Rohrer Wins PoliticsPA Reader Poll

Former state Rep. Sam Rohrer of Berks County won the PoliticsPA readers poll of the U.S. Senate primary. Here are the full results.

Sam Rohrer: 651 (37 percent)
David Christian: 364 (21 percent)
Steve Welch: 324 (19 percent)
Tom Smith: 313 (18 percent)
Marc Scaringi: 77 (5 percent)

Note: Bedford pharmacist John Kensinger was initially listed in this poll, but removed when he did not make the ballot. He garnered 12 votes.

Critz Locks Down Home Town Labor Support

Rep. Mark Critz has earned the bulk of labor support in his primary versus Jason Altmire, and this week he scored two home town wins.  The Johnstown-Somerset and Westmoreland County Labor Councils – both representing parts of his current district – endorsed his candidacy.

“The Greater Westmoreland County Labor Council voted overwhelmingly to recommend the endorsement of Mark Critz because we know that he wakes up every day focusing on creating jobs and standing up for working men and women throughout western Pennsylvania,” Westmoreland Labor Council President Robert Lavely said in a statement Tuesday.

“It is humbling to receive the unanimous support of the Johnstown-Somerset Regional Labor Council,” Critz said Monday in a statement about the Johnstown-Somerset endorsement. He also took a swing at Altmire.

“I’ve been fighting every day in Congress to bring jobs back to western Pennsylvania and to protect Social Security and Medicare from schemes like the Republican Balanced Budget Amendment that will lead to massive cuts to benefits for our seniors.”

Altmire voted for the BBA.

On top of the Westmoreland Council, these are Critz’s labor endorsements so far:

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1279
International Association of Fire Fighters
Johnstown-Somerset Regional Labor Council
Laborers District Council of Western Pennsylvania
Service Employees International Union
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 23
United Mine Workers of America
United Steelworkers
United Transportation Union
Utility Workers Union of America

DePasquale, Maher Take Lumps for Double-Dipping

Eugene DePasquale (D-York) and John Maher (R-Allegheny) have two things in common. Both are running for the office Pa. Auditor General, and both are running unopposed for re-election to their seats in the State House. One good government group is crying foul.

“Holding one public office while running for another provides a taxpayer subsidy of the incumbents’ political campaigns,” said Tim Potts, President of Democracy Rising. “This is not what voters want. By 87 percent to 12 percent, voters want to require elected officials to resign from their current office as soon as they decide to seek a different office.”

“The alternative of holding special elections apart from regularly scheduled election days is expensive. Costs are hard to estimate but a ballpark estimate is $100,000 to $150,000 per seat,” he added.

Potts cites a poll conducted at the behest of his organization by pollster Terry Madonna. The December 2011 survey of 504 voters show that they indeed support such a rule, 86.5 percent to 11.6 percent. The full poll results, including a number of other questions of ethics in government, are available here (pdf).

There are three candidates in the race for Pa. Auditor General: DePasquale, Maher, and former Pa. Community Bankers CEO, Republican Frank Pinto. If DePasquale or Maher wins the office, since each is unopposed for State Rep., a special election will be necessary.

Pinto was highly critical of both candidates over the issue.

“It shows the culture of arrogance that exists in Harrisburg,” he said. “How could these guys be counted on to watch over taxpayer money as Auditor General when they’re willing to wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on special elections?”

He noted that candidates for special elections are chosen by “party bosses” and not voters.

Both DePasquale and Maher downplay the significance of their dual candidacies.

Maher said Potts’ proposed rule, that a candidate resign his or her current office as soon as he or she decides to seek another, is unconstitutional as well as impractical.

“Tim Potts apparently prefers the certainty of two additional special elections this year for the House to the chance of a single one next year,” he told PoliticsPA. “I do not recall Potts expressing this concern when Onorato and Wagner were campaigning to be governor, but perhaps I missed it. In any case, his unconstitutional proposal would require considerable legislative effort to advance. I prefer to devote such energy towards reducing the size of the House.”

DePasquale declined to comment for the story, but he addressed the issue recently in an interview with the York Daily Record:

According to DePasquale, he’s received one communication in the past year from a constituent about the issue of running for two offices simultaneously. By contrast, he’s heard from three constituents about the issue of legally owning boa constrictors.

“People said they didn’t want to lose me if I didn’t win the auditor general’s race,” DePasquale said.

Rand Paul Endorses Feinberg

Kentucky Senator and Tea Party icon Rand Paul has thrown his support behind congressional hopeful and former staffer Evan Feinberg. It’s the second Senate endorsement the conservative challenger has received this month.

“I am proud to endorse Evan Feinberg for Congress. He is a tireless advocate for limited government and individual liberty,” said Paul in a statement. “During his time in my office, I learned from personal experience that Evan has the skills, experience and philosophy necessary to help fix what’s wrong with our country.”

Feinberg worked in Paul’s Washington, DC office as a senior aide on health care, education and labor policy from May 2011 until he resigned to announce his candidacy in September. Prior to that, Feinberg, 27, worked in the office of Senator Tom Coburn as a Legislative Assistant on health care policy.

Coburn endorsed Feinberg last week. Both had indicated in December that they would support their former staffer. Both men are well known leaders in the conservative movement (Paul’s father is presidential hopeful Ron Paul). And the endorsement will likely further Feinberg’s efforts to get on the map of conservative donors nationally as a viable primary challenger.

Paul also took a jab at Rep. Tim Murphy, the five-term incumbent Feinberg hopes to unseat.

“The people of Pennsylvania still feel the sting of Arlen Specter’s politics, the type of Big-Government, Republican-In-Name-Only politicians that have led our country to the precipice of fiscal ruin,” he said.

His full statement is below.

Feinberg faces a steep uphill challenge in the southwestern Pa. district: as of the fourth quarter, he trailed Murphy in fundraising $1,040,000 to $40,000.

He might get a little boost; a spokesman for the super PAC Campaign for Primary Accountability, which currently has a budget of $1.6 million, said the group had decided to get involved in the pa-18 primary.

“We will be doing independent expenditures in PA-18,” said spokesman Curtis Ellis. “Our survey research shows [Murphy] has very high unfavorable ratings and the voters are ready for someone else to represent them in Washington.”

“We generally don’t discuss budgets or campaign plans. We have over $1.6 million cash on hand,” he said. “We have the resources and are committed to spending what it takes to get our message out and make a difference.”

The Democratic candidate is Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi.

Here is Paul’s full statement:

“I am proud to endorse Evan Feinberg for Congress. He is a tireless advocate for limited government and individual liberty. During his time in my office, I learned from personal experience that Evan has the skills, experience and philosophy necessary to help fix what’s wrong with our country.

“I was born in Western Pennsylvania and still have family in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. I am convinced the people of Western Pennsylvania want a constitutional conservative and, when given the choice, will reject a career politician. Electing career politicians has been a primary reason for increased bureaucracy, entitlement expansions, bailouts of private industries and the promotion of job-killing power grabs like ‘card check.’

“The people of Pennsylvania still feel the sting of Arlen Specter’s politics, the type of Big-Government, Republican-In-Name-Only politicians that have led our country to the precipice of fiscal ruin. They ran up our debt. They grew an out-of-control federal government. They took more and more of our liberty.

“The only way to get our fiscal house in order and restore the American Dream is to replace self-interested politicians with candidates who will fight for principle and will put the next generation before the next election.”

2/28 Morning Buzz

Good morning politicos, and welcome to the Buzz. In a huge shocker, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission again postponed its meeting to Friday, instead of today. Now that no one believes its maps will be in place for 2012, they might as well take their time and get them right.

Bailey for AG: Just when you thought it was a two-way Democratic primary battle, another candidate made the ballot for Attorney General. Don Bailey, a former Pa. Auditor General and former Congressman originally from Westmoreland County, is officially in the race to be Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement official.

Scaringi Launches Radio Ad: Marc Scaringi will be the second Senate candidate on the air starting this week. The Cumberland County attorney and former staffer to Rick Santorum will launch a $600-1,000 radio ad buy in central Pa.

Legislative Election Updates:

SD-15: John McNally would take a pay cut if elected to the Senate. The attorney and former Dauphin Co. GOP Chairman released his tax returns Monday, showing an average gross income of $140,000 over the past five years. The salary of a rank-and-file senator is about $78,000. He’s running to replace the retiring Jeff Piccola.

SD-29: The Standard Speaker checks in with Sen. Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill) and his re-election campaign.

SD-40: The corruption trial of Sen. Jane Orie has begun. 6 jurors were selected Monday.

SD-43: Sen. Jay Costa officially announced his re-election bid Monday. “It has been both my honor and privilege to represent the citizens of the 43rd District and Allegheny County in the state Senate,” Costa said in a statement. “Together we have made great strides and achieved many things, but there is still much work to be done and precious little time.” The Dem Minority Leader has served the Allegheny County district since 1996.

HD-16: Kathleen Coder, the former Bellevue Council president who is one of two Republicans vying to challenge Rep. Rob Matzie (D-Beaver), announced that former Steeler Rocky Bleier is chairing her campaign. “We don’t need more career politicians in Harrisburg,” she said. “We need real people who want to serve and do something to make a difference.”

HD-20: The petitions of David Schuilenburg (Dem) are being challenged by Robert Wilson – likely the same the father of Bobby Wilson, who ran for city council in 2011. North Pittsburgh Politics says it looks like the work of the Mark Purcell campaign. Purcell has gone after candidates’ petitions in the past and likely wants to be the only primary challenger to Rep. Adam Ravenstahl.

HD-22: The petitions of Stephanie Crossey (Dem) and Shawn Lunny (Dem) are being challenged in the race to replace Rep. Chelsa Wagner. Sources tell North Pittsburgh Politics that this is the Molchany campaign trying to setup a 1 on 1 race between her and Martin Schmotzer.

HD-24: The petitions of Rep. Joe Preston (Dem), William Anderson (Dem), and Todd Koger (Dem) are being challenged. Looks like the Ed Gainey campaign is putting on a full court press.

HD-45: The petitions of Maribeth Taylor (Dem) are being challenged by Rep. Nick Kotik. Rep. Kotik has also done this before against the same candidate.

HD-66: A second Republican primary challenger to Sam Smith, Jim Brown of Brockway, a former missionary. He says Smith hasn’t done enough to end abortion. “Every day that our Republican legislators drag their feet we have more needless abortion deaths,” Brown said in a statement. “Maybe they’ve got something more important to do than save lives but as the Representative from the 66th district I would not want even one unnecessary death on my conscience.”

HD-113: Based on a successful and well-attended event he hosted recently – featuring some heavy hitters in the Lackawanna County Democratic circles – NEPArtisan thinks Marty Flynn is a credible primary challenger to Rep. Kevin Murphy.

HD-116: Ransom Young, the Democrat running in the Hazleton-area district, talks about his recalibrated campaign efforts in the wake of the switch from new maps back to old. Meanwhile his opponent, freshman Tarah Toohil, puts a happy face on a tough path to re-election.

HD-119: Rep. Gerald Mullery talks redistricting and re-election. He’ll face Republican Rick Arnold in the general election.

HD-124: This Stanard Speaker article is an embarrassment of campaign riches. They also check in with State Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-Schuylkill) and his primary opponent Larry Padora.

HD-153: Special election not withstanding, Democrat Madeleine Dean kicked off her campaign to replace former Rep. now Montco Commissioner Josh Shapiro. “This community, this village, instilled in me a set of values that have helped carry me through life and I believe will allow me make a real difference in Harrisburg,” she said in a statement. Dean is an attorney and an Abington Township Commissioner and currently she teaches at LaSalle University.

HD-169: The redistricting writing is on the wall, and the race to replace former Rep. now Councilman Denny O’Brien will remain a Philadelphia affair. The three York County Republicans who had filed for the seat withdrew their candidacies, leaving just Republicans John McCann and David Kralle, O’Brien’s former aide, and Democrat Ed Neilson, a former official in Gov.  Rendell’s  administration and former political director for the city electricians union, Local 98.

HD-182: Brian Sims, the primary challenger to Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Phila), got some national ink yesterday. This story about his coming out to his college football teammates made the front of AOL and the Huffington Post.

Hat tip today to North Pittsburgh Politics and Standard Speaker writer Jill Whalen. Lots of great election updates from them today.

Have news or a tip about a state Senate or House race? Email it to Wondering why your opponent’s statement got in the Buzz and yours didn’t? Add us to your press list!

AP: Are Santorum’s comments on higher ed of step?
AP: Gingrich slams Santorum as “big labor Republican”
AP: Romney hits Santorum on economic credentials
AP: Romney-Santorum clash turns next to Ohio
AP: Obama weighs in after Santorum calls him a “snob”
AP: OH Primary 2012: Romney & Santorum clash turns to new battleground
Morning Call: Mitt Romney tries to keep focus on the economy
Morning Call: Most voters believe healthcare mandate unconstitutional
Morning Call: Pro-Romney ‘super PAC’ denies new ad shows illegal coordination
Politico: Mitt Romney ignores Rick Santorum’s social politics
Politico: Rick Santorum blames recession on gas prices
Politico: GOP not focusing on Obama
Roll Call: Parties have plenty of time to play politics
Roll Call: Campaign finance onus placed on agencies
The Statehouse File: Across the nation: Gambling revenue promises rarely met
Time Swampland: Why Rick Santorum’s scolding is dooming his campaign
The Washington Examiner: Romney uses Specter to spook Santorum’s supporters
Los Angeles Times: Poll: Pennsylvania voters say Santorum is too extreme, can’t beat Obama
CBS News: Santorum leads Romney in Ohio poll
Five Thiry Eight: Michigan Forecast update: Romney’s lead looks more tenuous
Real Clear Politics: The wisdom of drilling for oil
The Hill: House takes aim at Supreme Court’s controversial property rights ruling
Reuters: Santorum win in Michigan could be chaos for GOP
NY Times: Santorum and Romney make last-minute appeals to Michigan
NY Times: Obama’s unacknowledged debt to Bowles-Simpson plan
Pro Publica: What do Republican presidential candidates say on foreclosure crisis? Not Much
USA Today: Are Paul and Romney teaming up against Santorum?
Slate: Ron Paul: The Mountain comes to Muhammad

AP: Pa. court to hear candidate petition challenges, including Altmire case
WFMZ: Pa. Latinos protest lack of representation in state capitol
Morning Call: The two sides of Rick Santorum
Times-Tribune: Millions of Pennsylvanians using health care reform benefit
Citizen’s Voice: Treasurer eyes comprehensive project financing charges
Capitol Ideas: Corman: I want to restore all higher education funding
State House Sound Bites: Schoch: Transportation funding plan fuzzy as long as state budget still unclear
State House Sound Bites: Corman vows to fight cuts to higher ed; says schools have “done enough”
State House Sound Bites: Links: Libraries eye proposed cuts, heating aid boost from fed, amateur mapmaker gets some ink
PA Independent: Corman to Corbett: Universities already paid their ‘fair share’ of budget cuts
PA Independent: Secretary of Ed: Administration open to discussing district consolidation
StateImpactPA: Anti-impact fee commissioner may end up supporting levy
Capitolwire: Schoch outlines potential ‘temporary’ fuel tax swap as funding option
Capitolwire: Holding 2012 primary on 2001 maps would limit Latino voice in Legislature, coalition says
Capitolwire: As governor proposes HEMAP elimination, official says settlement money could fund program
Capitolwire: Piccola says Corbett budget ‘guts’ key accountability, cost-savings measure
Capitolwire: Senators want more, earlier info on fiscally-failing districts

AP: Obama campaign to open re-election HQ in NJ
AP: Sunoco chief meets with local officials
Inquirer: Philadelphia city pension shows surprise rebound
Inquirer: York County trio drops from Philadelphia legislative race
Inquirer: HUD, Nutter agree Housing Authority not ready for local control
Daily News: Mayor Nutter talked FOX 29 out of airing spanking video, sources say
Daily News: Fired cop returns, Police Commissioner Ramsey blames Daily News
Daily News: John Baer: Watching Pa. politics is Capitol punishment
Philly Now: Is Philly the 8th most corrupt city in the U.S.?
Philly Now: Obama over Santorum, Romney in Pennsylvania according to new poll
Philly Now: ‘Hire Our Heroes’ event in Philadelphia ignores new tax incentives
Philly Now: Redistricting debacle keeps House seat in Northeast Philly
FOX Philadelphia: Warren Buffet fires back at Christie
FOX Philadelphia: Santorum benefits from mistaken identity
WHYY Newsworks: As state budget remains unresolved, PennDOT plans pending
City Paper: Philly newspaper layoffs reach production/printing department
Abington Patch: Rooney ready for battle in the 13th Congressional District

SEPA: Senate candidate plans town hall in Doylestown Lawmakers seek to make impact on H-H funding
Courier Times: Bucks to spend $164,613 on elections
Delco Daily Times: Yeadon council members, residents spar

Early Returns: 6 jurors selected for Orie’s second public corruption trial
Early Returns: Population shift causes need for redrawn county council districts
Tribune-Review: Pa. Senator Costa to seek fifth term
Tribune-Review: Plum approves deal for taxes on Longwood retirement community
Post Gazette: Assessments increase 31 percent in southern Allegheny County
Post Gazette Hiring process upsets some on county council
KDKA: Ravenstahl helping with reassessment appeal process
WPXI: Mayor: Mild winter could mean more road paving for city streets
Valley News Dispatch: Tarentum wants to use leftover $500,000 grant

Daily Courier: Fayette Area Coordinated Transportation changes coming
Observer-Reporter: Property tax relief deadline upcoming
Indiana Gazette: Republican runs for 66th district

South Central:
Carlisle Sentinel: Pa. court to hear candidate petition challenges
Harrisburg Patriot News: Pa. Sen. Jake Corman advocates against funding cuts for Pennsylvania public colleges and universities

Lehigh Valley:
Morning Call: Affirmative Action strife, such as that in Kutztown, may end in court ruling
Morning Call: What should Pa. do for higher education?
Morning Call: Corbett’s budget could cost municipalities fine revenue
WFMZ: Grant to help struggling families fix up homes
WFMZ: PPL reaches agreement to acquire natural gas-fired power plant
WFMZ: Corbett announces formation of Pennsylvania eHealth Collaborative Advisory Committee

Pocono Record: Early release of convicts could help state budget
Times Leader: District court changes proposed
Times-Tribune: Lackawanna County pulls down $769,000 from judicial sale
Standard Speaker: As map changes, so do plans
Standard Speaker: Schuylkill airport receiving 300k state grant
Standard Speaker: Conyngham council moves forward with state sewage plan
Daily Review: Monroe’s polling place is moving to library
Times News: Carbon County Democrats to meet
Times News: GOP holds annual dinner to kick off campaign season
Go Lackawanna: 13M in back taxes paid ahead of sale
Go Lackawanna: Commissioners address campaign contributions

North by Northwest:
Times-News: Crawford County Redistricting Plan Would Eliminate Vernon Township Court
Centre Daily Times: PSU Says Board of Trustees Start Listening Tour

York Daily Record: Letter to the Editor: Smart subsidies needed on energy
The Daily Caller: Opinion: Does Rick Santorum have a youth problem?
Morning Call: Pennsylvania arts help the economy
Morning Call: Tax policy harms poor, middle classes
Morning Call: It’s time to fill federal judicial vacancies
Daily News: Pennsylvania law ultra unsound
Inquirer: Op-Ed: Income and business taxes addressed
Inquirer: Christie’s budget critiqued
Inquirer: Smerconish: Romney’s missed chances on role of faith in elections
Times-News Editorial: Ride Bikes, Walk, To Defy High Gas Prices Lack of political challenges not good for democracy
Tribune-Review: Preachers of junk science
Post Gazette: Obama’s reform: his corporate plan may give too much away
Tribune-Democrat: Healthcare not a concern for the church
Deico Daily Times: Editorial: Fundraisers, not politics, the focus of schools
Bucks Local News: Word on the Street: Do you agree with the President’s $1.9 trillion budget increase?
Bucks Local News: Letter to the Editor: Appalled by Harrisburg’s passage of natural gas drilling bill
Bucks Local News: Letter to the Editor: State Supreme Court made right decision in striking down legislative redistricting plan
Bucks Local News: Guest Opinion: Shale Law does not preempt local control
Bucks Local News: Guest Opinion: Marcellus Shale legislation protects environment, preserves local control
Wayne Independent: Time to stop dancing on political shells
Morning Call: It’s time to fill federal judicial vacancies
Washington Post: Enough of Rick Santorum’s sermons
Chicago Tribune: Obama, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum — will somebody, anybody, cut the federal deficits
THe Hill: What campaigns reveal
The Hill: Partisans ignoring stimulus’s success
NY Times: Cash and Carry -

Philly Now: Redistricting debacle keeps House seat in NE Philly; York Republicans drop out
Press Action: Pa. farmer ratchets up battle against Shale gas industry
NPR Political Junkie: Kucinich-Kaptur one of many House primaries between incumbents in 2012
North Pittsburgh Politics: Those that live in glass houses…
North Pittsburgh Politics: Petition challengers in Allegheny County
John Hanger: Key facts from today’s EPA hydraulic fracturing webinar
John Hanger: New coal plants more expensive then new renewables
John Hanger: Global solar installations set new record amid creative destruction
NEPArtisan: HD-113: Marty Flynn  a credible threat to Murphy
Lu-Lac Political Letter: The LuLac Edition #1962
Keystone Politics: Commonwealth of the bible
Keystone Politics: Jake Corman bucks Corbett, calls for zero cuts to education
Keystone Politics: Why President Santorum would not try to reduce health care prices
Keystone Politics: Residency requirements and the market for politicians
Keystone Politics: Critz adds another labor endorsement
Keystone Politics: Cities shouldn’t create barriers  to entry for food carts
Keystone Politics: Corbett will stop sharing state police fine revenue with moocher townships
Keystone Liberty: Taxpayer debt for political favoritism in need of reform
Lehigh Valley Ramblings: How did Senator Brown explain EIT tax grab?

Third Dem – Former U.S. Rep. Don Bailey – Makes Attorney General Ballot

Don Bailey, 1984. From the archives of the Patriot-News.

Just when you thought it was a two-way Democratic primary race, another candidate made the ballot for Attorney General. Don Bailey, a former Pa. Auditor General and former Congressman originally from Westmoreland County, is officially in the race to be Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement official.

A problem with paperwork was cleared up last week, and the Pa. Department of State now lists him on the ballot.

He told PoliticsPA that he is running to be an advocate for the people.

“I have a very aggressive view of the role of the office,” Bailey said. “I think the Attorney General has the duty to represent the interests of citizens, not the interest government which is it doing now.”

Bailey, 66, has had a long career in Pennsylvania politics. A decorated Vietnam combat veteran, he was elected to Congress in 1978. He served two terms before losing a redistricting-forced primary to Rep. John Murtha in 1982. He was elected Pa. Auditor General in 1984, and lost the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 1986. He lost his re-election bid for Auditor to Barbara Hafer in 1988, lost the Democratic primary for Auditor in 1992, and lost the Democratic gubernatorial primary to Ivan Itkin in 1998.

Since then, he’s served as an attorney based in Harrisburg with a focus on civil rights. Indeed, the Pa. Civil Rights Law Network endorsed his Attorney General candidacy this week.

“I represented tons of public employees, mostly the whistleblower type, and there’s a great deal of public corruption that I think needs to be revealed,” Bailey said.

He mentioned the Penn State sex abuse scandal specifically, and criticized Governor Tom Corbett’s handling of the case.

“I represent a Sandusky victim,” he said.

But he’s also run into some professional trouble. He came close to being disbarred in 2011, accused by the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of bringing frivolous lawsuits.

Westmoreland County Dems

Bailey’s first campaign stop was in his home county on Saturday, where the Democratic committee endorsed former Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane. She took 67 votes, Bailey got 36, and former Bucks County congressman Patrick Murphy received 31. It follows up her endorsement from the Beaver County Dems last week.

“We did our due diligence,” said Kane campaign manager Sadie Sterner Restivo on Saturday. “The outcome was what we hoped and expected.”

Westmoreland County Democratic Chairman Dante Bertani said that Bailey’s entry into the race was a surprise.

“It caught me – everyone in the committee – off guard,” Bertani said. “I was surprised, but he’ll be a formidable candidate for sure. A lot of the older people here remember him.”

State of the Race

Bailey has a steep hill to climb. His opponents have a strong head start in fundraising – $2 million on hand for Kane, $1 million for Murphy – and have campaign organizations in place.

One advantage he might have, he said, was familiarity with voters.

“I have significant name ID in Pa. I’ve run statewide before, and appeared on television numerous times,” Bailey argued.

His entry into the race certainly complicates what had looked like a two-person affair, even if it’s not clear who gets the advantage. At first blush, the presence of another Irish man’s name on the ballot cuts into Murphy and leaves Kane the possible advantage of splitting the male vote.

On the other hand, Murphy has done well consolidating support in southeast Pa. in the absence of former Philadelphia prosecutor Dan McCaffery. Kane has worked hard to woo western Pa., and Bailey’s name on the ballot could hamper her efforts on that front.

Both Kane and Murphy campaigns argued that Bailey doesn’t substantially change the dynamic of the race.

“I don’t think this changes the fact that it’s a two-person race,” said Murphy communications director Nat Binns, “between someone who has a long record of fighting for the middle class, and someone who is using her company’s money to try to buy this election.”

“Kathleen Kane remains the candidate with five times as much experience as any other Democrat running for Attorney General.  Regardless of how many Congressmen seek this office, we believe Pennsylvania Democrats want to nominate a prosecutor, not a politician,” said Kane communications director Josh Morrow.

Attorney General candidates are required to collect 1,000 petition signatures, including 100 or more from at least 5 counties. The deadline to challenge Bailey’s petitions – due to the lateness of his getting on the ballot – is Friday, March 2nd.

The Republican candidate is Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed.

Scaringi Launches Radio Ad

Marc Scaringi will be the second Senate candidate on the air starting this week. The Cumberland County attorney and former staffer to Rick Santorum will launch a $600-1,000 radio ad buy in central Pa.

It’s a 60 second spot that’s all positive bio information on Scaringi himself.

“I started my own business, and for the past decade I’ve been minding my own business. But then came Barack Obama and Robert Casey, and their policies are bankrupting America,” Scaringi says in the ad.

You can listen to the entire spot here.

The campaign is airing the ad 20 times on stations WBLF-AM (news talk) and WQCK-FM (country) weekdays from March 1-14, which broadcast out of Centre County and reach Blair, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, and Huntingdon counties. The campaign didn’t name the cost of this ad buy, but based on this writer’s knowledge of radio ad rates in the region it’s probably between $600 and $1,000.

Former coal company owner Tom Smith was the first candidate to go on the air – with a somewhat more serious buy. He’s put around $1 million on television thus far.

Scaringi is the little engine that could in the U.S. Senate race. He’s been trucking from local meeting to local meeting since December 2010, talking with activists and Tea Party folks. It paid off when he turned in around 5,500 petition signatures – putting him nearly in second place among all candidates. And he brought in the endorsement of the libertarian-leaning Republican Liberty Caucus.

But so far, the shoe leather effort has failed to translate into campaign success. From the start, Scaringi has struggled to raise campaign cash (he raised just $10,000 in the fourth quarter). He brought up the rear in the most recent poll of the race, with just 1 percent of the primary vote.

Will Altmire Be Booted Off the Ballot?

Mark Critz threw Jason Altmire a solid punch last week by challenging his nominating petitions in court. Altmire collected 1,651 signatures; 651 more than the legal requirement, but well below the 2,000 that most campaigns consider standard to avoid challenges like this. Critz’s camp turned in 3,140.

Now the question is, could Altmire be booted from the ballot?

One election law expert says that’s not likely.

Larry Otter has handled close to 100 election law cases in the past 5 years. A former senior deputy Attorney General, he’s worked for Democrats, Republicans, independents, and third party candidates. He is a faculty member on the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s Election Law Seminar.

He says that Altmire’s could be the case that finally gets the residency requirement for circulators thrown out.

Residency Requirement

The bulk of Critz’s challenge hinges on one staffer: Altmire campaign Finance Assistant and Director of New Media Abby Silverman. Silverman is registered to vote at her family home in O’Hara in the 12th district, but spends most days in her apartment in the 14th district.

Pa. law says that a petition circulator must reside in the district where he or she is gathering petitions. Thus, based on Silverman’s apartment in Pittsburgh, Critz’s campaign charges that the 395 signatures she collected are invalid.

The Commonwealth Court judge will have discretion over which carries more weight: Silverman’s voter registration card, or her bed. Both camps, Altmire and Critz, are prepared to contest the question.

Editor’s note: neither campaign will speak on the record about the case in detail, due to the fact that litigation is ongoing. But expect one side or the other to present/call for Silverman’s drivers license, utility bills or banks statements.

If the judge rules that Silverman is a resident of Pa-12, then the petitions she gathered are valid and the challenge is all but over. If the judge rules that she is a resident of Pa-14, the legal battle begins. But Otter says ultimately, it won’t matter.

That’s because he says the residency requirement for circulators is a hair’s breadth from being overturned.

Meet Carl Stevenson. At 59, the Upper Milford Township resident and president of consulting firm WK3C Wireless decided to launch an independent bid for State Rep. against Doug Reichley (R-Lehigh). He needed 577 signatures to make the ballot, and he collected 703.

Otter took him to court, arguing that Stevenson’s petitions violated the law. 97 of Stevenson’s signatures were collected by a non-resident circulator: Jake Towne, an independent candidate for Congress against Rep. Charlie Dent.

A Commonwealth Court Judge agreed, ruling that those 97 signatures, plus 90 more that all sides agreed were invalid, meant that Stevenson fell short of the number required to appear on the ballot.

Stevenson, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, appealed the ruling. He cited the 2002 case of Morrill v. Weaver, when a federal court ruled that Pa’s residency requirement for circulators is unconstitutional. Morrill was also an independent candidate.

Stevenson’s Commonwealth Court judge had rejected the Morrill argument on the simple grounds that the Commonwealth Court is not bound by rulings of lower federal courts.

The Pa. Supreme Court saw it differently. It remanded the Commonwealth Court ruling, saying it had not adequately addressed the question whether the residency requirement is constitutional.

But Otter says beyond the remand itself, the language of the Pa. Supreme Court’s ruling gives the strong impression that it was inclined to toss the residency requirement in order to comply with Morrill.

Long story short, if the issue comes before the Pa. Supreme Court again – like in the Altmire case – the Court will likely issue a ruling that permanently overturns the residency requirement.

“I am absolutely convinced that this would be the case that changes the law. The Supreme Court will determine that that requirement in the statute is unconstitutional,” Otter said.

Though Morrill – the only federal case to address Pa. law – dealt with an independent candidate, Otter says that every federal case in every state has held that residency requirements for petition circulators are unconstitutional.

PS. Ultimately Stevenson was knocked off the ballot the old fashioned way – a line-by-line challenge of his signatures.

The Takeaway

Option 1: When the parties meet in court on Friday, March 2, the Commonwealth Court Judge could determine that Silverman’s voter registration constitutes residency, and Altmire stays on the ballot.

Option 2: The Judge decides Silverman does not have residency in Pa-12. If the Critz campaign is then able to challenge an additional 297 signatures, and the Judge rules Altmire off the ballot, Altmire will appeal the ruling. Then, according to Otter, the Pa. Supreme Court will throw out the residency requirement for circulators and Altmire will be returned to the ballot.

Option 3: The Commonwealth Court judge will rule up front that the residency requirement for circulators is unconstitutional, and Altmire stays on the ballot.

Option 4 (which all sides regard as unlikely): The Judge decides that Silverman’s petitions do count, but the Critz campaign is able to challenge 652 other signatures; Altmire is removed from the ballot.


There are other issues that the Critz legal team is looking at. They’ve already hired a handwriting expert to search for forged signatures, and may seek to expand their initial challenge pending the results.

In addition to Silverman’s residency, the Critz campaign is also alleging that she could not have been in such far-flung locations on the same, as the signatures and their dates indicate.

And that’s on top of the 600 or so signatures that they are challenging for common mistakes that all campaigns make – like signatories abbreviating place names, using ditto marks, etc.

For those and all challenges, the Critz camp will need to go page-by-page and possible even line-by-line until they get to 652 signatures.


Today, it appears that in all likelihood Altmire will remain on the ballot. But that would be far from a win for him. After all, the entire ordeal could have been avoided by collecting a few hundred more petition signatures.

Likewise, it would be far from a loss for Critz. He’s already enjoyed serving up a week of awful headlines to his opponent. It’s the number one topic of conversation among western Pa. politicos – like some Beaver County Dems interviewed by J.D. Prose. An extended trial with headlines about forgery and fraud would be music to Mark Critz’s ears.

2/27 Morning Buzz

Good morning politicos, and welcome to the Buzz.

Will Altmire Be Booted Off the Ballot? PoliticsPA talked with an expert on Pennsylvania election law to find out just how much Jason Altmire should worry about his ballot challenge from Mark Critz.

Westmoreland Dems Endorse Altmire: By a vote of 27 to 15, the Westmoreland County Democratic Committee voted to endorse Rep. Jason Altmire over Rep. Mark Critz. It’s a noteworthy win, as much of the county in the newly drawn 12th is currently in Critz’s district.

2/24 Ups & Downs: Redistricting news, petition challenges, and a Pa. angle on the presidential contest.

Primary Colors: Voting Record Rankings: A new list released by the National Journal rates House members based on how liberal or conservative their votes were in 2011. We highlight incumbents facing primary challenges.

Who Won the Lottery? Pa Ballot Positions: Who won the coveted top spots? See where the candidates landed on the ballot in the biggest primary contests in Pa.

SEIU Endorses Murphy: SEIU-PA, one of the most politically active unions in the state, officially backed Patrick Murphy in the race for Attorney General, the organization announced Thursday. Kathleen Kane’s camp says Murphy is out of step with SEIU’s position on the Arizona immigration law.

The Path to 270: OFA v. RNC: Jim Messina, Barack Obama’s campaign manager, believes the President has 5 different paths to 270 electoral votes and re-election. The GOP says not so fast, in part because 4 of those 5 paths require a win in Pa.

Corbett “Doing A Good Job” According to Governing Magazine: Governing Magazine has declared Tom Corbett as one of six freshmen overnors who is “doing well,” in a report published February 15th.

Holden on Contraception Debate: Before the Obama administration reversed its controversial contraception decision, Congressman Holden pushed back against the initial policy. Meanwhile, Matt Cartwright and Laureen Cummings are building their campaign infrastructure to take on the incumbent Congressman.

Legislative Election Updates. Now that the GOP seems resigned to the 2001 lines and petitions are in, expect these to heat up.

HD-14: State Rep. Jim Marshall (R-Beaver) is challenging the petitions of his Democratic opponent, Midland Councilman Sam Rosatone Jr. The Democrat turned in between 400 and 500 signatures, meaning he’s well in range of a successful challenge.

HD-50: The GOP is challenging Bill DeWeese’s nominating petitions on the grounds that he is a convicted felon and thus ineligible to make the ballot. No other Democrat is on the ballot in the Greene County district.

HD-66: Meet Carl Dush, the Brookville man challenging House Speaker Sam Smith in the Republican primary.

HD-94: Meet Kelly Henshaw, the man challenging House Whip Stan Saylor in the Republican primary.

HD-103: Charges of racism in the crowded primary to replace Harrisburg state Rep. Ron Buxton. Someone created a fake twitter account – featuring former Korean leader Kim Jong Il – to mock Councilwoman Patty Kim. Another candidate, Roy Christ, was the target of a facebook page targeting his sexual orientation.

HD-113: State Rep. Kevin Murphy knocked primary opponents off the ballot two cycles in a row, but not this year. Marty Flynn left his job at the Lackawanna County Prison to end a Hatch Act challenge and will contest Murphy for the Democratic nod. Writer Borys Krawczeniuk penned this column.

HD-156: Bret Binder, who faces councilwoman Cassandra Jones for the Democratic nod to take on vulnerable freshman Rep. Dan Truitt, blasted the incumbent over the mandatory ultrasound bill he sponsors. Bret said, “We should not let Harrisburg politicians mandate this type of medical intrusion into women’s lives and bodies.”

HD-170: In case the HRCC was preparing to pour money into the race against HDCC chairman State Rep. Brendan Boyle, they’d better think twice. A Boyle internal poll shows him leading GOP opponent George Weiss 64 to 18 percent in the Philadelphia district.

Have news or a tip about a state Senate or House race? Email it to Wondering why your opponent’s statement got on the list and not yours? Add us to your press list!

Reuters: U.S. House sets date to discuss Northeastern refinery closures
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Los Angeles Times: Santorum calls Romney’s conservative attack ‘absolutely laughable’
Washington Post: Santorum victory Tuesday in Michigan would commit Romney to long haul he said he’s ready for
Huffington Post: Santorum vows to cut taxes, spending within first 100 days in office if elected president
Times-News: Congressman Kelly Says The Pace Of DC Politics Can Be Frustrating
The Hill: Protecting the Homeland, safeguarding privacy
Pennsylvania Ave: Santorum win in Michigan could be chaos for GOP
Politico: Republican governors dodge 2012 race
Politico: Republicans returning to ‘dark ages’
Politico: Energy friends snub Rick Santorum
AP: Santorum: Romney isn’t conservative enough for GOP
AP: Santorum: No apology needed for Quran burning
AP: Christie says contested GOP convention is possible
Roll Call: Race ratings: Democrats likely to lose edge in New Jersey delegation
Roll Call: K Street wrestles with conventions
Five Thirty Eight: The G.O.P.’s fuzzy delegate math
Washington Post: Daniels on possible new contender in GOP presidential race: ‘It ain’t me’
Washington Post: With rising stocks can go political fortunes
Real Clear Politics: Never met a tax he didn’t like
Real Clear Politics: Republican race’s volatility is historic
The Hill: Democrats targeting House GOP committee charimen in 2012
The Hill: Congress is older, more experienced; demographics do not match the nation
The Hill: Romney and Obama super-PAC backers also spent big dollars on lobbying
NY Times: Republicans stampede to the right ahead of 2012 election
NY Times: Focus on Social issues could shape battle for women
USA Today: GOP bashes Obama over Afghan apology
USA Today:  Obama’s new mantra: Five more years
Wall Street Journal: Santorum says he “almost threw up” reading JFK speech on separation of church, state
Slate: Mitt Romney and the empty field

AP: GOP eyes Pa. tax provisions after blocking Dems
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PA Independent: PA’s public pension debacle raises fears of higher taxes
Centre Daily Times: Federal Subpoena Seeks Information From Penn State
Montgomery News: State General Assembly considers bill requiring ultrasounds before abortions
Bucks Local News: PA Attorney General Kelly raises concerns over new Google privacy policy
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State House Sound Bites: AG to Google: Let’s Talk
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State House Sound Bites: Links: Corbett tsk-tsks Rendell’s meddling in Philly media, PSU will keep looking at drilling & crime
Standard Speaker: Barletta: Washington “out of touch”
PA Independent: PA DOC: Early release of prisoners could save money
PA Independent: PA’s pension debacle raises fears of higher taxes
PA Independent: Week in review: Election date set; PA colleges face transparency
Daily Review: Congress should not abdicate its financial responsibilities
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Capitolwire: Labor secretary talks about on-the-job training proposal
Capitolwire: State pensions report ‘negative cash flow’, more conservative strategies
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AP: 4 Catholic high schools in Philly avoid closure
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WHYY Newsworks: Corbett clarifies Pa. budget outlays
Citizens’ Call: Occupiers make camp in Jenkintown and the Borough officers cordial welcome Henon targeting bad neighbors in Northeast Philadelphia
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Daily News: The sheriff wants an SUV. Wanna chip in?
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Fox Philadelphia: You decide: Religion and politics
ABC Philadelphia: Obama: Drilling alone is not an energy plan
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Pottstown Mercy: Social Security Administration: Medicare Part B deadline approaching
AP: Residents of decimated PA coal town lose appeal
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AP: Sonoco, SE PA officials huddle on refinery use
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Daily Local: US Sen. Pat Toomey discusses the deficit

Post-Gazette: Federal tax credits should bring projects to region
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Tribune-Review: Altmire defends nominating petitions against Critz’s challenge
Tribune-Review: Hundreds plan to testify at Port Authority hearing on cuts, fare hikes
Tribune-Review: City schools eye more layoffs, fewer sports programs
Post Gazette: Fitzgerald finding it difficult to hire a county manager

Beaver County Times: Altmire the prodigal Democrat returns…with attitude
Altoona Mirror: East Broad Top Railroad receives $2M grant
Canon-McMillan Patch: Peters resident challenges nominating petition
Altoona Mirror: City sends distress petition to state
Altoona Mirror: Logan, Altoona merger unlikely
WJAC: Democrats step up attacks in 12th Congressional district race
Beaver County Times: Marshall challenges Rosatone nominating petition
Indiana Gazette: Brookville man runs for seat in 66th

Times Tribune: Tentative agreement reached; strike cancelled
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AP: Scranton Teachers, District Reach Tentative Agreement

Lehigh Valley:
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Morning Call: Gun bill could put Allentown on defensive
Morning Call: Exclusive: Voters say Santorum can’t beat Obama
WFMZ: Gov. Corbett announces recent nominations, appointments
WFMZ: Pa. DCNR helps dedicate newly restored Schuylkill River trail
Express Times: Sen. Toomey won’t endorse in GOP presidential race
Express Times: Pa. House Democrats want special elections to fill vacant seats

South Central:
Carlisle Sentinel: Sunoco, SE Pa. officials huddle on refinery use
Carlisle Sentinel: Cumberland County magisterial district judge berated over case dismissal
Carlisle Sentinel: Santorum: no apology needed for Quran burning
Harrisburg Patriot News: Despite cutting teachers in Pennsylvania, classes retain healthy student-to-teacher ratios
York Daily Record: Schools districts juggle proposed changes to Keystone exams, possible PSSA replacement
York Dispatch: Republican challenger in 94th campaigns on tax shift

North by Northwest:
Times-News: Erie County Court Recommends Closing Three District Courts

Patriot News: Editorial: Primary reasons: In the wake of confusion over districts, it was right move to keep same date
Salena Zito, Tribune-Review: Opinion: ‘Signature’ battle in new 12th
Pottstown Mercury: Opinion/Letter to the Editor: Corbett turns his back on education
Morning Call: Opinion: Climate change education is necessary
Morning Call: Opinion: Textbook presents global warming as fact, not hypothesis
Morning Call: Opinion: Gov. Corbett budget moves state in wrong direction
Express Times: Op-Ed: Keep corporate tax reform on the front burner
Pottstown Mercy: New businesss see potential in Pottstown
Pottstown Mercy: 2012 the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania
Pottstown Mercy: Two miscast candidates for the GOP
Courier Times: Supreme Court and the oil industry destroy democracy
Inquirer: Back Channels: The hard truths of newspapering
Daily News: John Baer: To draw election maps, pols should have crayons
Times-News: Food-Stamp Cuts Come At The Wrong Time
Altoona Mirror: Will Corbett take lead on transportation?
Tribune-Democrat: Voting remaps for 2012 a lost cause
Delco Daily Times: Letter to the Editor: PA legislature, governor clueless about fiscal spending
Delco Daily Times: PA should join with Ohio, Ill. to bring KO’d pipeline to Philly
Bucks Local News: Do you agree with the President’s $1.9 trillion budget increase?
Daily Local: Our politicians fiddle around while a fiscal crisis looms
Daily Local: Corbett, lawmakers were wrong to take a “no-tax” pledge
Politico: The enduring fallacy of the CEO president
Roll Call: When do political rules no longer apply?
WSJ: Halftime in Detroit
Citizen’s Voice: State must help struggling cities
Citizen’s Voice: One more strike against gerrymandered district
NY Times: Getting Arctic Drilling right
USA Today: As Santorum rises, so does scrutiny

Keystone Politics: A legal look at the Critz petition challenge
Speaking Freely (ACLU-PA): Yes, Virginia there is a state more demeaning to women then you
Lehigh Valley Ramblings: Local ballot challenges in state House races
Lehigh Valley Ramblings: Hearings in March for Scranton men accused in the streetlight scam
Lehigh Valley Ramblings: Atiyeh’s proposed rehab spawns website
Lehigh Valley Independent: Bethlehem’s awful food vender ordinance may get worse somehow
Citizens Call: Occupiers make camp in Jenkingtown  and the borough offers cordial welcome
Keystone Politics: The Altimire endorsement hat trick
Keystone Politics: Jason Altimire is the most right -wing democrat
Keystone Politics: Critz continues  assualt on Altimire
Keystone Politics: Don’t discourage Corbett  from embracing democratic  positions
Keystone Politics: Did Miss Pennsylvania just endorse Mark Critz?
Keystone Politics: Critz petition could be “very serious”

Dems in Battleground Westmoreland Co Endorse Altmire

By a vote of 27 to 15, the Westmoreland County Democratic Committee voted to endorse Rep. Jason Altmire over Rep. Mark Critz. It’s a noteworthy win, as much of the county in the newly drawn 12th is currently in Critz’s district.

“Critz is 0 for 3 on county endorsements,” blasted Altmire campaign manager Angela Ruslander. “His message isn’t working.”

A native of Lower Burrell in western Westmoreland, Altmire has long argued that he has an edge in the county. Indeed, committee members from his home turf and the nearby Allegheny-Kiski valley accounted for a sizable percent of the votes.

Though today’s endorsement was not a must-win for Critz, Westmoreland County certainly will be on primary day.

Critz responded to the news with a statement that reiterated his charge that Altmire is too conservative for primary voters, and alluded to his ongoing challenge of his opponent’s nominating petitions.

“As is evident in the petition signatures gathered by both campaigns, we have a superior, grassroots organization. Combined with the overwhelming support of organized labor, this will be crucial to victory in April,” he said.

A Westmoreland Democratic insider said there was a strong effort by county and party officials on Critz’s behalf including Commissioner Ted Kopas. That followed several days of mail from the campaigns. But fewer than half of the 89 committee members eligible to vote were present, due in part to inclement weather.

Green is the existing 12th district; light blue outline is the newly drawn 12th; dark blue outline is county borders. Source: LDPC website.

The source, who is currently neutral in the primary, said that Altmire delivered stronger remarks Saturday morning.

“Westmoreland is no longer going to be a drive through county,” Altmire reportedly said. He also pledged to open a constituent services office there.

Critz, meanwhile, emphasized his work for Westmoreland County and that of late Congressman John Murtha.

Committee members from Mt. Pleasant and the Monongahela valley – Westmoreland residents who are also current constituents of Critz – are not included in the new 12th and were not eligible to vote.

Along with today’s win, Altmire has received the endorsement of Democratic committees in Allegheny and Beaver counties. The three counties represent about 75 percent of the Democratic primary voters in the district.

Since the Somerset Dems do not endorse per their bylaws, and the Lawrence County Dems do not meet regularly, the only committee yet to endorse is Cambria, Critz’s home base. Their meeting is Thursday.

The Republican candidate is Allegheny County attorney Keith Rothfus.

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