August 2nd Ups & Downs
A former Attorney General is released from prison, Vice President Mike Pence pushes the USMCA in PA, and two GOP county’s spark controversy over the “squad.” All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
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Fayette and Northampton GOP. The four freshman progressive members of Congress known as the “squad” aren’t very well liked in Republican circles, but the actions of some members in two GOP county committees certainly crossed the line. A dartboard at the Republican Party booth at the Fayette County Fair had images of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that after an attendee of the fair posted a picture of the dartboard on Facebook, it sparked a backlash, resulting in the county to take it down. A Facebook post from the Northampton County GOP focusing on the “squad” also received pushback this week. The Northampton County GOP shared a meme labeling the four Democratic congresswomen as “The Jihad Squad,” appearing to mock a poster from the movie “Gangster Squad” according to PA Post. Northampton County was one of three counties in the state that voted for President Barack Obama twice, but then voted for President Trump in 2016. The meme was on the county’s Facebook page for about 12 days, until a PA Post reporter reached out to the committee and the state GOP for a comment. PAGOP Chairman Lawrence Tabas said he was “glad the post has been taken down.”
General Assistance Advocates. Progressives in Harrisburg put up a fight to keep general assistance funding alive, after the program was cut in the recent state budget. Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who supported the program, said he wanted to keep the program, but the GOP controlled “general assembly” did not. This week, the fight was taken to the courts, but the outcome was not in favor of those advocating for the program. A Commonwealth Court judge denied to grant a preliminary injunction to keep General Assistance going. On the same day as this ruling, House and Senate Democrats in the state legislature sent a letter to Wolf asking him to make an emergency declaration to help the recipients of this program. Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports that 20 of the 22 Democrats in the state Senate signed on to this letter, while 54 of the 93 House Democrats signed an identical version of it.
Kathleen Kane. The former Democratic state Attorney General hasn’t been on the receiving end of many “Up” arrows in recent memory, but her early release from prison this week warrants the honor. Kane walked out of a Montgomery County Correctional Facility Wednesday morning after serving 8 months of her conviction of perjury and other charges relating to abuse of power in the AG office. She was slated to serve 10-23 months, but was let go early on good behavior.
Overdose Response. Gov. Tom Wolf isn’t declaring “mission accomplished,” but it’s a step in the right direction. Wolf announced that opioid overdoses in the state decreased 18% in 2018 compared to the previous year. His administration says it’s still seeing troubling evidence that “stimulant use is on the rise,” but the numbers from 2018 show an improvement from the previous year.
PAGOP on USMCA. The Pennsylvania GOP lines up behind President Donald Trump’s administration on the vast majority of issues. The USMCA appears to be a more divisive topic. Vice President Mike Pence visited the state for the second time since June to promote the trade agreement aiming to replace NAFTA. While Pence was joined by some members of the GOP Congressional delegation in both visits showing support, the state’s highest ranking Republican elected official has been an outspoken critic on the matter. Sen. Pat Toomey has remained on the opposing end of the administration, arguing that NAFTA is better than the Trump backed plan. This week, Toomey even spoke in front of a “USMCA>NAFTA” sign, arguing that the proposed trade deal would ultimately lead to diminishing trade, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Tamari reports.
Rick Loughery. Leading Young Republicans, but this time outside of Pennsylvania. The former head of the Pennsylvania Young Republicans and the current Chester County GOP Chair was elected as the Chairman of the Young Republican National Federation. Loughery said in a press release that he was “honored” to be elected and said that he’s “fired up and ready to make a serious impact.”
Pennsylvania Lottery. More games, more money. The Pennsylvania Lottery announced Thursday that this year’s revenue is an all time high, surpassing last year’s total. This year’s revenue is $4.5 billion, while the previous high from last year was $4.2 billion. The elderly, who benefit from these funds, will receive $1.14 billion from this year’s revenue, which is an increase of close to $50 million more than the previous year. In the iLottery’s first year, the revenue totaled more than $381 million.
John Green. Philadelphia’s longest serving sheriff will be behind bars after pleading guilty to misusing his office. The former Democratic Sheriff who served from 1988 to 2010 was sentenced to five years in prison on Thursday.
Joe Biden. The former Vice President and Scranton native has led in multiple polls in the state thus far and is leading the field in campaign contributions, according to Philly Voice. Although Biden finished fifth nationwide in the most recent campaign finance report, he led Pennsylvania by receiving $945,000 in the state in contributions.
Patrick Murphy. The former Congressman was the first member of the Pennsylvania delegation to endorse then Sen. Barack Obama in his 2008 bid for the White House. This time, Murphy made headlines and was the focus of interviews from Meet The Press and more after he endorsed South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg for President. Murphy pointed to Buttigieg’s service in the Navy and his experience as a mayor in the midwest as a reason he is supporting his bid for the presidency.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
This thread from Ben Forstate highlights some of the well…..interesting locations within each Congressional members district, according to CSPAN.
— Ben Forstate (@4st8) July 30, 2019
— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) July 30, 2019