January 15th Ups and Downs

A Democratic state Senator is sworn-in to office, GOP efforts to reshape the court’s in the state took a step forward, plus a Pennsylvania Democrat is named as one of the nine impeachment managers. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.

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Jim Brewster. The 2020 election has finally come to a close in Pennsylvania. After two months of legal challenges, a federal district judge ruled in favor of the Democratic Senator in a legal battle of mail-in ballots that ultimately ended Republican Nicole Ziccarelli’s bid for the 45th District. Brewster was sworn-in for another full four-year term on Wednesday. 

GOP Judicial Plans. The GOP effort to reshape the state’s courts – and nullify Dems’ vote edge in Philly and Pittsburgh – took a step forward this week. The AP reports that the House Judiciary panel voted 13-12 to amend the state’s constitution to elect state appeals court judges by zone. The GOP majority House will now consider the matter prior to it ending up on May’s primary ballot. 

Madeleine Dean. The Montgomery County Democrat was named this week as one of the nine impeachment managers in the trial of President Donald Trump. In addition to this important role, she’s made the rounds for interviews from local outlets like the Daily Local News and the Philadelphia Inquirer and being recognized by nationwide audiences of MSNBC and the New York Times. Oh and Roll Call reported that she is also a potential 2022 Senate candidate. 

Brendan Boyle. After a tumultuous week in the nation’s capital, this Philadelphia Democrat was tasked with delivering his party’s weekly address to the nation. Boyle’s speech centered around the riots on the Capitol building and the importance of defending democracy. Speaker Nancy Pelosi also shouted out Boyle on Twitter for the speech, crediting him for “eloquently reminding” us of the duty to protect American democracy. 

GOP Reps. In normal times they say the most dangerous place is between a politician and a camera. Not this week. Local outlets had questions for the 8 Republican Congressmen who voted to nullify their constituents’ votes in the presidential contest. Their response? In too many cases, crickets. Jim Parsons, a news director at WTAE in Pittsburgh, called out Rep. Guy Reschenthaler for dodging interviews with local press while making himself available to national outlets like Newsmax. Meanwhile state Sen. Doug Mastriano, whose campaign spent thousands of dollars on buses for the trip to Washington D.C. to see President Donald Trump speak on January 6, who also referred to the effort to overturn the election as a “death match” a few days before the riots at the Capitol, said this week to the press that if there’s a GOP governor in the state in two years, “what kind of access will you be given if you don’t have serious articles,” the AP’s Mark Scolforo reported. 

Office of Open Records. Changes were made at the Office of Open Records and a tip of the cap is warranted for both individuals involved. Erik Arneson, whose six year term leading the office ended this week, will be working in Treasurer-elect Stacy Garrity’s administration. Taking over for Arneson to lead the office will be Liz Gerloff Wagenseller, who most recently served as a senior aide to Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. 

Karen Boback. The Luzerne County Republican made history this week. Boback became the first woman to be appointed to serve as the Chair of House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. 

Lou Barletta. The former GOP congressman and possible 2022 gubernatorial candidate made headlines across the commonwealth this week when his Twitter account was temporarily suspended. Although Twitter explained the suspension as an “error,” Barletta used the opportunity to blast “Big Tech” and defend what he believes as conservative voices being silenced on social media outlets. 

William Burns. President-elect Joe Biden’s selection to lead the CIA has roots in the commonwealth. Burns is a graduate of La Salle University in Philadelphia

Tom Wolf. Although it is being described as “miscommunication,” the governor’s administration garnered avoidable bad press. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star and PennLive reports that reporters were barred from entering an office building in the state Capitol to cover a press conference on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the Department of General Services described the matter as “miscommunication” and said he hoped this would be avoided from happening again in the future. 

Jim Kenney and Larry Krasner. The Philadelphia Democrats were dealt a defeat in federal court in their effort to open the nation’s first supervised injection site. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a federal appellate court ruled by a 2-1 vote that Safehouse, the nonprofit proposing the site for supervised injection site, would violate a law. Kenney and Krasner have been vocal supporters of the proposed site in Philadelphia and called it the ruling “setback.” 

Marita Garrett. The Wilkinsburg Mayor was censured by her colleagues on council. KDKA reports that six of the nine council members voted to censure Garrett, citing “failure to fulfill her duties” as mayor. It’s part of the old guard-v-new guard battle she’s faced since she was elected four years ago. 

Bryan Monroe’s Legacy. The professor at Temple University who previously served as the president of the National Association of Black Journalist and held positions at CNN and Ebony Magazine died this week of a heart attack at the age of 55. The Philadelphia Inquirer notes colleagues lauding his career and pointed to him often telling students how he was the first person to interview President Barack Obama after he was elected president and the last person to interview Michael Jackson before he died. 


7 Responses

  1. If the 2020 election illustrated anything it was that the Philadelphia and Allegheny county election apparatus is susceptible to voter fraud. Why wouldn’t we want judicial elections to be less vulnerable to fraud? Perhaps future rulings would be consistent with the Commonwealth’s Constitution.

    1. I agree!! We need to have old fashion voter suppression. It’s a proven benefit for all Republican candidates.

  2. The up arrow for judicial reform is misplaced. It should be a down arrow as it is pure gerrymandering of Pa’s appellate courts as it will guarantee a rural majority.

    1. A major State Constitutional error by the Republicans General Assembly was to amend the State Constitution to move the mandatory judicial retirement age from 70 to 75. This newly proposed amendment. which I remember former Senator Jeff Piccola floating this idea more than 30 years ago, was bad then and is equally as bad now.

  3. By the way, let’s dismiss this desire of the Republicans to nullify the votes in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia by look at the fact that Tom Ridge, Dick Thornburgh, Pat Toomey and many Republicans serving in the judiciary have won statewide. It can and is done a regular basis. Changing the judiciary goal posts does not deserve a “up” arrow but rather a “thumbs down.”

  4. The Dems need to work very hard to defeat the plan to turn judicial seats into the gerrymandered mess that is the rest of the elected offices except for Governor and US Senators. Advocates of good government for decades have argued for redistricting commissions that are bipartisan so what do the Republicans do in Pa? Want to extend gerrymandering into the judiciary. This needs to be soundly defeated if placed on the ballot. If the Republicans want the judiciary to change then do so the old fashion way and win elections.

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