Congressional Vulnerability Ratings: Post-Primary Edition

Pennsylvania’s eventful primary night Tuesday shook up the outlook for the state’s congressional delegation, in ways that go beyond the primary losses suffered by incumbent Democratic Reps. Jason Altmire (to fellow Democratic Rep. Mark Critz) and Tim Holden (to challenger Matthew Cartwright).

Since the publication of PoliticsPA’s initial congressional-seat vulnerability ranking of the 2012 cycle last December, a handful of GOP-held seats have slipped further from the Democrats. Underdogs won Democratic primaries in two districts – the seats currently held by GOP Reps. Lou Barletta and Charlie Dent – adding to the Democrats’ general election challenge in two contests that were already uphill battles. Only one GOP-held seat has become appreciably more vulnerable – the one occupied by Rep. Tim Murphy.

These ratings are based on consultations with a range of state and national political experts. As always, we list the seats in descending order of vulnerability, which we define as the likelihood of the seat switching party control in the 2012 election.

Here we go:

Vulnerable

1. Mark Critz (D, 12th district).

Pre-primary conventional wisdom had it that Altmire would be a stronger general-election candidate than Critz, given his moderate ideological positioning and the fact that he represented a larger swath of the district. That may still be true, but Critz’s stunning upset – driven by the aggressive and effective ground work of his labor-union supporters – has roiled the contest. On the upside, the victory sealed Critz’ reputation as someone who can win challenging races (something he initially did in his tough special election win in 2010), and the hard-fought campaign gave him needed exposure throughout the district. He will face second-time (and less-than-first-tier) Republican candidate Keith Rothfus, who came close but failed to unseat Altmire in 2010, a year when everything seemed to go right for Pennsylvania Republicans. The district leans Republican, so “anyone looking at this seat would have to agree that this is super-vulnerable for the Democrats,” acknowledged one union observer. “Critz can win, but will need labor to do even more for him than was done in the primary.” Critz’s primary win has given him momentum; he can win it, but it won’t be a walkover. This remains the most vulnerable congressional seat in Pennsylvania.

Previous rank: 1.

2. Mike Fitzpatrick (R, 8th district).

Fitzpatrick’s swing district in Bucks County remains the most promising for Pennsylvania Democrats. Republicans are painting Democrat Kathy Boockvar as a “radical activist” whose former employer did work for ACORN; Democrats laugh off that approach as a sign of GOP difficulty in finding her vulnerabilities. As the incumbent, Fitzpatrick will have the advantage, but if Boockvar can raise enough money to remain competitive and if Democrats come out to support President Barack Obama, she has a chance.

Previous rank: 2.

Potentially vulnerable

3. Tim Murphy (R, 18th district).

A lot has happened in Murphy’s southwestern Pennsylvania district since our last rating. The incumbent survived a primary – with room to spare – against Evan Feinberg, who challenged him from the right. But two factors give Democrats a measure of optimism. Murphy had to move right to battle Feinberg, complicating his longstanding labor-tolerant profile, which had been appealed to voters in the working-class, ancestrally Democratic district. And Democrats think they have a candidate who can capitalize – Larry Maggi, a former Marine, state trooper, sheriff and county commissioner. Before this race moves up the list, though, Maggi will have to prove his mettle as a fundraiser; Murphy has around $1 on hand million even after the primary.

Previous rank: 7.

4 (tie). Jim Gerlach (R, 6th district).

Democratic physician Manan Trivedi is making another run at Gerlach, a multiple survivor in districts more Democratic-leaning than the current incarnation. While Gerlach leads in fundraising, Trivedi has impressed some observers with his take.

Previous rank: 6.

4 (tie). Pat Meehan (R, 7th district).

Like Maggi in the 18th district, George Badey is another Democratic challenger who will have to prove he can raise the money to stay competitive, along with the added challenge of raising his name identification. Meehan — whose district zig-zags through Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, Lancaster and Berks counties — may face a Democratic tide at the top of the ticket, but he doesn’t appear to have developed too many vulnerabilities in his first year in Congress.

Previous rank: 3.

6. Charlie Dent (R, 15th district).

Democrats suffered a setback in this moderate Lehigh Valley district when the DC-establishment-backed candidate, Jackson Eaton, lost by a wide margin to Lehigh County Democratic Chairman Rick Daugherty despite spending more than 10 times as much as Daugherty on the race (Daugherty raised a mere $8,000). Dent’s relatively moderate profile has helped him survive in swing territory for several cycles running. Daugherty now has to prove that he has the chops to compete against an incumbent of Dent’s caliber.

Previous rank: 4.

Minimally vulnerable

7. Mike Kelly (R, 3rd district). Kelly’s western Pennsylvania district is potentially competitive for Democrats, but Democratic challenger Missa Eaton is a relative unknown, and  Democrats concede that Kelly has worked the district well. This one’s still on the radar, but it may not stay there indefinitely.

Previous rank: 5.

8. Lou Barletta (R, 11th district).

Barletta’s previously Democratic-friendly district went strongly Republican thanks to the GOP-led redistricting. The task got marginally tougher with the Democratic primary results, as Gene Stilp – best known for his pink, pig-shaped bus – defeated assistant Wilkes-Barre city attorney Bill Vinsko. Stilp has proven a tough campaigner in the past; he nearly knocked off a Republican incumbent for state house in 2010. But he’s not a fundraiser, which will be required for this seat. Regardless of the Democratic nominee, some in the party were already close to writing off the district.

Previous rank: 8.

9. Tom Marino (R, 10th district).

Marino, like Barletta, was a big winner in the remap, though his district was more heavily Republican to start with. Little-known businessman Phil Scollo is the Democratic nominee. Barring something unexpected, this contest may not even last much longer in the “minimally vulnerable” category.

Previous rank: 10.

10. Joseph Pitts (R, 16th district).

This mid-range GOP-leaning seat is more likely to become competitive once Pitts, 72, retires. The Democrats’ one hope – and it’s a stretch for now – is a surge of women voters opposed to Pitts’ strong stance against abortion, combined with a generalized anti-incumbent wave. Army veteran and software consultant Aryanna Strader, the Democratic nominee, may have a future, but don’t bet on her for 2012.

Previous rank: 12.

Not vulnerable

11. Open seat (Tim Holden, D, 17th district).

Holden was a moderate-to-conservative lawmaker in what used to be a moderate-to-conservative district. Then redistricting made his seat more strongly Democratic and Cartwright easily defeated him in the primary. Leading Democrats quickly closed ranks around the winner, which should remove any doubts about the district’s leanings in November.

Previous rank: 11.

12. Open seat (Todd Platts, R, 4th district).

Platts’ decision not to seek another term led to a seven-way GOP primary in this solid Republican seat. State Rep. Scott Perry won a clear majority and should have no trouble in the fall.

Previous rank: not ranked.

13 (tie). Bob Brady (D, 1st district). Previous rank: not ranked.
13 (tie). Chaka Fattah (D, 2nd district). Previous rank: not ranked.
13 (tie). Glenn Thompson (R, 5th district). Previous rank: not ranked.
13 (tie). Bill Shuster (R, 9th district). Previous rank: 9.
13 (tie). Allyson Schwartz (D, 13th district). Previous rank: not ranked.
13 (tie). Mike Doyle (D, 14th district). Previous rank: not ranked.

4/27 Morning Buzz

Good morning politicos, here’s the Buzz. More fallout from Tuesday’s election this morning (the results are *almost* all in), some moves out of DC, and PoliticsPA presents our latest congressional vulnerability ranking.

If you missed Keegan on PCN’s Journalists Roundtable last night, watch it here. And don’t forget to check back later for the Ups & Downs.

Congressional Vulnerability Ratings: Post-Primary Edition: See how the primary results affected the law of the congressional land for both parties in 2012. Here’s PoliticsPA’s latest vulnerability rankings for the 18 seats in the Keystone State.

Obama and Romney Fight Over the Youth Vote: For President Obama, a major ingredient in his recipe for a successful presidential run in 2008 was the enthusiastic and unprecedented mass support of this country’s youth.  Four years later, with polls showing the younger generation feeling increasingly more jaded about the politics surrounding a poor economy,  the Obama campaign has used the threat of rising interest rates on student loans in the hopes of relighting the political fire of student voters.

Toomey Named Chair of Senate Steering Committee: United States Senator Pat Toomey was selected Thursday to be the next chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, according to a press release distributed by his office. He will take the post in early September.

Casey, Rubio Make Joint Call for Change in Syria: Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey has joined forces with Florida Senator Marco Rubio in a call for political change in Syria.

Planned Parenthood’s Bad Night: The conservative blog RedState takes a look at 3 PA races where the group was a campaign issue (or in one case a major stakeholder): a Dem primary, a GOP primary and a special election. They went 0 for 3.

Legislative Election Updates

We’ve collected the news reports from a few of the state house and senate races from Wednesday, here they are [winner, party, district]: Raja, R, SD-37; Adam Harris, R, HD-82; Marty Flynn, D, HD-113; Ryan Mackenzie, special, HD-134; Jordan Harris, D, HD-186; and Joseph Haas, D, HD-187.

SD-37: The Dems may have someone on the ballot against Raja in the fall. Greg Parks, a 50-year old former member of the Pleasant Hills Council, and current instructional assistant at McKeesport High School, says he got at least 500 of the 2,751 Dem write-in votes cast Tuesday.

HD-45: The PG looks at Rep. Nick Kotik’s win over Dem challenger Maribeth Taylor, a McKees Rocks Council member.

HD-46: Rep. Jesse White (D-Washington) was a top GOP target in 2010, but it looks like he’ll be unopposed in 2012. The lawmaker says he won the Republican write-in vote.

HD-50: Bill DeWeese may be out of the house, but his constituent service offices will remain open and running for the time being.

HD-66: The PA Independent looks at the narrow primary victory of Speaker Sam Smith in the context of his bill to shrink the state house (which would make incumbents safer). Also, meet Cris Dush, the man who almost beat Smith.

HD-77: Rep. Scott Conklin (D-Centre) may face a primary challenger. An unofficial reporter tally found former Worth Township supervisor Ron Reese with 876 Republican write-in votes and Conklin with 521.

HD-79: Rick Geist is down but not out. The Republican narrowly lost his primary to Joe McGinnis on Tuesday, but write-in votes won’t be counted till next week. If, as many expect, Geist wins the Dem nomination, he might pull a Joe Lieberman. About 400 absentee votes have yet to be counted, too. He faces a 196 vote deficit.

HD-89: Susan Spicka, the long-shot Dem facing Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), is challenging the incumbent to at least 3 debates.

HD-132: Allentown Councilman Mike Schlossberg is in the clear. Retiring Rep. Jennifer Mann’s ally will cruise to her seat without GOP opposition; no write-in candidate materialized. He was unopposed in the primary.

HD-143: Rep. Marguerite Quinn’s brother Sean Corr is facing accusations of theft after yanking down a four-foot sign on election day, placed by a supporter of Dem Joe Frederick. It read: “Marguerite Quinn Fracked You. Vote for Joe Frederick.”

HD-162: This is probably the last time we’ll be talking about Rep. Nick Miccarelli (R-Delaware) here. He made the ballot on a Democratic write-in, despite efforts by actual Dem Ken Harper to make it (see Harper’s fashionable ballot card here).

HD-182: It looks like Brian Sims will be PA’s first openly gay legislator, after taking out Rep. Babette Josephs in the Philly district where no Republican is on the ballot. The LGBT community has largely embraced his win.

Attention: It’s the general election now. If you’re a candidate and press@politicspa.com isn’t on your press list yet,

National:
Washington Post: Romney hires former Santorum CM Biundo
USA Today: Bachmann plans to back Romney ‘all in good time’
USA Today: Perry touts Romney’s vision in endorsement
The Caucus: Biden paints Romney as out of touch on foreign policy
Washington Post: Marco Rubio’s Dream Act alternative a challenge for Obama on illegal immigration
Politico: Toomey to head conservative policy group
Politico: Senate OKs violence against women bill
Politico: Falling in line for Mitt
The Hill: Boehner: Obama should pay back taxpayers for campaign trips
National Journal: Paul Ryan under attack from Catholics for hurting the poor in budget
Wall Street Journal: The shrinking Blue Dogs

Statewide:
KDKA: Jon Delano introduces Tom Smith, Republican for U.S. Senate
Capitolwire: Pileggi, Turzai say Raja win may rewrite Senate Allegheny redistricting map
Capitol Ideas: How Tim Holden lost the plot
Capitol Ideas: Former Sen. Bob Mellow ordered to repay $21K to the state
PA Independent: Mixed results in primary as Voter ID law preps for November
PA Independent: Defeated in primary election, Rick Geist might not be finished yet
Capitolwire: Scott Perry – from a tight lead in 7-way race to congressional rout
Capitolwire: Baggage may have cost two Scranton-area legislators their seats, observers say
LowerMorelandPatch: Allyson Schwartz receives awards for role in healthcare innovation
Reuters: Altered districts cut short Pennsylvania political careers

Philadelphia:
WHYY Newsworks: New Commissioner Schmidt tours e-day polling places
Daily News: John Baer: Kane seen as woman for job
Inquirer: Does Welch’s loss give Corbett a political black eye?
WHYY Newsworks: Bold proposal to re-cast schools gives me deja-vu

Pittsburgh:
Post-Gazette: Voter trends, labor support enabled Critz to oust Altmire
Post-Gazette: The few, the surprising: Diligent Pa. voters wake up a sleepy election
Early Returns: The crawling, creeping lie of Critz/Altmire
Early Returns: Ravenstahl’s counterargument
Early Returns: Union SuperPAC targets Pa
Early Returns: Clinton’s winning streak continues
Post-Gazette: Vote trends, labor support enabled Crits to oust Altmire
Post-Gazette: Campaign 2012: Kotik prevails in challenge
Post-Gazette: Raja victory follows long and bitter campaign
Post-Gazette: Voters oust long-serving state House members
Post-Gazette: DeWeese goes home after being sentenced
Tribune Review: Tea Party Express tour to leave today from W.Pa.

SEPA:
phillyburbs.com: Sen. Casey says legislation will create jobs

Southwest:
Observer-Reporter: Primary write-in winner
Observer-Reporter: 50th District services to see slight changes
Indiana Gazette: Commissioners move to buy site for homeless vet housing

NEPA:
Times-Tribune: Stilp campaign so low-key he almost forgot to vote
Citizens Voice: Low-key campaign produced big results for activist Stilp

Lehigh Valley:
Morning Call: Romney said his dad grew up poor. Did he?
Morning Call: Obama campaign details Pennsylvania-specific general election attack
Morning Call: Bethlehem mayor pushes Obama student loan message
WFMZ: Students hope for extension of low rate loans
WFMZ: Rohrer tops GOP-backed candidate; grassroots effort credited
Express Times: Lehigh County primary turnout less than 18 percent of registered voters, official says
Express Times: Mike Schlossberg is not challenged by write-in candidate for Rep. Jennifer Mann’s seat
Express Times: Rep. Tim Holden’s defeat dissected by political officials, analysts
Times Tribune: Fresh off historic win, Kane targets another
Times Tribune: NEPA legislative races remain volatile
Times Tribune: Stilp campaign so low-key he almost forgot to vote
Citizens Voice: Former Sen. Mellow ordered to pay $21,000
Citizens Voice: Low-key campaign produced big results for activist Stilp -Ben H
Standard Speaker: As Holden found out, voters in no mood for status quo
Pocono Record: Pa. voter ID law trial run met favorably by most at Pocono polls

South Central:
Patriot-News: Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primaries show money doesn’t always buy elections
Patriot-News: Ex-Sen. Bob Mellow fined for billing taxpayers for his rent in his building
Patriot-News: Low turnout for Pennsylvania primary is disappointing, political experts say
York Dispatch: Analyst: Democrats have tough road in the 4th
York Dispatch: Smooth Election Day for trial run of voter ID law
York Daily Record: In a change, congressional candidates from York County will compete for Harrisburg votes
York Daily Record: Casey challenger must unite GOP, raise cash
Lancaster Intelligencer: Pa. ethics commission fines ex-senator $21,000

North by Northwest:
Erie Times-News: Porter gives 3rd District race another shot
Centre Daily: Conklin may face challenge for seat
Centre Daily: Commissioners build relationships at CBICC breakfast
Courier Express: DuBois school budget process criticized

Opinion:
Daily News: Editorial: State, local governments need to plug in
Inquirer: Editorial: Voter ID test made some voters testy
York Daily Record: Our Take: How did Scott Perry do it?
Morning Call: Pa., not school districts, must fix pension, funding problems
Reading Eagle: Two surprises highlight the primary election results
Reading Eagle: Labor agreements benefit everyone
Express Times: Romney would have to be nuts to select Christie
The Times Leader: Understanding Democratic opposition to ID law
News Item: Independents and the primary: 12 percent in state weren’t allowed to vote
Standard Speaker: Take politics out of redistricting
Times News: Election stakes high
Sun Gazette: Low-key primary sets state for fall
Courier Express: Auditor general nominees ought not to politically double-dip, but should resign as legislators
Delco Daily Times: Op/Ed: Redistricting surprises Pa. voters at the polls
Patriot-News: Voice of the people? Hardly, when only 20 percent choose to vote
Post-Gazette: The few,the surprising:Diligent Pa. voters wake up sleepy election

Blogs:
Philadelphia Magazine: The Scoop: Philadelphians sorry for low voter turnout
Commonwealth Foundation: GAO sounds fiscal alarm on state Medicaid costs
Lehigh Valley Independent: Charlie Dent votes for a government shutdown in September
PA Water Cooler: Fattah: We’re buying your votes
PA Water Cooler: Blue Dog Dems lose, Party opts for left-wing extremists
Keystone Progress: Pennsylvania Consumers to get $24M back in rebates

Obama and Romney Fight Over the Youth Vote

For President Obama, a major ingredient in his recipe for a successful presidential run in 2008 was the enthusiastic and unprecedented mass support of this country’s youth.  Four years later, with polls showing the younger generation feeling increasingly more jaded about the politics surrounding a poor economy,  the Obama campaign has used the threat of rising interest rates on student loans in the hopes of relighting the political fire of student voters.

Speaking on behalf of the Obama campaign this afternoon, Congressman Chaka Fattah, Guidance Counselor Karina Hirschfield, and La Salle University sophomore Steve Chintaman drove home the point that unless Congress acts, the interest rates on student loans will double on July 1st of this year.

“The country cannot afford to make it $1,000 dollars more expensive for students under student loans by allowing interest rates to double, said Fattah. “We have to work on the affordability of college education, and the President says universities have to do their part in terms of holding their tuition increases, but we also have to make sure that student loans and the interest on them are not outrageous.”

Providing a personal experience from the student perspective was Steve Chintaman of La Salle University. Chintaman, a sophomore, is already facing a $22,000 student debt mountain to climb.

“I cannot imagine the financial strain my family and I would face if my loans interest rates were doubled,” said Chintaman.

Steve’s story is all too familiar added Philadelphia area college guidance counselor, Karina Hirschfield.

“I am seeing more and more students getting great acceptances, however, the gap in financial aid that they need to cover is getting bigger and bigger,” said Hirschfield.

Congressman Fattah was the only one to take a jab at Mitt Romney’s stance on higher education, saying that the Governor Romney’s budget would eliminate tax credits that aid students with their tuition costs.

But according to the Romney campaign, “the honeymoon’s over” between Obama and his adoring youngsters. Pointing to the President’s recent college campus tour, the Romney campaign said the President visits have been met with “fizzled enthusiasm” and sagging polls.

“With one of every two recent college graduates unemployed or underemployed, President Obama won’t be able to skate by on empty rhetoric and campaign promises – he’ll have to run on his failed record of high unemployment, skyrocketing gas prices, and mountains of new debt, said Romney spokesperson Amanda Henneberg.

Toomey Named Chair of Senate Steering Committee

By Elyse Clonan, Contributing Writer

United States Senator Pat Toomey was selected Thursday to be the next chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, according to a press release distributed by his office. He will take the post in early September.  

The Steering Committee is a caucus comprised of the majority of Republican Senators who work together to advance conservative legislation and policies.  

“I’m honored to lead the historic Steering Committee,” Sen. Toomey said Thursday. “It is a privilege to be entrusted with this position. [Current Chairman] Senator DeMint has been a courageous leader, and I look forward to building on the great work he has done.”

“Sen. Pat Toomey is a proven and trusted conservative, and I’m very glad he’s taking on this new role,” said outgoing chairman Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who held the post since 2006.  “I’ve fought hard over the last few years to help elect new conservatives to the Senate, and it’s very rewarding to see them step into positions of leadership…I look forward to working closely with Pat and the other Steering members to advance conservative principles at this critical time when our country needs them the most.”

DeMint, who had previously expressed his desire to hand off the chairmanship to a member of GOP’s 2010 Senate class, raised the ire of moderate Republicans in 2009 when he endorsed Toomey over former United States Senator Arlen Specter, who had yet to announce his defection to the Democratic Party.

Casey, Rubio Make Joint Call for Change in Syria

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey has joined forces with Florida Senator Marco Rubio in a call for political change in Syria.

Both members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Casey and Rubio introduced a bipartisan resolution on Wednesday calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down from power and for an end to the violent conflict that has been plaguing the country and in order to allow Syria to begin a transition towards democracy.

The measure calls for the Obama administration to continue to provide support to opposition forces in Syria and extend humanitarian assistance to those affected by violence.  The resolution also calls for the United States to develop a plan to identify and secure Syria’s stockpiles of conventional, biological and chemical weapons.

“More than 10,000 people have now been killed in Syria,” said Senator Casey, a Democrat. “Despite the presence of UN monitors, the violence has not stopped and Assad has not removed his forces from cities and towns across the country.  We must do more to provide humanitarian assistance to those suffering under the regime’s brutality, and to assist opposition organizations that seek a peaceful, democratic future for Syria.”

“Assad has committed atrocities against the Syrian people, and it’s essential that the United States keep applying pressure on the regime and plan for a post-Assad Syria. Assad’s departure from power needs to be accelerated, while we lay the foundation for Syria to begin its difficult path towards a true inclusive democracy,” said Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The resolution is scheduled to be marked up by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Thursday.

4/26 Morning Buzz

Best and Worst Ads of 2012 Primary?
What were the TV ads that made the difference? Which ones fell flat? How about mailers, radio spots, and other campaign tools? Now that the primary is over, PoliticsPA wants to know: which campaigns stood out?

OFA, RNC Memos: Romney/Obama Weak in Pa.
The Obama for America campaign and the Republican National Committee say Mitt Romney/Barack Obama is has potentially fatal weaknesses in Pennsylvania. Here’s the gist of their arguments.

Chester Makes List of Top 10 Must Win Romney Counties
Pennsylvania is a must-win for Barack Obama, and likely target for Mitt Romney. If he hopes to take the Keystone State for the first time of any Republican since George H.W. Bush in 1988, He’s going to need Chester County. So says Campaigns and Elections Magazine.

Pa. Dems Launch Assault on Tom Smith
Did you get a chance to relax and sleep in this morning, Tom Smith campaign? Good. Hope you enjoyed it. It’s your last time before November. The PA Dems wasted no time in launching an assault on the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate Wednesday.

DCCC Promotes Trivedi to Red to Blue
A strong first quarter haul has landed Manan Trivedi on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s list of top challengers in the country. The Reading-area physician is challenging Rep. Jim Gerlach. George Badey and Larry Maggi also earned recognition.

National:

AP: Senate upholds labor rules
AP: Senate Dems ready bill freezing student loan costs
AP: Santorum hints at Romney endorsement
Politico: Rob Portman: Vice President Vanilla?
Politico: Newt Gingrich to drop out of race on Tuesday
Politico: Republican Primary 2012: What’s next for Mitt Romney
National Journal: Poll finds public skeptical, leaning slightly Democratic
National Journal: RNC formally backs Romney
National Journal: Arizona’s ‘Show me your papers’ immigration provision could stand
The Caucus: Super PAC ad tries to tie Romney to oil companies
Five Thirty Eight: What do springtime polls tells us about the general election?
USA Today: Jimmy Carter ‘comfortable’ with Romney
Washington Post: Why the Blue Dogs’ decline was inevitable
The Hill: RNC chief accuses Obama of campaigning on taxpayers’ dime

Statewide:

Capitol Ideas: With Senate candidate’s defeat, Corbett’s political prestige takes a hit
Capitol Ideas: Post-gaming the primary
StateImpactPA: Where does Pennsylvania’s drilling waste go?
State House Sound Bites: ‘08 Clinton endorsements yield long-term dividends for PA polls
State House Sound Bites: Holden loses, urges supporters to rally behind opponent Cartwright PA Independent: AG, auditor general races set for PA general election
PA Independent: Updated: Incumbents fall in PA House, congressional races
StateImpactPA: What Pennsylvania’s Attorney General nominees are saying about drilling Capitolwire: OFF THE FLOOR: Cambria, Somerset, unions and Critz reap surprising victory Capitolwire: OFF THE FLOOR: Conservatives and their orthodoxies have a big GOP primary day
Capitolwire: House Speaker Sam Smith holds on in close election. Geist loses.
Capitolwire: OFF THE FLOOR: Corbett’s endorsements were license to lose
Capitolwire: Argall defeats challenger Rich in hotly-contested Senate GOP primary
Capitolwire: Kane defeats Murphy, becomes first woman nominated to run for attorney general

Philadelphia:

Daily News: Ballots and bullets at Chester polling place
WHYY Newsworks: Primary gleanings
PhillyClout: State Rep Babette Josephs: Vote tally “doesn’t look good”
Inquirer: Phila. school district plan would dismantle central office, close schools
Daily News: Kenyatta Johnson ally wins his old seat
Inquirer: DeWeese wins an election, draws a prison sentence
Inquirer: Smith wins GOP Senate nod
Daily News: Philly convention with an union seal
Daily News: Nutter: to save schools, pass my budget
philly.com: Philly bond deal shaves $20M from future costs: treasurer
Daily News: Shots fired – a lot of them – near Chester polling place
Inquirer: State GOP candidates brawling in public
Philly Now: Top 10 Rep. Babette Josephs quotes, 2011-2012
Philly Now: Obama, Romney trade barbs over Pennsylvania vote
Philly Tribune: Democratic primaries show prelude to election
Philly Tribune: Politics is a primary problem for prosecutors
CBS Philly: PA Auditor General calls for repair of state’s rotting infrastructure
WHYY Newsworks: Welch says Smith’s spending was the difference in GOP Senate race
City Paper: Voter ID law prompts election day confusion, protest and a lawsuit

SEPA:

Inquirer: In Bucks County, a tale ID frustration
Inquirer: Peace has come to Montco commission
Philly Tribune: Delco Council meeting in Radnor
Philly Tribune: Montco oks $146 M for infrastructure
Courier Times: Union wants apology from district over ruling
Courier Times: Counties report low voter turnout; some refused photo ID requests
Courier Times: Fitzpatrick urges “no budget, no pay” for Congress

Pittsburgh:

Post-Gazette: Critz defeats Altmire in 12th District
Post-Gazette: Tom Smith captures GOP nod to run against Sen. Casey
Post-Gazette: Raja posts big victory over Mustio in ugly GOP campaign
Post-Gazette: Pa. House: Preston ousted in 24th, and more races
Early Returns: Critz beats the map
Early Returns: Big night for Pittsburgh liberals

Southwest:

Beaver County Times: Voter turnout only 26 percent in county
Indiana Gazette: Rep. Smith edges Dush
AP: Five incumbent lawmakers lose in primary
Somerset Daily American: Bastian elected vice chairman of Republican Party
Altoona Mirror: McGinnis unseats Geist
Altoona Mirror: Geist outcome ‘stuns’ some
Altoona Mirror: Smith wins GOP race, will take on Casey
Johnstown Tribune Democrat: Fact Check Romney on his dad growing up poor

Lehigh Valley:

Morning Call: RNC memo: Obama weak in Pennsylvania
Morning Call: Low turnout, enthusiasm in snapshot of Allentown primary voting
Reading Eagle: Haas choice for 187th Democrats
WFMZ: Lehigh County controller defends his position
Express Times: Lehigh Valley voters cast ballots despite lack of say in presidential nomination
South Whitehall Patch: Daugherty wins Democratic nomination for 15th
South Whitehall Patch: Ryan Mackenzie wins special election for Reichley seat

NEPA:

The Times Leader: Primary day is a yawner for voters
The Times Leader: Video: Holden can’t hang on to seat
Times Tribune: Voters fire warning: Incumbents beware
Times Tribune: Incumbent Kevin Murphy loses in race for state House District 113
Times Tribune: Attorney Matt Cartwright toples incumbent Tim Holden in 17th Congressional District
Citizens Voice: Voters look ahead to presidential election
Citizens Voice: Kane clinches Dems’ AG nomination
News Item: 22 percent vote in county
News Item: Stilp appears victor over Vinsko in 11th; will face Barletta
Standard Speaker: Voters favor library funding
The Daily Review: Voter ID trial run goes well
The Daily Review: ‘Silent anti-incumbancy’ vote may be telling
Pocono Record: Romney cruises, promises ‘better America’

South Central:

Patriot News: Longtime Rep. Tim Holden loses try for Democratic nomination in redrawn districts
Patriot News: Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primaries show money doesn’t always buy elections Chambersburg Public Opinion: Franklin County voters tap Shuster, Alloway and Thomas to be national delegates
Lebanon Daily News: Voter ID law creates few issues in Lebanon County

North by Northwest:

Sun Gazette: 27 percent go to polls in Lycoming County
Sun Gazette: Incumbents on top
Lewistown Sentinel: Harris wins in 82nd District
Lewistown Sentinel: Benninghoff to face Lee
Lewistown Sentinel: Marino, Scollo claim unopposed victories
Courier Express: Smith survives scare in bid for renomination
Erie Times-News: Porter gives 3rd Congressional District race another shot

Opinion:

Daily News: Opinion: Stop complaining – you voted for them
Reading Eagle: Letter to the editor: GOP responsible for loss of jobs
Reading Eagle: Letter to the editor: Money skewing political system
Express Times: The Morning Note: Why I didn’t vote for Tim Holden
Express Times: Editorial: Small business tax cut act doesn’t stand a chance
Times Tribune: Incumbents’ primary peril
News Item: The day after: Let’s fix redistricting mess
Lewistown Sentinel: Heads should roll throughout GSA
Courier Express: Tuesday House ‘election’ a disgrace; blame the political party hacks
Inquirer: Now, we’ll see just how able Kane is
Inquirer: Boring bad for democracy
Pottstown Mercy: Voter ID gets lots of love on PA primary test

Blogs:

Keystone Politics: Day after election, Spicka challenges Kauffman to series of debates in 89th General Assembly District
Keystone Politics: A (mostly!) good election night for Progressives
Keystone Politics: Jason Altmire a true gentleman in defeat
Speaking Freely: Voter ID’s “soft rollout” did not “work well”
Commonwealth Foundation: What does the primary earthquake mean?
Lehigh Valley Independent: A (Mostly) good election night for progressives
NEPartisan: Goodbye Incumbents, Goodbye Establishment
PA Water Cooler: Smith! Raja! Rick!
PA Water Cooler: Show ID: Just like apartheid
Keystone Progress: 4 PA Legislators cut ties to ALEC
Keystone Politics: Safe Seats are where progress is made

Chester Makes List of Top 10 Must Win Romney Counties

Pennsylvania is a must-win for Barack Obama, and likely target for Mitt Romney. If he hopes to take the Keystone State for the first time of any Republican since George H.W. Bush in 1988, He’s going to need Chester County. So says Campaigns and Elections Magazine.

Chris Palko of Campaigns and Elections has the list. Chesco is number 7:

7. Chester County, Pa.
Population: 498,886
Largest city: West Chester

Of the four suburban Philadelphia counties, Chester was the only one that Bush won in 2004. The tail end of the prestigious Main Line is in the county, but so is the disadvantaged city of Coatesville. In between, there are plenty of middle-class suburbs, and even still some farmland. This is one of the few counties in Pennsylvania showing substantial population growth, so its importance is increasing.

Past results: Bush won here with 52 percent. Obama, in 2008, took it with 55 percent

To date, Romney has spent most his his time in SEPA in neighboring Delaware County and the city of Philadelphia.

Chester swung blue in 2008, but since Republicans have done well there.

PA Dems Launch Assault on Smith

Did you get a chance to relax and sleep in this morning, Tom Smith campaign? Good. Hope you enjoyed it. It’s your last time before November. The PA Dems wasted no time in launching an assault on the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate Wednesday.

The PA Democratic party had already issued two memos before noon, on top of their statement last night.

Said party spokesman Mark Nicastre today in a memo titled, “Lackluster PA GOP Senate Primary Ends With a Flawed Candidate”:

“Tom Smith emerged from one of the lowest turnout primaries in Pennsylvania history, damaged by the race’s divisiveness and hindered by Sen. Casey’s strength in the state. With little voter or institutional enthusiasm for Tom Smith, he faces a tough uphill climb in the race.”

The party has been laser focused on the Senate race since Rick Santorum dropped from the presidential contest and rendered that primary irrelevant.

In another memo, the Dems hammered Gov. Tom Corbett over the third-place finish of his endorsed candidate Steve Welch.

“Despite all of Gov. Corbett’s work for Steve Welch, the Republican endorsed candidate still came up short in one of the lowest turnout primaries in Pennsylvania history. It’s clear: Gov. Corbett doesn’t have any juice. National Journal said a loss by Steve Welch would be an embarrassment for Gov. Corbett, and indeed it is,” Nicastre wrote.

Casey himself offered a lower-key response.

“There will be a clear contrast in November between who has stood up for Pennsylvania working families and who has proposed more unaffordable tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, between who has fought against trade deals that will ship Pennsylvania jobs overseas and who supports the flawed trade policies of the past, between who will protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security and who wants to dismantle these vital promises,” he said.

In a quirky demonstration of the new lay of the land, Smith’s campaign deferred to the PA Republican party for a response. Executive Director Mike Barley blasted Casey and Democrats for their low turnout Tuesday, as well as the 133,000 votes (19 percent) against Casey in the primary.

“If Senator Casey is so confident about his reelection campaign, than I challenge him to start traveling around the state talking about his accomplishments while in D.C.  I challenge him to embrace his support of President Obama 98% of the time or his votes for Obamacare or the stimulus.  I challenge him to explain his out of touch record with the people of Pennsylvania,” said Barley.

“We look forward to working with our Republican nominee for U.S. Senate Tom Smith to expose out-of-touch Senator Bob Casey.”

Smith hasn’t been taking it easy today, himself. He’d already conducted 7 interviews by lunchtime with more on his schedule.

Nor are national Republicans been sitting back. The National Republican Senatorial Committee slammed Casey for his record of voting with President Obama 93 percent of the time or more.

OFA, RNC Memos: Romney/Obama Weak in PA

The Obama for America campaign and the Republican National Committee say Mitt Romney/Barack Obama is has potentially fatal weaknesses in Pennsylvania. Here’s the gist of their arguments.

Romney went 5 for 5 on Tuesday (including PA) and Newt Gingrich announced plans to suspend his campaign. The game really is over on the GOP side.

From Obama for America Pa. State Director Bill Hyers.
Spoiler: no mention of “cookiegate.”

Pennsylvania Primary Damages Romney
Spending Significant Time and Resources on Largely Un-Contested Race in Pennsylvania, Romney Further Alienates Key General Election Voters, and is Still Unpopular With Republicans

Despite having an essentially uncontested primary, Mitt Romney spent significant time and energy in Pennsylvania trying, without success, to shore up his Republican support.  In the end, over 40 percent of Republican voters still did not support him.  At the same time, Romney’s extreme policy positions, out-of-touch comments, and insistence on cutting taxes for millionaires and billionaires at the expense of the middle class only damaged his prospects among women, the middle class, and young Americans – all voters he’ll need to win in November.

ROMNEY IS OUT OF TOUCH WITH PENNSYLVANIA WOMEN

Mitt Romney’s time in Pennsylvania has surely hurt his standing with women, which was already underwater by more than 10 points. Romney continued embracing the extreme, right-wing politicians that have led state-by-state assaults on women, saying he was “extraordinarily proud” when Governor Corbett endorsed him last week. Governor Corbett recently defended the extreme and controversial mandatory ultrasound bill in Pennsylvania by saying women can just “close their eyes” when government forces them to undergo an invasive and medically unnecessary procedure.

And here is RNC Political Director Rick Wiley.

Re: Obama’s Pennsylvania Problem

The Obama campaign is counting on Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes in their difficult task of cobbling together the 270 needed to hold the White House.

But even Pennsylvania may be out of reach for President Obama come November.

In 2008, the president won the Keystone State with 54.7 percent of the vote to Senator McCain’s 44.3 percent. Today, however, 51 percent of Pennsylvanians say the president “does not deserve to be reelected,” according to a recent Muhlenberg poll. And among Independents in a late March Quinnipiac poll, that number stood at 53 percent.

That message, combined with Obama’s obvious weaknesses among the electorate, make Pennsylvania look more like a red state with each passing day. Soon, Chicago will again be asking Vice President Biden to renounce his long Delaware residency and rediscover those Scranton roots we heard so much about in 2008. After all, Team Obama realized a long time ago the president can’t relate to Pennsylvania voters after the “cling to guns or religion” incident of the last election.

Finally, remember this: if Obama is looking this weak in a state where a Republican has not won since 1988, he might as well throw in the towel in most of the other battleground states.

DCCC Promotes Trivedi to Red to Blue

A strong first quarter haul has landed Manan Trivedi on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s list of top challengers in the country. The Reading-area physician is challenging Rep. Jim Gerlach. George Badey and Larry Maggi also earned recognition.

The designation will make it easier for Trivedi to raise national money and earn the attention of third party groups. He joins Kathy Boockvar on the list; she’s the Bucks County attorney challenging Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick. Trivedi had been an “emerging races” candidate.

“The early strength we have demonstrated by being named to the Red-to-Blue program means we have the support, confidence, and momentum it takes to win in November,” Trivedi said.

DCCC Chairman Rep. Steve Israel praised Trivedi.

“As a veteran, doctor, and father, Manan Trivedi has dedicated his life to helping keep Pennsylvania families healthy and safe,” he said. “Manan is building a strong grassroots campaign that focuses on creating good jobs and standing up to the extreme Republican agenda of ending Medicare while protecting tax cuts for billionaires and Big Oil.”

Gerlach’s campaign said the Congressman has his sights on the general election.

“Jim Gerlach is focused on working hard for the citizens of the Sixth Congressional District and earning their  trust and support.  Our opponent is focused on begging for money from programs funded by Washington insiders and liberal extremists,” said spokesman Vince Galko.

“The people who fund this Red to Blue program support the government takeover of our health care, a failed energy policy that is hurting our families and business and a crippling economic policy.”

PoliticsPA named Trivedi a “winner” in our rundown of first quarter fundraising. He brought in over $222K and had $355K on hand. Gerlach (R-Chester) raised $273K and has $688K on hand.

He’s also an escape artist, having defeated a number of concerted efforts over the past decade in a district that was less favorable to Republicans – including his 57 percent to 43 percent defeat of Trivedi in 2010.

GOP lawmakers redrew the 6th district from one that leaned Democratic, to one that leans slightly Republican. Indeed, they drew Trivedi out of the district (barely).

Badey and Maggi

George Badey, an attorney challenging Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Delaware), and Larry Maggi, the Washington County Commissioner challenging Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Allegheny), were each named to the DCCC’s “emerging races” list. This designation puts the two on the radar of national donors.

Badey has $188K COH, Maggi has $266K. Time will tell if they can build on this pace – they’ll need to. Meehan has $1.1 million on hand, Murphy has $1.4 million (as of April 4).

“It is great news that the DCCC elevated us to Emerging Races.  Combine this with the DCCC IE announcement of reserving $2 million of air time in the Pittsburgh media market which covers all of this district, and you see that this is increasing becoming one of the most competitive races in the nation,” said Bradley Komar, campaign manager with Larry Maggi for Congress.

The DCCC has reserved $5 million in PA airtime for the fall – $3 million in the Philadelphia market, $2 million in Pittsburgh. Any of these three could win up being beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, one of the DCCC’s “emerging races” candidates lost his primary on Tuesday. Jackson Eaton, who had raised $100K to take on Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Lehigh) was defeated by Lehigh Co. Dem Chairman Rick Daugherty (who raised $8K).

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