College police to use alcohol detecting flashlights

Lehigh Valley
Morning Call: Bethlehem posts $7.2 million deficit last year
Morning Call: FEC fines Mayor Callahan
Reading Eagle: Mayor checking on casino
Reading Eagle: Berks families receive FEMA aid
Express Times: Bethlehem Township planning commission to review farms

Southwest
Indiana Gazette: ARMSTRONG: School Reverse Course On Plan to Void Bond Issue
Daily American: Somerset Discusses Surveillance Camera Project
Daily American: Water Rates to Rise in Conemaugh Township-Ali
Altoona Mirror: Unemployment Rate Up Again
Altoona Mirror: Conference Shows Growth
Altoona Mirror: 1st GOP House a Trial Opens in State Corruption Scandal
Tribune Democrat: Sen. Orie’s New Trial Pushed Back to February
Times Online: PA Lawmakers Consider Disaster Fund Proposal
Times Online: Pa. House Nears Final Vote on Harrisburg Plan
Times Online: Pa. Senate Panel OKs Secrecy for Autopsy Records
Times Online: VP Biden Checks in with Flooded Pa. Residents
Times Online: George W. Bush Finds Friendly Crowd at Pa. Dinner
Observer Reporter: EPA Hearing On Gas Drilling Pollution in W. Pa

Opinion
Daily American: Currency Collapse Inevitable
Altoona Mirror: No Excuse For Failure to Obey School Bus Laws
Tribune-Review: Higher Ed. Essential for Our Future
Post-Gazette: Losing At the Polls: This GOP Plan Helps the Party and Hurts the State
Post Gazette: Better Mayor: Pittsburgh Deserves a Ravenstahl Alternative
Daily Times: Rendell’s big talk offers little to small businesses

Blogs
CasblancaPA: Will Speaker Sam Smith See His Shadow?

A Primary Challenge for Casey?

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Add another Tea Party name to the growing list of candidates for U.S. Senate, with a caveat: this one’s a Democrat and a former candidate for Congress.

Brian Kelly, a retired software engineer and former assistant professor from Wilkes-Barre, is planning to throw his hat in the ring against Senator Bob Casey.

Kelly ran for Congress in 2010, coming in third place (16.8 percent) behind Congressman Paul Kanjorski (49.4 percent) and Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien (33.9 percent) in the 11th district. He was the only Democrat endorsed by the Independence Hall Tea Party PAC in the 2010 primaries.

The author of “Obama’s Seven Deadly Sins,” and “Americans Need Not Apply,” Kelly’s platform is a laundry list of Tea Party issues such as eliminating the corporate tax and cracking down on illegal immigration.

His criticisms of Casey are numerous, but focus on the Senator’s relationship with President Obama.

“In this essay, you will learn some things about my opponent since most Pennsylvanians do not know who the real Bob Casey actually is,” he writes. “If you like Barack Obama and his progressive policies, you are ‘gonna’ love Bob Casey.”

Kelly will make his final decision in mid-October, according to his website.

Casey won the 2006 Democratic primary with 84.6 percent of the vote.

The top banner of Kelly's website

Vernon Campaign Releases Internal Poll for PA-Senate

By Ali Carey, Contributing Writer

Colonel John Vernon may be a new face on the political scene, but the results of an internal poll released today by his campaign show he has a profile that resonates with the GOP base.

National Research Inc., a Republican polling firm whose clients include New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, conducted a statewide poll for the Vernon for Senate 2012 Campaign Committee.  The telephone survey was taken on September 19-20 and had a sampling of 500 likely PA voters.  The full memo is below.

The results indicated that Democratic Senator Bob Casey is showing early signs of vulnerability.  Casey’s favorability rating is 47 percent, his job approval rating is 46 percent, and his ballot score against a generic Republican is 46 percent – figures that are roughly in line with independent polling this year.

Among Independent voters, Casey’s job approval rating is 41 percent and he earns 45 percent against a generic Republican.

The National Research, Inc. survey asked Republican and Independent respondents to vote based on biographical descriptions of each of the major Republican candidates running for the party’s nomination.  The biographical descriptions for each candidate was taken from each of the campaign’s websites or campaign literature – read the poll memo to see the description.

Vernon came out in front with 29 percent of the vote. Steve Welch was second with 15 percent, followed by Laureen Cummings at 13 percent. David Christian and Tom Smith each garnered 6 percent of the vote Marc Scaringi at 5 percent. 24 percent were undecided.

Granted it’s an internal campaign polling memo, which are most often released to the public by campaigns seeking to demonstrate viability. Additionally, public memos typically contain only the positive highlights of polling.

Nonetheless, Vernon’s effort to poll the state so early is the sign of a serious campaign.

National Research Inc., argues that based on the results of their recent poll John Vernon is one of the few candidates who can win in a presidential year for the following reasons:

“He unites the establishment and Tea party wings.  He has the right messages and the right background. He is popular with base Republicans, but also with Independent voters.  He is an outsider and a fresh face when that is exactly what voters want.  Besides his fiscal positions, he has an experience in military and foreign affairs unmatched by any of the other candidates.”

Vernon’s campaign is very encouraged by the results of this recent poll.

“When people hear John Vernon and see him and meet him, they see him as someone that’s a real conservative and has the experience to be their Senator,” said Robb Austin, Vernon’s Communication Director.

Austin emphasize that Vernon is truly an “active candidate.”

“He is on the road every week meeting voters in different parts of the state and he is learning a great deal about what’s on the minds of the people of the commonwealth,” Austin said.  “He connects extremely well with voters.  Our goal is to get as well known as possible and reach out to voters and get known as much as we can.”

Here is the complete memo:

Vernon Poll Memo

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