PA Dems Committee Meeting Preview

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Source: Crowne Plaza

Democrats from across Pa. will gather this weekend for the first time since election night. They’ll regroup, plan for 2017, and prepare to fight big battles for Governor and U.S. Senate.

Judicial candidates will have a panel debate this afternoon, right before the dinner with Governor Tom Wolf as the keynote speaker. Tomorrow state committee members decide who (or whether) to endorse for the 2017 judicial races.

The main drama on Saturday will be the endorsements for statewide judicial office, specifically Superior and Commonwealth Court. There are 7 candidates for just two spots.

At chairman Marcel Groen’s direction, the party convened a subcommittee in January to review candidates and make recommendations to the party at large. Several sources said the committee is recommending Judge Joe Cosgrove and Todd Eagen, both of northeast Pa, for Commonwealth Court.

Typically endorsements in low-profile races default to a ‘favorite son/daughter’ dynamic, where candidates pull strength from committee members in their home region.

The subcommittee, an effort to vitalize PA Dems’ focus on lower court races, adds a wrinkle. Will party members fall in line with its recommendations? Will regional allegiances rule? Or will committee members decline to make an endorsement?

Cosgrove and Eagen will be pushing hard for the party to make an endorsement, while the other candidates are likely to seek an open primary.

Party endorsements come with party resources, like discount direct mail, voter lists, and other institutional support.

The endorsement for Supreme Court is expected to go smoothly: Judge Dwayne Woodruff is the only candidate running for the one spot open on the Court.  

The Superior Court endorsements will provide some drama, with Judge Geoffrey Moulton expected to get the endorsement in one of the four open spots. Judge Carolyn Nichols, Bill Caye, Albert J. Flora Jr., Judge Deborah A. Kunselman, Judge Maria McLaughlin, and Judge Lillian Harris Ransom are competing for the final three slots.  The judicial subcommittee recommended Kunselman, Moulton, McLaughlin and Nichols.

One source said Caye, following a ‘not recommended’ rating from the Pa. Bar Association, withdrew himself from endorsement consideration (but not from the race itself).

Follow PoliticsPA on Twitter for news from the weekend, and our Managing Editor’s Twitter account for live updates during the event.  

Here is the full agenda – receptions in bold:

Friday, February 10, 2017

12:00 – 1:00pm DEMINARS

  • Petition & Financial Filings Presenters: D.O.S. Commissioner- Jonathan Marks Chief, Division of Campaign Finance & Lobbying Disclosure- Trisha Robinson Chief, Division of Elections & Voter Registration- Jessica Mathis
  • “It’s the Issues, stupid!” Presenter: Dwayne Heisler
  • Paving Women’s Path to Leadership Becoming a candidate and running for office Presenter: Anne Wakabayashi

1:00 – 2:00pm DEMINARS

  • PSEA Training “The Crisis in Unionism- Where from here?” Presenter: Matt Edgell
  • Digital Tools for Advocacy in 2017 Presenter: Craig Grella
  • Data: VAN (Vote Builder) Municipal Training 101 Presenter: Brett Benson (USW)

2:00 – 3:00pm DEMINARS

  • Candidate Recruitment & Training Presenter: Mitch Kates (and guests)
  • Digital Organizing Presenter: Craig Grella
  • Mini-VAN Engaging in Your Universe Presenter: Megan Winter

3:00 – 4:00pm Committee and Caucus meetings

4:00 – 6:00 pm Judicial Candidates Forum (Sponsored by the Women’s Caucus, Candy Stitzman, Chair)

4:00 – 6:00 pm Judge Joseph Cosgrove for Commonwealth Court: Soft drinks, water and soft pretzels

6:00 – 7:00 pm Friends of Judge Maria McLaughlin Sponsored by IBEW Local 98 Featuring Judge Maria McLaughlin, candidate for Superior Court and Congressman Robert A. Brady.

7:00 – 10:00 pm Dinner

7:00 – 10:00 pm Timothy Barry for Commonwealth Court Cash Bar

7:00 – 10:00 pm Rep. Bryan Barbin for Commonwealth Court Reception

8:30 – 10:30 pm Judge Ellen Ceisler for Commonwealth Court Ice Cream Sundae Reception

10:00 – 12:00am Pa. Young Dems After-Party Fundraiser

Saturday, February 11, 2017

7:00 am Judge Dwayne Woodruff for Supreme Court Coffee and Danish

8:00 – 10:00am Caucus and Committee Meetings

10:00 – 11:00am Regional Caucus Meetings

11:15am Lunch Buffet

12:00pm State Committee Meeting

1:00 pm State Committee Endorsement Meeting

Disclosure: Judge Ellen Ceisler was formerly married to Larry Ceisler, one of the owners of PoliticsPA.

February 10th, 2017 | Posted in Front Page Stories | 13 Comments

13 thoughts on “PA Dems Committee Meeting Preview”

  1. Ubergate! says:

    Hmm, what is Ubergate? What State Committee employee has a credit card? Could this someone live in Philly and gets paid by the party, but actually works for Tom Wolf and has no idea what State Committee does or is? Only works when its to her benefit and PCN is filming? The plot thickens and there are no records because the shredder went wild!

  2. eagleswing says:

    1) well at least there are some actual lawyers on the committee that is evaluating fitness of lawyers for appellate benches.
    2) having a ‘cash bar’ is unlikely to draw a lot of committee members. serving free ice cream or coffee and danish might..

    seriously, dwayne woodruff is an excellent choice for supreme court . this former steeler (sorry, eagles fans) was a standout in pro bono and community service work when he came before the local bar association who gave him its highest judicial rating . he has been a diligent, hardworking, and valuable member of the local bench. (which is more than i can say about certain politically well connected judges on that same bench, including the AJ who was so loathed by staff and lawyers she was forced out… )

  3. David Diano says:

    Lyft-

    LOL. It wouldn’t surprise me, other than they wouldn’t want me anywhere near an audit and turning over rocks.

    Guy Harvey-

    Ubergate will definitely be investigated.

    Everyone wants to know what asshole spent $3,131.21 on an Uber ride. Whether this money was spent by state committee members, or by Hillary campaign eventually reimbursing the state committee, the culprit needs to be exposed.

    I stirred the pot a bit at the dinner/parties and talked to some people who will get to the bottom of it (some real pit-bull types who will not let this go). Sometimes I bring the match, sometimes the gasoline, sometimes both. 🙂

    I’m sure there are other odd items, but the Uber entries just sprung out the most.

    Given the current financial state of the committee, there are going to serious questions about money management and fiscal responsibility.

    Considering how shocking the election result was, it’s possible that they spent like drunken sailors under the assumption that a Hillary win would quickly refill the coffers.

  4. Lyft says:

    I heard Marcel Groen and the staff took an Uber all the way from Philly to Harrisburg. It will appear on next month’s report as a $1,930 Uber. David Diano was there to audit the mileage and receipts.

  5. Guy Harvey says:

    Please someone investigate Ubergate. Pissed my donations were going to subsidize black car service. The finance report is absurd.

  6. DrDooDoo says:

    Christine Donohue needs replaced by somebody not unethical and a [redacted for violation of the PoliticsPA comment policy].

  7. rsklaroften says:

    Most of the present PA appellate judges come up short.

  8. Chuckie Porter the rat says:

    Pascal the rascal will be holding a sign that says “Billy Caye is my short guy.” if they stand on each other’s shoulders they might top five feet

  9. Tom says:

    I’m surprised the “deminars” don’t have titles like:

    “Taking our Butthurt to New and Obnoxious Levels”
    “Waaaaaahhh!!”
    “Priorities: Elevating the Rights of Left-Handed Transgendered Dwarfs Above Everyone Else’s to the Point of Changing Construction Codes”
    “Self-Loathing for White Democrats”
    “The Party to Prison Pipeline: How to Prepare for Your Inevitable Corruption Trial”

  10. David Diano says:

    The other item, not listed, will be: finding out who spent $3,131.21 on an Uber ride. 🙂

  11. Other Chris says:

    Answer Desk in name and deed. Thanks for the info!

  12. Answer Desk says:

    Rick Bloomingdale
    Bill Durham
    Ron Fairman
    Marcel Groen
    Peggy Grove
    Rogette Harris
    Mary Isaacson
    Jerry Lawrence
    Sue Lyons
    Brad Kirsch
    Nancy Mills
    Terry Noble
    Lazar Palnick
    Chuck Pascal
    Alex Reber
    David Rodriguez
    Frank Rosenhoover
    Jordan Yeager

  13. Other Chris says:

    Who is on this committee, exactly? It could very well be a group who would have some objective insight into selecting jurists. Or not.

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