Four Help Whip Floor Into Shape at RNC

All four (left to right: David James, Vince Galko, Dan Hayward and Chris Bravacos) helped with communication and whip duties at the RNC earlier this week.

Democrats have been saying that Pennsylvania isn’t in play for the Republicans. They’ve pointed to Gov. Corbett’s limited presence at Romney-Ryan campaign stops and the state being downgraded from swing state to “learns Dem.”

But despite these assertions, four Pennsylvanians found themselves playing a large role at the Republican National Convention by helping with whip operations and communication on the floor to keep order in all the chaos.

Chester County’s David James, a partner at FLS Connect, was the floor whip manager for the convention.

Dauphin County’s Dan Hayward, of Novak Strategic Advisers, was a floater on the floor – helping the whip team with any issues and questions they had.

Hayward said James was the orchestrator for a lot of operations on the floor, and said James was one of the reasons why communication on the floor ran as smoothly as it did.

“It worked…in large part thanks to him.”

Hayward said that Pennsylvania often gets left out of the discussion because of their focus on grassroots organization and results, instead of worrying about image or press attention.

“PA delegates are hard workers, not braggers,” he said, adding that Pennsylvania stayed focused to get the job done.

“That’s what I saw when I was there, and I think it’s great.”

Lackawanna’s Vince Galko, a senior vice president at Mercury Public Affairs, was a floor whip. He worked to inform the delegations about votes and other procedures while maintaining order and answering questions.

“It was an honor to have been asked to play a small part in such a great event,” he said.

“Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan really fired up the troops and the RNC put on a terrific convention. It was a wonderful experience and I was thrilled to play a role. I am proud of our PA delegation and my fellow Pennsylvanians who worked behind the scenes at the convention.”

Another Dauphin County resident, Chris Bravacos, was in the command center and helped with communication and logistics on the floor. He is the owner of the Bravo Group and former state party executive director.

But do they feel that the naysayers have a point, that Pennsylvania doesn’t get enough attention?

Hayward, who worked the floor at both 2000’s and 2004’s conventions, said this was the first time Pennsylvania was front and center in recent memory with only two states in front of them: Michigan and Ohio.

“To me, that’s a pretty important sign,” he said.

Allyson Schwartz to Speak at DNC

Today DNC organizers released the names of additional speakers for next week’s convention, and PA’s own Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Montco) is among them.

Scranton native VP Joe Biden and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will also speak, making Schwartz the only other Pennsylvanian – and only female – from the state who has a speaking role.

She will join will several other female colleagues in the House of Representatives to promote President Obama’s message in Charlotte, N.C.

Schwartz has been a strong female leader in PA politics for some time.

She was the third woman to serve in the state Senate, is the only current female U.S. Rep. from Pennsylvania and the only Jewish legislator from the state serving in Congress.

House Democratic leadership may see it too, as her name has been on the short list for some time of members who could step into a leadership position should the opportunity arise.

Schwartz has also led two national initiatives: Women LEAD, to support female congressional candidates from across the country in 2007, and Red to Blue, to actively support strong Democratic candidates in Republican-leaning districts.

Schwartz is serving her fourth term in the House, representing the 13th district comprising northeast Philadelphia and suburban Montco.

Boockvar to Hold Medicare Discussion

Kathy Boockvar will hold a discussion on the issues with seniors today.Coupled with a senior advisor from the  National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Democratic nominee for PA-8 will address questions from seniors at Grundy Hall Retirement Homes, 1290 Almshouse Road, Doylestown.

Among the issues that will be discussed: medicare and social security.

With increased clout over medicare, mainly due to VP Nominee Paul Ryan & President Obama’s contrasting  fiscal plans for the program, this discussion is a key moment for Boockvar thus far in her campaign. Her answers will set the stage for her positions on Medicare for the duration of the campaign.

8/31 Ups & Downs

Who had a good week? And who wishes they could take it back? Check out this week’s Ups & Downs.

Tom Smith. It’s hard to have a worse week than the GOP Senate hopeful. He badly fumbled a question about abortion that, post-Todd Akin, every pro-life candidate should be prepared to answer. His response, to inadvertently compare conception out of wedlock to conception by rape, drew rebuke from other Republicans. We’ll be watching to see whether he’ll still be used as a Romney/Ryan surrogate. If all that wasn’t enough, a poll came out Monday showing Smith trailing Casey by 19 points, 53 to 34.

Arlen Specter. Say what you will about the former Senator, but no one can question his toughness. It was revealed this week that Specter was diagnosed with cancer for the third time (he had chemo for Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2005 and another cancer in 2008). But more incredibly, after some had feared the worst, he recently recovered to the point that he was able to leave the hospital. Specter, by the way, helped steer more than $30 billion to medical research over the course of his career.

Mike Fitzpatrick. In 2010, the Congressman was a challenger facing a big fundraising disadvantage. So he tried to make the incumbent’s money a liability, by calling on Patrick Murphy to agree to a $1 million campaign spending limit. Now Fitzpatrick is the incumbent with the cash advantage, and summarily dismissed his own suggestion (his Dem challenger Kathy Boockvar hasn’t called for such a limit, either). His 2010 pro-limit quotes are priceless.

Keith Rothfus. The PA-12 candidate was the only state politico who nabbed a speaking slot at the RNC other than Rick Santorum. During his speech, he talked Medicare, Obamacare and shared his own personal battle with cancer. Medicare has been a hot topic with both parties recently, but is always a concern for the constituents of the 12th district. His appearance can mean only good things for Rothfus as the election approaches.

SD-40 voters. Randy Vulakovich was sworn in this week as the new state Senator from a district that has been without one for some time. Months before Jane Orie retired, she withdrew from her official duties. The voters and taxpayers of the North Hills of Allegheny County once again have a voice in the Senate.

Tweet of the week: Yuri Beckelman, the Pennsylvania Campaign Communications Director for the AFL-CIO. He was responding to this poll by Rep. Jim Gerlach’s campaign that showed the incumbent with 92 percent name ID.

@politicspa – 92% name ID for Gerlach?!?! Maybe Leno should tape an episode of Jaywalking here, mensa edition.

— Yuri Beckelman (@YuriBeckelman) August 27, 2012

 

8/31 Morning Buzz

Good morning, politicos. Here’s the buzz.

The PA Dems used their time this week to focus on the Governor – specifically, how the national GOP is not focusing on the Governor. A new Smith poll says he’s ahead of Raja by 16 points, and we want to know who has the best campaign website in PA.

And don’t forget to check back later for this week’s Ups & Downs.

Who Has the Best Campaign Website in PA?: Attention politicos! PoliticsPA wants to know who you think has the best campaign website in the Keystone state. Submit your suggestions here.

PA Dems Pushing ‘Corbett Unwelcome at RNC’ Storyline: This week it has been all about the Republicans and the RNC. But the PA Dems aren’t sitting on the sidelines. Their target? Gov. Tom Corbett. They say the national party has shunned him, due to his low approval rating and Pennsylvania’s continually downgraded swing state status.

Mrs. Freed Channels Mrs. Romney: Ann Romney won praise far and wide for her strong Republican National Convention speech Tuesday. Amy Freed, whose husband David is running for Pennsylvania Attorney General, sought to channel the would be First Lady in a campaign email.

SD-37: Smith Poll Shows Him Over 50 Percent: Democratic state Rep. Matt Smith leads Republican businessman Raja 54 percent to 38, according to a poll released by his campaign. The two are facing off to replace recently retired Sen. John Pippy (R-Allegheny).

Legislative Election Updates
HD-129: Dem candidate Erik Saar sent out a press release yesterday criticizing his opponent Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks) for sending out taxpayer-funded mailers in an election year. Saar said legislators who espouse fiscal restraint should not be spending so much money on the glossy mailings sent out to constituents just weeks before the election. He also condemned the Rep. for accepting pay raises while refusing to cut wasteful spending in the legislature. “If Representative Cox is serious about saving money for the taxpayers of the 129th House District, I challenge him to join me in calling for reductions to legislator pensions, a taxpayer refund of the $200 million plus Legislature rainy day fund and a smaller legislature.” Saar said he would support such reforms, and reiterated his challenge to the Rep. to partake in a series of public debates.

PA Dems Pushing ‘Corbett Unwelcome at RNC’ Storyline

Romney and Corbett at a joint Romney-RNC fundraiser in Pittsburgh.

This week it has been all about the Republicans and the RNC. But the PA Dems aren’t sitting on the sidelines.

Their target? Gov. Tom Corbett.

The Dems sent out an email alert Tuesday linking to an article written by Philly Daily News’ John Baer. The article highlighted the differences between Pennsylvania’s two Toms: Gov. Corbett and former Gov. Ridge:

“Gov. Tom Corbett, in his second year in office, isn’t getting the kind of attention at the GOP convention that Gov. Tom Ridge did in his second year in office during the 1996 convention.

Corbett heads the state delegation in Tampa as Ridge did at Bob Dole’s convention in San Diego.

But Corbett isn’t speaking at this convention. Ridge spoke at that one.”

Baer said there are a few reasons that Corbett wasn’t given a more prominent role.

GOP state party Chair Rob Gleason said Corbett isn’t a “self-promoter” and the Guv’s press secretary said Corbett has “no national aspirations” and didn’t seek a speaking slot.

There’s another reason too: Corbett waited to endorse Mitt Romney until after Sen. Rick Santorum left the race.

But according to the Dems, the real problem is Corbett’s dismal approval rating.

“America’s least popular governor, Tom Corbett, is getting the cold shoulder at the Republican convention as national Republicans continue to distance themselves from Gov. Corbett and his unpopular policies,” wrote the Dems in an email. “National Republicans don’t want to remind Pennsylvanians that Mitt Romney and Tom Corbett have the same out of touch agenda.”

The Dems kept on message yesterday with another alert that hit the same point: Corbett’s poll numbers are “underwater” and Romney has been avoiding him at the convention and in the Keystone State to prevent a negative association:

“It’s no surprise that national Republicans have figured out exactly what Pennsylvanians already knew, Governor Corbett and his failed policies of devastating education cuts, laying off teachers, raising taxes on middle class Pennsylvania families and refusing to fund desperately needed bridge and road repairs is unacceptable,” said PA Dems spokesman James Hallinan in an email titled “Toxicity Alert.”

State GOP spokesperson Valerie Caras said that the Dems’ emails show the true difference between the two parties’ tactics and messages.

“If the Pennsylvania Democratic Party wants to talk political toxicity, ask them why Democrats like Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Mark Critz flee when President Obama comes to town. Ask them why President Obama’s campaign is based on attacks and distractions so he can avoid talking about four years of broken promises and record high unemployment. President Obama’s failed record is the epitome of political toxicity and vulnerable Democrats throughout Pennsylvania know it,” she said.

Caras added that the GOP will win – and will do so with the help of Corbett, who she called “a key member of our team.”

While it’s true that Corbett wasn’t on hand for some of the more recent GOP stops across the state, he did make an appearance with Romney when the candidate stopped in Lebanon County in June and has since sent out a press release endorsing Romney’s energy plan.

Mrs. Freed Channels Mrs. Romney

Ann Romney won praise far and wide for her strong Republican National Convention speech Tuesday. Amy Freed, whose husband David is running for Pennsylvania Attorney General, sought to channel the would be First Lady in a campaign email Wednesday.

“We were both so impressed by Ann Romney’s speech. As she spoke about her husband, his readiness to lead, and the experience that brought him to where he is today as the Party’s nominee, I couldn’t help thinking of the man sitting next to me on our couch in Camp Hill,” Freed wrote.

Dave Freed, the Republican Cumberland County District Attorney, is facing Democrat and former Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane. Kane has held a lead in each of the three independent polls of the race.

“I have absolutely no doubt that David is the right man to lead as Attorney General of Pennsylvania,” she continued. “To steal a line from Mrs. Romney’s speech last night: ‘This is our commonwealth. This is our future. These are our children and grandchildren. You can trust David Freed.’”

Dave and Amy Freed and their three children

Like Romney, Freed is a stay-at-home mom and cares for the couple’s three children. However, she’s also an attorney and former assistant Dauphin County District Attorney.

She knows something about it. Mrs. Freed is formerly Amy Zimmerman. Her father, LeRoy Zimmerman, was the first elected Pennsylvania Attorney General (the office was filled by appointment until 1980). She also worked as a deputy Attorney General in the health care fraud unit during Mike Fisher’s tenure.

But the family ties aren’t all good for Freed; Zimmerman chaired the Hershey Trust Co. from 2006 until 2011. He stepped down amid an ongoing non-criminal probe by the PA Attorney General of the board’s actions – specifically, its purchase of a golf course.

Freed has said that, should the probe still be active at the start of his tenure, he would refer the case to a special independent prosecutor.

Here’s the full email:

Last night, after David and I put our three children to bed, we had a free moment to watch the evening speeches at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. We were inspired by a few great ones.

We were both so impressed by Ann Romney’s speech. As she spoke about her husband, his readiness to lead, and the experience that brought him to where he is today as the Party’s nominee, I couldn’t help thinking of the man sitting next to me on our couch in Camp Hill.

David Freed is the experienced prosecutor and principled leader Pennsylvania needs and deserves in the Attorney General’s office. My husband has been prosecuting cases in Pennsylvania for the better part of 15 years – the last 7 of which he’s been the District Attorney in our home county of Cumberland.

What you may not know about David is that he has the support of more than 40 District Attorneys across Pennsylvania. We are thrilled to receive this overwhelming response from his trusted colleagues. This support proves to me that he is the most qualified candidate to lead our commonwealth. If these trusted leaders from across the state – as well as the Republicans and Democrats David and I have met on the trail over the past 10 months – are wholeheartedly putting their trust in him, I’m hopeful that you will too.

I have absolutely no doubt that David is the right man to lead as Attorney General of Pennsylvania. To steal a line from Mrs. Romney’s speech last night: “This is our commonwealth. This is our future. These are our children and grandchildren. You can trust David Freed.”

Thank you for your hard work and for your commitment to our campaign.

Amy Freed

SD-37: Smith Poll Shows Him Over 50 Percent

Raja, left, and Smith

Democratic state Rep. Matt Smith leads Republican businessman Raja 54 percent to 38, according to a poll released by his campaign. The two are facing off to replace recently retired Sen. John Pippy (R-Allegheny).

“The 37th district is a true swing district, with a nearly even generic ballot. Mitt Romney has a slight advantage over President Obama, while U. S. Senator Bob Casey leads in his race,” wrote pollster Marc Silverman of Thirty-Ninth Street Strategies. “Smith should be able to hold onto this lead and win as long as he has the resources to effectively communicate with voters.”

A few other highlights:

  • Of the 8 percent of voters who are undecided, 44 percent identify as Democratic and 39 percent as Republican.
  • Raja, who ran for Allegheny County Executive in 2011, begins the race with a net-unfavorable rating of 41 percent (versus 36 percent favorable).
  • Republicans lead the generic ballot in the district, 46 percent to 44.
  • Mitt Romney leads in the district by one point, 47 percent to 46.
  • Bob Casey leads in the district by 4 points, 50 percent to 46.

As with all internal polling, this should be taken with a grain of salt. Raja is set to go up on television this week and is able to give his campaign significant support. Releasing this poll memo now, given the fact that it is almost 3 weeks old, could be an effort to mitigate Raja’s financial and media advantage.

Raja’s campaign dismissed the numbers.

“Our own polling weeks ago showed Raja with a lead,” said Campaign Manager Jennifer Hass. “Putting out questionable polls is what Harrisburg politicians like Matt Smith do to hide their records. When voters find out about Matt Smith’s extreme liberal record including support of over $2.4 billion in tax increases and $5 billion in spending they will reject his tired tax and spend liberal policies.”

That a full 92 percent of voters are already decided in a state senate race seems rather high. And John McCain won the district by about 8 points in 2008, while these numbers show Obama down by just 1.

Smith celebrated the strong numbers in his poll.

“I’m extremely proud of the vast and growing support that I have received in my campaign for the state Senate,” said Smith. “It is clear that the voters support my vision for building the future here in western Pennsylvania by investing in education and creating jobs, and I intend to work hard to earn the privilege of serving the residents of the 37th district as their state Senator.”

Raja won a high-profile, contested primary with state Rep. Mark Mustio and activist Sue Means. Democrat Greg Parks, Raja’s original opponent, withdrew from the race in late June, citing personal reasons that would prevent him from seeing the race the whole way through.  Days later, Sen. John Pippy (R-Allegheny) officially retired – just minutes after next year’s budget was signed into law – and took a position with the PA Coal Association.

The seat is one of four seen by Democrats as serious pickup opportunities in the state Senate, where the caucus has had to work just to maintain its 20 out of 50 seats in recent years.

The district also handily won PoliticsPA’s reader poll asking which state Senate race was going to be the most competitive.

Thirty-Ninth Street Strategies conducted live interviews with 400 likely voters from August 6-9. The expected margin of sampling error for these results is +4.9 percent with a 95 percent confidence level.

Here’s the full memo:

Matt Smith Internal Poll (SD-37)

8/30 Morning Buzz

Good morning politicos, here’s the Buzz. We want to know: who has the best campaign website in PA. A new poll in the competitive race for ex-Sen. Pippy’s seat, and the candidates pooh pooh a spending cap in the 8th congressional district.

Who Has the Best Campaign Website in PA? Attention politicos! PoliticsPA wants to know who you think has the best campaign website in the Keystone state. Submit your suggestions here.

SD-37: Smith Poll Shows Him Over 50 Percent: Democratic state Rep. Matt Smith leads Republican businessman Raja 54 percent to 38, according to a poll released by his campaign. The two are facing off to replace recently retired Sen. John Pippy (R-Allegheny).

Social Media Bill Not Aimed at Parodies: A proposed bill to penalize online impersonation is aimed at protecting private citizens from online harassment and not intended to impact online satire or parody, a House GOP spokesperson said Wednesday. While we’re at it, what do you think is the best parody account in PA politics?

No Spending Cap in PA-8: Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick pushed for campaign spending limits during the 2010 campaign, but not so this time.

Santorum Praises Romney, Knocks Obama at RNC: Rick Santorum took the national stage once again Tuesday as he lauded his former rival for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney. He spoke to the socially conservative values that fueled his high-profile primary bid, as well as a familiar criticism of the Obama administration and welfare.

Legislative Election Updates:

SD-17: Charles Gehret, the GOP challenger to Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), has formed a Women for Gehret coalition with Montgomery County Sheriff Eileen Behr and business leader Renee Amoore as co-chairs. “I know Charles Gehret to be a bright and promising leader for our community and I am excited to help lead his Women’s Coalition,” Behr said. “Charles Gehret is exactly the kind of representative we need in our State Senate: a young leader who understands that women are one of the fastest growing segments of small business leaders in our area,” Amoore said.

SD-37: Democratic state Rep. Matt Smith leads Republican businessman Raja 54 percent to 38, according to a poll released by his campaign. The two are facing off to replace recently retired Sen. John Pippy (R-Allegheny).

SD-49: Former Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper endorsed Dem Sean Wiley in the competitive race to replace retiring Sen. Jane Earll (R-Erie).

Who Has the Best Campaign Website in PA?

Sam Rohrer's online presence was a strong point of his U.S. Senate bid.

Attention politicos! PoliticsPA wants to know who you think has the best campaign website in the Keystone state. Submit your suggestions here, and be sure to include the link. General election candidates only.

There’s no objective measure for the quality of a website, but the best are easy to use, aesthetically pleasing and informative. Who of the people running for office this year have it figure out?

We’ll recognize the best of the best after we’ve had the chance to review your nominations.

Here are the categories:
Best overall website for a statewide candidate
Best overall website for a congressional candidate
Best overall website for a state legislative candidate

Best website by a third party (including PACs)
Best website design
Best use of social media
Most technologically advanced website

If you can think of another good category, let us know that, too.

Editor’s note: Your submissions below are nominations, rather than votes. There is not necessarily a correlation between the number of times a candidate is nominated and whether that candidate is selected.

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