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Democratic State Committee Preview – Winter 2012

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

The beautiful Penn Stater Hotel

Democrats from across Pennsylvania will gather in State College this weekend to wine, dine, and select the party’s endorsements for two statewide offices.

It’s an endorsement meeting, so attendance is likely to be well above average. Organizers say they’ve expecting the best turnout they’ve had in recent memory. They reportedly sold out the entire Penn Stater hotel.

With the U.S. Senate seat and Treasurer’s office in Democratic hands, committee members will set their sights on AG and AG.

Barring some Saturday surprise (like the entrance of Pa. Sen. Anthony Williams into the running), York state Rep. Eugene DePasquale will walk away with the endorsement for Auditor General.

That leaves Attorney General, an office that no Democrat has won since it first went on the ballot in 1980. The party is hungry for a win here – almost as hungry as Republicans are to keep it.

Much of the weekend will be a tug of war between Kathleen Kane, a former assistant DA from Lackawanna County; Dan McCaffery, a former assistant DA from Philadelphia; and Pat Murphy, a former Congressman from Bucks County. It appears none of them is likely to get the 66 percent of the vote required for an endorsement. But Murphy is the possible exception; if the stars align, he might get it. Based on what we’re hearing, we handicap it at a 10 to 15 percent chance; 5 percent chance each of Kane and McCaffery; 75 to 80 percent chance there will be no endorsement.

Expect all three to whip and woo votes late into Friday night.

Here are all the events we know of this weekend:

Friday, January 13th

Candidate Forum presented by the Women’s Caucus
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Room 207

Pennsylvania Democratic Party Ice Cream Social with Chairman Jim Burn
8:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Dean’s Hall
This is the main, official event of the evening, so look for all of the candidates here. Tickets at the door are $30.00

DePasquale for Auditor General Reception
9:30 to 10:30pm
Senate Suite

Cocktail Reception with Rep. Mark Critz
10:30 to 11:30pm
Presidential Suite 4
Critz will get to know committee members – particularly in Allegheny and Beaver counties new to his district.

Saturday, January 14th

The various regional caucuses and interest groups will meet throughout the morning and hear the candidates.

Isenhour Rooney Strategies Coffee Break
With Patrick Murphy
9:30 a.m. to noon
2nd Floor – Coffee Break Area
In the middle of the morning action, the former Chair and ED of the Pa Dems. will lay out a spread of coffee, pastries and other breakfast goodies for committee members – and put in a few good words for their friend, the former Congressman.

Lunch with Dan MCaffery
Dean’s Hall
McCaffery will provide committee members (and press?) brown bag lunches just before they head into the voting meeting.

12:30 pm – State Committee Meeting – President’s Hall

This will be the big show. Will weather or distance keep the folks from Philadelphia and the southeast home?

And if you’re around on Friday, you can check out these Deminars described as follows by the Pa. Dems:

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM – Room 208 – Media and Communications Boot Camp  – This training will help attendees learn the basics of media relations and how to communicate their message to the public. It will include interactive activities and press scenarios.  This is deminar is recommended for all.

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Room 208 –  Petition Review –  Before we can campaign for our candidates, they must complete one of the most vital tasks in running for office – filing nominating petitions.  This training will review how to fill out petitions for the various 2012 campaigns, including Senator Casey’s petition efforts. This deminar is essential for all individuals helping candidates circulate petitions.

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