Republicans make gains in voter registration in the state, the presidential campaigns take different approaches to television ad spending, plus the governor receives an award. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
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GOP Voter Registration. Although Democrats hold a nearly 750,000 voter registration edge in the Keystone State, Republicans have made gains in cutting into this deficit. On Tuesday, analysis in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star from former PoliticsPA Managing Editor Nick Field, detailed that the GOP trailed the Democratic registration margin by 783,116 voters in the state a month ago to now trailing by 758,854 voters. Politico’s Holly Otterbein’s story this week detailed that the GOP has added almost 198,000 voters since this time four years ago, while Democrats have added about 29,000 during that same time span. Although some Dems see this news as just Democrats who have been voting Republican for years finally switching parties and see Biden consistently leading Trump in the state, Republicans see it as a sign that they are gaining momentum leading into Election Day.
Bill Courtright. The former Scranton mayor, who pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy, bribery and extortion charges for accepting bribes in July 2019, faces up to 30 ½ years in prison after a federal judge “denied his challenge to sentencing guidelines related to his guilty plea to corruption charges,” according to the Scranton Times-Tribune.
Presidential TV Ad Spending. One campaign is spending it on the Pennsylvania television airwaves, while the other isn’t as of late. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Joe Biden’s campaign has spent $15 million on advertising in the state over about the past five weeks, while President Donald Trump’s campaign has spent $0 in that timespan. However, this does not mean that pro-Trump ads aren’t being run in the state. Pro-Trump PACs have aired television ads in the state, although it does trail the spending of pro-Biden PAC spending.
Marijuana Legalization Support. Supporting for legalizing marijuana for recreational use is gaining momentum in the state, according to a new survey from Susquehanna Polling & Research. 56% polled said that they support legalizing marijuan for recreational use, while 37% opposed. This is a 19 point jump in the direction of favoring legalization in comparison to SP&R’s September poll that showed only 37% supported legalization, while 48% opposed.
Green Party. The Green Party received good news and bad news in the commonwealth this week. According to Philly Clout, Howie Hawkins, the Green Party presidential candidate will remain on the Pennsylvania ballot, although his running mate, Angela Walker will be removed from the ballot, according to a ruling from a state judge.
Tom Wolf. The governor has received the Hubert H. Humphrey Award for public service from the American Political Science Association. Wolf wrote in a tweet on Thursday that it is an honor to receive the award by “such a distinguished organization.” KDKA reports that former recipients of the award include Condoleezza Rice, Susan E. Rice, Henry G. Cisneros, Mark Hatfield, Madeleine Albright, Donna E. Shalala, Brent Scowcroft and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Christy Wiegand. By an 82-14 vote in the U.S. Senate, the assistant U.S. attorney based in Pittsburgh was confirmed as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Her confirmation means that the 10-judge Western District bench is full for the first time since April 2013. Both Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey voted to approve her nomination.
Mike Reese. Whether or not HB 2787 becomes law remains to be seen, but the legislation authored by the Westmoreland County Republican addressing spectators at high school sports passed both chambers with ease. HB 2787, which would give school districts the power to determine the amount of fans permitted at high school sporting events, passed the House last week by 155-47 vote and passed the Senate this week by a 39-11 vote. Gov. Tom Wolf has said that he plans to veto the legislation, describing the legislation as unnecessary due to school districts “already having local control on decisions on school sports,” while adding that not abiding by the 250 person outdoor gathering limit could lead to spreading the virus, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
John Farmer Memorial Journalism Fund. A new fund was created to honor the late Star-Ledger columnist and editorial page editor. LehighValleyLive reports that the fund “seeks to foster work that operates at the nexus of local and national news, with an emphasis on politics,” which Farmer “so dearly loved.” The first project to receive backing from the fund is “Swing County, Swing State” that takes a deep dive into the importance of Northampton County for the upcoming election.
John Cordisco. The head of the Bucks County Democratic Committee and former state rep was nominated to serve on the SEPTA board, taking over for former Republican Bucks County Commissioner Charles Martin, whose term expires later this month, according to the Bucks County Courier Times. Cordisco, who described the appointment as an “honor and privilege,” will assume the appointment at the next board meeting, scheduled for Sept. 24.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Today we remember the lives lost on September 11, 2001.
— Pennsylvania (@PennsylvaniaGov) September 11, 2020