October 9th Ups & Downs
A surprise announcement begins 2022 races, a state Rep faces calls to resign from his own party, plus voter registrations reach a new high. 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.
2022 Statewide Hopefuls. Although the presidential election is less than one month away now, attention was briefly diverted this week with the news that Sen. Pat Toomey will not be seeking reelection in 2022 and also ruled out a run for Governor. Toomey’s surprise announcement opens up a wide open race for both statewide offices which is sure to garner interest from individuals all around the commonwealth. On the Democratic side, national and Pennsylvania outlets have reported statewide officials like Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Treasurer Joe Torsella, and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman expressing interest in either the Governor or Senate race. Multiple Dems in Congress including Reps. Brendan Boyle, Chrissy Houlahan, Conor Lamb and more are rumored to launch a statewide bid, all the way down to multiple members of the state legislature. The GOP race would be wide open as well with former members of Congress like Lou Barletta, Ryan Costello, and Charlie Dent mulling a run, coupled with current members like Reps. Mike Kelly, Dan Meuser, and Guy Reschenthaler, down to the state legislature with Sen. Mike Regan and Martina White as possible candidates, plus many more. Oh and don’t rule out Donald Trump Jr. for a statewide bid as well in 2022. Now, back to your regularly scheduled 2020 programming.
Aaron Bernstein. The Lawrence County Republican is facing calls to resign from leadership in his own party after USA Today’s PA State Capital Bureau reported on a series of since-deleted social media videos of Bernstein urging his five-year-old son to smoke a cigar, use foul language, and more. Spotlight PA reports that the joint statement from House GOP Leaders said they were “disgusted.” Bernstine responded to the report in a video saying that his “jokes went too far” during a vacation with his family, while not addressing the calls to resign. He also hinted at other things that will be put out in the near future, “some of them true, some of them manipulated, and some of them downright false,” that he says his opponents will “try to take advantage of the situation.”
Bill Courtright. Seven years for the former Democratic Mayor of Scranton. Courtright was sentenced to serve seven years in federal prison for corruption charges for actions he committed while he served as mayor. The Citizens Voice reports that he must surrender to serve his prison sentence by Oct 30, pay a fine of $25,300, and serve 250 hour of community service in Scranton upon his release from prison.
Journalism. Score one for freedom of press. A Jefferson County judge dismissed Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati’s campaign’s lawsuit against reporters from Spotlight PA and The Caucus, attempting to make them pay thousands of dollars produced by a Spotlight PA report, that uncovered “questionable spending” by him and other lawmakers. Scarnati’s campaign wanted the journalists and news outlets to pay the administrative costs, but the judge ruled that Scarnati’s campaign is responsible for paying it.
Voter Registration. The outcome of the 2020 election TBD. However, one thing is certain, Pennsylvanians are expected to come out in droves for the upcoming election. Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told reporters this week that nearly 9 million people have registered to vote in the upcoming election, which is already more than the 2016 presidential election and an all-time high.
Bethany Hallam. The Allegheny County Councilwoman’s viral tweet last week bringing awareness to “naked ballots” by posing topless with fellow officials has now been copied by a bevy of celebrities to draw attention to the matter as well. However, Hallam jousted with county officials this week over a separate matter.
Pennsylvania Fund for Change. Local mailers should include local residents. However, that wasn’t the case in a recent mailed advertisement from Pennsylvania Fund for Change boosting Democratic candidate Julie Slomski for the 49th state Senate District. JET24 reports that Sen. Dan Laughlin’s campaign called out the attack mailer, noting that none of the families in the ad are actually from Erie.
Chrissy Houlahan. The Chester County Democrat was awarded a Democracy Award from the bipartisan Congressional Management Foundation for her office’s efforts to improve government transparency and to foster innovations on Capitol Hill, the Reading Eagle reports. She is the first freshman lawmaker to win the award and was the only one from PA this year.
Seth Williams. The former Philadelphia District Attorney is once again a free man. Williams, who was convicted of accepting a bribe and served three years in prison, is now off of house arrest. Williams spoke to KYW Newsradio about his life after prison now.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
This isn’t wrong, but dammit Shane I’m just trying to survive 2020 https://t.co/ezjsk1MnOR
— Jonathan Tamari (@JonathanTamari) October 4, 2020