Friday, May 2, 2014

Rep. Readshaw vs. Rep. Molchany = overall GOP win

The most talked about State Legislative race this Spring in Allegheny County is the two incumbent showdown of Rep. Erin Molchany vs. Rep. Harry Readshaw. As someone that usually likes incumbent Democrats that are generally doing a good job, no one wins when two incumbents face each other. Actually the Republicans win in this case.

Why the Republicans win:

Lots of politicians have lined up behind Rep. Erin Molchany and are spending their money on this race. Lots of Democratic fundraisers are putting their money into both sides.  I have heard estimates that this race will end up costing each side around $200,000 to win the Primary. This is how the Republicans win. They force Democrats to fight each other in Primaries. So instead of finding good Democrats to run against Rep. Hal English and Senator Vulakovich (who are both running for their first full term), elected officials like County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and State Senator Wayne Fontana (I'm giving politicans that just serve the City of Pittsburgh a pass since this is a city vs city race.) are getting too involved with a race that puts an old friend vs. a new friend. Take the high road, and find a way to make sure we keep the Republicans in our county on their toes so they have less money for the Governor's race and the 2015 County Executive race.

How this happened:

This is a two fold answer:

1. The redistricting process. Allegheny County was due to lose a seat. When Rep. Chelsa Wagner ran for County Controller, the redistricting committee decided get rid of her seat (22nd District). The Republican drawn maps moved the 22nd District to the other side of the state, thus forcing a Dem vs. Dem showdown after a Special Election was held in 2012 to replace Rep. Wagner.

2. The Transportation Bill. I'm mentioned on Twitter and Facebook that this was a bad vote for Democrats. I'm not saying it isn't the right thing to do on the surface. As the minority party, the Democrats never should have given the Republicans any votes for the bill. The Democrats should have forced the Republicans to make the tax increase vote and tried to used it against Republicans who voted for the tax increase. Secondly, they Republicans knew they had the Democrats by their throats because so many of them had publicly said they will vote for transportation funding. So Mike Turzai did what he does best and politicized the hell out of the bill. He added an increase in the prevailing wage limit on public projects. This has forced labor to fight with each other and caused a lot of in-fighting with the Democrats in the legislature. This is what Rep. Turzai wants. The more the Democrats and labor fight with each other, the better chance he has to make sure there is a Republican majority in the legislature.

Why Erin Molchany could lose (even if I am more in line with her issues - Sorry!):

The district is overwhelmingly Rep. Readshaw's old district.
The district isn't as Pro-Choice as you would expect. One political consultant told me that the 19th ward can be racist, pro-life, and pro-gun even if they often vote for Democrats.
As much as I would defend a reasonable gas tax as public policy any day, it is a hard sell to your average voter.

In the end, the Democrats end up in a bad situation. Everyone would have been better off if the power brokers in the Democratic Party could have worked out a deal that both sides could have agreed too, or at least pledged to stay out of it.

Fact-checking an increasingly ugly Readshaw/Molchany race - via Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh City Paper - Fact-checking an increasingly ugly Readshaw/Molchany race

Why the Transporation Vote was bad for Democrats

As I try to wrap my head around contested primary races in Allegheny County, no one seems to be letting go on the Transportation Bill. On the surface, I would be in favor of this legislation. Raising the gas tax is a user based fee that goes directly into improving roads and bridges and funding mass transit to get congestion off of the roadways.

However, I believe it was the wrong vote for Democratic legislators. Number 1, the Democrats backed themselves into a tax increase corner if they represent a swing district. Number 2, they upset labor because of the increase in the prevailing wage limit. Number 3, the Democrats are now fighting and spending limited campaign resources to go after each other for a bill that ultimately passed.

On top of that, the Democrats didn't find candidates to run against legislators that voted in favor of the Gas Tax in conservative leaning districts such as Senator Randy Vulakovich's and Rep. Hal English in the North Hills. Instead the Democrats seem more concerned with Primary races in Pittsburgh.

This is why Democrats don't have more seats in the State House and State Senate.

Supreme Court Strikes Guzzardi From PA-Gov Ballot - via PoliticsPA

Interesting that the Department of State, under the control of Mr. Guzzardi's opponent, gave him the wrong information and Mr. Guzzardi was kicked off the ballot for that incorrect information.

Elections lawyer Adam Bonin gave a different reaction.
“I’m a little surprised by this ruling, because Guzzardi presented a pretty convincing case below that Department of State staff gave his team incorrect information when he showed up with his papers. What today’s decision confirms is that the failing to meet the ‘two filings’ requirement is one of the few rock-solid ways you can still be kicked off the ballot, and I look forward to seeing the Court’s full opinion to understand why they’re maintaining this position.”

Supreme Court Strikes Guzzardi From PA-Gov Ballot

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

PoliticsPA: PA-Gov: McGinty Still All In For Governor

PA-Gov: McGinty Still All In For Governor

Katie McGinty surprised the political world when she finished ahead of candidates like Tom Wolf and Rob McCord in the latest fundraising period, bringing in $1,102,857.
The former DEP Secretary also carried over $1.77M from the last quarter and ended with a cash on hand total of $1,618,361...

Read More at PoliticsPA: PA-Gov: McGinty Still All In For Governor

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Governor Tom Corbett Logic

I can’t seem to get over Tom Corbett’s newest campaign commercial where he brags about firing state employees. Why is our Governor bragging about putting more people in the unemployment line? Ironically, I heard that the Unemployment Office is drastically understaffed to handle the amount of unemployed state workers in Pennsylvania.

But there is one part of the commercial I would love to find a way to fact check. Maybe someone out there that better understands right to know requests can look into this. Tom Corbett claims he saved $43 million dollars by cutting 20% of the state vehicle fleet. I question if he really saved the taxpayers $43 million in costs. Those fleet vehicles are gone, but the travel expenses still exist for employees using their personal cars.
Since Governor Corbett explains in his commercial that he runs the state like your family’s checkbook I assume this is how he has handled the cable bill in his house:

Governor Corbett: Susan, I just saved us $95 a month by getting rid of cable.
Susan Corbett: That’s great! Are we not going to watch TV anymore?
Governor Corbett: No, we have Direct TV now.
Susan Corbett: How much does that cost?
Governor Corbett: $95 dollars, but that’s not the point. We save $95 a month on cable because I got rid of the cable.
Susan Corbett: So we still are going to watch the same TV channels, but we aren’t paying a cable bill anymore? Even though we are paying the same amount for a satellite dish?
Governor Corbett: Yes! That is how we cut out cable expenses in our checkbook!

Unfortunately, the voters will believe Governor Corbett’s talking points about fraud, waste, and abuse. The Democrats are frothing at the mouth for this election, but the reality is that Governor Corbett is going to be tougher to beat than the Democratic believe right now. With the rumors that I have heard about Democrats fighting with each other in legislative primaries this year in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the limited resources for Democratic candidates might dry up before it is too late to help McGinty, Schwartz, McCord, or Wolf.

Friday, March 28, 2014

From Keystone Politics - Corbett Campaign Shamelessly Politicizes the Pope

Who paid for this trip? I wonder how the Pope would feel about Governor Corbett denying 700,000 working Pennsylvanians federally funded Medicaid?

Corbett Campaign Shamelessly Politicizes the Pope - Keystone Politics

Pope Francis is a pretty popular guy. Governor Corbett—not so much.  So it’s no surprise that Corbett has been touting his visit to the Vatican for what was expected to be a private audience with the Pope to invite him to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of the Families next year...

Read more here:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council unanimously recommends Erin McClelland for Pennsylvania AFL-CIO endorsement

Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council unanimously recommends Erin McClelland for Pennsylvania AFL-CIO endorsement
Hours after releasing the endorsements of four prominent Allegheny County State Representatives, presumptive Democratic nominee for the Pennsylvania 12th Congressional District Erin McClelland, was unanimously recommended for statewide AFL-CIO endorsement by the Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council.  This is the second unanimous labor council vote in support of McClelland’s candidacy, and further evidence of McClelland’s strength as the consensus Democratic nominee for the PA 12th
            “I’m honored to have the continued support of working men and women from across the district,” said McClelland.  “A unanimous recommendation from the Beaver-Lawrence CLC means something special to me because I feel at home in Beaver County.  It reminds me of the Allegheny Valley and the people I grew up with who struggle every day, but persevere due to the hard-won victories of organized labor to secure good wages that support great families.”
Erin McClelland also has the support of the following organizations, elected officials, and party leaders:
Allegheny County State Representatives Dom Costa, Joe Marksosek, Frank Demody, and Adam Ravenstahl, and Erin Molchany, Beaver County State Representatives Jaret Gibbons and Rob Matzie, Beaver County Commissioner Joe Spanik, Beaver County Commissioner Tony Amadio, Beaver Falls Mayor George Quay, Lawrence County Commissioner Steve Craig, Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas, Ellwood City Mayor Anthony Court, Beaver County Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans’ Courts Carol Fiorucci, Lawrence County Council members, Ralph Chippetta and John Todorich, Westmoreland County Democratic Chairman Dante Bertani, Westmoreland County Democratic Committee Executive Director Jesse Walker, the Women’s Campaign Fund, IBEW Local 5, IBEW Local 29, USW Local 1196, the Allegheny County Labor Council, and the Allegheny County Democratic Committee.

Don’t overanalyze a Special Election result by over-simplifying the issues

I can hardly handle the talking heads explaining why the Affordable Care Act is the reason that the Democrats lost the special election in 13th Congressional District of Florida. Why must we always point to one issue to explain political campaigns. Voters aren't that simple anywhere. Everyone did the same thing after the Senate Election in Massachusetts and explained how Obama was in trouble because of the results. Obviously, it didn't hurt Obama in 2012.

This special election wasn't a mandate the Affordable Care Act. The Democrat's candidate didn't even live in the district. That can be a tough thing to overcome, but not impossible. Congressman Keith Rothfus won his election in 2012 while not living within the 12th Congressional District border. If Rothfus was facing another person from Allegheny County, it might have been a tougher race in 2012. Geography matters in legislative races, and sometimes geography trumps other issues for legislative seats. Some people might have voted because of a commercial they saw or a mailer that they received. Some people might have voted for David Jolly because they thought he was a regular guy or of Congressional Stature. My point is that there are hundreds of reasons voters make their decisions on who to vote for and there is never one issue that truly is the only issue that gave someone the victory.

The only articles that I have found that has properly addressed the issues surrounding the special election in Florida is from Slate:

Florida-13: Three Things Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Republican Win

Special elections are a completely type of monster and have to be treated differently than a regular election when running them and analyzing the results.