Philadelphia-Based Tea Party Group Changes Name, Shifts Focus

Tea-Party-MovementFive years after the Tea Party movement first gained steam, there are local signs that it may be starting to cool off.

The Independence Hall Tea Party Association, the largest Tea Party group in the tri-state region of PA, NJ, and DE, announced today that it will be removing “Tea Party” from its name and will henceforth be known as just the Independence Hall Foundation. The organization will also be shifting its focus and dissolving its PAC.

“We wish to pursue a larger, more mainstream conservative agenda-while respecting the mission of the broader Tea Party movement,” President Teri Adams said today at a press conference.

Adams claimed that although tensions between the Association and the national Tea Party movement exist, the Association’s decision to change its name and focus derives primarily from the Association’s belief that it has successfully achieved what it set out to do when it formed in 2009.

“While we have usually agreed with most Tea Party objectives, we have not always agreed on Tea Party tactics – especially those espoused by national groups – proving, despite its portrayal as such in the media, that the Tea Party was not monolithic,” she said.

“And just like the original Tea Party of the 18th Century, our organization envisioned the modern Tea Party as a protest movement – not necessarily a permanent social/political movement or party – but one which could lead to peaceful revolutionary changes in government.”

Adams focused throughout the conference on the successes of the Association, which was formed primarily to focus on the Philadelphia media market.

“Over the last five years, our Association, like the broader Tea Party movement in regions across the country, has made a difference,” she said. “We woke up many Americans to an ever-expansive and intrusive federal government.”

“More Americans seem to be aware of our nation’s alarming $16 trillion national debt and the scandals involving renegade bureaucracies, within the federal government, such as the Internal Revenue Service, the National Security Agency, and the Veterans Administration.”

In addition to discussing the broader Tea Party movement’s victories, she also highlighted the Association’s own accomplishments, pointing to its successful lobbying for a Voter ID bill that was eventually signed into law (but was later struck down as unconstitutional by a Commonwealth Court judge) and its annual Congressional Scorecard.

Adams claims that these successes are the reason for the organization’s rebranding, as it is “time to take matters to the next level.”

“While we obviously agree with the core principles of the Tea Party as clearly enunciated during those early 2009 Tax Day Tea Parties – a free enterprise economy based on lower taxes, smaller government, and less regulation – we would like to expand our efforts to include non-traditional tea party issues such as Religious Liberty, Sanctity of Life, Culture and the Arts, Educational Savings Accounts, Foreign Affairs, and Defense,” she said.

Adams closed with a description of what the Association hopes to be and to do as it changes its focus under a new name. “In the future, we wish to be referred to as The Independence Hall Foundation – a conservative educational organization dedicated to promoting the principles enshrined in our founding documents – the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.”

Trujillo Forms “Leadership Team”, Hints at Race for Mayor of Philadelphia

TrujilloLawyer Ken Trujillo has not yet committed to running for mayor of Philadelphia in 2015, but he took yet another step forward today in preparation for the race.

Trujillo announced through a press release that he has formed a “Leadership Team” to run his still-not-definite campaign.

“Philadelphians have a unique opportunity to build a true 21st century city that expands our middle class and finally provides the world-class public education our children deserve,” he said. “That is why I’ve assembled a top-flight team of campaign professionals to help me lead a serious conversation with the people of Philadelphia about our future.”

The press release makes no mention of a decision regarding the race, but lists the professionals he has gathered to assist his campaign – if he decides to run.

Trujillo’s “Leadership Team” consists of individuals with ample campaign experience, many of whom have done campaign work for Democrats at varying levels of government.

Trujillo chose Jane Slusser, who worked extensively on President Obama’s re-election campaign in Philadelphia and NEPA, as his Political Director.

Vaughn Ross, who worked on the finance teams of both Senator Bob Casey and previous gubernatorial candidate Rob McCord, will serve as Trujillo’s Finance Director.

Bill Hyers and Jessie Bradley from Hilltop Public Solutions, a national political consulting firm, have also been chosen as part of his team. Hyers won the 2014 Campaign Manager of the Year award from the American Association of Political Consultants for his work in the comeback victory of NYC’s Mayor Bill de Blasio. Hyers and Bradley also worked together on Mayor Nutter’s campaign in 2007.

Trujillo will be using Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research to perform polling, and has specifically hired Anna Greenberg from the firm. Greenberg is currently the lead pollster for gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf.

Finally, Snyder Pickerill Media Group will be acting as Trujillo’s strategy and media firm. The firm worked on the campaigns of both Mayor John Street and Governor Ed Rendell.

“It is no secret that it is something that I am interested in and I am also taking all the steps to prepare for it,” Trujillo told the Inquirer in May about a potential campaign. With the formation of a “Leadership Team” with such a good track record, it looks like Trujillo is coming closer to a decision.

Leach Announces Creation of Progressive America PAC

Daylin-Leach-portrait-2013-loresA group of progressive lawmakers announced today the creation of Progressive America PAC, an organization dedicated to electing progressive candidates and advocating for progressive legislation.

The PAC’s board will be made up of some of Pennsylvania’s most progressive lawmakers, State Sen. Daylin Leach, State Rep. Brian Sims and State Rep. Mary Jo Daley.

“This PAC will be dedicated to recruiting, training, supporting, exposing and electing progressive candidates,” Sen. Leach said in a conference call announcing the PAC.

Leach, who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination in PA-13, mentioned that his experience partly inspired this effort. He noted that too often progressive PAC’s wait too late to get involved in campaigns and he found it much easier to fundraise after some of the prominent endorsements he received.

“We hope this to be almost like an EMILY’s List model for progressive candidates,” he said.

Concerning current issues, Leach stated that Progressive America PAC will focus on legislation to ban anti-LGBT discrimination and increase the minimum wage.

“We’re preparing to start in the 2015 cycle for local, state and national elections; particularly in contested primaries,” Leach said in summation of the group’s short-term future.

Reader Poll: Who is Pennsylvania’s Brightest Rising Star?

Kathleen-Kane-portrait1While Tom Corbett and Tom Wolf battle this year over the top job in the commonwealth, it might be easy to forget those promising politicians who will rise up in the years to come.

Last week, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd tackled just that question when he named four “rising political stars” from the Keystone State. The Daily Rundown crew ultimately chose two members from each party.

From the Democratic party, Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro were picked. While in the GOP, Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello and State Rep. David Reed were named.

Todd’s segment gave us the idea to ask our readers which of the four they felt had the brightest future of all or whether they believed some politico was being left out of the conversation.

So, dear readers, who do you believe is Pennsylvania’s brightest rising star?

Who do you believe is Pennsylvania’s brightest rising star?

  • David Reed (27%)
  • Kathleen Kane (26%)
  • Someone else (23%)
  • Josh Shapiro (14%)
  • Ryan Costello (10%)

Total Voters: 1,575

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PPP Poll: Undecided Holds Large Lead in Philly Mayoral Race

Philly-City-Hall1We are just under a year away but already the 2015 Democratic primary for the Mayor of Philadelphia is shaping up to be an intriguing race.

According to a new PPP poll, 41% of respondents were undecided on which Democratic candidate to support. The report came from Troy Graham of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who revealed that the survey was commissioned by the campaign committee of City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

City Council President Darrell Clarke lead the field with 14% with Butkovitz a close second with 12%. Other candidates polled included Councilman Frank Rizzo Jr., a former Republican and son of the late mayor, at 10%. As well as Councilman James F. Kenney (7%), former State Sen. T. Milton Street (4%) State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (2%) and former City Solicitor Ken Trujillo (1%).

Since the poll was commissioned by Butkovitz it should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, PPP tested a head-to-head matchup between Butkovitz and Williams in which the former lead 22% to 11%.

Williams garnered attention just this week when he hired 270 Strategies in anticipation of a probable run. Therefore, it is possible Butkovitz released these results to show his support is stronger than Williams’.

The Democratic primary for Mayor of Philadelphia will be held in May 2015.

Anthony Williams Potentially Gearing up for Philly Mayoral Run

Anthony WilliamsHe’s not getting in yet, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be prepared.

State Senator Anthony Williams has been eyeing Philadelphia’s City Hall for years but a recent hire indicates the lawmaker is seriously considering entering the 2015 race.

According to Claudia Vargas of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sen. Williams has hired 270 Strategies to advise his potential campaign. The state Senator made the announcement to a group of local officials he hopes will back him including: City Council members Curtis Jones, Jannie Blackwell, and Kenyatta Johnson; District Attorney Seth Williams; former mayoral candidate Tom Knox; and Ryan Boyer, business manager of the Laborers’ District Council of Philadelphia.

“You need someone who can build coalitions. That’s the point of this room. … You had labor sitting next to big business in this room,” Williams told the Daily News. “Today was the first gathering of significant folks who have surrounded me over the last few years to say, ‘We’d be interested in you running for mayor,’ and to reveal to them what we’ve been working on.”

270 Strategies was co-founded in 2013 by Obama campaign alums Jeremy Bird and Mitch Stewart. Each man garnered attention as field directors during the Obama 2008 campaign. Stewart oversaw the candidate’s landmark win in the Iowa caucus while Bird directed his landslide victory in South Carolina primary. They would both go on to lead the President’s vaunted field operations in 2008 and 2012.

These latest moves are the clearest sign yet that Williams intends to seek the mayoralty next year.

The son of State Sen. Hardy Williams (who unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Philadelphia himself in 1971), Anthony Williams served in the State House from 1989 to 1998 before elevating to his father’s Senate seat in 1999.

Williams ran in the Democratic primary for Governor in 2010 but came in third. He won Philadelphia, though, with over 51% of the vote.

He is up for re-election this year in his State Senate seat but won the Democratic primary unopposed and currently faces no opposition in November.

Top Ten Local Races to Watch this Tuesday

pa-state-capitol-b175d9a07740ecf3With so many exciting statewide and congressional primary contests this year you may have missed some of the important local races.

Well, we’ve got you covered. We’re breaking down the top ten state Senate and House primary contests that you should keep an eye on come Tuesday night (in numerical order).

SD-4: Sen. Leanna Washington vs. Brian Gralnick vs. Art Haywood

Sen. Washington, who has represented the district since 2005, should’ve coasted to easy re-election in her district, which covers parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia. Then, she was charged by the Attorney General for improperly using her staff to work on a birthday party for herself. Since then, Brian Gralnick has emerged as a major challenger, winning the endorsement of NOW, Americans for Democratic Action and the Ward 9 Democratic Committee of Philadelphia. Art Haywood, though he has scored less traction, is also running in the Democratic primary. Will voters stick with Washington through troubled times or will the allegations of corruption cost the Senator her seat?

SD-36: Rep. Ryan Aument vs. Rep. Gordon Denlinger

This seat opened up after the retirement of Sen. Mike Brubaker, setting up a contest between two State Reps. both looking to move on up to the upper house. In January, Aument won a straw poll among GOP committee members then won the party’s endorsement in February. Nonetheless, Denlinger is staying in the race and is seeking an upset.

SD-50: Rep. Michele Brooks vs. Rep. Greg Lucas vs. Jane MacPherson

Another case of an incumbent, Sen. Bob Robbins, retiring and opening up a solid Republican seat. State Reps. Brooks and Lucas are competing for a promotion while businesswoman MacPherson has also thrown her hat in the ring. The victor will face Democrat Michael Muha in the fall, but will likely prevail in the deep red seat.

HD-20: Rep. Adam Ravenstahl vs. Tom Michalow

State Rep. Adam Ravenstahl is facing a primary challenge from his left in the form of schoolteacher Tom Michalow. Michalow is a progressive ally of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. As a result, the contest has become a proxy battle between the old and new guards of the Democratic party in Pittsburgh.

HD-36: Rep. Harry Readshaw vs. Rep. Erin Molchany

Thanks to redistricting, two Democratic State Reps. are forced to compete against one another for survival. Arguably the most high-profile local race, the candidates have traded TV ads back and forth. Most of the new district contains parts of Readshaw’s old district yet Molchany has the advantage of being the fresh face and the support of Mayor Peduto. Politicos statewide will be watching this one on Tuesday night.

HD-46: Rep. Jesse White vs. Thomas Casciola

Last summer, Rep. White was publicly humiliated when it was reported that he was anonymously attacking his constituents over the internet. Now he is facing a challenger in Cecil supervisor Thomas Casciola. Will White be forgiven by the voters or will his political career be sunk?

HD-74: Josh Maxwell vs. Josh Young

Another case of redistricting brings us a Democratic primary that will likely decide the race. In the battle of the Joshs, Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell faces off against Caln Township Supervisor Josh Young. The two young guns have split up party and union endorsements, making for an entertaining and potentially close race.

HD-112: Rep. Frank Farina vs. Rep. Kevin Haggerty

Once more redistricting pits two State Reps. against each other. 49% of the registered Democrats in the newly drawn 112th lived in Haggerty’s district while 43% lived in Farina’s, meaning this could be a very close contest. Haggerty, however, had a rather infamous gaffe in the form of a rambling Facebook post that criticized President Obama. That may hurt him in the Democratic primary.

HD-164: Rep. Margo Davidson vs. Billy Smith vs. Dafan Zhang

Now we come to arguably the most anticipated and contentious primary, the Democratic race for House District 164. Incumbent Rep. Margo Davidson made headlines, and progressive enemies, with her votes on abortion and school vouchers. Since then defense attorney Billy Smith and IT professional and immigrated citizen from China Dafan Zhang have jumped into the race. A PoliticsPA reader poll from January found that 57% of respondents believe Democrats should nominate Smith.

HD-193: Rep. Will Tallman vs. Brian Gembusia

Finally, there is the contest for the GOP nomination between incumbent State Rep. Will Tallman and South Middleton Township Commissioner Brian Gembusia. The two men have met for several debates and have tried to prove their conservative bona fides to the conservative electorate. Just this week, Gembusia released an ad on property taxes. A straw poll by the done by a conservative York County PAC found Tallman in the lead but it did not survey the whole district.

HD-36: Readshaw Calls Molchany’s Campaign “Malarkey” in Latest Ad

erin-molchanyDemocrat Harry Readshaw fired back today with a new ad that responds to Erin Molchany’s most recent commercial — one that had accused Readshaw of misleading voters in the HD-36 race.

“Erin Molchany’s attacks on Democrat Harry Readshaw? A bunch of malarkey,” the ad says.

The ad touts Readshaw’s credentials while attempting to knock Molchany down a peg.

“Readshaw won our Democratic Party’s endorsement because he blasted Corbett’s radical agenda. Erin Molchany? Rejected by our Democratic Party because she is Corbett’s ‘gas tax’ partner.”

Readshaw’s ad also focuses on Molchany’s “record of raising taxes.”

“Molchany voted for over 140 tax hikes and fees, including Corbett’s massive gas tax — the highest in America,” the ad says.

Robert Witmer, Readshaw’s campaign manager, had this to say about the most recent ad.

“We felt it was incredibly important to make a clear distinction between the two candidates.  Representative Readshaw was overwhelmingly endorsed by the Democratic Party, despite the inaccurate portrayal the Molchany campaign is attempting to peddle to the district. He was endorsed because he has fought Corbett tirelessly ever since the Governor took office. Any other portrayal of Harry’s record is wrong, and this ad explains that to the voters.”

In both Molchany’s and Readshaw’s latest ads, the two candidates attempt to set the record straight for the benefit of the voters.

However, Readshaw’s attack sparked a wave of outspoken support from influential Pittsburgh lawmakers for Molchany — a result that Molchany’s attack did not elicit for Readshaw.

“I am proud to have Erin on our team building a new Pittsburgh. These misleading attacks are not only disappointing to me as a Democrat, but also as someone who believes in our city. Pittsburgh’s voters deserve better,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who endorsed Molchany’s candidacy for the HD-36 seat.

“The voters of South Pittsburgh deserve better than this mud-slinging from Rep. Readshaw,” said Senator Wayne Fontana. “They deserve a real discussion of the issues and right now Erin Molchany is the only one focused on the issues that matter to South Pittsburgh.”

City Council President Bruce A. Kraus went as far as to call Readshaw’s political style as antiquated.

“There is a clear difference in this race, between the old Pittsburgh party politics and the new direction of our city. It is important to continue supporting candidates like Representative Molchany who truly represent our vision of a new Pittsburgh.”

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak also spoke highly of Molchany’s political credentials.

HD-202: Solomon Releases First Two TV Ads (VIDEOS)

Democratic candidate Jared Solomon announced the release of his first two TV ads today.

Solomon is running against State Rep. Mark Cohen in the Democratic primary in the 202nd legislative district.

The first thirty-second spot is an upbeat biographical video titled “Standing Up”.

“He’s the change the Northeast needs,” the narrator begins. “He’s Jared Solomon.”

The commercial features several of the expected aspects of positive videos, including upbeat music, bright lights, and a description of the candidate’s biography.

“A true son of the Northeast, Jared went to law school, then became a Captain in the Army Reserve,” the ad states before transitioning into Solomon’s work for the local community.

The narrator also explains that Solomon will “clean up Harrisburg” and a local supporter proclaims him “the change we need”.

The second thirty-second ad, however, is quite different than the first. A negative spot aimed at incumbent State Rep. Mark Cohen, titled “Poster Boy”, this video has all the hallmarks of a negative ad. This includes stinging music, dark hand-held or distorted footage and accusatory newspaper headlines plastered on the screen.

“Politician Mark Cohen, the poster boy for everything wrong with Harrisburg,” the narrator states.

It goes on to mention that Cohen took the infamous 2005 pay raise and his acceptance of $39,000 in per diems.

“When many Northeast families have been suffering, Mark Cohen has been ripping off taxpayers,” the ad concludes. “Election day, start over, by saying no to Mark Cohen.”

“These ads really capture the campaign themes of accountability and action,” said Sam Shoap of Jared Solomon’s campaign. “From day one, Jared has laid out a vision for strong leadership in the Northeast. These ads clearly illustrate the contrasts between the two candidates. While Jared Solomon is already making real improvements to our communities, Mark Cohen continues to line his own pockets with taxpayer dollars.”

According to the Solomon campaign, the first spot was made by Naveen Mallikarjuna of Philadelphia-based MK Media. The second commercial was produced by Neil Oxman of the Campaign Group, which is also based in Philadelphia.

Why Miller Backed Out of SD28, in One Map

SD28 results

State Rep. Ron Miller decided not to pursue a rematch against businessman Scott Wagner. Based on the results of the special election contest between the two of them, it’s no surprise.

Wagner’s special election win last Tuesday was historic. As a write-in candidate he defeated Miller, the GOP nominee, as well as Democrat Linda Small. It marked the first time in Pennsylvania history that a state legislative candidate waged a successful write-in campaign.

It didn’t hurt that the conservative businessman was largely able to bankroll his effort, which was opposed by Republicans dollars in Harrisburg.

Wagner will fill the remainder of former state Sen. Mike Waugh’s term and will run for a new term this year.

On Wednesday, Miller withdrew his candidacy in the May primary election.

“I don’t see the tone of the race changing a whole lot,” Miller told the York Dispatch, commenting on the bitter, personal tone of the special election. “It’s not good for York County, and I don’t want to see us go through it.”

The map above shows where each candidate won on March 18.

The lightest shade indicates a simple plurality. A solid shade indicates a candidate reached or exceeded 50% of the vote. A dark shade indicates a candidate hit or exceeded 60%. Red = Scott Wagner. Green = Ron Miller. Blue = Linda Small.

Miller earned a plurality in 9 precincts of the 111 in the district, including just 2 where he reached or exceeded 50% of the total vote.

Outside of the heavily Democratic City of York, which Small won handily, Wagner’s performance was strong district-wide. Wagner won with 48% of the vote, Miller took 26.48%, and Small received 24.52%.

Troublingly for Ron Miller he lost even his own legislative district, shown in the map below. Wagner took 45.7% of the vote there, while Miller took 32.4% and Small received 21.9%.

Wagner faces first-time candidate Zachary Hearn in the GOP primary in May. Small is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Wagner, the owner of Penn Waste, advertises on PoliticsPA.

SD28 results in HD93

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