This year’s voter turnout in Pennsylvania was higher than 2014’s midterms in every county, payrolls reached new record highs, Pennsylvania lawmakers get a pay raise, and two Democrats make a push for the DPCC. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
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Pennsylvania Payrolls. The state’s unemployment rate remains at 4.1%, which is the lowest point since 2000, but payrolls jumped to another record high, according to the AP. Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force passed 6.4 million after growing by 23,000 in the past month. The biggest gains were professional and business services, education and health services and the construction sector. The AP reports that these figures from Friday are preliminary and could change.
Pennsylvania Lawmakers Salary. How about a raise? The Harrisburg Patriot News reports that Pennsylvania lawmakers will have a 1.6% pay increase making their base salary $88,610 starting on Dec 1. The leadership teams for the House and Senate, plus the caucus leaders will see an increase in their salary as well by the same percentage. House Speaker and President Pro Tempore, who will be elected in Jan., will have their salary set at $138,430, while caucus officers will earn between $101,040 and $128,385. Pennsylvania’s lawmakers are the second highest paid in the nation, only behind California’s which base salary is set at $107,241 this year.
Mike Veon. The former Democratic state Representative is being ordered to pay $19,000 in restitution on an old corruption conviction by a Dauphin County judge, according to the Harrisburg Patriot News. Veon’s lawyer, Joel Sansone insists that Veon and other ex-House members convicted of corruption, don’t have to pay restitution because “the state can’t be a victim of a crime.” This deals solely with Veon’s 2012 conviction in the BIG case, not the Bonusgate scandal. The Harrisburg Patriot News reports that this ruling “is sure to prompt another court battle.”
Voter Turnout. One thing we can all agree on is that increased voter turnout is a positive. In 2018, every single county in PA’s voter turnout was greater than the previous midterm in 2014, WITF reports. 2018’s voter turnout was 58%, which is a 15% jump from 2014’s midterms. Blair County saw the largest increase of any county with 21% higher from 2014, bringing their turnout to 60% in 2018. Montgomery County had the largest voter turnout of any county with two-thirds of registered voters participating in this election. The lowest voter turnout was Pike County, which less than one-third voter turnout, although it still was an increase from their 2014 total.
PA Dem Leadership Bids. Two Pennsylvania Democrats want a seat at the table in D.C., but will they get it? Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna) and member-elect Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester) have both launched bids for one of the three co-chair slots on the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, which is deemed the “messaging arm of the caucus.” Houlahan is the lone candidate for the committee who is an incoming Freshman, while Cartwright is the only candidate seeking a spot on the DPCC that represents a district that President Trump won in 2016. Other candidates for the DPCC include, Reps. Debbit Dingell (D-MI), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Joe Garamendi (D-CA) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) have already joined the race as well, according to Roll Call.
Northampton D.A. Race Predictability . The longest sitting District Attorney in Pennsylvania will not seek an eight term. Northampton District Attorney John Morganelli, first winning election in 1991, will retire at the completion of this term on Dec. 31, 2019. Morganelli ran unopposed in the previous six elections. During his time as Northampton D.A., he also mounted four unsuccessful bids for Pennsylvania District Attorney, making it past the Democratic primary once in 2008, but losing to incumbent Republican D.A. Tom Corbett, who later served as governor for one term. Most recently, Morganelli lost by a small margin against Susan Wild in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s newly drawn 7th Congressional District, which she will represent in the incoming term. Morganelli said he will announce his future plans soon. The Morning Call reports that First Deputy District Attorney Terence Houck, Morganelli’s second in command since 2006, is “thinking seriously” about running for Northampton D.A.
Philadelphia’s “Missing” Funds. Well, most of it has been “found”. According to the AP, Philadelphia authorities have “reconciled much of the city’s accounts to locate most of the seemingly “missing” $33 million.” City finance officials told the AP that the term “missing” gives a misconception about it being misspent or stolen. As of Friday, the current “missing” amount was $2.1 million. “Officials say the full reconciliation will be finished by year’s end and procedures and new policies have been put in place to prevent the issue from happening again,” the AP reports.
SD-6 Completion. One last state Senate race is under contention. Incumbent Republican state Sen. Tommy Tomlinson was declared the winner in his race for the 6th district in Bucks County over Democratic state Rep. Tina Davis by the Bucks County Board of Elections, according to the Bucks County Courier Times on Friday. On Monday, the Davis campaign filed a petition to the Bucks County Common Pleas Court over 192 absentee ballots that weren’t tallied because they arrived at the elections office past the deadline, reported by WITF. The Davis campaign is asking the race to not officially be certified until those ballots are counted. This remains one of the closest races in the state, with Tomlinson leading Davis by 100 votes after 108,000 ballots were counted. Tomlinson has declared victory two times, first the day after the election and a second time when Davis announced her decision to sue. WITF reports that the results of the race haven’t been officially certified by the county or the state yet, but the county did make an announcement that Tomlinson appears to have won.
Braddock Mayoral Race. Now that Braddock Mayor John Fetterman will be taking the office of Lieutenant Governor, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the city has three people that have officially applied to succeed him. Chardaé Jones, 29, Rachelle Mackson, 57, and the Rev. Sheldon Stoudemire, 56, have applied for the special appointment from the Borough council to complete the remainder of Fetterman’s four-year term. The winner of the 2019 May primary and November general elections will complete Fetterman’s term until 2021.
D.A. Feuds. Democratic Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has withdrawn his office from the state’s largest prosecutors’ association, saying the advocacy group has supported regressive or overly punitive policies and represented “the voice of the past,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The progressive D.A. delivered a speech, “The Urgency of Now” at the University of Pennsylvania and said, “The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association will not claim legitimacy of its most important criminal justice jurisdiction and try to take us back 40 years. No,” the Inquirer reports. Republican Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan criticized Krasner’s speech in a lengthy Facebook post. “To the good citizens of Philadelphia and the hardworking members of Philly PD – – Courage! You have a District Attorney who acts like he cares more about criminals than their victims,” Hogan writes in the beginning of the post. “… To the counties outside of Philadelphia, do not let this blight spread, unless you want to end up like today’s Philadelphia, riddled with violence and lawlessness.” The Inquirer reports that Krasner spokesperson, Ben Waxman responded to Hogan’s comments via text message, that the Republican D.A. in in the Philadelphia suburbs was “welcome to come to Philadelphia anytime and debate Larry in a public forum … assuming he’s not too scared to come to our horrible city.” On Sunday night, the homicide number surpassed 300 in Philadelphia, which is the earliest the city has surpassed that number since 2007, according to KYW Newsradio.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
One tweet is about civility. Another is about PA’s great debate.
Campaigning across the state you get to meet the loveliest people and sometimes you meet really lovely people running against you for the same office from a different party – and you become great friends! pic.twitter.com/hrg5lT8ses
— Gisele Barreto Fetterman (@giselefetterman) November 17, 2018
— Mayor John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) November 19, 2018