Smith to Replace Parks, Face Raja

Rumor has it that Rep. Matt Smith will be replacing Greg Parks on the ticket.

Raja won a heated (and, at times, nasty) Republican primary in the race to replace retiring state Sen. John Pippy, a Republican who had represented the 37th district since 2003. But after his surprise upset victory, Raja now faces a new challenge: a new challenger.

Raja’s original Democratic write-in opponent Greg Parks filed paperwork today to have his name withdrawn from the race.

“It is with a heavy heart that today I must withdraw my name for personal reasons that will not allow me to continue the campaign,” Parks said in a press release. “I will stay active in public service, and will continue to fight for the ideas that inspired so many to support me in the primary, but today I must step aside so that someone else can continue the fight.”

It seems to have been part of a bait-and-switch maneuver that may have been planned from the beginning, with Parks’ knowledge and cooperation. Numerous Allegheny County Democratic sources have all said Parks is to be replaced by state Rep. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny).

Should Mustio have won, the Dems may be singing a different tune. But given the wide margin of Raja’s victory (12 points), the district is now seen as competitive and they are hoping to pick up the seat.

Mark Harris, general consultant for the Raja campaign, said that the candidate isn’t worried about having a new challenge to contend with.

“Raja looks forward to an open and honest debate about the future of the commonwealth. He’s committed to serving the people of the district regardless who the democratic insiders select.”

Raja echoed that sentiment, saying that regardless of who he faces, “I will continue working hard to spread my message of getting Pennsylvania’s economy back on track and I remain confident we will win in November.”

A source close to the campaign said that Raja will spend whatever is necessary to win this race.

In another interesting twist, Harris and Smith have a bit of history together. Harris lost to Smith in a 2006 state House bid, which could make this race that much more interesting.

Smith was unavailable for comment.

Smith Allies Push Fundraising Efforts

Both Smith (left) and Casey are focusing on out-raising each other.

Smith announced Wednesday that he was going to inject a “substantial” amount of his own cash into his bid for Senate.

But he’s not alone. Other big-name supporters have come out to ask others to make their own contributions, including Sen. Pat Toomey and the Tea Party Express.

“I’m sure you see what I see, and I’m sure you share my frustration,” Toomey said in an email to supporters.

“Every day in Washington conservative Republicans in the House and Senate offer new solutions to restore sanity and create jobs – only to see those ideas blocked by a liberal Senate majority and a president determined to grow government, increase spending and regulate the private sector to obscurity.”

Pointing to Smith’s record in the private sector as a coal company executive, Toomey said Smith is a job creator and has the know-how to fix economic regulation and “ensure our prosperity for the future.”

The Tea Party Express, banking on yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding Obamacare to fire up their base, sent out an email blast encouraging people to donate to candidates they support — including Smith.
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“It is now more clear than ever that the only way we are going to repeal Obamacare is to take control of the Senate and elect a new wave of liberty-minded conservative representatives,” the email said. “We cannot afford to sit back while the Harry Reid-led Senate, with help from the Supreme Court, continues to strip us of our liberties by pushing the most left-wing agenda that our nation has ever seen.”

Despite recent reporting by PoliticsPA that Casey had cracked the magic polling number and his seat could be considered safe, the Senator has continued to press his donors for more support. He told them that relying on poll numbers could be dangerous and that he wanted to heed the “warning signals” and stay on top of Smith in terms of fundraising.

Americans For Prosperity Plan Obamacare Attack (Watch Video)

Americans For Prosperity has released a new ad entitled “Not a Tax,” which is the first step in a massive plan of action against yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

The ad is airing in 12 states, including Pennsylvania — the first time the group has aired an ad in the Keystone State. It highlights the continued chatter amongst Republicans that Pennsylvania is indeed up for grabs this November.

The ad zeroes in on President Obama’s promise that the healthcare bill is not a tax increase.

The new ad focuses on the Supreme Court's ruling that the individual mandate is constitutional, as it falls within Congress' power to tax.

“Now we know that’s not true,” says the female narrator. “Obama’s health care law is actually one of the largest tax increases in history.”

The ad goes on to state that Obama reordered his priorities to favor a “health care takeover” tax instead of creating jobs and curtailing spending.

In closing, the ad appeals to the fact that Americans are “already struggling” and cannot afford another tax.

This $9 million ad buy, however, is only the beginning of a massive effort against the legislation and the Supreme Court Ruling.

“The President clearly does not want to talk about this issue, saying we need to move on,” said AFP President Tim Phillips. “But we do. We want to continue the debate and continue the push to get this legislation repealed.”

In addition to the ad, AFP is planning a substantial cable effort with more television ads to come, as well as large social media effort on websites such as Pandora and YouTube, etc. and multiple grassroots efforts including rallies, bus tours and petitions.

State Obama spokesperson Jennifer Austen was unavailable for comment.

AFL-CIO Announces PA Endorsements

On Thursday, the AFL-CIO announced Pennsylvania legislators they will endorse this year, providing a valuable asset for politicians in the labor-heavy state.

After endorsing President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in March, the AFL­-CIO today announced their support of Sen. Bob Casey and 234 other PA legislators at the federal and state level.

PA AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale said in a press release that the organization’s endorsement shows not only that a legislator supports organized labor, but also government services meant to protect the middle class.

“[The endorsed legislators] have stood with us on the issues that will further grow our economy and expand our middle class, including:  protecting and creating good jobs; collective bargaining rights; public education; community services and retirement security,” Bloomingdale said.

For the most part, the AFL-CIO’s endorsement went along party lines, with Democrats receiving endorsements and Republicans not, though there were a few noteworthy exceptions.

In the competitive race for PA-18, Larry Maggi, a Democrat who’s challenging incumbent Tim Murphy (R-Allegheny) didn’t receive an endorsement from the AFL-CIO, providing a potential quandary for voters in the labor-heavy Greater Pittsburgh Metropolitan area.

It’s notable that Murphy’s primary opponent, Evan Feinberg, accused Murphy of pandering to labor unions last March.

The AFL-CIO also chose to not endorse Democrat George Badey in the race against incumbent Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chester) for PA-7, another urban, labor-heavy area. In addition, the AFL-CIO didn’t endorse a candidate in the race between Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler) and his Democratic opponent Missa Eaton for PA-3.

At the state senate level, Democratic challengers Tim Seip, going up against incumbent Rep. David Argall (R-Berks) in SD-29, and Kim Villella, who’s challenging Rep, Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) in SD-47 didn’t receive endorsements from the AFL-CIO.

But Republicans weren’t completely exempt from the list. The AFL-CIO also endorsed 15 Pennsylvania House Republicans, representing a labor-friendly minority in the state Republican Party.

Leo Knepper, executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania, an organization dedicated to limited government, said the endorsement of the Republicans by the AFL-CIO is a good strategy by the organization since it pits Republican against Republican.

“I’m not at all surprised that the unions have stuck by the Big Labor wing of the Republican party,” Knepper said.  “Why go against them when they can stymie much needed reform from within the GOP caucus?”

List of Republicans endorsed by the AFL-CIO:

Rep. Jim Marshall (R-Beaver)
Rep. Gene Digirolamo (R-Bucks)
Rep. Bernard O’ Neill (R-Bucks)
Rep. Frank Farry (R-Bucks)
Rep. Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery)
Rep. Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery)
Rep. Stephen Barrar (R-Chester)
Rep. Joseph Hackett (R-Delaware)
Rep. Nick Miccarelli (R-Delaware)
Rep. Nicholas Micozzie (R-Delaware)
Rep. William Adolph Jr. (R-Delaware)
Rep. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe)
Rep. John Taylor (R-Philadelphia)
Rep. Mark Petri (R-Bucks)

Their full endorsement list can be found here.

6/29 Ups & Downs

Mike Turzai. When PoliticsPA broke the news about the Majority Leader’s comments to GOP state committee — that Voter ID would enable Mitt Romney to win PA — we had no idea where it would end up. The news exploded, first on the liberal blogosphere and then on to cable news and finally to the Colbert Report. It threw off budget messaging and put him and his party on defense for days.
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PA Sluggers. Thursday was the annual congressional baseball game (for charity), and though Dems dominated 18-5, PA’s delegation shone. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Blair) hit an RBI double, Rep. Mark Critz (D-Cambria) scored the Dems’ first run and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Allegheny) managed the D team. Also on the field were Reps. Lou Barletta (R-Luzerne), Tim Holden (D-Schuylkill), Pat Meehan (R-Delaware) and Todd Platts (R-York).
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Tom Smith. When a candidate kicks in a significant portion of his or her own money, it’s usually a ‘has to’ rather than a ‘wants to.’ That’s what the campaign of the wealthy former coal company owner said he was going to do next week. That news followed another poll showing Smith trailing Casey by double digits (17 points).
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Jim Burn. The word is he was smiling from ear to ear after his appearance on MSNBC’s Hardball Tuesday. During a segment on Turzai’s Voter ID comment, Burn segued into an attack on Mitt Romney. It was cohesive enough to prompt host Chris Matthews to comment: “You’re the best surrogate we’ve had on for Obama. We can’t get Cabinet members or senators to talk [better than] you. You’re the one that ought to be running the surrogate operation.”
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Montco Commissioners. We’ve been meaning to give this up for awhile. We can’t say it better than this editorial from the Intelligencer, but allow us to sum it up: gone are the constant squabbles and ethics problems. Here (apparently to stay) is open, courteous and responsible government. Dems Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards get along very well with Republican Bruce Castor, even when they disagree on policy. Castor even attended a reception for Shapiro and Richards this week. Bye bye, Bickersons.

Dem Congressional Prospects. Stuart Rothenburg wrote a pretty damning column for Roll Call this week in which he took a look at Dems’ chances to pick up seats in PA (and by extension, the country), and the results aren’t good. The GOP’s (likely deliberate) slow rolling of redistricting in 2011 led to recruiting problems, and left the party with maybe 3 serious pickup opportunities. Meanwhile, they’re playing defense in PA-12.
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Tweet of the week: Laura Olson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Rep. Smith: calling #pabudget an improvement “is a little like saying that a 4-12 Steelers season is better than a 1-15 Steelers season.”

— Laura Olson (@lauraolson) June 27, 2012

 

House Passes State Budget

The House has passed a FY 2012-2013 budget that restores some cuts to education and human services programs.

The GOP-dominated House passed a $27.7 billion state budget Thursday for fiscal year 2012-2013 with a vote of 120 to 81. While all but one Republican stood behind Senate Bill 1466, the majority of Democrats are criticizing the legislature for granting a multimillion-dollar tax break to a chemical refinery, for cutting social service funding by 10 percent and for flat-lining education funding as reported by Fox43.

“The budget bill we passed this evening and sent to the Senate is a responsible, and more importantly, a sustainable spending plan,” said House Speaker Sam Smith. “I am pleased that we prioritized spending and restored funding for education — kindergarten through college. One of our greatest challenges this year was restoring $84 million to the governor’s proposed 20 percent cut to human services funding. This will help our state’s most vulnerable citizens.”

According to Capitolwire, the budget was negotiated by Gov. Tom Corbett and House Republican leaders. Though Corbett originally attempted to cut back spending to $27.1 billion, legislators fought for the extra $500 million which will be supported without tax increase.

The extra money will prevent Corbett’s proposed cut of 30 percent to university funding and decrease his proposed cut to human service funding by 10 percent.

The additional money will be used primarily to fund business tax breaks and cover the rising cost of health care and public-employee pensions. Public education spending will remain the same after last year’s 10 percent reduction, though an additional $50 million will be divided amongst struggling districts.

Furthermore, the Associated Press reported that Senate Bill 1466 will allow for a limitless 25-year tax break beginning in 2017 for a PA petrochemical refinery and chemical manufacturing industry. Corbett’s budget proposal would have enforced a tax credit cap at $66 million annually, but the House-passed legislation will allow a 5-cent break per gallon of ethane used by the refinery, without limit.

Although the cut to social service funding is less than Democrats initially feared after Corbett revealed his proposal this past winter, it is significant enough to shut down a program that provides approximately $200-a-month cash benefit for disabled adults who are unable to work, as reported by the Associated Press.

“My advice to Pennsylvanians…is don’t get old, don’t get sick, don’t try to educate kids, don’t be unlucky enough to be disabled, don’t try to find a job, don’t try to catch a bus and don’t try to find a non-deficient bridge,” said Rep. Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny County) who was the leading minority representative on the House Appropriations Committee.

6/29 Morning Buzz

Good morning politicos, here’s the buzz. The House passes a budget; PA politicos are buzzing over the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision; Turzai gets roasted by Stephen Colbert; and Altmire and Critz break with the Dems and vote for contempt for Holder.

Don’t forget to check back for this week’s Ups & Downs!

House Passes State Budget: It looks like lawmakers are going to make it. The GOP-dominated House passed a $27.7 billion state budget, to the dismay of many minority Democrats who are dissatisfied with flat-lined education funding, social service spending cuts, and a massive business tax break.

Live Thread: SCOTUS Upholds Obamacare – PA Pols React: Today, the Supreme Court ruled on the controversial Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The court ruled in favor of the bill 5-4, also upholding the individual mandate clause requiring every American to have health insurance. Here’s what PA politicos had to say.

Turzai Gets the Colbert Treatment: We’ve come a long way from Saturday’s GOP state committee in Hershey. After PoliticsPA broke the story of Majority Leader Mike Turzai’s Voter ID comments, they’ve made the rounds on cable news – and finally arrived Wednesday night on The Colbert Report. Watch the segment here.

New Pro-Obama Super PAC Ad Hammers Vulture Capitalist Message: Liberal super PAC Priorities USA Action released a new ad in Pennsylvania Thursday attacking Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The 30 second spot blasts him for profiting off the bankruptcy of companies owned by Bain Capital while he was CEO of the private equity firm. Watch the ad here

Altmire, Critz Vote for Holder Contempt: With an NRA endorsement on the line, Reps. Mark Critz (D-Cambria) and Jason Altmire (D-Allegheny) broke with their party and voted to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failure to release information regarding the Fast and Furious scandal.

Rohrer Gets a New Gig: Former state Rep, U.S. Senate hopeful and 2010 Gubernatorial candidate Sam Rohrer has found a new job: President of The Pennsylvania Pastors’ Network, a project of Let Freedom Ring, Inc., a 501(c)(4).

Young Democrats to Hold National Conference in Phila: Although it’s yet to be seen how strongly young voters will be in Obama’s corner this election cycle, Pennsylvania Young Democrats have something to be excited about: the National Conference is coming to Philadelphia this weekend.

Legislative Election Updates

SD-13: Democratic candidate Tom O’Brien said there is no reason to celebrate the PA budget agreement — which he said implements policies detrimental to school districts — and that, in conjunction with House Bill 1307, could determine whether schools recover. O’Brien said HB 1307 would give the state more power to oversee financially distressed schools and intervene, as well as strip collective-bargaining rights from teachers. Combined with the program cuts to schools, he said students do not have the equal opportunity to “learn and succeed.”

National
Pennsylvania Ave: 2010 health care law upheld, Pennsylvania politicians react
The Hill: In 255-67 vote, House places Holder in contempt of Congress
The Hill: New Obama super-PAC ad: Romney ‘drowned’ companies in debt
USA Today: Pro-Obama group keeps up attack on Romney’s record
AP: Highways-student loan deal poised for votes
The Hill: New Obama super-PAC ad: Romney ‘drowned’ companies in debt

Statewide
Fox News: Exxon’s CEO: Climate, energy fears overblown
AP: New teacher evaluations gets support in Pa. House
AP: Corbett may face big decision on Pa. health care
PA Independent: Senate preparing to expand red light cameras to Pittsburgh, large Philly suburbs
PA Independent: PA administration still analyzing SCOTUS decision
PA Independent: Keystone state lawmaker says ACA ruling is ‘unfortunate’
PA Independent: House passes $27.656 billion spending bill, Senate vote expected Friday
PA Independent: Updated: Pension accounting rules change, makes unfunded liability seem larger
State Impact: Biden blasts Romney over energy tax credits
State Impact: Corbett administration downsizes ethane cracker job claims
State Impact: Corbett and legislative leaders agree on cracker tax break deal
State Impact: Shell’s Tioga County methane geyser captured on video
State Impact: Clean Air Council seeks federal intervention with Marcellus air complaints
Capitolwire: Budget bill wins House approval, Senate to vote on it Friday
Capitolwire: Supreme Court rules in favor of Affordable Care Act; PA organizations say how it will impact the state
Capitolwire: House readies to debate state budget bill
Capitolwire: House GOP plans to make welfare-funded non-profits reveal exec salaries
Capitolwire: Teachers, House Democrats supportive, as Gov’s top education priority poised for passage
Capitolwire: Court ruling imperils filling annual code legislation with many bills, Costa warns
Capitolwire: Progress hailed on charters, other issues still snarling budget
Capitol Ideas: Thursday Morning Coffee: Three days and counting
Capitol Ideas: Mid-Morning Budget Update: More on welfare block grants and charter schools
Capitol Ideas: Thanks for the memories: a look at the letter that was accidentally sent to PA general assistance recipients
Capitol Ideas: GOP reaches deal on cracker credit
Capitol Ideas: Early Evening Budget Update: The House approves the budget
Pennsylvania Ave: 2010 health care law upheld, Pennsylvania politicians react
PA Independent: Pa. budget calls for closer scrutiny of nonprofits performing state services
PA Independent: Federal cuts endanger smooth delivery of heating fuel to poor

Philadelphia
Philly Clout: Corbett wins on health care (since he took both sides of issue)
Philly Now: In Blow to Gov. Tom Corbett, Health Care Law Upheld
Philly Now: Rep. Fattah, Dems, To ‘Walk Out’ of Congress Over Holder Contempt Vote
Philadelphia Tribune: House Holds Holder in Contempt
Philadelphia Tribune: Officials weigh in on healthcare vote
WHYY Newsworks: With constitutional question settled, divining what’s next for Affordable Care
WHYY Newsworks: $27.7 billion budget moves toward final vote in Pa.
City Paper: Low-income wage-tax relief axed. Call it tactical brilliance.

SEPA
Montgomery Media: Reaction comes quickly to Supreme Court’s ruling on health care overhaul

Pittsburgh
Tribune Review: Corbett promises to ‘limit’ healthcare impact on Pennsylvanians
Tribune Review: Obama calls healthcare decision a victory for people across U.S.
Tribune Review: Healthcare law verdict to be pivotal
Tribune Review: Budget proposal set for lawmakers’ vote
Tribune Review: Jury finds Democrat guilty of corruption
Post-Gazette: Pennsylvanians react to Supreme Court decision
Post-Gazette: Jury finds ex-Rep. Stetler guilty on all counts
Post-Gazette: Poll shows Obama has slim lead in Pa. over Romney
Post-Gazette: State system to require funding before university project begins
Post-Gazette: House strengthens bill on illegal construction workers
Post-Gazette: Pa. House recesses without starting budget debate
Early Returns: AFL-CIO doesn’t endorse Maggi
Early Returns: Critz, Altmire vote for Holder contempt
Early Returns: Corbett’s two HCR reax
Early Returns: ACA reax
Early Returns: Thursday morning; Hello ScotusBlog
Early Returns: Turzai ID remark makes ‘Colbert Report’

Southwest
AP: Tax credit for Shell plant in Pa. has plenty of critics
Beaver County Times: Budget cuts cause five county layoffs
Observer-Reporter: Neuman move could embarrass Corbett
Valley News Dispatch: Casey wants nuke cleanup investigated
Johnstown Tribune-Democrat: Highway bill vote may come Friday

Lehigh Valley
Express Times: Bethlehem Area School District agrees to join electronic medical record exchange                                                                                                                                 Express Times: Lopatcong Township Planning Board deems housing proposal with ties to mayor’s law firm incomplete
Express Times: Warren County Community College raises tuition $3 per credit
Express Times: Easton city council officially introduces commuter tax increase
WFMZ: Democrats begin attack on state Republicans’ spending plan
WFMZ: Pa. lawmaker, Neuman, calls for vote on Sandusky probe review                             WFMZ: Lehigh Co. Commissioners discuss federal funding
WFMZ: Pa. cash assistance program may not be part of new budget
WFMZ: Court’s ruling on health care law could impact election, pundits say
The Morning Call: Impact of health care reform decision on Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley
The Morning Call: Whitehall-Coplay district passes school budget with tax hike

NEPA
Pocono Record: Pocono Medical Center issues statement on healthcare ruling
AP: Pa. Democrats see too much in budget for business, too little for needy
AP: Corbett may face big decision on Pa. health care
AP: Where states stand on implementing health care law
AP: Dems go after GOP Pa. spending plan
Times-Tribune: Short on cash, Doherty slashes wages
Times-Tribune: Evans rips Doherty pay cut, vows long court fight
Times Leader: Pa. property tax rebates coming next week
Times Leader: Reactions to the healthcare ruling
Times-Tribune: Pennsylvania’s use of secret grand juries sparks legal debate
Daily Item: Court upholds Centralia ruling
Daily Item: Northumberland County deficit reached $1.8 million; cannot be allowed to get deeper, controller says
Citizens Voice: County committee seeks split with tax collector
Citizens Voice: Short on cash, Scranton mayor slashes wages
Citizens Voice: Senators protest flood insurance requirement
Citizens Voice: Governor’s education panel meets today in W-B
Citizens Voice: Judiciary committee hears from two Pennsylvania nominees for federal bench
Citizens Voice: House expected to vote on budget proposal
Standard Speaker: Hazleton Area to cast final vote on 2012-13 budget today
Standard Speaker: Not all Hazleton City Council members ready to play by new rules
Standard Speaker: Forum encourages Latinos to get involved in community, civic affairs

South Central
Lancaster Intelligence/Era: Hearing on Brunswick Hotel’s liquor license postponed
York Daily Record Editorial: Give Stephen Stetler county jail time
York Daily Record: What does the Supreme Court ruling on healthcare mean for you? Chat live with experts Friday.
Harrsiburg Patriot News: Affordable Care Act supporters urge politicians to come together to enact plan for Pennsylvania
Harrisburg Patriot News: Sen. Toomey joins Republican calls for repeal of Affordable Care Act
Harrisburg Patriot News: Pa. State System of Higher Education board extends chancellor, seven presidents’ contracts
Harrisburg Patriot News: Gov. Tom Corbett ‘disappointed’ but defiant at Supreme Court health care ruling
Harrisburg Patriot News: Legislation to help Pennsylvania’s fiscally distressed school districts gets no love from Harrisburg and York House members
Patriot-News: A fed­eral appeals court upheld a lower court’s deci­sion to con­demn the prop­erty of the few remain­ing res­i­dents in Centralia
Carlisle Sentinel: Pa. House opens debate on GOP’s $27.7B budget plan

North by Northwest
Times-News: Former U.S. Rep. Dahlkemper ‘very happy’ with health-care ruling
Times-News: Court’s health-care ruling spurs varied reaction in Erie and state
Centre Daily Times: Local Democrats seeking restored funding cuts

Opinion
South WhiteHall Patch: Schools Advocate Takes Aim at ‘Nostesia’                                   Express Times: The Morning Note: Why would the GOP want to kill a health care insurance bill, the parts of which it supports?
The Morning Call: Are public school rainy-day funds too big?
Post-Gazette Editorial: Justice with heart: Top court strikes down cruel sentences
Post-Gazette Editorial: Voter ID honesty: Rep. Turzai’s slip unmasks the Republican agenda

Blogs
PA Budget and Policy Center: Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act
2 Political Junkies: ObamaCare upheld by US Supreme Court
2 Political Junkies: Sightings of the Extremely Rare Female PA Pol
John Hanger: Stunning Fact: Just 7% Of America’s Combined Cycle Gas Plants Operate More than 70% Of Time
John Hanger: Repeating The Shale Gas Boom: How Unconventional Oil May Crush Oil Prices By 2015
Pennsylvania Progressive: Confusion Reigns on SCOTUS ObamaCare Ruling
Pennsylvania Progressive: News & Notes
Above Average Jane: Health Care in Pa
Keystone Progress: Obama Upheld!
Keystone Politics: Roberts Votes With the Left to Uphold the Affordable Care Act
Keystone Politics: Nutter and Pawlowski: Romney Is A “Pioneer of Outsourcing”
Keystone Politics: Maybe Pension Funding Gaps Are About to Double Under New Reporting Standard
Citizens’ Call: Turzai Gets Shelled for . . . Candor on Voter ID
Lehigh Valley Ramblings: Matt Cartwright Applauds Supreme Court Obamacare Ruling
NEPArtisan: Health Care Rules!
NEPArtisan: PA-17 Cartwright on Health Care

Altmire, Critz Vote for Holder Contempt

Both Altmire and Critz broke with their party, possibly in exchange from an NRA endorsement.

With a possible endorsement from the National Rifle Association on the line, Reps. Mark Critz (D-Cambria) and Jason Altmire (D-Allegheny) broke with their party to vote in favor of holding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his failure to release information regarding the Fast and Furious scandal.

Critz and Altmire, who represent districts with large numbers of NRA members, voted in favor of contempt for Holder after the NRA said it was scoring the vote, making it more likely that they would receive the organization’s endorsement in future elections.

In Critz’s case, the endorsement could come as a boost for his re-election campaign against Republican challenger Keith Rothfus. For Altmire, whose district was absorbed into Critz’s during redistricting, the NRA endorsement could be useful in a future campaign.

In a campaign press release, Critz denounced the handling of the investigation by House Republicans, but nonetheless supported turning over reports of what he called “federal law enforcement misconduct.”

“At the end of the day, Congress has the responsibility to provide effective oversight of government programs and taxpayer funds, and it’s time to put this issue behind us and focus on what the American people really care about – creating jobs and strengthening our economy,” Critz.

For Altmire, the vote to hold Holder in contempt of Congress was a matter of consistency — Altmire originally supported a similar resolution in 2008.

“I believe it would be inconsistent for me to vote against today’s resolution simply because the political tables are now turned,” Altmire said.  “I continue to believe that Congress has investigative authority and it is clear that the administration did not provide the requested documents.”

During an interview with Fox News, Holder dismissed the contempt charge as an attempt by House Republicans to score political points against the Obama Administration.

“Today’s vote is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided — and politically motivated — investigation during an election year,” Holder said.  “By advancing it over the past year and a half, Congressman Issa and others have focused on politics over public safety.”

Holder denied knowledge of the sale of weapons to drug cartel members, saying that he disapproved of the method employed by the ATF and deemed Fast and Furious a failed operation.  House Republicans remained skeptical, and demanded he turn over 7,000 pages of documents regarding the case. Holder refused, leading to the contempt vote.

The NRA’s involvement case arose after Congress obtained documents stating ATF members called for a system that would have alerted authorities when more than three weapons were purchased from gun shops near the Mexican border. NRA officials allege the scandal is a government conspiracy designed to strengthen the argument for tighter gun-control laws.

Aside from Critz and Altmire, House members from Pennsylvania voted along partisan lines. Chakkah Fattah (D-Phila) joined other House Democrats by refusing to participate in the vote.

New Pro-Obama Super PAC Ad Hammers Vulture Capitalist Message

Liberal super PAC Priorities USA Action released a new ad in Pennsylvania Thursday attacking Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The 30 second spot blasts him for profiting off the bankruptcy of companies owned by Bain Capital while he was CEO of the private equity firm.

“Briefcase,” a 32-second ad buy running in Colorado, Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, calls into question Romney’s support for the middle class by claiming that the former Massachusetts governor profited off the failure of companies during his time at Bain.

“Romney bought companies, drowned them in debt.  Many went bankrupt,” the narrator of the ad said.

“Thousands of workers lost jobs, benefits and pensions. But for every company he drove into the ground, Romney averaged a $92 million dollar profit.”

But it’s more of the same, says Romney PA spokeswoman Kate Meriwether.

“President Obama’s allies are continuing their misleading attacks on free enterprise in an attempt to divert attention from this president’s abysmal economic record. If President Obama had half the job-creation record that Mitt Romney has, he would be running on it,” she said.

“President Obama has the worst job-creation record of any president in modern history, so his allies are trying to run a campaign based on distraction, not solutions. On Day One, Mitt Romney will put in place policies that will unleash the private sector and help create jobs.” – Kate Meriwether, Romney Spokesperson

Priority USA Action’s latest ad buy is fifth in a series of the group’s $10 million ad campaign that call into question Romney’s claim of being a “job creator” during his time at Bain and as governor of Massachusetts.

Paul Begala, senior advisor for Priorities USA Action, said in a press release that the ad demonstrates how a Romney presidency would cater to wealthy Americans at the expense of the middle class.

“Even when companies endured layoffs or even bankruptcy, even when workers lost promised health and retirement benefits, Romney found a way for he and his partners to make millions,” Begala said.

“Romney’s same approach to the Presidency will devastate the middle class, while pursuing policies that benefit himself and the wealthiest Americans.”

Rohrer Gets a New Gig

Former state Rep, U.S. Senate hopeful and 2010 Gubernatorial candidate Sam Rohrer has found a new job: President of The Pennsylvania Pastors’ Network, a project of Let Freedom Ring, Inc., a 501(c)(4).

In the role, he’ll inform PA clergy about public policy issues. The organization is nominally non-partisan.

“I am thrilled to accept the position of President of the Pennsylvania’s Pastors’ Network and to be able to focus my experience and energies in this vital area,” he said. “My love for our nation and this Commonwealth and my commitment to God, our Constitution, and strong families as the foundation for renewal of freedom has been my driving passion. I look forward to assisting pastors and church members in communicating truth and to equipping them to fulfill their civic and biblical responsibilities.”

Rohrer has spent decades as a loud voice for constitutional conservatism and has a large following statewide. He finished second in April’s U.S. Senate primary after spending several months as PA Director of Americans for Prosperity. He lost the 2010 gubernatorial primary to Tom Corbett and, prior to that campaign, he represented parts of Berks County in the PA House for 18 years.

Here’s Rohrer’s letter to supporters:

Dear Friends,

Because of your interest in my past political pursuits, I thought that you would be interested in an update about what I am now doing. I am pleased to announce that my new focus unites my continuing passion for freedom with what I believe to be the greatest need of our present time.

Immediately following the April 24th Primary election, Ruth Ann and I began to prayerfully consider our next step. We felt that I must remain involved in public policies that not only support the Constitution, but also those that educate and encourage the ‘faith community’ in this Commonwealth. As we have traveled across Pennsylvania, I have sensed the need for pastors to recognize their critical role in society by upholding their own civic responsibilities and then to instruct their people to do the same. In a Commonwealth with such a rich, religious heritage as ours it seems logical that this spiritual history should compel us to fulfill our religious and civic duties–which is to stand for Truth. It is the people of faith who are the ‘salt and light’ and who must preserve our liberties.

Earlier this month, I was glad to accept the position of President of The Pennsylvania Pastors’ Network ( www.papastors.net ), a project of Let Freedom Ring  (www.letfreedomringusa.com). An email release sent to the subscribers on the PPN mailing list is attached below. If you are interested in becoming a part of the network or receiving our regular issue updates please visit the website to sign up or contact me at the email address below.

In the Defense of Freedom,

Sam Rohrer
President, Pennsylvania Pastors Network
In the Footsteps of the Founders

Here’s the press release from the PA Pastor’s Association:

Former Pa. Representative Sam Rohrer named President of Pennsylvania Pastors Network

PHILADELPHIA – In an effort to further its already positive effects on the community in and around Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Pastors Network today announced the appointment of former Pennsylvania House of Representatives member Sam Rohrer as its President.

In his new role, Rohrer will forge new partnerships and help network and equip pastors to fulfill their critically vital role as communicators of the truth on the broad range of issues of the day so important to their congregations and the community as a whole. Rohrer will assist the pastors in the network to understand how they can more critically and actively engage their communities on important issues without politicizing the pulpit.

While at PPN, Rohrer hopes to advance the education of committed pastors and concerned church members on issues of freedom, family, and faith that underpin a free society.

“I am thrilled to accept the position of President of the Pennsylvania’s Pastors’ Network and to be able to focus my experience and energies in this vital area. My love for our nation and this Commonwealth and my commitment to God, our Constitution, and strong families as the foundation for renewal of freedom has been my driving passion. I look forward to assisting pastors and church members in communicating truth and to equipping them to fulfill their civic and biblical responsibilities.”

A comment from Pennsylvania Pastors’ Network Chairman, Colin Hanna:

“Those of us in leadership at the Pennsylvania Pastors Network and also the pastors in our network remain ever mindful of the public wariness about being spoken to or asked to do something political by a pastor or other member of the church,” said Colin Hanna, President of Let Freedom Ring, which funds the Pennsylvania Pastors Network. “Pastors in our network want to engage with the culture more effectively, and with his background and connections, Sam Rohrer is the ideal person for that role. We’re pleased to have him on board and look forward to the contribution he will make to the PPN.”

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