HD-36: Keystone Progress PAC Releases Pro-Molchany Ad (VIDEO)

The ad war in HD-36 took another step today as the first outside group, Keystone Progress PAC, aired their first commercial.

The spot is in support of State Rep. Erin Molchany who is running against State Rep. Harry Readshaw in an example of redistricting forcing two incumbents from the same party to face off against each other.

State Rep. Molchany was the first ever candidate endorsed by Keystone Progress PAC.

The ad begins by pointing out the areas included in the newly re-drawn district and then seeks to identify Molchany as the “real” Democrat in the race. Appropriately, the spot is titled “Choice.”

“One candidate for State Representative supports equal pay for equal work,” the narrator states. “The other opposes women’s rights and even supported Tom Corbett’s forced ultrasound bill.”

The narrator then goes on to point out that Molchany is holding UPMC accountable while Readshaw is taking money from Republicans.

“One candidate stands up for our Democratic values,” the spot concludes. “The other sounds more like, well, a Republican.”

Kane Stymies Williams Prosecution of Philly Sting

kane presserA new tangent materialized in the widely reported sting operation that Attorney General Kathleen Kane halted back in 2013.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, an outspoken dissenter of Kane’s decision to stop the sting operation, accepted the AG’s offer to prosecute the case himself if he believed a conviction could be made.

Williams accepted the challenge more than two weeks ago, but none of the pertinent case files have been sent to Williams or his team.

In a letter to Williams, Kane cited “potential conflicts” that Williams will face handling the case, as well as “concerns about privacy provisions of the Pennsylvania Wiretap Act,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“It has been almost two weeks to the day that Ms. Kane requested that I take this case, and I find it odd that in all of this time she has never mentioned this so-called conflict of interest,” Williams told the Inquirer. “It is apparent that Ms. Kane doesn’t really believe I have a conflict, or she wouldn’t have repeatedly suggested I take over this case.”

Kane has received a lot of flack for her decision to disband the sting operation. She has insisted that the Attorney General’s office “could not prosecute [the] case,” citing a lack of prosecutable evidence and a blatantly racially-tinged operation. But even members of her own Democratic party have spoken out against her decision, Williams included.

The case involved five Philadelphia politicians, including four State Reps., who allegedly accepted bribes from an undercover lobbyist named Tyron B. Ali. The State Reps. implicated were all members of the Democratic Party as well as the Black Caucus.

Kane has faced accusations that she was protecting her own party and the lawmakers who supported her campaign. Williams, by accepting Kane’s offer to prosecute the case, hopes to correct any favoritism shown towards those implicated.

However, State Reps. Ronald G. Waters and Vanessa Lowery Brown, both accused of accepting bribes, also supported Williams campaign back in 2009.

“The fact that political figures endorse a prosecutor for office should not grant them immunity from prosecution,” Williams told the Inquirer. “These same representatives endorsed Ms. Kane for office, but that did not excuse her from her duty to investigate and prosecute them under the law.”

As it stands, Williams is still waiting for the files to go any further with reassessing the case.

In addition, a reader poll held last month by PoliticsPA showed that many of this website’s viewers — a little more than half — believe that Kane should have prosecuted the case back in 2013.


HD-36: Readshaw’s Ad Accused of Misleading Viewers

readshaw-ad-300x228State Rep. Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny) is an incumbent who is touting that he voted against increasing taxes to expand Philadelphia mass transit. The thing is, that same bill will benefit Pittsburgh as well.

“Readshaw fought Governor Corbett’s massive gas tax that funds Philadelphia’s mass transit,” the incumbent’s most recent ad proclaims.

Some have accused Readshaw of “distorting the transit law” for his political advantage. As quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Chris Borick, a professor of political science and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion in Allentown, said: “While [the ad is] factually correct, it lacks any meaningful context.”

The context that Borick is alluding to is not just that the bill is primed to benefit transit in parts of his own district, but it also leaves out the mass bipartisan support that the bill garnered and its benefits to other parts of the state.

Former Governor Ed Rendell was a strong backer of the bill and so was Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Another strong backer of the bill was fellow state Rep. Erin Molchany (D-Allegheny), who is running against Readshaw in HD-36.

Molchany is a first-term representative who lost her current district, HD-22, due to recent redistricting and bumped her into the seat that Readshaw has held since 1994. But that hasn’t slowed her determination to beat out long time incumbent Readshaw; she recently released a charming ad that features her father.

Her campaign declined to comment on Readshaw’s ad.

But Molchany does have a tough battle ahead of her. Readshaw has been a state Rep. since 1995 and the redistricting heavily favors the former boundaries of his district — with 72% of his voting base remaining in HD-36. Molchany will carry over 21% of the voters of her old district, leaving the rest of the area new territory for both candidates.

This latest ad may have Readshaw in hot water going forward, however. He states that his opposition to the transportation bill was due to the tax increases that the bill proposed, which falls directly in line with the conservative sentiment of the Republican House.

“What we did was place the entire burden [of the bill's revenue source] on the citizens of the commonwealth,” Readshaw said. “We cannot just tax, tax, tax.”

March Jobs Report: Unemployment Falls To 6%

Unemployment-300x225March brought yet another consecutive month of job growth and a drop in the unemployment rate.

This month, the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania fell to 6%. The rate has fallen by .2% each month of 2014, starting the year with 6.4%.

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

The good news:

The rate speaks for itself this month. The national unemployment rate is still 6.7%, so Pennsylvania’s 6.0% looks even better.

As with each previous month of good jobs news, Corbett re-election campaign sought compliments for sitting Governor.

“Governor Corbett’s ‘more jobs and less taxes’ policies are putting Pennsylvanians back to work,” Gleason said. “When Governor Corbett took office, he was faced with a $4.2 billion budget deficit and an unemployment rate above 8 percent. Just three years after taking office, Governor Corbett has delivered three on-time and balanced budgets and lowered the unemployment rate to a five-year low. Tom Corbett policies are creating jobs and growing our economy,” PA GOP Chairman Rob Gleason said. “Today’s jobs announcement is great news for the Commonwealth and its citizens, and we have Governor Corbett and Lieutenant Governor Cawley to thank for that success.”

Former Governor and Attorney General DIck Thornburgh also lauded Corbett’s economic accomplishments.

“Pennsylvania continues to head in the right direction thanks to Governor Tom Corbett who has kept taxes low and helped the private sector put Pennsylvanians back to work,” stated Thornburgh. “Ginny and I have been proud to watch Tom lead our Commonwealth, and his effectiveness over these past three years was seen yet again today as unemployment continues to decline. We know he isn’t done with the job at hand, but our progress and bright future are certain under Governor Tom Corbett.”

There was consistent growth across sectors, and the biggest decrease in any job category was government, which fell 1.3%.

Mediocre news

For the second month in a row, Pennsylvania ranks 47th in a 12-month-moving-average of job growth as compared to the other states of the union.

We improved from 48th in January, and at this point last year, the Keystone State was 49th.

“These latest job numbers just further prove that Tom Corbett’s economic record has been nothing but a disappointment. Pennsylvania’s workforce is now 46,000 less than it was a year ago, we are ranked 47th in job creation, and we are lagging behind our neighboring states,” PA Dems spokesman Marc Eisenstein said. “Tom Corbett’s mishandling of Pennsylvania’s economy, $1 billion cut to education, and refusal to expand Medicaid will ensure Pennsylvania elects a Democratic governor in November.”

API Poll: Pennsylvanians Want Energy Investment

gas drillingAccording to a poll from the American Petroleum Institute, residents of the Keystone State want to see increased funding for energy infrastructure.

The results of the survey showed that 94% of registered Pennsylvania voters agree that increased development of the country’s energy infrastructure would help create jobs in the U.S.; again, 94% say that increased production of domestic oil and natural gas resources could lead to more jobs in the U.S. 86% say increased development of the country’s energy infrastructure is good for American consumers and 90% say increased production of domestic oil and natural gas resources could help stimulate the economy.

As always, take the results of polls commissioned by interest groups with a grain of salt and in this case, API has serious financial stake in American and Pennsylvania-based energy. API-PA is a division of API, which represents all segments of America’s oil and natural gas industry The petroleum industry also supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8% of the U.S. economy.

“Today’s poll shows strong majorities of Pennsylvania voters support more domestic oil and natural gas development, regardless of party affiliation,” said Stephanie Catarino Wissman, executive director of API-PA, “Forward-looking policies that allow the United States to capitalize on its bright energy future are imperative for this nation to realize its job creation and economic potential.

“The people of Pennsylvania get it; America’s economic future, the availability of affordable and reliable energy, depends on the policies created today.”

The American Petroleum Institute (API) and API-PA are running with these results in a new marketing campaign, using social media and traditional advertising

The study was conducted April 3-9, 2014 by telephone by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Petroleum Institute among 603 registered voters in Pennsylvania, with a sampling error of +/- 4%.

HD-36: Readshaw Joins Molchany on TV (Watch)

Rep. Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny) joined his primary opponent Rep. Erin Molchany (D-Allegheny) on the airwaves with a biographical ad that launched this morning.

The bright, 30-second spot details some of the highlights from Readshaw’s nearly-twenty year career.

readshaw ad“He’s a dad, husband, grandfather and a leader who has earned our trust: Harry Readshaw,” a narrator reads. “He refuses a taxpayer funded car and led the fight to repeal the midnight pay raise because he’s fed up with the old Harrisburg politics.

“Readshaw fought Governor Corbett’s massive gas tax that funds Philadelphia’s mass transit and Harry led the fight to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.”

According to a press release accompanying the ad, “What the television ad does not highlight, due to time, is Harry’s massive list of endorsements: the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, the overwhelming majority of the Allegheny County Labor Council, the Realtors Association, IBEW 5, the Plumbers 27, and a number of leaders in the 36th district have all expressed support for Rep Readshaw.”

Molchany and Readshaw, both incumbent representatives, were merged into the same district after Molchany’s seat moved to Lehigh County. The new seat contains mostly Readshaw’s old district, a little of Molchany’s and some neutral turf. 72% of voters in the new district are already his, while just 21% live in Molchany’s district.

Molchany launched her first ad last Thursday.

Lt. Gov: LGBT Organizations Line Up For Stack

Sen. Stack

Sen. Stack

State Senator Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia) received a crop of endorsements from Pa. LGBT organizations, including the Steel City Stonewall Democrats, the Gertrude Stein Political Club and Liberty City Democratic Club.

The Steel City Stonewall Democrats is an advocacy group that supports “equal rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression” in the city of Pittsburgh. They are affiliated with the LGBT section of the Democratic National Committee and are the largest LGBT advocacy group in Western Pennsylvania. The Stonewall Democrats also endorsed State Treasurer Rob  McCord for Governor.

The Gertrude Stein Political Club is also located in Pittsburgh and is a multi-partisan organization that supports political candidates who actively defend and advocate for the rights of the LGBT community. In a press release covered by Pittsburgh’s City Paper, the organization explained why they supported the Philadelphia State Senator.

“[Mike Stack] has a strong organization, strong ties to our community, and has been instrumental to moving bits of progressive legislation through a government largely controlled by people who demonize our community.”

Stack is the co-sponsor of Senate Bill 300, a bill that would make it illegal in Pennsylvania for employers to discriminate against both employees and applicants based on sexual orientation. The bill has been stalled in both houses.

And as reported earlier this week by PoliticsPA, Stack also received the support of Liberty City Democratic Club of Philadelphia, an organization that works to further change to better the LGBT community.

Neither the GSPC and the LCDC chose to endorse a candidate for governor, which means that the support of these organizations is a big and defining win for Stack that affirms his credentials on socially progressive issues.

Also running for lieutenant governor are candidates former Congressman Mark Critz, Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith, Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski and State Rep. Brendan Neuman.

PPP: Pennsylvanians Support Medicaid Expansion

Chemo-Drug-CroppedA new survey from Public Policy Polling and commissioned by progressive organization MoveOn.Org shows wide support for a Medicaid expansion in the state.

A majority, 59%, say that Governor Corbett should accept the Medicaid expansion as designed in the Affordable Care Act, compared to 30% who say he should not and 11% who were undecided.

The expansion is also likely to effect the decision of 63% of voters. 41% said they would be more likely to vote for a gubernatorial candidate if he or she supported the expansion and 22% said it would make them less likely to support a candidate. 37% weren’t sure or said it wouldn’t make a difference.

When directed at Governor Corbett, 46% say they are less likely to support him based on his decision to reject the Medicaid expansion compared to 23% who said they were more likely.

Corbett proposed a different plan for the federal dollars that would have been used for the Medicaid expansion – private vouchers that allow those eligible to shop on the private market for their health insurance. Similar plans have been proposed in other states but his has yet to be approved by the federal administration.

Every Pennsylvania voter polled said they are likely to vote in the November general election, but they aren’t coming to support the incumbent. A majority, 56% said they would support an unnamed Democratic opponent over Governor Corbett. 30% said they would vote for Corbett and 11% remain undecided.

Corbett did pick up decent support among Independents, 35% of whom said they would support him; 45% said they would vote for the unnamed Democrat. Republicans also support him 64% to 9%.

PPP surveyed 750 Pennsylvania voters from 4/1 to 4/2. Demographically, the poll broke down to 53% female and 47% male. 49% were Democrats, 40% Republicans and 11% Independent or other.

As always, take the results of polls commissioned by interest groups with the proverbial grain of salt.

HD-36: Molchany Launches First Ad

Rep. Erin Molchany (D-Allegheny) launched her first television ad this morning in her primary race against fellow incumbent Democrat Rep. Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny).

After redistricting moved her district, HD-22, to Lehigh County, Molchany was merged into Readshaw’s, HD-36.

Molchany’s ad launched on cable this morning at 5:00am and talks about her work during her first term in the House through the words of her father.

The spot opens introducing them both, and they trade lines through the 30-second spot.

“I’d like to tell you about my daughter. She’s never been afraid to be a leader to do what’s right,” Molchany’s dad says. “She’s working to raise the minimum wage, make taxes fairer for working families and to create jobs. She’s fighting for equal pay for women.”

molchany ad“He taught me to give back,” Molchany responds.

“I’m proud of my daughter,” her dad says.

“I’m proud of my dad,” Molchany reads as the ad ends.

It’s reminiscent of the popular ad of Carl Sciortino, who ran for Congress in Massachusetts’ 5th Congressional District.

On the whole, it’s a cutesy, upbeat ad that will introduce Molchany in the new district, where 72% of voters in the new district are already Readshaw’s, while just 21% live in Molchany’s district.

It particularly highlights her work in equal pay, for which she’s received national kudos. Just this week, she and Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) were invited to the White House to discuss their work for equal pay in Pennsylvania. They are the prime cosponsors on House Bill 1890, legislation that mirrors the executive order President Obama unveiled to level out the gender gap in pay.

“I’m constantly looking for innovative ways we can continue to support all our working families. Equal pay for equal work is not just a women’s issue. It is about sustaining families and strengthening our economy.” said Molchany in a release. “Inequity in pay hurts our families and holds our neighborhoods back.”

This Saturday at noon Rep. Molchany will be joined by HB1890 coprime sponsor Brian Sims for a meet and greet at her campaign office at 2615 Brownsville Rd in Carrick. The event caps off a week focused on highlighting the fight for pay equity.

Sources: Senator Boscola Removed From Harrisburg Bar

According to several individuals who were at Brickhaus last night, Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton) was asked to leave the popular Harrisburg bar after an alleged confrontation.

Boscola confirmed her removal from the bar with the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In an interview Wednesday, Boscola acknowledged she was asked to leave the bar, but said she did not strike anyone.

“When you hit somebody there is a physical act of `stay away from me,’” she said of the woman. “Unless she was in my face. I do not know what her motivation is. I need to figure that out. Because in this business, it could be misinterpreted. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt as well. No one wants to hurt anyone in this business. Especially a woman. You know what I’m saying.”


This was posted on Facebook, and later removed, by the individual with whom Boscola allegedly had an interaction.


Update: According to the Inquirer article, she also had a contentious dispute with Speaker Sam Smith over a House bill. Smith released the following statement this morning:

“Given that other people have experienced similar encounters with the senator, I hope she gets whatever help she needs for her problems. Her statement is a clear indication of her own denial of the situation and I feel sorry for her.”

Boscola also updated her remarks from yesterday afternoon.

“There are differing perceptions of the heated conversation,” Boscola said in her statement, which was issued following numerous media calls to her office. “I had an animated discussion with members of the General Assembly and Republican House leadership about issues under discussion in both the Senate and House. The conversation was both frank and passionate as I made my positions known.

“Admittedly, the tone and level of discussion may have been uncomfortable for those engaged and others nearby,” Boscola said. “As a result, I was asked to leave, and I complied without incident.”

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