New polling shows the potential impact a Trump endorsement may have in Pennsylvania, the state’s longest serving Corrections Secretary announces his next chapter, plus a news organization unionized. 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.
Trump Endorsements. Being backed by former President Donald Trump is widely viewed as a positive for a Republican candidate in a statewide primary in Pennsylvania, but it may end up negatively impacting that candidate in a general election, according to this new poll. A survey conducted by Eagle Consulting Group reported on Smerconish.com, of likely general election voters in mid-August showed that 66% of GOP voters agreed that if Trump supported a candidate for office that they would support that person, while 27% said they disagreed. However, among all voters, only 37% agreed that they would back a Trump supported candidate for office, while 58% disagreed, including 50% that “strongly disagreed.” Time will tell how Trump’s endorsement of Sean Parnell will play out in the 2022 U.S. Senate showdown.
Tim DeFoor. The state Auditor General garnered the spotlight when he announced the completion of an audit into Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration’s coronavirus waiver program for businesses. Spotlight PA reports that the state audit found the “controversial waiver program” was “flawed, administered unevenly, and assembled “on the fly,” hurting businesses and putting public health at risk.”
John Wetzel. The end of an era. The longest serving Corrections Secretary in Pennsylvania history will be leaving the position on Oct. 1 and plans to open a criminal justice nonprofit in February. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports that Wetzel, “whose work to reform the state’s sprawling and expensive prison system, won him plaudits.”
PA Turnpike. “It is a big number, there’s no question,” said PA turnpike Chief Executive Mark Compton. The Associated Press reports that “more than $104 million in Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls went uncollected last year as the agency fully converted to all-electronic tolling, with the millions of motorists who don’t use E-ZPass having a nearly 1 in 2 chance of riding without paying under the “toll-by-plate” license plate camera system.”
Olivia Bennett and Bethany Hallam. To mask or not to mask was the question this week for Allegheny County Council and the answer was rather one-sided. KDKA reports that 10 members of Allegheny County Council voted “no” on legislation introduced by Councilmembers Bennett and Hallam for a “county-wide mask mandate for indoor and large outdoor public gatherings.”
PennLive. A victory for transparency. PennLive reports that the state Supreme Court “ended a three-year legal battle over public records access between PennLive and the new owners of the former Golden Living nursing homes in Pennsylvania” by “refusing to hear an appeal by the new owners, who sought to prevent the news media outlet from obtaining state records regarding the transfer of the 35 nursing homes from the troubled Golden Living chain.”
Exporting Electricity. A new record for the Keystone State. StateImpactPA reports that Pennsylvania “exported a record amount of electricity last year” according to a new report from the state’s Independent Fiscal Office that showed the state “sent more than 79 million megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity to other states in 2020,” while the previous high was 70.5 million MWh in 2019.
WHYY Union. The effort that started in Oct. 2019 has now been recognized. WHYY reports that “unionized reporters and content creators at WHYY voted overwhelmingly in favor of their first contract with the public radio and TV broadcaster on Monday.” WHYY adds that the “three-year agreement covers 74 reporters, editors, producers, hosts, marketing specialists, and other staff, and includes employees who work at WHYY-TV, WHYY-FM radio, WHYY.org, PlanPhilly, and Billy Penn.”
Dan Hilferty. The longtime influential chief executive of Independence Health Group, who was viewed as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2022, will be leading a new effort. The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that Hilferty will replace David L. Cohen, former Comcast Executive and nominee to serve as Ambassador to Canada, as Philadelphia Soccer 2026’s chairman. Hilferty “will now lead the committee’s efforts to host FIFA World Cup soccer when the tournament is held in North America in 2026.”
PA Farm Show. Welcome back. PennLive reports that the Pennsylvania Farm Show “will be held in person in 2022.”
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Just got this text from my dad. Just in case you were wondering, he is, indeed, a sick (albeit hilarious) man. pic.twitter.com/yYG2XWRbZn
— Mike Schlossberg (@MikeSchlossberg) September 11, 2021