2014 Ups & Downs

2014 was quite the eventful year in Pennsylvania politics. Now that it is fully in the rear-view mirror, it’s the perfect time to take a look at who had the best and worst year. So, we’re going to present the biggest ups & downs of 2014, but first our honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

Down ArrowChaka Fattah. Things just kept getting worse for Rep. Fattah in 2014. First, the charges against his son are leading to a trial in which Fattah Jr. will have to defend himself. Then, his former Chief of Staff plead guilty to campaign finance fraud. Finally the Daily News and Inquirer published exhaustive stories about some of the Congressman’s questionable activities. The only reason Rep. Fattah isn’t ranked higher is that 2015 will probably be even worse for him.


Down ArrowJim Burn. Winning the Governorship should have been the best thing to happen to the Chair of the PA Democratic Party. Instead, it proved a disaster. Despite Burn’s insistence, he and Wolf had never had a good relationship and when the latter won the nomination, he tried to oust the party chair. The battle ended in a stalemate that led to the creation of a PAC, FreshStartPA, that would serve as Wolf’s own apparatus. Now Burn is the odd man out in Tom Wolf’s Democratic Party.


Up Arrow1Brendan Boyle and Ryan Costello. These two young men both won election to Congress last year in the open 13th and 6th districts respectively. While PA-6 is relatively competitive, Costello served as Chester County Commissioner and won by a fair margin. He’ll have to continue raising unseemingly amounts of money but he should be fine. As for Boyle and his new D+13 district, he basically just has to stay out of jail and he can serve for as long as he wants.


Down ArrowDominic Pileggi. Election Night 2014 should’ve been the Senate Majority Leader’s moment of triumph. It turned out, however, to be the beginning of his downfall. After Republicans swept the State Senate races and increased their incoming majority, Sen. Jake Corman announced he would seek to overthrow Pileggi. Corman prevailed, and Pileggi was suddenly the odd man out.


Up Arrow1Dave Reed. We should have seen this coming. In June, Chuck Todd identified the State Rep. as one of PA’s “Rising Stars”. Afterwards, we asked our readers which of the four Todd named was the Keystone State’s brightest rising star and Reed emerged victorious. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise then when after the GOP gains in the State House, Reed won election as House Majority Leader. Rising star indeed.


Up Arrow1Jake Corman. As previously mentioned, Dominic Pileggi’s loss was Jake Corman’s gain. Corman’s victory was a shift in power away from Southeast Republicans who tend to be more moderate. It is entirely possible this switch becomes a landmark moment for conservatives in the Senate Republican caucus.



Up Arrow1Katie McGinty. 2014 didn’t start well for McGinty. She consistently ran fourth in the polls and unsurprisingly finished in fourth among her Democratic cohorts with just 7.6% of the vote. After that battle, though, Wolf backed her for party chair and when that effort was unsuccessful, put her in charge of FreshStartPA. Now McGinty will serve as the Governor-Elect’s Chief of Staff, revealing she is perhaps the best long-term thinker of them all.


Down ArrowAllyson Schwartz and Rob McCord. Just about every pundit would’ve told you at the dawn of 2014 that the Democratic primary would be a battle between the Congresswoman and the State Treasurer. Both candidates dithered, however, as Schwartz chose to keep her powder dry until April while McCord waited for months before officially getting in. The question is no longer which of them will be Governor but rather, will either of them have a political future?


2014’s Institutional Ups & Downs

Down ArrowPA Supreme Court. It’s hard to imagine a more embarassing year for the commonwealth’s highest court. This year the personal feud between Chief Justice Ron Castille and Justice Seamus McCaffery was taken to a whole other level. In October, it was revealed that McCaffery was among those exchanging pornographic emails with employees in the Attorney General’s office. McCaffery accused Castille of being behind an effort to take him down. Then, Castille forced the AG to give him the emails. All of a sudden, Justice Eakin claimed McCaffery threatened to reveal Eakin’s own embarrassing emails. The Court suspended McCaffery, with Castille calling McCaffery a “sociopath”. McCaffery finally stepped down, ending the ordeal. The prestige of the court, though, has yet to return.

Up Arrow1Same-Sex Marriage. 2014 was the watershed moment for same-sex marriage in the Keystone State. On May 24th, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III struck down the 1996 ban. The ruling is the product of a titanic shift in public opinion in Pennsylvania as well as nationwide. Republican Rep. Charlie Dent even voiced his support a few days later, suggesting the partisanship of the issue is waning. A recent Muhlenberg Poll now shows a whopping 62% of Pennsylvanians support same-sex marriage. 2014 was truly a historic year for civil rights in PA.

2014’s Split Decision

Up Arrow1Down ArrowTom Corbett. On the one hand, Governor Corbett lost re-election. On the other hand, Governor Corbett lost re-election. For a man who never seemed comfortable as Governor (or even to like it very much), defeat can only be so stinging. The outgoing Gov has made no secret of the fact that, while naturally upset he lost, he is nonetheless happy his political career is over and he’ll have plenty of time to spend with his grandchildren. During the Inauguration that signaled America’s first transfer of power, that of Washington to Adams, the former display such a sunny disposition that the latter theorized in a letter to his wife what the old General must be thinking. “I am fairly out and you fairly in! See which of us shall be happiest.” Don’t be surprised if Tom Corbett whispers that to his successor on January 20th.

The Down Arrow of 2014

Down ArrowKathleen Kane. Professionally, politically, even personally 2014 was almost surely the worst year of Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s life. The Moulton Report revealed no grand conspiracy in the Sandusky case, and her verbal missteps stole the show. Her feuds with Frank Fina and Seth Williams made headlines. A grand jury is investigating her for leaking information. Any hopes of a Senate race in 2016 were dashed and focus now turns to the necessity of re-election. Her decision to shut down a sting case in Philadelphia is under renewed scrutiny. After she initially refused to answer questions about it (which resulted in this priceless photo), she was grilled by the press. She suffered a concussion in a car crash and at the very end of the year it was announced that she and her husband were divorcing. Safe to say the Attorney General is glad to see 2014 go.

The Up Arrow of 2014

Up Arrow1Tom Wolf. At the dawn of 2014, Tom Wolf was at best the wildcard in the Democratic gubernatorial field. Who knows, with $10 million, anything is possible right? Little did we know Wolf would use that cash perfectly, with a series of ads that set him apart as a smart yet mild-mannered, Jeep-driving businessman who would change Harrisburg. He pretty much cruised to the Governor’s Mansion from then on. Now, the man from York is set to become the most powerful Pennsylvanian in 2015. There may very well be storm clouds on the horizon but as for 2014 it couldn’t have gone any better for Governor-Elect Tom Wolf.

15 Responses

  1. Wow, as a former state committee member all I can say is the only way to get rid of rats is to burn them out. Start in Philly and work your way to the top along with the chair and his Toadies.

  2. For several years now the Democratic Party apparatus has been only an election tool for the use of the elected and appointed officials of the State and their contributors desires.
    The Democratic Party has been only able to win some singular seats in various races but has been largely unsuccessful at electing legislative majorities.
    In the prior State Committee under the leadership of Mr. Burn we were able to start to create a party movement to bring the party back to representing issues of concern to everyday democrats. A resolutions on Fracking moratorium was passed by the Committee and shocked many of the elected democrats. It seems they believed for their purposes that it is much easier to just yield and get along with a largely under regulated fracking industry. They believed that if they just started to collect taxes they would not have to buck the big money in election campaigns. The industry realized that with the end of Mr. Corbett the Golden goose will be plucked. But regulation is a more serious issue with them.
    While taxing them is an improvement it does’t serve the long term interests of ordinary people who want solid regulations backed by an effective enforcement of those regulations.
    Thus, a majority of members decided that Ms. McGinty who hardly registered in the election numbers and who didn’t have any great history with the Committee should not be replacing Mr. Burn who actually travelled to 67 counties in an attempt to revitalize the Party.
    It is evident that Mr. Wolf had a great victory. But if he really wants to get a Senate and House there is much grass routes rebuilding to do that has to do with creating an effective return of a party movement that represents the needs of middle class Democrats.
    Thus, it is time to give up on this previous method of “to the victor goes the spoils” and return to supporting the idea of a Party movement that dictates from the grass roots what we want our officials to do. It is time to tell all officials that we will no longer deal with just what you want to give us that your donors will support. The jobs we want go far beyond just keeping politicians in office!
    It is no longer good enough to tell voters that we care every couple of years, it is now time to show the voters we are really in their corner and we will advocate as a Party a complete ticket on issues run by the Party at large and not just those seeking office and more power.
    It is evident that the voters of this state backed Mr. Wolf because he represents a real change.
    Now I hope that Governor Wolf will be that change and stop trying to direct everyone in the Party and work toward solving the overwhelming problems in this state with the State Committee as his allies and friends.
    Any other course for the Party or Mr. Wolf would just be silly.

  3. My problem isn’t with state committee members its with the state party chair and the “staff”. I use ” ” because there are only 2 paid professionals right now and 2 voluntary ones. Give the state gop they at least run like a professional org unlike the sorry Dems. It pains me to say this since I’m a dem but the state party is a joke and will continue to be so for a long time.

  4. So McCord spends money big-time? How much state money went into the Pennsylvania Society meetings, from the guv’s security detail to unreceipted per diems, etc.?

  5. Craig
    All state committee people were elected this past May. Grow up.

    As for McGinty, it was suggested to me that even if she was elected state committee chair, that she would have quit to be chief of staff anyway. If this is true, then state committee was right to pick someone who wanted the job for four years.

  6. The sooner Jim Burn resigns the better!

    In fact, the entire State Committee would benefit from being completely purged and electing all new committee persons.

  7. The PA Democratic party is a joke. Very few staff members, poor fundraising and a chair that has no positive relationship with the newly elected democratic governor. Dems can will statewide races and only in areas with dem registration edges. The rest is a mess. The sooner Jim Burn is gone the better.

  8. Tom Wolf’s Democratic Party? Tom Wolf won and won big. BUT Fresh Start had no coattails. It would seem to me that Tom Wolf and Katie McGinty will have their hands full trying to govern and I wish them well in that huge endeavor. It might be better to leave the PA Democratic Party operations to the people who were ELECTED to those positions rather than continually dissing them.

  9. Guys, “unseeminy amounts?” Even before Wolf, Pennsylvania took pride in spending more money to less effect on public education than anyone in the country, but parts of speech should be mastered in middle school even here.

  10. Don’t shoot the messenger.

    Just proud to spread the news that Rob McCord was listed as one of the 20 worst persons in 2014 by Watchdog:


    I didn’t even mention in my last post how McCord is a liar and outsourced hardworking PA jobs to Inda:

    Rendell and Casey both call him out and condemn his behavior.

    McCord’s own family calls him a liar:

    McCord outsourced PA jobs to India:

    McCord uses taxpayer dollars for lavish hotels in NY and DC:

  11. Thanks Andy, or Narcissist or whoever you are, but that’s actually some pretty weak tea given the tenor of PeeYay’s politicians.

  12. Rob McCord was also named one of the 20 worst people in the world in 2014 by Watchdog! Here’s the quote and link:

    “Former Democratic gubernatorial hopeful and Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord has called himself the state’s “fiscal watchdog,” but he stops barking when he’s off the leash — traveling on official business. Credit card records show McCord likes staying at the Omni William Penn Hotel, a Pittsburgh landmark that has hosted movie stars and presidents. It certainly isn’t the Best Western — no offense intended — and the rates prove that. On at least 10 occasions, McCord did not get the government rate at the Omni, costing taxpayers an average of $362 a night. He also racked up pricey hotel costs in the Big Apple and the nation’s capital, with some nightly rates topping $600 at a French boutique hotel in New York City. “The taxpayers should not be underwriting luxury accommodations for state business trips,” said Eric Epstein, coordinator of reform group Rock the Capital. It seems the state’s “fiscal watchdog” should agree, but McCord’s spokesman defended the expensive hotel choices, saying the treasurer stays near where he’s doing business to save on transportation costs. The spokesman also pointed to occupancy rates and elevated prices in cities as cost drivers and indicated that McCord’s travel expense have been lower than his predecessor.” —Andrew Staub


  • Who are you voting for in the PA Supreme Court race?

    • Dan McCaffery (61%)
    • Carolyn Carluccio (37%)
    • Still undecided (2%)

    Total Voters: 344

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