Happy Earth Day! Primary debate and forum season is now in full swing and the candidates for statewide and regional office are sharpening talking points, gathering endorsements, and looking for fundraising dollars. It’s game on as we approach three weeks remaining until Election Day.
Here are your Ups and Downs for the week ending April 22.
City of Philadelphia mask mandate. While not wading into the political and cultural ramifications of masking versus not masking, we will remind you that Philly’s mandate lasted a grand total of four days. Mayor Jim Kenney said the decision to scrap the mandate after just a few days was influenced in part by SEPTA’s announcement on Monday that masks would no longer be required on public transit. SEPTA lifted its mandate shortly after a federal judge in Florida struck down the CDC’s rule requiring masks on most forms of transit. City Councilmember Mark Squilla said the disconnect between having a city mask mandate that contradicted with federal guidelines led to confusion for businesses and residents.
Austin Davis. It was a good week for the state representative from Allegheny County. His candidacy for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant general received major attention when presumptive gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro filed a cease-and-desist order against one of Davis’ opponents, Brian Sims, saying that a Sims ad could lead people to believe that he had Shapiro’s endorsement – which is not the case. Shapiro is supporting Davis. Therefore, a lot of attention for Davis.
Brian Sims. Why was it not a great week for Sims? See above. Not only did Sims receive a cease-and-desist order from the Josh Shapiro campaign, but also Sims’ opponent – Austin Davis – received a lot of free advertising calling attention to Shapiro’s support of Davis for lieutenant governor.
Summer Lee. The state representative from Pittsburgh is acquiring some more high-profile Democratic endorsements in her race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. 17th Congressional District seat. The progressive Lee received the support of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) this week to join the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) in her camp.
Kenyatta Johnson. The Philadelphia City council member was on trial in federal court, but after 25 hours of deliberation, the judge declared a mistrial. The FBI investigated the case for six years, interviewing 150 people, before charging Johnson and his wife, Dawn Chavous, with two counts of honest services fraud, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. A spokesperson with the US Attorney’s Office of Eastern District of Pennsylvania says the government is committed to retrying the case against Johnson and Chavous.
Dennis Owens and Lisa Sylvester. The news anchor and Capitol reporter for abc27 news in Harrisburg and the news anchor for WPXI in Pittsburgh received high praise for their handling of the moderator roles in Thursday’s Democratic U.S. Senate debate. Now that the bar has been set, here’s hoping the duo delivers again in upcoming Nexstar debates on Monday and Wednesday.
Russ Diamond and Teddy Daniels. While we understand Diamond’s (R-Lebanon) desire to educate voters, his 6-minute takedown of lieutenant governor opponent Teddy Daniels (R-Wayne County) has led to a sideshow of epic proportion. Escalating rhetoric, name calling, threats .. that’s just the beginning. And these two will meet on stage twice before the May 17 primary. Buckle up.
Lisa Scheller and Kevin Dellicker. Scheller [up arrow] has raised more than 10 times that of her GOP opponent in the race for the nomination for the 7th Congressional District. The chairperson and CEO of Silberline Manufacturing, had over $1.2 million on hand at the end of March and raised $352,939.55 in the first three months of 2022. Dellicker [down arrow], a veteran and owner of business services company Dellicker Strategies, raised $32,450 in the first quarter of 2022 and had $109,000 in his most recent finance report.
York County. Talk about redistricting. The York Dispatch reports that nearly 90,000 households in the county – that works out to more then 47 percent of all homes – will receive letters informing them of changes to their Congressional and/or State House or Senate Districts. There are two U.S. House (10, 11), two PA Senate and seven PA House districts in the county.
Mike Marsicano. The congressional candidate is in a battle with Butler Township over a proported helipad on his Hazle Township property. He invited members of the media to search for any helipad on the land and if one was found, he would donate $1,000 to the charity of the person’s choice. The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader did look around and found several flat grassy areas where a helicopter could land. Butler Township is requesting that Marsicano discontinue operation of the helipad and that future use be prohibited.
Aaron Kaufer. The Republican state representative from Luzerne County earned a big legislative win this week when his bill – Act 16 of 2022 – designed to attract more doctors to the state was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf. The legislation will ease requirements on international medical students, allowing them to apply for medical licenses with the same amount of training as American medical school graduates. International graduates were previously required to receive an extra year of training in order to obtain a license.
Joe Schember. The Erie mayor recently spent more than $4,400 to upgrade the security system at his westside home. He asked Erie City Council to sign off on a city-funded reimbursement for those improvements, but council rejected that request by a 5-2 vote against a requested $4,421.60 reimbursement. “Some of these things were very scary,” Schember said. “I’ll live with whatever council decides, but I really think some of these things are happening because I’m mayor and people know where I live.”