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July 21 Playbook: Biden Comes Calling

President Joe Biden

Biden Comes to Wilkes-Barre. Fetterman Gives First Interview Since Stroke. Mastriano Appeals to RGA. Election Officials Planning for Rough Midterm. Here is the Playbook.

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Pittsburgh | Mostly Sunny, 87
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Wilkes-Barre | Sunny, 93

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1. The Upside Down World of the PA Senate Race

To say that the race of the open U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania is a normal one … or following the usual path that important elections take … well, that would be incorrect.

“The Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, with whom no one outside his tightly held inner circle has had a back-and-forth conversation since his stroke and subsequent surgery in May, is spending his time and money snark-posting about his opponent’s roots in New Jersey, even resurrecting the career of The Jersey Shore’s Snooki for ads and Tweets about Oz and New Jersey.”

His opponent, Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz, is spending his time far below the radar. Nowhere now are the endless ads that were the hallmark of his primary campaign this spring. That volley of attacks between him and rival David McCormick, which drove his approval ratings into the ground, has given way to the unglamorous but essential work of driving across the state, county by county, listening to voters’ concerns. (Washington Examiner)


  • Oz Takes Gloves Off in PA Senate Race, Calls Out Fetterman for ‘Hiding.’Oz has unleashed a new line of attack on Democrat John Fetterman for laying low following his medical crisis after remaining silent on the situation for several weeks.” (Penn Live)
  • John Fetterman, In First Interview Since Stroke, Talks Recovery and Return to U.S. Senate Campaign Trail. “Mr. Fetterman, 52, said he has “no physical limits,” walks 4 to 5 miles every day in 90-degree heat, understands words properly and hasn’t lost any of his memory. He struggles with hearing sometimes, he said, and may “miss a word” or “slur two together,” but he said it doesn’t happen often and that he’s working with a speech therapist.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • Oz Counters Carpetbagger Attacks From Sidelines But Not Offline Fetterman. “Pennsylvania’s Senate race — a contest that’s poised to help shape the balance of power in Washington over the next two years — is defying national trends and becoming a bare-knuckle fight over state roots between two idiosyncratic candidates.” (NBC News) 


2. “We Must All Hang Together:” Doug Mastriano Courts a Still-Standoffish Republican Governors Group.

GOP candidate for governor Doug Mastriano made a case for support at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Aspen. 

He quoted an oft-used phrase from Benjamin Franklin, stating “We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately,” during comments during lunch at the gathering.

“A person who attended the luncheon and asked for anonymity to discuss the private event, said Mastriano’s brief speech focused on his decisive win in the primary, the grassroots effort that helped make that happen, and early polling showing a tight race. He also spoke of policy plans to open up state lands for oil and gas exploration and to stop teaching methods in public schools that he alleged instilled liberal ideology in students.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)


  • Eighteen Fifty Four PAC Targeting Hard-Right Candidates. “A super PAC with a Houston, Texas mailing address, Eighteen Fifty Four is a well-funded Republican political operation that is quietly funding more moderate GOP candidates in an attempt to sideline more extreme candidates that could harm the party in the fall.
  • Some PA Republicans Endorsed Josh Shapiro over Doug Mastriano. But Do Political Endorsements Work?In the upcoming Pennsylvania Senate race, arena rocker Ted Nugent has endorsed Republican candidate Mehmet Oz, but folk rocker Jackson Browne supports Democratic candidate John Fetterman. What’s a Pennsylvania voter to do? The media and the candidates care a lot about endorsements. Do they work? Yes and no.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  • Gubernatorial Spotlight Series. “Today, we are spotlighting our gubernatorial candidates’ responses to our first question.Why are you running for public office in Pennsylvania? If elected, what would be the top priorities of your administration? (Broad + Liberty)


3. PA Counties Want to Count Mail-In Ballots Early. State Lawmakers Have Yet to Agree.

“Pennsylvania county election departments have been clamoring for a legal change they say would ease the pressure of ballot processing and counting. Though the GOP-controlled General Assembly has offered up the change in several bills, the idea remains in procedural limbo.

Counties have said they want to open and sort mail-in ballots, a process known as pre-canvassing, before Election Day. Right now, workers process several million mail-in votes each election, but can only start doing so once polls open.

The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, a group that lobbies the legislature on behalf of all 67 counties, has made more pre-canvassing time one of its policy priorities in 2021 and 2022. The organization has also asked lawmakers to set an earlier deadline for returning mail-in ballot applications – to no avail.” (WITF)


  • Unresolved Issues Have PA Election Experts Planning for a Rough 2022 Midterm.Two years after Pennsylvania’s logistically rocky, litigious, and misinformation-filled 2020 election, election experts say they’re expecting more of the same in 2022.” (WHYY)
  • GOP Lawmaker Says PA Election System Could Be Fixed on Gov. Wolf’s Porch ‘Over a Nice Cup of Tea.’With a major election now just a few months away that has national repercussions, a state lawmaker is calling on Gov. Tom Wolf to sit down and negotiate election law changes that would smooth out concerns that have led to lawsuits, ballot issues and lingering questions about election results.” (PennLive)
  • Pennsylvania Certifies Election in 64 of 67 Counties. “Certification of the remaining three counties – Berks, Fayette and Lancaster – will occur once litigation is resolved, Gov. Tom Wolf’s Department of State said in a statement.” (Associated Press)


Regional Spotlight: Lehigh Valley and NEPA

  • Biden Officials Release Details of New Safer America Plan Ahead of Wilkes Visit. “Ahead of the president’s stop at the Marts Center on the campus of Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre later this afternoon, senior officials from the Biden administration released to reporters the new Safer America Plan — an investment of $37 billion requested by the president to support law enforcement and crime prevention.” (Times Leader)
  • City, Wilkes University Prepare for Historic Presidential Visit by Biden. “For the first time in nearly 18 years, the City of Wilkes-Barre on Thursday will host the President of the United States when Joe Biden delivers remarks at Wilkes University..” (Times Tribune)
  • Been Here Before: Biden No Stranger to Wilkes, Or County.When President Joe Biden stops at Wilkes University on Thursday to discuss his administration’s efforts to reduce gun violence, it won’t be the Scranton native’s first visit to Luzerne County, or the campus.” (Times Leader)
  • Biden Coming Back to Northeast Pennsylvania While Struggling in Polls. “According to a Quinnipiac University national poll released Wednesday, 31% approve of Biden’s job performance, and 60% disapprove. It was the lowest score of his presidency.” (Standard-Speaker)
  • PA Property Tax Relief Mechanism Eliminated in Closed-Door Budget Negotiations: ‘This Legislature Should Be a Little Ashamed.’A permanent mechanism that was about to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into property tax relief was quietly eradicated during the state budget process, surprising some lawmakers and leaving them feeling blindsided and frustrated.” (The Morning Call)



3 Responses

  1. Dung Mastriano is worried about hanging for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.

  2. Oz is considered “flying under the radar” in PA, because he is back home in NJ. Try looking at the NJ radar screen to find Oz.


  • Does the NYC Verdict Make You More or Less Likely to Vote For Trump in 2024?

    • Less Likely (36%)
    • More Likely (34%)
    • Makes No Difference (30%)

    Total Voters: 112

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