Good morning politicos, and welcome to the Buzz. Big news this morning – Pa. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi is considering a bid against Bob Casey. The story followed a busy Monday of U.S. Senate action.
Toomey Enters Veep-stakes: National Review columnist Jim Geraghty thinks Toomey distinguished himself on the supercommittee and would be “a boon to any ticket — especially a Romney one.” The columnist talked to several national GOP strategists who feel the same way.
Jennifer Mann to Retire: The Pa. Rep. announced Monday that she will not seek re-election to represent the Allentown-based 132nd district. The primary to replace her promises to be a free-for-all.
Separated at Birth? From the good folks at Welch for Senate, a quirky web video exploring the “remarkable coincidences” and “bizarre similarities” between President Barack Obama and Senator Bob Casey.
Smith for Senate Endorsements: Tom Smith’s Senate campaign announced the support of Pa. Senator Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Pa. Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland) Monday afternoon.
Paterno Poll: According to a survey from Public Policy Polling, most Pa. voters believe firing Paterno was the right decision in the wake of the University’s shocking sex abuse scandal – even though on the whole they still have a favorable opinion of him.
Statewide Capitol Ideas: Rep. Jennifer Mann, D- Lehigh, Will Not Run for Re-Election In 2012 Heard In The Hall: All In The Jewell Williams Family Heard In The Hall: York County Voters To Fill Philadelphia Vacant State House Seat Capitol Ideas: Monday Morning Coffee: A COLA And A Smile. Lawmakers, State Officials To Get Automatic Raises This Week State Impact: EPA Chief Says Feds Won’t Let Fracking “Screw Up” Ground Water State Impact: Corbett Says He’s Working to Keep Philadelphia Refineries Open State Impact: Reviewing The Year’s Top Energy Stories State Impact: Report May Have “Overstated” High Bromide Levels State Impact: Environmental Group Says Limerick Nuclear Plant Needs New Safety Study State Impact: Impact Fees Differ On Buffer Zones State Impact: Drill Bits: Shale Gas Crush, Heating with Gas, and Hunting in Shale County Essential Public Radio: Nine and counting? GOP contenders vie for Casey’s Senate seat Centre Daily Times: Under Corbett, integrity is restored to welfare system PA Independent: ‘Cyber Monday’ puts state online sales tax laws under spotlight Times Tribune: Obama campaign will need PA where support has slipped since ‘08
South Central Chambersburg Public Opinion: Chambersburg borough council to review budget tonight Pennlive.com: State cuts and rising costs lead to Cumberland County library system spending down its reserves
Lehigh Valley Morning Call: Jennifer Mann wont seek another term in the state house Reading Eagle: DA honored for support of addiction programs WFMZ: Feds will send money to repair storm damaged bridges, roads Express Times: Southern Lehigh Valley superintendent Joseph Liberati dies
Southwest Indiana Gazette: Conservation officers spread out to make sure hunters stay on target Observer Reporter: Washington County may soon host charter school
Another poll, another set of good-but-not-great numbers for incumbent Senator Bob Casey.
According to a pre-Thanksgiving survey from Public Policy Polling, 40 percent of Pennsylvanians approve of the freshman Democrat’s job performance while 34 percent disapprove. It’s been the same story for Casey this year – numbers that are on par or better than most other political figures in Pa, but short of the 50 percent mark that denotes a safe incumbent.
But overall, the poll is good news for the Senator. And as the pollster said in its press release (of Casey and Florida Democrat Bill Nelson):
“Their topline approval numbers make them appear to be more vulnerable than they really are because their numbers get dragged down by their party base not being enthralled with them, even though it will vote for them in the end.”
“Bob Casey is probably going to have a tougher race than he did in the Democratic wave year of 2006,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But he’s still in a pretty solid position for reelection.”
There has yet to be a GOP heavyweight in the race, and Casey leads each of his relatively unknown GOP opponents by double digits: former State Rep. and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Sam Rohrer by 11 points (47-36); Chester County entrepreneur Steve Welch by 14 points (47-33); 2010 congressional candidate Tim Burns by 15 points (49-34); and coal industry veteran Tom Smith by 16 points (48-32).
On the other hand, there may be hope for Republicans when you factor in name recognition. 71 percent of voters are still undecided about Rohrer, the GOP candidate with highest name recognition. 74 percent have no opinion on Burns, 82 percent are not familiar with Smith, and 83 percent are unsure of Welch.
And the environment now is much tougher for Democrats than 2006, when Casey defeated Sen. Rick Santorum out, handily beating the incumbent Senator by 17 points. In a re-match between Casey and Santorum today, Casey would win by just 10 points.
PPP surveyed 500 Pennsylvania voters from November 17th to 20th via automated telephone
interviews. The margin of error for the survey is +/-4.4%.
The poll sampled 49 percent Ds, 41 percent Rs, and 9 percent Is. The actual voter registration numbers in Pa. as of November 21, 2011 are 50.68 percent D, 37.06 percent R, and 12.25 percent everything else.
Watching Penn State football games without seeing former head coach Joe Paterno is something that many Pennsylvanians are still getting used to.
However, according to a survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP), most Pa. voters believe firing Paterno was the right decision in the wake of the University’s shocking sex abuse scandal – even though on the whole they still have a favorable opinion of him.
JoePa’s approval ratings among Pennsylvanians exceed any politician. 51 percent of voters view Paterno favorably compared to 28 percent who have an unfavorable opinion. Every demographic group PPP tracked also shows a positive perception of Paterno.
Even though Pennsylvania residents apparently still like Paterno, they also see that he needed to be removed as head coach. 45 percent of voters agree with the decision to fire Paterno, 38 percent disagree and 17 percent didn’t have an opinion. In fact, almost every group is supportive of Paterno’s firing with the exception of voters identifying as ‘very conservative,’ who oppose his being removed by a 33 to 46 percent margin, and Republicans who split evenly at 41 percent.
The voters clearly disapprove of what happened in the PSU athletic department, but they haven’t lost faith in the entire University community. In terms of how the scandal will effect Penn State’s overall image, voters still see the school in an “overwhelmingly positive light,” 61 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of the school compared to only 25 percent with a negative opinion.
PA residents were not so kind to alleged child molester, former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky broke former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s record as the least popular person the PPP has ever polled on.
A whopping 88 percent have a negative opinion of Sandusky and only 3 percent have a positive opinion of him, showing just how widespread the news has sunk into the public conscious.
Coal industry veteran and former Tea Party leader Tom Smith has added two names to his list of endorsements for U.S. Senate.
The campaign announced the support of Pa. Senator Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Pa. Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland) this afternoon.
They are Smith’s first endorsements by elected officials not representing areas on his Armstrong/Indiana County base. They join Pa. Sen. Don White and Pa. Reps. Eli Evankovich, Tim Krieger, Donna Oberlander, Jeff Pyle and Dave Reed.
Folmer and Bloom are on the conservative end of the GOP spectrum in Harrisburg. Both fall in the sphere of orbit of the Citizens Alliance for Pennsylvania, a group that opposes lawmaker perks including pensions. CAP Chairman John Kennedy and several other of its backers are supporting Smith.
Folmer won his seat by defeating Pa. Senate Majority Leader Chip Brightbill in the 2006 primary which was largely a pay raise protest; Bloom cleared a crowded GOP primary and took office this year.
It’s a crowd that is ready, willing and ably-funded to enforce conservative orthodoxy on Republican lawmakers viatelevision and radio ads.
From the Smith press release:
“Tom Smith is principled, honorable and will bring common sense to Washington, D.C. where it is badly needed,” said Senator Folmer.
“I enthusiastically support Tom Smith’s candidacy for United States Senate,” Said Rep. Bloom. “Tom is a principled conservative and is the best candidate to defeat Senator Bob Casey in November.”
“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of these Republican leaders,” said Smith. “Senator Folmer and Representative Bloom are strong voices for fiscal restraint, lower taxes and common sense government in Harrisburg, I look forward to working with them in the United States Senate.”
Pat Toomey has a booster in National Review columnist Jim Geraghty, who thinks the freshman Senator distinguished himself on the supercommittee and would be “a boon to any ticket — especially a Romney one.” The columnist talked to several national GOP strategists who feel the same way.
Geraghty writes that whoever the GOP nominee, he or she will need a running mate who, “has impeccable free-market credentials, is admired by the tea partiers, and preferably comes from a swing state. A figure who would face little learning curve if thrust into the presidency and is experienced enough with how the federal government works to be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, but hasn’t become a stale creature of official Washington. Someone who built his reputation as a staunch defender of conservative principles and by making the hard choices, but has also demonstrated a certain flexibility and willingness to compromise to achieve what he deems the nation’s highest priorities.”
For his part, Toomey dismisses any speculation. “I really don’t see that happening,” he told NR. “I have to catch up with the work I have to do on my ordinary committees because I’ve been so engrossed on the supercommittee.”
It’s that compromise – a plan to lower taxes over all, but raise revenue by closing loopholes and deductions – that elevated Toomey to national prominence (hisnational TV tourcontinuedover the weekend). According to most observers, Toomey’s proposal was the closest the 12-member group came to a deal.
As to whose candidacy he would most benefit, the writer argues that Toomey would bolster Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich by inoculating them from conservative ire.
Toomey is no stranger to VP-picking. In 2008, he penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal advocating potential running mates for John McCain.
“To win in November, Mr. McCain needs a strong economically conservative message. Picking a vice presidential nominee who can credibly champion that message is the first and perhaps best indicator he can give voters how he will govern if he makes it to the Oval Office,” Toomey wrote.
His first choice? Then-South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (before his Argentina expedition). Toomey also named South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, former Texas Senator Phil Gramm, and Forbes Inc. CEO Steve Forbes as possible picks.
Geraghty has been a major Toomey booster in recent weeks, most notably defending the Senator against conservative criticism of his supercommittee compromise.
The columnist’s enthusiam aside, the most likely scenario for Toomey would probably be a Rick Perry campaign. The Texas Governor will need a northern VP who can balance his informal style and perceived weaknesses in policy debates.
From the good folks at Welch for Senate comes the latest effort to cut through the political clutter – and a crowded GOP primary.
“Separated at Birth,” a quirky, six-minuteweb video, explores the “remarkable coincidences” and “bizarre similarities” between President Barack Obama and Senator Bob Casey. Dripping with sarcasm, the video is the entrepreneur’s latest effort to buoy his low name ID and show that he is the candidate best equipped to take on Casey.
Shot in faux-documentary style, it examines the “very real” possibility that President Obama and Casey were separated at birth and are actually even twins. Three fictional experts, behavioral scientist Dr. Arthur Herberstein, probability expert Dr. Milo Kamdermann, and body language expert Dr. Melinda Farraday, provide expert opinions and “mountains of evidence” suggesting Casey is either related to, or wants to become Obama.
“If you look a little deeper at the photos, I think it becomes quite clear that Casey is actually trying to mimic Obama [...] for example, Casey has taken up all of Obama’s favorite activities: dancing, bowling, even karaoke,” says the actress playing Farraday.
With dramatic music in the background, the video compares everything from Obama and Casey’s tendency to dress alike to their voting records (emphasized in the video as being the same 98 percent of the time). It ends on a positive note – painting Welch as the not-a-career-politician candidate and family man.
Welch accumulated significant personal wealth as an entrepreneur whose suburban Philadelphia company invests in other businesses. He ran, briefly, for congress in the 7th and later 6th congressional districts – withdrawing in favor of Pat Meehan and Jim Gerlach, respectively.
Welch’s profile – businessman turned independently wealthy candidate – is similar to other members of the top tier of the GOP Senate primary. Tim Burns of Washington County founded a medical equipment company, and in 2010 challenged Mark Critz in a special and the general election for the seat of the late Rep. John Murtha.
Tom Smith of Armstrong County built a mid-sized coal mining operation which he sold in recent years. Also a former Tea Party leader, he has considerable personal wealth and has already loaned $750,000 to his campaign.
Other GOP candidates include former State Rep. and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Sam Rohrer of Berks County; David Christian, a veterans’ advocate from Bucks County; Laureen Cummings, founder of the Scranton Tea Party; Marc Scaringi, a Harrisburg-area attorney and former staffer to Sen. Rick Santorum; John Vernon, a retired Colonel from Tioga County; and Bedford pharmacists John Kensinger.
According toPolitico, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Matt Canter scoffed at the Welch attack.
“Congrats to some consultant who made a pretty penny on a Web video no one will see,” Canter said. “Can’t wait to watch the next episode about Welch, the guy who actually voted for Obama and now pretends he is a tea partier. But Welch is only polling at 1 percent right now, so he would never warrant a Web video.”
The Democratic National Committee isn’t waiting for the outcome of the murky Republican presidential primary – the organization is taking direct aim at front runner Mitt Romney in a television ad that begins airing today.
Titled “Mitt v. Mitt,” the movie trailer-style highlights video clips of Romney making seemingly contradictory statements.
Either version could just as easily have come from one of Romney’s Republican primary opponents.
“I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose,” Romney says in a video clip from his successful 2003 bid for Massachusetts Governor. From a more recent television interview: “The right next step… is to see Roe Vs. Wade overturned.” (Romney has said that his earlier, pro-choice position was a mistake).
Per DNC policy, a spokesperson declined to comment on the size and distribution of the ad – saying only that viewers in the Pittsburgh region were sure to see it. The spot will also air in additional states that have not yet been specified.
Update: Via the Post-Gazette, the ad will air in the Pittsburgh market. They also have this response from Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul:
“President Obama will say and do anything to hold on to power. Despite what he said he would do for the middle class, President Obama has failed to create a single net new job and has wreaked more havoc on the middle class than any president in modern history. President Obama himself concedes he hasn’t delivered on his campaign promises – however, he is still asking Americans to reward his failures with a second term. It is clear that this election is going to be about Candidate Obama running against President Obama.”
The video – along with the President’s frequent visits to Pa – is further evidence that Pennsylvania has emerged as a major 2012 battleground. It also demonstrates that Democrats are taking Romney seriously, especially in light of recent poll numbers.
A Public Policy Polling survey from Tuesday showing President Obama in a dead heat with Romney, 45 to 45, in the Keystone state. The pollster said he believed Romney would have taken Pa. if the election were held last week. Recent polling has consistently shown Romney as the most competitive Republican candidate in the state.
The DNC has also aired anti-Romney ads in Arizona.
Good morning politicos, and welcome to the Buzz. We hope your holiday was cheerful and relaxing. President Obama and DNC are on the move in Pa. this week.
DNC Launches Anti-Romney Ad in Pa: The Democratic National Committee isn’t waiting for the outcome of the murky Republican presidential primary – the organization is taking direct aim at front runner Mitt Romney in a television ad that begins airing today.
Obama to Scranton Weds: The President will travel to Scranton – typically associated with VP Joe Biden, who hails from the Electric City – to continue his public push for Congress to pass elements of his American Jobs Act.
Prospects Dim for Electoral College Plan: After Gov. Tom Corbett made it clear last week that he won’t be pushing for movement on a plan to reform Pennsylvania’s electoral college, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi responded via Facebook saying, he does “not believe there will be sufficient time to advance [the plan] this year.”
Poll: Obama Continues to Lag in Pa: No one has to guess what the PA GOP was thankful for this holiday. Another poll, released Tuesday, showed President Barack Obama with upside down job approval ratings in Pennsylvania.
Statewide AP: Bill To Put ‘In God We Trust’ On Specialty License Plates Set For State Senate The Intelligencer: Pay Raise Time In Harrisburg State Impact: National Park Service Opposes New Power Lines in the Delaware Water Gap State Impact: Luzerne County Residents Sued by Gas Company Settle Out in Court State Impact: As New York State Debates New Drilling Rules, Energy Companies Ramp Up Spending on Ads and Lobbyists Capitol Ideas: The Sunday Brunch: Don’t Call It A Comeback Citizens Voice: Redistricting considered an insider’s game Fox Philadelphia: Lawsuit Allowed To Go Forward Over Jim Thorpe’s Remains Pennlive.com: Gov. Tom Corbett is clear about where he stands on gas drilling during visit to Hershey last week Times-Tribune: PSU commentary opportunity, risk for Kane The Tribune-Democrat: Pa. gov’t salaries going up Citizens Voice: Carney could be planning comeback Times Tribune: Sandusky charges bring focus on PA. sex crime laws Pennlive.com: PA lawmakers unlikely to repeal law that awards automatic pay raises Pennlive.com: PA attorney General’s office gives tips on how to avoid scams and fraud on cyber monday Pennlive.com: PA bill that would create “In God We Trust” license plate approved by the house
Philly Inquirer: Can Mayor Nutter And Likely City Council President Bury The Hatchet? Inquirer: Occupy Philadelphia Being Evicted From City Hall Philly Now: Mayor Nutter Cracks Down On Tax Delinquent Pensioners
After Gov. Tom Corbett made it clear yesterday that he won’t be pushing for movement on a plan to reform Pennsylvania’s electoral college, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi responded via Facebook saying, he does “not believe there will be sufficient time to advance [the plan] this year.”
Pileggi said he won’t revisit the bill until the legislature completes their work on education reform, the Marcellus Shale industry and transportation funding.
Corbett’s comments about the plan came at a Press Club Luncheon Monday where he said, “I see no movement on it. I’m not going to push for movement.” However, Corbett said he still supports the bill and believes “it is a fair representation to the people of Pennsylvania, and to all the states across our States.”
Corbett came out in support of Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s plan shortly after it was made public in September. The plan would change the state’s current winner-takes-all system and divide up the state’s electoral college votes by congressional district and give an additional two votes to the statewide winner.
If the plan had been in effect in 2008, President Barack Obama would have won the state 11-10 rather than 21-0.
G. Terry Madonna, professor of Political Science at Franklin and Marshall College, said if the legislature does not vote the bill this year “it’s really going to be tough to get it done” by March, when Pileggi has said he thinks the legislation should be completed.
Capitolwire reported earlier today: “Montgomery Democratic Sen. Daylin Leach said the bill ‘is essentially dead’ if its delayed until next year.”
In addition to a crowded legislative agenda, Madonna added, a lack of support in the state legislature and from the GOP’s congressional delegation will hinder the plan.
Charlie Gerow, spokesman for the All Votes Matters, the most prominent group supporting Pileggi’s plan, said Madonna’s views are flat out wrong.
“We disagree with them … I think Sen Pileggi thinks that as well,” he said, “I also don’t view the world in static terms, I think … there’s some members of the congressional delegation that are warming up to it.”
In his Facebook post Pileggi added that “advancing this legislation will require a concerted and sustained effort involving the Senate, the House and the Governor.”
Gerow said it was important that both Corbett and Pileggi affirmed their support for the plan yesterday but said, “Obviously we would prefer to see it done sooner rather than later but we don’t have a deaf ear to the legislative process.”
Gerow said his group is sill optimistic that this reform will passed the the General Assembly this session and in time for the presidential election.