March 19th Ups and Downs
Gov. Tom Wolf nominates a new Victim Advocate, a pair of PA Republicans are selected to serve on the RLCC Executive Committee, plus a bill on paid sick leave is vetoed in Allegheny County. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
Every week PoliticsPA sends an exclusive extra Up or Down to Playbook subscribers. See who gets the extra up or down next week: sign up here.
Suzanne Estrella. Gov. Tom Wolf appointed the Philadelphia native attorney to be the state’s next Victim Advocate. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports that if Estrella is confirmed, she’d be the first Black woman to lead the Office of the Victim Advocate, which was created in 1995.
‘Stolen Election’ Bunk. Another week removed from the 2020 presidential election and another election fraud lie debunked. The Washington Post reports that U.S. Postal Service investigators found no evidence to support the claim of a mail carrier in Erie who alleged that his supervisors had tampered with mail-in ballots, according to an inspector general’s report. This false claim was previously cited in a letter by Sen. Lindsay Graham, while Trump tweeted on Nov. 10 that Richard Hopkins, the man who made the false claim, was a “brave patriot.”
PSERS. The Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS), which is the state’s largest pension system, announced an investigation has begun to see if an error that may have cost taxpayers more than $25 million in contributions, was made, PennLive reports.
Jake Corman and Bryan Cutler. As Republicans have their sights set on maintaining and expanding their majority in both the state House and Senate in 2022, two leaders in PA will play a role in helping elect members of their party across the nation. The Republican State Leadership Committee announced that House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) and Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Centre) will serve on the 2021 Republican Legislative Campaign Committee Executive Committee. Cutler will serve as the Finance Chair for the RLCC Executive Committee, while Corman will be one of the three Energy Chairs. Pennsylvania is one of just eleven states to have multiple elected officials selected to serve on the RLCC Executive Committee.
Allegheny County Progressives. Progressives in Allegheny County had a reason to feel optimistic last week when a paid sick days bill overwhelmingly passed by a 10-4-1 vote, with just needing a signature from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald to give it the green light. This week, Fitzgerald, a Democrat, put this plan to a stop. Fitzgerald vetoed the legislation, citing legal concerns. Multiple Democrats planned to fight the veto, but their attempt to override it also appears unsuccessful. WESA reports that Councilor DeWitt Walton, who originally voted in favor of the legislation, said he wouldn’t support the effort to override the veto, leaving them short of the votes needed.
Marty Flynn. In what is slated to be the closest watched special election to take place in May, Democrats in Northeast PA nominated state Rep. Marty Flynn for the party’s nomination for the state Senate’s 22nd District. Flynn bested fellow state Rep. Kyle Mullins for the party nod to succeed former state Sen. John Blake. Republicans have yet to announce their candidate, although the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reports that Lackawanna County Commissioner Chris Chermak, former first assistant DA in Lackawanna County Gene Talerico, and former 8th Congressional GOP hopeful Earl Granville have been mentioned as possible GOP candidates for the upcoming special election.
York County. The York Dispatch requested what they described as “basic information about prothonotary office employees,” in late July, but the county has still yet to provide all of this information. In its eighth month, the York Dispatch writes that the legal battle has “no end in sight,” despite the state’s Office of Open Records saying that the information requested is, indeed, public record.
Kayden’s Law. The proposed law, inspired by the killing of a 7-year-old from Bucks County, was included in the Violence Against Women’s Act that was passed by a 244-172 vote in the U.S. House, the Bucks County Courier Times reports.
Russ Diamond. A good rule of thumb is that you don’t *have* to refer to people or things you don’t like as “nazis.” The Lebanon County Republican posted a Facebook status saying that he was enjoying “mask-free dining with friends” in Bethlehem and added that it was a “welcomed respite for our friends, who apparently live amongst nazis.”
Capitol Normalcy. We’re not there yet, it’s a sign that things are *somewhat* returning to normal in Harrisburg. It was announced this week that the Pennsylvania Capitol building will reopen to the public on Monday, March 22, with “enhanced security protocols in place,” according to PennLive. It is the first time since mid-December, when a COVID surge hit, that the Capitol will be open to the public once again.
Jeff Hammer. The Democratic hopeful for Johnstown Mayor was removed from the ballot by the Cambria County Elections office due to a few signatures being deemed invalid, lowering his total under the 100 vote threshold needed to run, according to the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat. Although Hammer has been removed, a legal challenge has been made on the matter.
Matthew Dowling. The Fayette County Republican has taken on a new role. Dowling has been named Chairman of the House Second Amendment Caucus, taking over the role previously held by state Rep. Jeff Pyle, who announced his retirement from office this week.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Got my first shot. Also unrelated I have a sudden deep affinity for Microsoft products.
— Mark Davin Harris (@markdharris) March 17, 2021
I used to bring Josie to work every day, in DC and Pittsburgh, and she rarely broke like 66.7% in the RCP poll average. Good sign for Major https://t.co/rKlqHgJAxI
— Coleman Lamb (@ColemanLamb) March 17, 2021