February 2nd Playbook

Millions of dollars pouring into the PA Senate race. Commonwealth Court judge says she’ll rule on congressional districts map soon – if the case isn’t taken from her. Punxsutawney Phil says six more weeks of winter. Here is the Playbook. 

News

The Million-Dollar Duo: Fetterman, Lamb Rake In Q4 Funds: The fundraising numbers for the fourth quarter of 2021 (Q4) in the U.S. Senate race are out and a pair of candidates had the million-dollar touch.

PA Northwest GOP Caucus Withholds Straw Vote Totals: The Pennsylvania Republican State Committee held its Northwest Caucus meeting last Saturday in Knox. And when the straw vote dust settled … no one knew who won.

‘Judge says she’ll soon rule on congressional districts map’: The Associated Press reports that “a Pennsylvania judge who recently conducted a hearing on more than a dozen competing proposals for a redrawn map of the state’s congressional districts told the state Supreme Court on Tuesday her decision will be ready in a few days — if they do not yank the case away from her.”

‘Millions follow rich candidates in Pennsylvania Senate race’: The Associated Press reports that “cash is pouring into Pennsylvania’s hotly contested race for U.S. Senate as wealthy and well-connected candidates move in from out of state, followed by millions of dollars going into TV ads and super PACs.”

‘Oz spends his own cash, Fetterman laps the Democrats, and more from Pa. Senate fund-raising reports’: The Philadelphia Inquirer breaks down “the latest snapshot of the candidates’ financial strength in one of the country’s most closely watched Senate races.”

‘Millions pouring into Pa. governor and U.S. Senate races, with Fetterman and Oz ahead’: WHYY reports that “new campaign finance reports for Pennsylvania’s governor and U.S. Senate races are now public and the commonwealth appears to be on its way to its most expensive statewide elections ever.”

‘The first fund-raising reports in the Pa. governor’s race show it’s up for grabs’: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “at least five candidates raised more than $1 million last year, including two who cut seven-figure checks to their own campaigns. Here’s what we learned.”

‘Pa. Congress members traded millions in stocks. Some lawmakers are trying to ban the practice.’: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “in Pennsylvania, it’s not hard to find members of Congress whose trading raises ethical concerns and potential conflicts of interest.”

‘Report flags consultant error in Pennsylvania pension data’: The Associated Press reports that “a report commissioned by the board of Pennsylvania’s largest public pension system shows that a consultant took responsibility for an errant calculation about the fund’s investment performance.”

‘Philadelphia Democrats select state lawmaker to replace convicted Councilmember Bobby Henon’: WHYY reports that “Philadelphia Democrat leaders unanimously selected State Rep. Mike Driscoll to fill the Northeast Philly City Council seat left vacant after Bobby Henon resigned last month following his conviction on federal corruption charges.”

‘The 2022 candidates for Pa. governor are raising big money for a big race’: The Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports that “Pennsylvania’s 2022 race for the governor’s office already is sucking in millions of dollars of campaign funding from across the state and country.”

‘Here are the endorsements in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race’: City & State PA “put together a list of the most current endorsements in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race compiled from a combination of press releases, social media posts and candidate websites.”

‘School budget report details how districts are spending relief funds’: City & State PA reports that “labor shortages, rising costs and access to technology: the economic concerns of many are hitting school districts across the commonwealth. “

‘New punches in China fistfight between Dr. Oz and David McCormick in Pennsylvania GOP Senate race’: Fox News reports that “China is smack in the middle of the campaign spotlight in the increasingly combustible Republican Senate primary in battleground Pennsylvania, as two of the leading contenders keep taking aim at each other over an issue that’s top of mind with many GOP voters.”

‘Congressional candidate Summer Lee picks up SEIU endorsement after unions split last year’: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that “state Rep. Summer Lee, D-Swissvale, has united two of Pennsylvania’s largest service workers unions in her bid for U.S. Congress.”

‘Steve Irwin leads Summer Lee, Jerry Dickinson in 18th Congressional District fourth-quarter fundraising’: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that “in the final months of 2021, more than $730,000 poured into the campaign coffers of three candidates running to succeed the retiring U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle in Congress, underscoring the high stakes for the Democrats who want a chance at a deep-blue seat that hasn’t been open for decades.”

‘Half-dozen hopefuls to seek Democratic Party nomination in House District 24 special election’: WESA reports that “a half-dozen candidates will compete Saturday for the Democratic nomination to fill out the remainder of Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey’s term representing state House 24.”

‘Special state House election to replace Jake Wheatley will be held April 5’: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that “voters who have counted on Jake Wheatley as their state representative since 2003 will head to the polls on April 5 to decide his immediate replacement.”

‘Lawmaker to retire from state legislature’: The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat reports that “state Rep. Tommy Sankey, R-Clearfield/Cambria, whose 73rd District represents much of Clearfield County and part of northern Cambria County, announced Tuesday he does not plan to run for another term.”

‘Will Allentown’s chances of electing a Latino representative improve? Answer may become more clear on Friday’: The Allentown Morning Call reports that “the chances for Allentown’s growing Latino community to elect one of their own to the state House may become more clear on Friday, when a commission is expected to make a final decision on new legislative maps.” 

‘Lehigh County judge race remains in limbo after elections board delays certification amid new mail-in ballot lawsuit’: The Allentown Morning Call reports that “the Lehigh County Board of Elections will not certify votes in the narrow race for the last of three seats on the Court of Common Pleas while a lawsuit by voters whose ballots were disqualified is pending.”

‘Pennsylvania could get $100M in federal money to plug leaky, old gas wells’: StateImpactPA reports that “Pennsylvania is set to get an influx of federal infrastructure money to plug abandoned oil and gas wells.”

‘Candidates for 116th District special election to be named this week’: The Standard Speaker reports that “the Luzerne County committees of both major political parties will select candidates this week to run in the April 5 special election for the 116th District state House seat.”

‘Following trip to Ukraine, U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan warns against Russian threat to democracy’: The Daily Local News reports that “making a stop at the Reading Public Library Monday afternoon as part of a tour of city sites, U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan took some time to discuss a trip she and 10 other House members took to the Eastern European nation last week.”

‘Fitzpatrick leads Delaware River Watershed Caucus in calling for conservation funding’: The Bucks Local News reports that “U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Antonio Delgado (NY-19), founders and co-chairs of the Congressional Delaware River Watershed Caucus, is leading a group of 16 caucus members in requesting that the Fiscal Year 2022 funding bill include $12.5 million for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP). The funding level represents a 25 percent increase from the previous year.”

‘NBC News to air story about homeless issue in Luzerne County’: The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reports that “the issue of homelessness in Luzerne County will receive national attention this week.”

‘Board of Elections: No excuse mail-in ballot applications will continue to be accepted in Erie County’: WJET reports that “the Erie County Board of Elections announced Tuesday they will continue to accept no excuse mail-in voting applications for all 2022 elections following the ruling by a Pennsylvania Court last week that declared Act 77 unconstitutional.”

‘Philadelphia can require vaccinations for city employees, arbitration panel says’: KYW Newsradio reports that “an arbitration panel has ruled that Philadelphia can require all city employees to be vaccinated by Feb. 11. However, it postponed the consequences for ignoring the mandate, which could make it harder to enforce.”

‘National Fuel responds to Senator Laughlin’s request’: WJET reports that “State Senator Dan Laughlin is reaching out to representatives at National Fuel Gas Company while asking them to consider Erie as the future home of their corporate headquarters.”

‘O’Connor, Gainey Introduce Legislation To Form City Infrastructure Commission’: KDKA reports that “Mayor Ed Gainey and city Councilman Corey O’Connor are calling for the formation of a task force that will identify the local infrastructure most in need of attention and repair.”

‘Web Extra: Does Groundhog Day Also Predict Political Races?’: KDKA reports that “KDKA’s Jon Delano takes an interesting look back at whether Punxsutawney Phil’s weather prognostications also impact political races.”

‘Pittsburgh City Council President Freezes 22 Percent Pay Increase Pending Legal Review’: KDKA reports that “KDKA’s political editor Jon Delano was the first to report that Pittsburgh City Council’s 22 percent pay raise may have violated the city’s home rule charter. On Tuesday morning, addressing the council, President Theresa Kail-Smith announced that the council was freezing its pay hike pending further legal review of that issue.”

‘Pittsburgh bridge collapse prompts legislation to address infrastructure needs’: Pittsburgh City Paper reports that “the recent collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge, also known as the Frick Park Bridge, has reignited calls to improve Pittsburgh’s infrastructure or suffer another, similar disaster.”

‘New Magisterial Districts unveiled for Delaware County’: The Delaware County Daily Times reports that “redistricting is a hot topic as the once-in-a-decade change in voting districts occurs not just for Congress and state government, but also at the local level with Magisterial District Judges.”

‘Yeadon council president Sharon Council-Harris ‘deeply offended’ by bigotry allegations’: The Delaware County Daily Times reports that “Borough Council President Sharon Council-Harris denies any allegation that council is trying to get rid of Police Chief Anthony “Chachi” Paparo because he is not Black and is offended by that claim.”

‘Chester County politicos react to mail-in ballot court ruling’: The Daily Local News reports that “several Chester County political movers and shakers voiced their opinions on Friday’s court ruling declaring that Pennsylvania’s two-year-old mail-in voting law violates the state Constitution.”

‘Somerset County approves joining regional broadband study’: The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat reports that “on Tuesday, the Somerset County commissioners voted on a agreement to pay the county’s $50,000 share of the study’s cost, aiming to determine what it would take to build an expansive fiber optic “ring” from Cambria to Fulton County.”

‘Bureau directors not subject to council’s approval, Scranton solicitor contends’: The Scranton Times-Tribune reports that “City solicitor Jessica Eskra contends the appointments of bureau directors aren’t subject to city council’s approval,  an interpretation of the Administrative Code the council’s solicitor rejects.”

‘Election Board may require court filing for credit on write-in name variations’: The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reports that “Luzerne County’s Election Board may change the process for write-in candidates to seek credit for votes cast under different spelling variations of their name.”

‘Complaints of Pa. restaurant being used as conduit for unproven COVID-19 treatments referred to AG’: PennLive reports that “complaints that a woman is apparently using the Facebook page of a Palmyra pizza restaurant to connect people to unproven COVID-19 treatments have been turned over to the state Attorney General.”

‘Keel laying ceremony marks start of construction of the USS Harrisburg’: PennLive reports that “construction of the USS Harrisburg is now underway.”

‘Pennsylvania aims to fight hate crimes with millions in security grants for religious institutions’: LNP | LancasterOnline reports that “Pennsylvania churches and other organizations can apply for grants from the state to pay for security enhancements to protect their members, Gov. Tom Wolf announced last week.”

‘Centre County’s $5 vehicle fee is set to sunset. Will commissioners vote to extend it?’: The Centre Daily Times reports that “Centre County Commissioners are gearing up to vote on whether to extend the fee for local use that that is set to sunset this year.”

‘Centre County makes another change to COVID-19 policies, this time related to face masks’: The Centre Daily Times reports that “Centre County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a revision to the masking policy for county employees; it now outlines which masks can and can’t be worn.”

Opinion  
Paul Muschick: Pennsylvania cyber charter schools boomed in the pandemic. Why that’s crushing taxpayers
Rob Retzlaff: Congress should not double-cross Pennsylvania’s small businesses
Michael Coard: Black History Month is world history every day 
LNP | LancasterOnline Editorial Board: Parents: Please urge Lancaster County school boards to resist efforts to ban books 
John L. Micek: These Pa. Republicans opposed the Biden stimulus; then touted it back home | Tuesday Morning Coffee
Danna Bodenheimer: Philadelphia’s mental health systems are failing LGBTQ kids 
Robert Ockenfuss: Students need critical thinking skills in this era of disinformation
Chris Freind: Conservatives get ‘Trumped’ on Supreme Court pick
Kim Kavin: Women fighting to protect freelance jobs aren’t ‘hysterical’ 
Aarushi Dedhiya: We can stop cyberbullying and create a more welcoming virtual world | Youth View
Jenice Armstrong: Former Miss USA’s shocking suicide is a reminder that ‘having it all’ is a myth

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