5/11 Ups & Downs

The general election is on the distant horizon, but the budget battle is now. From DC to Harrisburg, see who had a good week and who wishes they had a redo.

Bill Shuster. Congressman Shuster is the 10th most senior Republican on the House Transportation Committee, but the consensus in DC is that he’s next in line for the chairmanship. The current Chair, Rep. John Mica (R-FL) is term-limited, and Shuster’s work on this year’s transportation bill has impressed every GOP leader, all GOP factions, and even many Dems. He’d be taking after his father, Bud Shuster, who also held the gavel. Politico has a big story on the subject.

Pittsburgh Opera. It started as a perfectly valid plan: get some headlines by bringing the Governor to the building, maybe get to know some Republican philanthropists while they’re at it and hey, maybe even make state funding for the arts look like a good investment for future budgets. But they didn’t count on the backlash, and it turns out giving Corbett a lifetime award for education isn’t too popular with Pittsburgh educators.

Keith Rothfus. He was the last guy the NRCC asked to the dance in 2010, but he’s first in line this year. DC Republicans designated him a “Young Gun,” meaning that national money and third party groups will tune in to his race against Rep. Mark Critz.
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State Senate. If you’d told us that the PA Senate would pass a budget, in an election year, that would win a majority of Democrats’ support, we’d have laughed. But they did this week; it passed 39 to 8. Tom Corbett and Mike Turzai have called the budget a “ceiling” for negotiations. For the sake of those who rely on state services (not to mention vulnerable GOP incumbents), let’s hope they rise to meet it.

Fallen Senators. Speaking of Senate bipartisanship, one former and another soon-to-be former colleague had similarly bad weeks in the criminal justice system. Former Senate Democratic Leader Bob Mellow pleaded guilty this week to corruption charges. He  faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced at a later date. Republican Jane Orie was found guilty a few weeks ago, but this week the DA said she’d have to foot the bill for her legal defense – not the state Senate. That’s a cool $1.5 million.

Rick Santorum. When you’re on the presidential stage, there’s no room for half measures. But that’s exactly how one could characterize the former contender’s tepid endorsement of Mitt Romney in an email at 11pm. We guess he could have done it on a Friday…

Tweet of the week: Rep. Mark Critz campaign.

May 11th, 2012 | Posted in Features, Front Page Stories, Top Stories | No Comments