On the PA-Gov Trail: Allyson Schwartz

photo 2 (2)(Philadelphia, Pa. ) — Representative Allyson Schwartz made four gubernatorial campaign stops this morning in her congressional district.

Beloved would be an understatement of the regard with which Schwartz’s constituents greeted her. At one point, she walked into the bingo hall of an adult recreation center to actual applause.

“Most politicians, they don’t care – but not Allyson,” one constituent at the adult center said. “She’s always on track and always helps people. I think so much of her; she’s a fine woman.”

Philadelphia City Councilman for the northeast region of the city, Bobby Henon escorted Schwartz through two diners, where she frequently did not require introduction. Several diners thanked her for work done from her constituent office and several more assured her of their support in the Democratic primary for governor.

Schwartz’s style in these retail-type appearances can best be described as the elegant stateswoman; she’s cool, commanding and knowledgeable but doesn’t quite dive into the small talk or friendly joking (a la Rob McCord or Katie McGinty).

Her composure was duly tested in one interaction with a man in one of the diners. The individual spewed a racially tainted diatribe about the social fabric of Philadelphia and the nature of entitlement programs. Schwartz didn’t flinch, and coaxed the man out of the rage that almost overtook him. When he began to condemn reproductive rights, Schwartz stopped him in his tracks, saying that was an issue on which they simply would not agree. By the end of the conversation, he begrudgingly promised his vote.

“I’m gonna vote for you because I like the other sleazeballs less,” he finished, but not without a shot a Councilman Henon, who he said he still opposes.

photo 3 (1)Her other interactions with voters were shorter, and far more pleasant. She told nearly every group that she talked to that she intended to go to Harrisburg and break up the “old boys club,” the theme of her latest television ad.

Moving from table to table, Councilman Henon explained that she was the only gubernatorial candidate from Philadelphia.

Schwartz, the early frontrunner in this race, has now fallen to second in nearly every poll and her strategy to reclaim the lead clearly depends on her winning big in Philadelphia. Between her terms in the State Senate and her tenure in Congress, she has represented almost two-thirds of the City of Philadelphia and her late-start to television focuses solely on buying up space in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia markets. But those ads are reaching Philadelphians; one woman in a diner told Schwartz that she had seen and liked the ad.

“I’m glad somebody saw them,” Schwartz responded, “They’re expensive!”

She said that her team plans to expand into other markets, but that 40% of the primary electorate lives in the 5-county area in the Philadelphia media market.

PA-9: Shuster Obliterates Primary Opposition in Q1

Rep. Shuster

Rep. Shuster

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Blair) is quite serious about keeping his seat in the 9th district. So much so, in fact, that he outraised his opponents several times over during the first quarter.

Shuster brought in a whopping $737,379 for the first three months of 2014. He spent even more than he raised with a strong media campaign: $844,093, and is left with a comfortable $1,252,482 cash on hand.

Tea Party opponent Art Halvorson only managed to raise $8,821.21 while spending $24,727.33. Halvorson has $56,492.52 in cash on hand. Travis Schooley gained a total of $9,602.49, spent $4,581.02 and has $5,692.13 cash on hand.


The incumbent used his recognition throughout the 9th district to his advantage, gaining many contributions from individual donors. Shuster also had quite a few generous organization and PAC donations. The Airports Council International – North America donated $5,000 for the first quarter, the American Gas Association PAC gave $2,000 and the Exxon Mobil Corporation PAC gave $4,000.

For the most part, Shuster’s expenses were quite typical for an incumbent campaign. Worth noting, though, is the fact that over $500K, or about 60%, of his money spent went to Red Maverick Media for ads and mail. So far, he has zero in debts owed.


Compared to Shuster’s $700K raised, Halvorson’s grassroots campaign has some work to do in the weeks before the May primary. Fellow Halvorsons James and Carolyn donated a combined $1,500. In fact, all of his donors were individuals, leaving him with no PAC money.

Of his expenses, Halvorson paid $6,500 to Rockwood Strategies in Harrisburg for advertising, commercials and radio spots. Most of his money spent, though, went to paying campaign employees Ron Robertson, Brian Livingston and David Show.

Regarding debts, Halvorson is listed as having $100,000 in debt. Upon closer inspection, it appears that the $100K loan is from Halvorson’s own personal funds. It is quite possible that he will give himself more loans in the near future, independently wealthy as he is.


Bringing up the rear is Shuster’s much less talked about but still present Republican opponent, Travis Schooley. For the first quarter, he didn’t even manage to break $10K in money raised. All of his donors were individuals, with family member Gary Schooley gifting $150. His largest donation was counted as an in-kind contribution from himself: $2,075.48.

Where did that $2K go to? Schooley spent it on signs for his campaign. Another $1,000 went toward door hangers to further help spread the word. He’s listed as having zero dollars in debt.

Shuster’s district has been rated the most conservative in Pennsylvania, ringing in at R+14 from Cook PVI. In 2012, the incumbent won the race to keep his seat against Democrat Karen Ramsburg, 61.7% of the vote to 38.3%. Schooley attempted to run against Shuster for the Republican primary nomination in 2012, but had to withdraw because of challenges to his petition signatures.

PA-Gov: McCord Hits Wolf in Latest Ad (VIDEO)

Well, it couldn’t last forever. Today the first negative ad in the Democratic primary for Governor was released though it is missing some of the standard negative ad fare.

State Treasurer Rob McCord’s latest commercial, titled “Sucker”, contrasts his 10% extraction tax on natural gas drilling to Tom Wolf’s (Katie McGinty’s and Allyson Schwartz’s) plan for a 5% extraction tax. Unlike most negative ads, though, McCord delivers the message himself and the spot is mostly devoid of the textbook scary music and black and white imagery.

mccord ad suckers“Here’s the biggest question in this campaign,” McCord states in front of a drilling rig. “Are we going to get our fair share from the fracking industry or are we gonna keep giving away the store?”

McCord goes on to state that his 10% tax will go towards protecting the environment and fully funding PA’s schools.

“Tom Wolf and the others would leave hundreds of millions of dollars in the driller’s pockets,” McCord continues. “That’s a bad deal for Pennsylvania. I’m tired of being played for a sucker, if you are too, join us.”

PA-17: Cartwright Has Commanding Financial Lead

matt-cartwrightIncumbent Representative Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna) continues to expand a large financial advantage over his Republican adversaries.

Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District leans Democrat, sporting a D+4 partisan voting index. Cartwright seems poised to retake his seat.

Matt Cartwright

Cartwright raised $121,155 and has $527,715 cash on hand. He has spent $64,410 and has plenty of money left over to ramp up campaign efforts.

Cartwright does, however, still have a $390,000 debt to himself that is a holdover from his 2012 run.

Matt Dietz

Republican Matt Dietz has the best showing of all Cartwright’s challengers — which isn’t really saying much. He raised $9,525 and has $13,089.45 cash on hand. He has spent a sizeable percentage of his funds, $9,010.83 to be exact, but that is not enough to put together a strong enough campaign to unseat Cartwright.

David Moylan

Republican David Moylan pulls up the rear with only $6,250 and a measly $919.06 cash on hand. He has spent $7,304.37 but also has $500 in debt.

To Moylan’s credit he does have his own uniquely named PAC called the Doc Moylan Goes To Washington Election Committee.

The final Republican candidate, Matt Connolly, has yet to have his report posted.

PA-13: Candidates Face Off in Open Forum

DSC01433Five of the six candidates competing for the 13th congressional district met once again last night in an open forum.

The debate was held in a small but full room in the bottom floor of the Abington Public Library. Between opening and closing statements, the candidates took questions from the audience in what was perhaps the most open, spirited, and informal of their debates thus far.

Daylin Leach

If there was anyone who should’ve been happy yesterday it was Leach, whose strong fundraising report had just been released. The State Senator of course, was his usual boisterous, humorous self. While Leach showed quite a bit of camaraderie with Brendan Boyle at times, they also had the exchange of the night and the first real contentious moment of the campaign between the three attending Democratic candidates.

It started when an attendee asked about abortion as part her question. Boyle stated that he “supports Roe v. Wade” while Leach described himself as “100% pro-choice”. After listing some of his own accomplishments, Leach attacked Boyle for supporting the so-called TRAP Act asserting that it required burdensome regulations on abortion clinics and was responsible for the closure of eight facilities. He also stated that HB 1314, which was co-sponsored by Boyle, was similar to the bill Wendy Davis famously fought against in Texas.

Boyle denied the similarity between his bill and the one in Texas noting that only the latter contained a 20-week ban on all abortions. He also seemed to insinuate that the questioner was a Leach plant. “Well it’s your campaign that asked the question,” Boyle said to Leach at one point. Boyle went on to call Leach’s attack “inaccurate”, a “distortion” and a “scare tactic” and compared it to a immature acts like food fights and name-calling.

Leach stood his ground, though, stating “if you voted for TRAP, you voted to deny women access to abortion.”

During the rest of the questioning, Leach touted his service on the Senate Education Committee, his F rating from the NRA, and his commitment to cap and trade and carbon taxes as a way to fight climate change.

Brendan Boyle

Boyle was in the middle of things both literally and figuratively last night. Besides the abortion kerfuffle with Leach, he also got into it a bit with the two Republican candidates on education.

In an answer to a question about pre-K, Boyle noted that he had chaired a hearing earlier in the day on a bill he introduced that would make kindergarten mandatory. He also cited alarming statistics about the low number of three and four year-olds who participated in pre-K programs. This led Republicans Dee Adcock and Beverly Plosa-Bowser to denounce efforts to require three and four year-olds to attend school, although the conflict ended when it was made clear those programs would be voluntary.

The State Rep. also voiced his worry about the effects of climate change and advocated for reform in the criminal justice system.

Valerie Arkoosh

Arkoosh got off to a tough start, although this was due entirely to the fact that thanks to a scheduling error she was a half-hour late.

The physician candidate took the opportunity to portray the Leach-Boyle conflict over abortion as an example of what happens to women when elected officials get to decide on that issue. Additionally, in response to a question on gun violence in schools she recounted her first-hand experience with treating gunshot victims.

She also came out in favor of a carbon tax in response to climate change and identified Race to the Top and the Obama Administration’s education policy as an example where she differed from her party’s leadership.

Dee Adcock

Dee once again seemed to revel in walking into the mostly Democratic setting as an unapologetic conservative.

His biggest confrontation came with a member of the audience who asked about climate change. “The climate is always changing,” he answered. Adcock then described how in the 1970’s people were worried about global cooling. When the questioner asked about the “98% of scientists” who agree on climate change, Dee responded that he should ask those scientists who were involved with the TIME cover story on global cooling about it. (It’s unclear which Time story he was referring to, it was most likely this one but it didn’t make the cover).

He finished with a joke, “Look I own a swimming pool business, the warmer it is the happier I am.” Most of the people in the room, particularly Leach, made some incredulous gestures during Dee’s answer.

Adcock also denounced GOP participation in “crony capitalism” and accused Warren Buffett of befriending President Obama in order to stop the Keystone pipeline extension.

Beverly Plosa-Bowser

Meanwhile, Bowser didn’t cause any major waves. She voiced support for local control of education, passing budgets on time, and nuclear power as an alternative source of energy.

On one issue, though, she differentiated herself from her GOP primary opponent when she came out against term-limits, declaring that was something for voters to decide. To explain her position the retired Air Force Colonel described how in the Pentagon officers are term-limited, meaning they face no accountability for their five and ten-year budget projections.

Marjorie Margolies

Finally, there was the one candidate conspicuous by her absence. All three Democrats, and even Dee Adcock, all took subtle or not so subtle jabs at Margolies by decrying candidates who don’t have the respect for voters to actually show up to forums like this.

Boyle got a particularly good laugh when asked to describe a difference he had with national Democrats. “I’ve heard the DC establishment is supporting Marjorie Margolies, I disagree with that,” he responded.

Obama Discusses Job-Training in Pittsburgh

president-barack-obama-2013-inauguration-537x442President Barack Obama visited the West Hills Center of the Community College of Allegheny County Wednesday to discuss his plan to expand technical job training and apprenticeship programs throughout the country.

In his address, the President started by proclaiming that CCAC’s curriculum and training is something that the rest of the United States should be emulating.

“We’re here because CCAC is an outstanding model of the kind of job-driven training we’re trying to encourage all over the country,” he said.

CCAC has utilized both machines and motors to train students on-site in the arts of mechatronics.

“Now I have to say that I did not know there was such a thing as mechatronics before I came here,” the president said in jest. He said that he learned that “it has to do with engineering — how stuff works.”

Obama said how he was thrilled that CCAC was training “new workers for new jobs, and better jobs.”

“We want to replicate your model across the country,” he said to the audience. “You’re doing something right.”

On Air Force One before the president took the stage, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker explained in detail what the administration is hoping to accomplish by following CCAC’s model and expanding job-training opportunities.

“Businesses need to define the skill-sets that they’re looking for in order to meet their needs,” she said. “To do this you have to break silos; we have to break down silos between businesses, between the community colleges and the other workforce training organizations, the universities and local governments in order to deliver these skills.”

Obama promised to allocate $500 million to schools like CCAC that are producing job-ready students with readily applicable skills. In addition, the president proclaimed a $100 million competition known as the American Apprenticeship Grant, which would allow apprentices and skilled workers to come together for training and job advancement.

“What we do know is 87 percent of people who go through apprenticeship programs end up with jobs,” said Pritzker.

The President touted expanding that type of job placement to the entire country.

Notable Pennsylvania politicians in attendance were Sen. Bob Casey, Rep. Mike Doyle, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald,  and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

In response to the President’s visits, Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason had this to say.

“Once again, President Obama is using Pennsylvania as a backdrop but he just does not get it,” Gleason said. “If President Obama was serious about job creation, he would acknowledge the disastrous consequences of Obamacare on the economy. Obamacare is costing Americans their jobs, their health care coverage and their tax dollars, but President Obama continues to choose his liberal agenda over the harsh realities of his actions.”

By comparison, Gleason praised the job that Governor Tom Corbett has done to help create jobs in Pennsylvania.

4/17 Morning Buzz

PA-state-flag6Leach leads the PA-13 pack in fundraising, Readshaw releases his first ad and Costello leads big over Trivedi in PA-6 money race. Good morning politicos, here’s the Buzz.

PA-13: Arkoosh Buys Up Critical Ad Space: Her campaign unloaded serious cash to grab big ad space in the days before the primary.

PA-6: Costello Outshines Trivedi in Q1: Republican Ryan Costello nearly tripled Trivedi’s fundraising efforts in the PA-6 race.

Politically Uncorrected: A Good Start: Still more than a month away, the hotly contested Democratic primary is finally moving into high gear.

PA-10: Incumbent Marino Leads in Funds for Q1: Tom Marino has both the money and the voter base to take PA-10 with ease.

PA-13: Leach Leads Q1 With Large Margin: State Senator Daylin Leach came out in front of the widest congressional primary pack in the state.

PA-7: Meehan Easily Leads Challenger in Q1: Incumbent Pat Meehan has a plentiful amount of cash on hand to outspend challenger Mary Ellen Balchunis.

PA-16: Pitts Out-Raises Challengers, Keeps Major COH Lead: The 16th district acts as another classic case of the incumbent ruling the fundraising numbers.

PA-12: McClelland Picks Up Steam, Rothfus Still Leads: The incumbent stays ahead while just one of his potential opponent posts a serious number.

HD-36: Readshaw Joins Molchany on TV (Watch): Both incumbent Democrats are now on the airwaves in their primary battle.

PA-8: Naughton Outraises Strouse, Fitzpatrick Surpasses Both in Q1: A look into the financial numbers of the three PA-8 candidates.

Legislative Elections Update:

HD-12: Working America, an organization that represents more than half a million working-class Pennsylvanians, including 5,000 in Butler County, is supporting local leader Gordon Marburger for state representative of District 12 in the Republican primary election on May 20 against Rep. Daryl Metcalfe.

HD-36: The PSEA, a union that represents 180,000 teachers and staff, announced they are supporting State Rep. Harry Readshaw in his race against State Rep. Erin Molchany for the Democratic nomination in District 36.

PEG PAC Endorsements: Pennsylvania Business Council’s PAC endorsed candidates in each of these races. GOP incumbents Mike Fleck (81st) of Huntingdon County, Seth Grove (196th) of York County and Karen Boback(117th) of Luzerne County; and,  Democratic incumbents Margo Davidson (164th) of Delaware County, Patty Kim (103rd) of Dauphin County, Jake Wheatley (19th) of Allegheny County and Jim Roebuck (188th) of Philadelphia.

PEG PAC also endorsed these non-incumbents: Republican Jason Ortitay, a small business owner and member of the Burgettstown Area Community Development Corporation, from the 46th District in Washington and Allegheny counties who is vying to take on incumbent Rep. Jessie White; East Marlborough Township Supervisor and former Chairman of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, Republican Cuyler Walker, business owner and Partner at Pepper Hamilton LLP, running in the open 158th District in southern Chester County; and, Former Rep. Tom Quigley, running to reclaim his seat in the 146th District in Montgomery County.

PA Independent: State rep searching for answers about gas drilling plan
PA Independent: Conservative challenger to Corbett remains on ballot after legal challenge
PA Independent: Legal conflict over teacher seniority in Philly heats up
StateImpactPA: DCNR releases first Marcellus monitoring report

The Big Tent: Schwartz ad pledges to ‘break through’ boys club
The Big Tent: McGinty out with two new ads in Pa. gov
PhillyClout: Local NAACP names new president, officers
PhillyClout: Nutter signs order limiting city cooperation with ICE
Inquirer: Nutter signs ‘historic’ order limiting immigrant detentions
WHYY Newsworks: Asian American voters not getting language help at Philly polls, complaint says
WHYY Newsworks: ‘Election season’ in North Philly: parents hear pitches on charter conversion
WHYY Newsworks: McCord wants to nearly triple Pa. spending on early education
Phillynow: WATCH: N.A. Poe interviews N.A. Poe on City Council run

The Intelligencer: 2 Democrats top $1M in fundraising for 13th seat
Delco Daily Times: Sen. Casey defends Affordable Care Act, challenges foes to help the uninsured
AP: GOP will challenge petitions of Corbett foe
Buck Local News: Democratic Congressional candidates Naughton, Strouse debate issues at forum in Bristol

Business Journal: Obama pledges $600M for job training programs in Oakdale stop (Video)
Business Journal: SEC Commissioner Piwowar deciphers regulators, how they work for CMU students (Video)
Post-Gazette: UPMC: Court is not the place to settle tax-exemption issue
Post-Gazette: Murrysville council delays vote on gas drilling ordinance
Tribune-Review: Legislative sting’s scope in Pennsylvania broad, diverse
Tribune-Review: State reaps $582M windfall on gas drilling in state forests
UrbanMediaToday: Fitzgerald Announces Allegheny County to Stay with Highmark Through 2015

Altoona Mirror: Blair County to research property tax relief options
Altoona Mirror: Penn Cambria school board approves security upgrades
Beaver County Times: Obama announces funding for job training, stresses importance of middle class
Beaver County Times: Rothfus roundtable to address human trafficking
Observer-Reporter: District attorney to withdraw citation in wiretapping case
Observer-Reporter: 200 at meeting on Shell cracker plant plans

Times Leader: Schwartz talks education in class visit
Times Leader: Casey backs bill to aid families of disabled
Times Leader: Barletta unveils redesigned website
Times-Tribune: Dem state House candidates refrain from rips at debate
Times-Tribune: Former Lackawanna guardian ad litem sentenced to a year in prison

South Central
Patriot News: Corbett – I never made a call on sting case: Wednesday Morning Coffee
Patriot News: Brad Koplinski signs anti-fracking pledge, first candidate for statewide office to do so
Patriot News: Average gas price in Harrisburg area is 18 cents higher than last year
Patriot News: State Department of Health offers shingles vaccine to uninsured, underinsured
York Daily Record: Proposed cell tower for Cousler Park drawing mixed reactions
AP: Obama, Biden to announce $600M for job grants
York Dispatch: Grocery bills on the rise in York County
Lancaster Intelligencer: GOP outraising Democrats in county’s congressional races

Lehigh Valley
Morning Call: Easton Area School District looking at 29 to 100 staff reductions
Morning Call: Another win for Sands Casino
Morning Call: Allentown residents make appeal to avoid building costly sidewalks
Reading Eagle: Corbett visits RACC, touts workforce development
Reading Eagle: Exeter School Board rejects merger with Antietam School District
WFMZ: Customers Bank invests $2 million in fund for loans to small businesses
WFMZ: UGI unveils plans for $85 million infrastructure investment in 2014

North by Northwest
Erie Times News: Neuman says Erie endorsements help separate himself from the field
Erie Times News: LaVallee now unopposed for Dem nomination for Congress
Centre Daily Times: Penn State panel: Consent, respect keys to curbing sex crimes
AP: Corbett signs 4 more child-abuse prevention bills
Sun Gazette: Overcrowding at prison is a county concern

Patriot News: The 2014 guv election could be Pa’s political tipping point
York Dispatch: Editorial: Parents know a thing about raising kids, too
The Intelligencer: Partisan news media allow ‘big lies’
Delco Daily Times: Editorial: Inaction on gun laws allows carnage to continue
Post-Gazette: Reverse course: Yellow Cab seeks to join the ride-share business
Tribune-Review: The case of Beaver County Sheriff George David: He should be jailed pending trial

Citizens’ Call: Arkoosh’s First Paid Web Spot in PA-13 Race Focuses on Health Care Law
Keystone Politics: Guzzardi Will Garner a Significant Chunk of Votes, and Tom Corbett Knows It
Keystone Politics: #PA13: Liberal Lion is King of the Jungle in Quarter 1
Keystone Politics: Republicans Respond to Emergency Responder Shortage by Cutting Emergency Responder Benefits
Keystone Progress: Help us re-elect Rep. Erin Molchany- a true progressive champion

PA-13: Arkoosh Buys Up Critical Ad Space

Screnshot from Arkoosh's web ad

Screnshot from Arkoosh’s web ad

Physician, activist and first-time candidate Valerie Arkoosh just bought up serious ad space for the days before the primary.

Arkoosh is leading the Democratic pack for PA-13 in cash on hand, and clearly intends to use this advantage to tackle her very small name recognition in the district. Her campaign spent $400,000 to run ads during high-traffic time slots between May 12 and May 19.

“After another strong and consistent fundraising quarter, we placed the most significant ad buy in the race so far,” Arkoosh’s Communications Director Bryan Lesswing told PoliticsPA.

This quarter, she bringing in $220,474. She spent reasonably ($176,875), maintaining her lead in cash on hand at $687,530.

She’s the only new candidate in the race; she faces State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) and former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies in the primary.

Her web ad, “Sarah,” is running now on Facebook and YouTube, but this won’t be the ad used on television next month.


PA-6: Costello Outshines Trivedi in Q1



After Congressman Jim Gerlach (R-Chester) decided to step down from his position as the Representative of Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, the 2014 race for that seat became highly contested, with promise of national attention and whispers of big name candidates.

Democrats have seen the district as an opportunity to pick up a seat in the House, while Republicans have mobilized in an effort to retain it. And now the 1st quarter financial numbers are in, and they show a less exciting, less close race than we all had hoped.

Manan Trivedi

This is Trivedi’s third time campaigning as a Democrat in PA-6, having lost to Gerlach in the general by large margins in both 2010 and 2012. But this time around he does not have to worry about the popular Gerlach and he even won the support of his only primary challenger, Mike Parish, last month following Parrish’s withdrawal.

Trivedi raised $132,416.50, but has yet to spend much — only $19,387.89. He sports $111,831.52 cash on hand and is not held down by any debts.

A great deal of his funding in this quarter also came from personal and familial contributions. One would have expected a stronger base of support for a candidate who had previously run in the district, especially since he believed he would have a primary challenger for most of the period.

However, Trivedi’s results pale in comparison to his Republican adversary.

Ryan Costello

As PoliticsPA wrote earlier this week, Republican Ryan Costello has done a fantastic job fundraising in this year’s 1st quarter.

He raised $344,450.00, and like Trivedi has not spent much on his campaign — only $39,141.34. That will most certainly change as the general approaches, and Costello has $305,308.66 of cash on hand to work with.

“These fundraising numbers are a reflection of local residents desire to get our country back on the right track by finding bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing the nation, implementing policies that will stimulate the economy and grow jobs, and restoring fiscal responsibility in Washington,” Costello said.  “Voters are tired of the partisan bickering and want to know that their voices are really being heard by their representatives in Congress.”

Costello, the Chairman of the Chester County Board of Commissioners, has received a ton of financial support, which is most likely due to the strong desire of the Republican Party to retain the PA-6 seat. Many members of the Pennsylvania Republican Congressional delegation wrote checks in support of their hopeful colleague. In addition, many of Costello’s donors may have been weary of Trivedi’s fundraising experience, considering this is his third attempt at the seat.

Whatever the reason, Costello out collected Trivedi nearly 3 to 1 and is suddenly positioned to run a very strong campaign.

Both candidates are running unopposed in their respective primaries.

Politically Uncorrected: A Good Start

PA-Governor-Mansion2Still more than a month away, the hotly contested Democratic primary is finally moving into high gear. Over the next several weeks, Pennsylvania voters will be treated (if that’s the word) to a veritable barrage of political ads, press releases, debates and other assorted arcana of political campaigns heading for the wire.

So far, it’s been a set piece campaign. Although it has turned a bit negative, the four surviving candidates have mostly agreed on the big issues. They all advocate ambitious agendas in education and economic development as well as protection of the environment and job creation. As challengers, they’ve mostly avoided dealing with the precarious fiscal situation faced by the state. None favor, for example, increases to the currently structured sales tax or the income tax or in fact any broad based revenue measures, except for a severance tax on the natural gas industry.

Abundantly clear is that whichever Democrat wins the nomination he or she is going to wage a vigorous and energetic campaign in the fall. The Democrats intend to win in 2014, and they intend to govern aggressively, if they do win.

Let’s say this happens. Indeed it is no secret that it could happen. Gov. Tom Corbett, long considered the nation’s most endangered incumbent governor, could still pull it out. Few are betting that he will.

For the moment, then, let’s hypothetically assume that one of the hard-charging Democrats wins in November. Then what happens?

Maybe nothing! Make that a lot of nothing.

We don’t have to look any further then down the road to an imploding Washington D.C. to understand why “nothing” may be the bitter postscript to the Pennsylvania 2014 gubernatorial race. In Washington, an isolated, increasingly frustrated Democrat Barack Obama is struggling desperately to pursue an agenda blocked almost completely by the opposition party’s veto in the Congress. By any measure, Washington is trapped in a stunning gridlock.

Is this Pennsylvania’s near future? Sadly, it could be.

Currently, state Republicans control both houses of the state legislature. While some believe Democrats might capture the state Senate in November, Democratic control remains a long shot. More likely, Republicans will continue their Senate dominance, perhaps becoming even more conservative than now. A conservative oriented Republican-controlled Senate represents a major roadblock to the agenda of any would be Democratic governor.

This bad news might actually turn out to be the good news for any new Democratic governor. Much worse is the situation in the state House. There, already about 30 tea party types make the state House a junior version of the federal House. Moreover, no knowledgeable analyst expects the state house to change hands. The current 111 to 92 edge Republicans presently hold will remain largely intact, partially the result of two decades of favorable gerrymandering and the collaboration of both parties in pursuit of legislative protection.

But numbers alone tell only half the story. As in Washington, far more problematic is the rampant polarization and hyper partisanship that exists. For example, not a single Democratic House vote was obtained on Corbett’s 2013-14 budget, nor did a single Democratic lawmaker vote for the liquor privatization bill passed in the House. The Pennsylvania General Assembly is an ideological battlefield, and any new Democratic governor’s ambitious agenda would be an early casuality.

So, if a Democrat is elected in 2014 a not so quiet policy paralysis is likely to descend over Harrisburg, much as has already happened in Washington.

Are we then making a not so subtle argument that, flawed as he is, re-electing Tom Corbett may be preferable to creating a mini Washington D.C. on the Susquehanna. Is the devil we know better than the devil we don’t? Is Corbett the best of the worst and should we keep him?

No, we don’t make that argument one way or the other. That is clearly for the voters to decide. What we do believe, however, is the vital importance of understanding what decades of paralyzing polarization perpetuated by both parties have done to our politics – and threatens to do to our government.

Pennsylvania’s 2014 gubernatorial election will not end these battles. They will go on. They might even get worse.

But this neither makes the election irrelevant or unimportant. Things will not change in Pennsylvania or nationally until the electorate decides to change them. The 2014 gubernatorial could be the catalyst that sparks that change – the moment where voters collectively say “enough!”

2014 could be Pennsylvania’s “tipping point.”

As Winston Churchill said of another fight long ago, we might come to remember 2014 as “… not the end… not even the beginning of the end. But …perhaps the end of the beginning.”

That’s a good start.

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