February 14th Ups & Downs
A Snyder County Republican blasts a speech from the Oscars, a conversion therapy ban passes Allegheny County Council, and a Trump store opens up in the Philly suburbs. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
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Trump School Choice PA Speech. President Donald Trump made his case to the nation about the need for school choice at his State of the Union address, while announcing that a fourth-grade student from Philadelphia who was attending the address in Washington D.C. with her mother was awarded with an “opportunity scholarship” to attend learn at one of those not “failing government schools.” Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos even touted the feel-good story of the Philadelphia student receiving the scholarship in West Philadelphia and at a campaign rally in Camp Hill the next day. Why the down arrow? Well… it turns out the school that the fourth grade student is attending isn’t one of the “failing government schools” in Philadelphia, but instead attends one of the most desired charter schools in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer broke the story that the girl who received this scholarship attends Math, Science and Technology Community Charter School III, which opened in the fall and is a part of the “charter network so popular that the school received 6,500 applications for 100 seats next year.” Even after receiving the scholarship, the mother of the fourth grade student who received the scholarship said that she doesn’t view her current school as “a school you want to get out of at all. I view it as a great opportunity.”
Fred Keller. The Snyder County Republican most likely didn’t anticipate grabbing some headlines from various news outlets in response to the recent Oscars award show, but farmers in his ruby red 12th District are sure to love his response to Joaquin Phoenix’s acceptance speech. During Phoenix’s acceptance speech after winning best actor, he spent time talking about animal rights and criticized the need for cow’s milk. “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby,” Phoenix said, according to The Hill. “We take her milk that’s intended for her calf, and we put it in our coffee and our cereal. And I think we fear the idea of personal change because we think that we have to sacrifice something.” This jab hit home for Keller’s mainly rural district, which drew the freshman Congressman to call Phoenix’s address as “out of touch” with the “sacrifice and struggles of America’s dairy farmers.” This story was picked up by local Pennsylvania news outlets such as PennLive and NorthCentralpa.com, and some Washington centric ones like The Hill and the Washington Examiner. While Keller’s response might not play well in various Democratic held districts in the state, it’s bound to be well received in his district.
Paul Klein. Allegheny County progressives secured a victory after a bill introduced by Councilman Paul Klein was overwhelmingly supported. In what the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is referring to as an “unexpected move,” Allegheny County Council voted by a 13-2 vote on Tuesday to ban sexual orientation and gender conversion therapy for minors. The matter had been discussed on Allegheny County Council since March 2019, while Pittsburgh City Council unanimously voted to ban the practice in December 2016.
Northeast Philly/Lower Bucks Trump Supporters. If you are a passionate supporter of President Donald Trump living in the “forgotten battleground” of Northeast Philadelphia and lower Bucks County, then you had a reason to celebrate this week. On Tuesday, a Trump store opened in Bensalem that is home to all items related to supporting the 45th president. The opening of this store gained coverage from all of the Philadelphia centric news outlets, while some Harrisburg area stations also picked up on the news as well.
Bill McSwain. A basic rule of thumb in politics is to not compare policies enacted today to slavery. U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, a vocal critic of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner, did just that this week when delivering an address at the Union League’s annual Lincoln Day celebration. Philly Clout reports that “McSwain compared Kenney and Krasner to slaveholders who sparked the Civil War and Southern segregationists who oppose civil rights” for their support of “sanctuary city” policies and “legal supervised injection sites.”
Brian Fitzpatrick. The race in the 1st Congressional District is viewed to be one of the closest races in Pennsylvania in 2020, but the ratings analysts for Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball see the race moving in the direction for the incumbent GOP Congressman from Bucks County. They moved the race in the 1st District from a Toss Up to Leans Republican. While this news can excite supporters of Fitzpatrick, Bucks County Democrats can’t seem to coalesce behind one of the three candidates seeking their party’s nomination. The Bucks County Democratic Committee endorsed Ivyland Borough councilwoman Christina Finello for their party’s nomination, while Debbie Wachspress, a Pennsbury School Board member, has been endorsed by all three Democrats who ran for the seat in 2018. A costly primary could result in an easier path to reelection for Fitzpatrick.
Richard Vague. The Philadelphia venture capitalist will be taking his talents to Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration. Vague has been nominated by Wolf to serve as the state’s next secretary of the Department of Banking and Securities and assumed the role of acting Secretary already, although the state legislature has to approve the nomination. The Philadelphia Business Journal describes Vague, a managing partner of Philadelphia venture capital firm Gabriel Investments and chair of the philanthropic nonprofit Governor’s Woods Foundation, as “one of the region’s most influential investors.”
Tim DeFoor. Although the Dauphin County Controller already received the PAGOP endorsement for Auditor General, he will now have a clear path to the party nomination. State Rep. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson) who announced his intentions to seek the Republican Party nomination for Auditor General ended his bid for the statewide office this week to seek the state Senate’s 25th District, currently held by Senate President Pro-Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson), who announced he won’t be seeking reelection in November.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
..@PennsylvaniaGov : We’ve basically invented like -everything. With the receipts. @PATreasury : Checking notes for next irreverent, zeitgeist-y, subversive plutocracy-dragging tweet @NJGov : pizza something-something- blah blah pizza. Yer mom. https://t.co/MtjPPepS9w
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) February 11, 2020