PoliticsPA’s Celebrity Look-Alikes 2014

The resemblance is striking! Here are PA politicos and their celebrity doppelgangers.

You can also check out our 2013 and 2011 editions.

Cox Kane

Courteney Cox-AG Kathleen Kane

Danson Corbett

Gov. Tom Corbett-Ted Danson

Wolf Tucci

Tom Wolf-Stanley Tucci

Toomey Willis

’80′s Bruce Willis (with hair)-Sen. Pat Toomey

Garfield-Strouse

PA-8 Democratic Nominee Kevin Strouse-Andrew Garfield

Casey Lloyd

Sen. Bob Casey-Sam Lloyd (Ted from Scrubs)

McGinty MacDowell

Andie MacDowell-Fmr. DEP Secretary Katie McGinty

Costello Wilson

Luke Wilson-PA-6 Republican Nominee Ryan Costello

7/25 Ups & Downs

A credit downgrade, a listicle and a gun. Who says summer is boring and predicable? See who made this week’s list.

Up Arrow1PA Employment. The state added 1,800 jobs last month and the unemployment rate stayed flat at 5.6%. In fact, PA’s unemployment rate has dropped 2.5% over the last nineteen months. We’d give this arrow to Governor Corbett but as polling has shown, leaders get the blame when the economy is bad but don’t get the credit when the economy is good (there’s a guy down in Washington who can sympathize).

Down ArrowCredit Rating. This week’s the credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded Pennsylvania’s rating from Aa2 to Aa3. There was (of course) much partisan finger-pointing but the firm blamed budgetary tricks and the state’s burgeoning pension obligations. Regardless of blame, this was bad news for everyone.

Up Arrow1Pat Toomey. How can we not give an up arrow to the man who has successfully become a Buzzfeed contributor? Besides reminding everyone of the commonwealth’s abundant supply of home-grown entertainers (from Grace Kelly to Will Smith to Taylor Swift) it’s an unconventional way to reach voters. The Senator also made headlines this week for his call for harsher against Vladimir Putin. As a member of the legislative branch, Toomey has the advantage of denouncing a man everyone hates without any negative consequences.

Down ArrowCharlie Dent. Nearly every member of Congress takes advantage of the traveling perks and PA’s Representatives are no exception. Unfortunately for Rep. Charlie Dent, though, he led the pack among the state delegation. Congressman Dent and his staff took fifteen such trips over the past two years and serves on the House Ethics Committee that approves all these expenditures.

Down ArrowTom Marino. Rep. Marino found himself at the center of an unwelcome situation last Friday when his press secretary was arrested for attempting to bring a gun into the Cannon House Office Building. Ryan Shucard was charged with carrying a pistol without a license and was placed on leave. Shucard has pled not guilty, however, so this story probably isn’t going away anytime soon.

The tweet of the week goes to Philadelphia Daily News reporter William Bender for admitting what we all secretly do, even if we’re too ashamed to admit it, click on Internet ads.

June Jobs Report: Unemployment Rate Remains Steady at 5.6%

Unemployment-300x225The latest jobs report is in, showing a steady unemployment rate and an increase in private sector jobs.

The state job numbers will play a major role in the 2014 campaign so this is an ongoing PoliticsPA feature.

The Good News:

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate, 5.6%, is better than the nation average (6.1%) and is the lowest its been since September 2008.

Around 1,800 jobs were added during the month of June. Most of the growth came from the private sector, which saw an increase of 5,600 jobs.

The biggest gains in June occurred in the construction industry (2.7%), trade, transportation and utilities industry (5.3%), and in financial activities (2.6%).

Gov. Tom Corbett, who faces a tough reelection bid against Democratic nominee Tom Wolf, was pleased with the numbers.

“The people of our state didn’t send me to Harrisburg to make friends, they sent me to build a stronger Pennsylvania, and we continue to see that vision reflected in another positive jobs report,” Corbett said in a statement.  “We have now created 184,000 new private sector jobs and have more people working in our private sector than at any other point in the history of the Commonwealth.  That’s our vision – and that is the stronger Pennsylvania we will continue building over the next four and a half years.”

The Pennsylvania GOP also lauded the latest jobs report.

“Tom Corbett’s policies have created a culture of job growth in Pennsylvania,” Chairman Rob Gleason said. “Today’s jobs report is great news for our Commonwealth. When Governor Corbett was sworn into office, he was faced with an unemployment rateover 8%.  Tom Corbett’s efforts have lowered the unemployment rate to 5.6%, well below the national average. Under the leadership of Governor Tom Corbett, 184,000 Pennsylvanians are going back to work, and he’s not done yet.”

In the eyes of Republicans, another positive jobs report can only bolster Corbett’s chances in November.

The Not So Good News:

The unemployment rate for June stayed the same as from May. This breaks a streak of ten straight months of the state’s rate dropping.

Additionally, while private employment increased, 3,800 public sector jobs were lost.

Finally, the total civilian workforce declined by 28,000 to 6,403,000 while resident employment decreased by 22,000.

7/18 Ups & Downs

The July fundraising reports came out, one nominee is being urged to drop out and some awkward additions to the State Capitol. See who made this week’s list.

Up Arrow1Fundraising Winners. If you caught our July quarterly winners & losers piece you saw the advantages that three Republican nominees hold in Southeast Pennsylvania. As Jesse Unruh once said, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics” meaning that whether you like or not, cash makes up a huge portion of our politics today. Therefore, it’s only right that those candidates that won the quarter also earn an up arrow this week.

Down ArrowSteve Cickay. Sure, State Senate nominee Steve Cickay didn’t step down (and there’s no indication he will) but now we know several top Democrats want him to. Additionally, all this attention has shown a spotlight on Cickay’s poor fundraising numbers. While this could conceivably rally people behind him, it’s nevertheless tough to convince voters to accept you when your party is split on whether you should even be the person on the ballot.

Up ArrowDown ArrowTom Corbett. Another week, another stream of stories about the Governor. On the plus side, he launched his first attack ad and has been defended by national conservatives who have taken aim against NextGen PAC founder Tom Steyer. He even had the RGA pledge it was “all in” for him until November. Nonetheless, his re-election odds are still dangerously low with the National Journal naming him a “dead man walking”. It was a split decision this week for the Governor but he desperately needs to pick up some wins.

Down ArrowHarrisburg. In what may perhaps be the most embarrassing symbolic act in the history of the commonwealth, signs were added to a number of portraits in the State Capitol describing the illegal activity by those portrayed. The additions were the result of a compromise between those that wanted the paintings taken down and those that felt such an act would be a whitewash of history. Instead now we have plaques to commemorate our state’s corruption. Not exactly the state’s proudest moment…

Anyway, this week’s tweet of the week goes to CBS Philly talk radio host, Chris Stigall.

July Quarterly Fundraising Winners & Losers

Money-bagThe finance reports have been filed, posted and picked apart. See who made the list.

Winners:

Ryan Costello (R-6)

Ryan Costello has big shoes to fill if he wants to replace retiring Rep. Jim Gerlach. In the financial arena at least, so far he has been quite impressive.

The Chester County Commissioner had his best fundraising period to date, pulling in a spectacular $600,174.89. Costello now has over $800,000 cash on hand for the open primary race.

The ability to raise that much cash indicates that Costello has the Republican establishment in PA-6 already behind him. The district, which is competitive but leans towards the GOP, has already seen Democratic nominee Manan Trivedi twice so Costello will need money to build up his name ID. It now appears that will no longer be a problem.

Pat Meehan (R-7)

Unlike his compatriots in PA-6 and PA-8, Meehan’s Southeastern PA seat has not received much attention from political parties or prognosticators. Neither the DCCC or the NRCC have it as a race to watch and none of the major congressional observers believe the seat is in any danger.

Nonetheless, Meehan is still bringing in the cash with a $243,600.39 haul in May and June. More importantly, though, is Meehan’s COH total of $1,775,362 which should prevent PA-7 from becoming a serious contest.

Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8)

Filling out the SEPA trifecta is Rep. Fitzpatrick, who raised $428,563.43. The Congressman had the advantage as he could use May and June exclusively for fundraising while his Democratic opponent, Kevin Strouse, was occupied with winning and recovering from his primary.

Rep. Fitzpatrick has the most cash on hand of any PA member of Congress, a mammoth $1,906,830. Given that PA-8 may be the most contested race in the commonwealth, this both makes sense and shows that the incumbent has done a magnificent job of shoring up resources while waiting for his Democratic challenger.

Losers:

Mary Ellen Balchunis (D-7)

Elections are a two-way street so there is more to the contest for PA-7 than just Rep. Meehan’s fundraising. On the other side is the lack of any real urgency apparent from Democratic nominee Mary Ellen Balchunis.

Incredibly, the candidate raised just $15,310 this quarter and has only $9,976 COH. Those numbers would be anemic if they came from an incumbent in a safe seat. Coming from a first-time candidate running against an incumbent with $1.7 million in the bank, those results are downright catastrophic.

Erin McClelland (D-12)

Compared to her counterpart listed above, McClelland did phenomenally this quarter with a $78,694.36 haul. Unfortunately for her, however, she is running against Rep. Keith Rothfus who has over $1.2 million cash on hand.

Despite being a freshman in the historically Democratic 12th district, where Rep. Jack Murtha served for decades, Rothfus holds the distinct advantage as over time the makeup of the district has significantly changed. The Cook Political Report, for instance, now rates it a R+9. Therefore, McClelland will have to bring in a lot more cash if she wants to make the 12th district competitive once more.

Note: Because of the previous issuance of pre-primary reports, these quarterly reports range from just May 1 to June 30.

Map: PA-8 Democratic Primary

The contest between Kevin Strouse and Shaughnessy Naughton for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district was perhaps the most hotly contested, and closest, election of the May primaries.

In the end, just 817 votes separated the two candidates, with Strouse emerging as the nominee. As a result, we thought it would be instructive to take an in-depth look at the geographical breakdown of the results.

Strouse Naughton Key

The first revelation that jumps out from that map is that, save for a few exceptions, the divisions between the areas won by Strouse (in blue) and those won by Naughton (in green) are pretty clear-cut. The former won most of lower and upper Bucks while the latter took central Bucks. Strouse also took most of the western part of the district and Naughton the east.

The Eighth District consists of all of Bucks County and parts of Northeast Montgomery county.

Most of the votes in Bucks County lie in lower Bucks, with Middletown (3,033 total votes), Bristol Twp. (3,025), Bensalem (2,438), Lower Makefield (2,126), Falls (1,982) and Northampton (1,963) making up just over 40% (14,567) of the 8th district’s 36,063 voters.

Strouse won all of these areas with the exception of Lower Makefield where Naughton ran strong with nearly 61%. Strouse took almost the same share of the vote in his hometown of Bensalem.

The difference came in the other townships. Strouse won handily with 60% of the vote in Falls but he carried the rest by narrow margins: 53% in Bristol Twp., 51% in Northampton, and most importantly, 52% in Middletown (home to Levittown).

Strouse’s close victories in these vote-rich areas likely made the difference.

Naughton ran admirably in Doylestown and the surround areas, including most of Eastern Bucks which includes her native Point Pleasant. She also performed well in Hatfield, the only major city in the Montco section of the Eighth.

As a comparison, check out the map we made for Fitzpatrick’s 14-point 2012 victory over Kathy Boockvar.

PA8-2012-Results-Municipal

In order to win, Strouse will have to maintain his advantage in Bensalem, Warminster and the rest of lower Bucks. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick is from Levittown which means Strouse’s total in Middletown will likely take a hit. This makes it imperative that he win over Naughton voters, especially in Lower Makefield and Doylestown.

Overall, it is very difficult to defeat an incumbent Congressman, especially in a year in which no major partisan wave (either Democratic or Republican) appears to be emerging. The primary provides a roadmap for the Strouse team but Fitzpatrick is a political veteran who has run (and won) several races in Bucks.

No matter the outcome, PA-8 could very well be the most entertaining race on election night.

PA-Gov Round-Up: Budgetary Blame Game

PA-Governor-Mansion2This week, even more than last week, was dominated by budget news as the Governor weighed whether to sign or veto the bill. Ultimately, Gov. Corbett would sign the budget while under the radar, the campaigns staked out their positions and took shots at each other.

Underneath all the rhetoric, however, one can glimpse the budgetary priorities of each candidate, making this back-and-forth particularly vital for the voters.

Corbett

The primary disadvantage for the incumbent throughout this entire ordeal was that while he had to deal with the messy budget wrangling, his opponent could stand aside and launch attacks from afar. The Governor’s campaign attempted to counteract this by egging on the Democratic nominee to offer his own budget.

“[Given] Tom Wolf’s lack of any budget plan of his own and his own sour record as Rendell’s top tax collector where Wolf certified revenue projections that were so far off, it’s difficult to determine whether they were the result of fantasy or gross incompetence,” Corbett-Cawley Press Secretary Billy Pitman said.

“His silence is deafening and further demonstrates that Secretary Tom Wolf’s campaign is nothing more than a redux of Governor Ed Rendell’s political opportunism and lack of leadership.”

After the deliberation over the budget passed, the campaign transitioned to hammering Wolf on the Governor’s pet issue throughout this process, pension reform. Gov. Corbett’s concerns with pensions are what caused him to hesitate to sign the budget in the first place and he spent a significant amount of time talking about it during his Thursday press conference. As a result, the Corbett-Cawley team posted a web video, entitled “See No Evil”, that seeks to portray Wolf as oblivious or in denial about what the Governor claims is an impending crisis.

“Millionaire Secretary Tom Wolf has repeatedly denied the existence of a pension crisis in Pennsylvania because he is more concerned about special interest groups than he is the hardworking people of Pennsylvania,” Corbett-Cawley Communications Director Chris Pack said.

“Someone ought to tell Secretary Wolf that leadership isn’t about taking the path of least resistance, it is making the tough decisions necessary for the betterment of Pennsylvania regardless of the political consequences,” Pack insisted. “Unfortunately, Secretary Tom Wolf continues to demonstrate through his refusal to take positions on the tough issues, or to even acknowledge our pension crisis, that his campaign is nothing more than calculated political opportunism.”

Wolf

The Democratic nominee unexpectedly also found himself a bit on the defensive thanks to the release Governor Corbett’s first general election TV ad. The commercial was a positive spot that sought to highlight the Governor’s first-term accomplishments. Not surprisingly, the Wolf campaign disputed the ad’s assertions.

“In his latest misleading ad, Tom Corbett is again attempting to hide his failed record that has resulted in Pennsylvania plummeting to the bottom in job creation,” Wolf Campaign Spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan said. “Tom Wolf is a different kind of leader and a proven job creator. Tom will invest in Pennsylvania’s schools and make education a priority by implementing a reasonable severance tax. Tom will use his business experience to get the economy moving again, starting with a focus on increasing manufacturing in Pennsylvania, and he will change the culture of Harrisburg by implementing a full gift ban. Tom Wolf will give Pennsylvania the fresh start it sorely needs after four years of Tom Corbett’s failed policies.”

In what may be an interesting sign of things to come, FreshStartPA also came to Wolf’s defense. The PAC was created by Wolf as a way to sidestep the Democratic State Committee after a dispute over the chairmanship and their response indicates it will have a significant presence in this race.

“With Tom Corbett’s weak leadership and failed policies, it’s not a surprise that he would bend the truth in an attempt to hide his record. But Pennsylvanians who have suffered under Corbett’s governorship will not be mislead by his faulty claims,” Katie McGinty, Chairwoman for the Campaign for a Fresh Start said.

“Pennsylvania currently faces a $1.4 billion deficit thanks to Tom Corbett’s budget mismanagement and he cannot even convince a legislature controlled by his own party to back his priorities,” she continued. “Corbett’s weak leadership is embarrassing, but it is his record of decimating public school funding and sinking Pennsylvania to 49th in the nation in job creation that really highlights why we need a new, strong voice to lead our commonwealth.”

Finally in the aftermath of Corbett’s decision to sign the budget, Tom Wolf assessed the economic blueprint and the process behind it as a whole.

“Over the last four years, Governor Corbett has displayed a lack of leadership when it comes to addressing the needs of Pennsylvania’s economy and schools,” the Democratic nominee wrote. “The governor has refused to support a responsible and reasonable severance tax to fund our schools and he has failed to find solutions to the state’s struggling economy, which has plummeted to 49th in job creation.”

“Governor Corbett’s latest budget – true to form – is not a blueprint for the future, but another missed opportunity that will keep our state stuck in neutral,” Wolf asserted. “It’s built on one-time revenue sources and other gimmicks, and the projections are based on flimsy assumptions and thin expectations. As a result of these failed policies, our children are not receiving the resources they deserve and school districts across Pennsylvania have been forced to raise property taxes.”

“Right now, middle-class families are shouldering the burden while special interests are given endless breaks,” the Democratic nominee finished. “We need to work toward building an economy that works for all Pennsylvanians. It’s time to move Pennsylvania forward.”

7/11 Ups & Downs

Governor Corbett gets caught in no man’s land, Mayor Nutter doesn’t get his cigarette tax and the state legislature takes even more punches. See who made this week’s list.

Down ArrowTom Corbett. A few weeks ago, we brought up the “never get out of the boat” lesson here concerning Tom Wolf and the Democratic State Committee. Gov. Corbett’s strategy on the budget is just as apt of an example. He could have chosen to sign the budget and trumpet four years of on-time, balanced budgets or he could’ve used his veto power and fought it out over pension reform. Instead, the Governor tried to thread the needle and ended up stuck in “no man’s land”, prolonging this episode without getting what he felt the state needed. When it comes to Gov. Corbett’s methods this month you have to once again go back to Apocalypse Now: “I don’t see any method at all, sir.

Down ArrowMichael Nutter. The Mayor of Philadelphia was all over the Capitol the last few days fighting feverishly for a $2-a-pack cigarette tax that would supply funds to the city’s cash-strapped schools. Unfortunately for him, and the city’s schoolchildren, the measure was stalled thanks to a poison pill amendment. Nutter’s term as Mayor ends next year and there have been indications that he may have his eye on higher office. This loss could be a stinging setback to those ambitions.

Up Arrow1Katie McGinty. Speaking of that fight between Wolf and the Democratic committee, it was unclear at first how involved this new PAC would really be when it concerned candidates not named Tom Wolf. Well, this week we found out FreshStartPA intends to be focused on more than just the gubernatorial nominee. That’s great news for McGinty, who is Chairwoman of what everyday appears more and more like a state committee in everything but name.

Up Arrow1Down ArrowState Legislature. On the one hand, the legislature passed the budget on time, a prospect that once seemed dubious. Yet, as has often been the case, few are happy about it. On top of that, it now appears that Governor Corbett will be running against the legislature in the fall, which makes two gubernatorial candidates. We know the legislative body has been far from perfect but the sheer amount of opposition and vitriol is still something to see.

Our tweet of the week comes from eagle-eyed reporter Kevin Zwick from Capitolwire. We know there’s no way the Governor intended this, but it’s just too good to resist.

7/3 Ups & Downs

Tom Wolf maintains his lead, the budget awaits a signature and the commonwealth’s capital city goes through another traumatic episode. See who made this week’s list.

Up Arrow1Tom Wolf. Remember that struggle over who would be Democratic State Chair? Neither does anyone else apparently. The new Franklin & Marshall poll shows the Democratic nominee leading the Governor by twenty-two points, 47%-25%. On top of that the budget standoff has focused all attention on Gov. Corbett, giving Wolf more time to regroup after the Democratic primary.

Down ArrowTom Corbett. Maybe Governor Corbett’s decision to hold off on signing the budget will in the long-run be seen as a great maneuver. At this moment, however, it’s hard to see the advantage. The move causes bad headlines and uncertainty and it is still not clear that he’ll be able to get the pension reform bill that he wants. Add that to the F&M results and it was a tough week for the Gov.

Down ArrowBarack Obama. Poor Barry. The job market is improving and nobody seems to care. Franklin & Marshall showed the President’s approval rating among Pennsylvanians at a dismal 34%. Even worse, a national Quinnipiac Poll found 33% of respondents think he is the worst U.S. President since WWII. Of course, those numbers are likely more the result of the normal antipathy voters have with a President in his second term than a true reflection on his record, but that news still must sting.

Down ArrowHarrisburg. Sure, the legislature may have done their job and passed the budget on time, but the current stand-off is probably going to hurt them just as much, if not more, than anyone else. People generally rate legislative bodies poorly (just look at the U.S. Congress) and ever since the infamous 2005 pay raise Harrisburg has lost the benefit of the doubt. Put simply, any chaos is bad for the capital city.

Up Arrow1Tim Howard. This doesn’t have anything to do with Politics or PA but come on, SIXTEEN SAVES!

 

 

Tweet of the week goes to Pennlive’s John Micek, who captures the state of despair in the capital with a stark reminder.

6/27 Ups & Downs

A long press conference for Kane, some welcome news items for Gov. Corbett and the re-election of a party chair. See who made this week’s list.

Down ArrowKathleen Kane. The release of the report into Tom Corbett’s conduct during the Sandusky scandal was always going to be an important day in the Attorney General’s tenure. It’s hard to imagine, though, that Kane anticipated that it would unfold as it did. The report found some problems with the methods used in the investigation but overall found no evidence of political tampering. This in and of itself might not have been such an issue if Kane had a better prepared response to her earlier claims that political motivations were “probably” involved. Additionally, her apparently incorrect assertion that two children were abused during the investigation in 2009 garnered the most attentive of all, little of it positive.

Up Arrow1Tom Corbett. The Governor had three bits of good news this week. The first, of course, is described above. The release of the report could have reminded voters that regardless of the validity of claims that the investigation was deliberately slowed down, the crimes did happen on Corbett’s watch. Instead, Kane received nearly all the animus thanks to her comments while the Gov escaped relatively unscathed. Second, the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania dropped to 5.6%. Finally, his re-election campaign had a fine post-primary quarter which shows the incumbent with a critical cash on hand advantage.

Up Arrow1Tom Wolf. Wolf may not have handled the episode over party chair perfectly, but it does actually fits into a narrative he is seeking to promote; he truly is an outsider. Not only that but Wolf had a very successful fundraising report after the primary. It was important that Wolf receive a nice boost in contributions after his victory (it would be tough to spend another $10 million) and the Democratic nominee brought in more than double what Gov. Corbett did.

Up Arrow1Jim Burn. Now that all is said and done, Jim Burn ultimately got what he wanted, another term as party chair. He faced significant opposition from his party’s gubernatorial nominee (and even lost some staffers) but Burn still easily won the prize after Wolf gave up the fight two days before. Whether Burn will regret his victory is a question for a later date, for now though he remains Chairman.

Up Arrow1 Down ArrowOn-Time Budget. After Sen. Pileggi’s comments it appeared that we would blow past the June 30th budget deadline. While there has been some recent movement in the legislature, an agreement is far from close. We’re just four days out now and we still don’t have a clear indication whether the budget will be done on time or not.

Our tweet of the week goes to the Washington Post’s Colby Itkowitz, who commented about the unfortunate news emanating from an EPA office in Denver.

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