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FLOWERS: Activist Justice Department Loses Pro-Life Case Against Bucks County Dad But We All Win

Mark Houck was acquitted of federal charges, which could have put him in jail for over a decade. He was acquitted of federal charges that would have separated him from his seven children, his wife, and his work on behalf of the unborn. He was acquitted of federal charges lodged by an activist Department of Justice that cherry-picks the targets of its ire, including parents who protest at school board meetings because they refuse to have their children exposed to inappropriate sexual materials.

The fact that he was acquitted is incredibly important. The takeaway from the acquittal is that a jury of regular men and women, selected from a general pool of citizens, was able to see through a political prosecution presented under the guise of protecting women’s access to healthcare.

We in the pro-life movement understand that not everyone, and perhaps not even a majority of people, agrees with our position on abortion. Poll after poll indicates most Americans think abortion should be legal at some level, and an overwhelming majority of those who oppose abortion would still allow for exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s health.

It’s no secret that in championing life at all stages and in all circumstances, we do not reflect the current view on this extremely divisive topic.

But we were told, on Monday afternoon, that we are not alone in believing that the full force of the United States government should not be brought down upon the head of a man who has eschewed violence and instead, has attempted to dissuade women from committing violence against the most innocent of beings. What makes this verdict so powerful is that people who might themselves support abortion rights were unwilling to allow federal law to be used as a weapon against someone whose religious beliefs and moral values compel him to advocate for the unborn.

As an attorney, this gives me hope.

Setting aside the pro-life issue, I can still see how this jury upheld the rule of law. Nothing that was presented as evidence in court sustained the allegations that Houck had used violence to prevent women from accessing abortion. The fact that an elderly man who was spouting expletives at a teenager got shoved was, at most, simple assault (and even that was thrown out at the state level). To elevate a mundane skirmish between a pro-life activist and an abortion clinic escort shows how biased this Department of Justice has become when it deals with hot-button controversies like abortion and parental rights. And a jury said, “no, this time you won’t win.”

The truth is, we are all winners in this case. Even if you support abortion up to the last trimester, and even if you would never raise your voice in prayer before a Planned Parenthood clinic, and even if you are angered by the Dobbs decision overturning Roe last June, you should celebrate the fact that a jury of men and women, like you, spoke truth to the immense power of the federal government and said that they would not allow the laws to be manipulated to send out a partisan message.

Today it was Mark Houck. Tomorrow it could be you. This is an extremely important precedent and an affirmation of the rule of law.


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Pundits, Politicos Offer Autopsy of PA GOP’s 2022 Election Losses

With the Pennsylvania Republican Party paying a D.C. firm a reported $100,000 to study why Republicans here lost so badly in the 2022 midterms, the Delaware Valley Journal asked some politically savvy people for their opinions about what went wrong.

Our pundits believe that there is plenty of blame to go around.

Like many in PA politics who spoke to DVJournal, Delaware County GOP Chair Frank Agovino had two names on his list of challenges for Republicans last year: Mastriano and Dobbs.

“It seems to me that 2022 was more about the inability for Republicans to coalesce around an electable gubernatorial candidate,” Agovino said, a reference to Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin). “And the surprise of younger voters taking the bait laid by Democrats painting Republicans as extreme on abortion. If the study doesn’t grapple with these fatal flaws, it won’t be worth the paper it’s written on,” said Agovino. Dobbs was the U.S. Supreme Court decision issued last year that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Liz Preate Havey, chair of the Montgomery County Republican Committee. also used the “E” word to analyze her party’s failures.

“The Democrats were successful in convincing a majority of voters that our candidates were extreme,” she said. “And clearly, the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v Wade was much more of a motivator for pro-choice voters than Republicans anticipated.  Those things, along with no significant statewide mail-in ballot push by Republicans or conservative groups, put our candidates at a disadvantage.”

Guy Ciarrocchi, the former president of the Chester County Chamber of Commerce who ran for Congress in 2022, said, “Biden and the Democrats’ priorities caused obvious failures—from inflation to broken supply chains, more violent crimes, parents’ roles being undercut by school boards and an unsecured border. Yet, Republicans underperformed nationally. In Pennsylvania, it was a train wreck, with the highest ‘casualties’ in the suburbs.

“Independent voters either didn’t blame the Democrats for this mess, didn’t see these problems as their top priorities, or they didn’t trust Republicans to fix the mess—or, a bit of everything. It’s imperative that we find out what went wrong—especially in the suburbs. Far more important than reviving the GOP, our quality of life and our nation’s future depend on our connecting with these Independent voters and growing our base,” Ciarrocchi said.

In an interview with radio talk host Dom Giordano, Mastriano offered his own take on what went wrong. Not surprisingly, he argued that his campaign was a relative success. Instead, he said Democratic advantages in fundraising and mail-in voting doomed him from the start.

He pointed out that Democrat Josh Shapiro had raised $75 million and spent $70 million while the Republican National Committee and Republican Governor’s Association “walked away,” leaving him with only the money he could raise on his own so he was not able to get his message out.

“Every week there was another $1 million anti-Doug ad,” Mastriano said.

He also said that the GOP must embrace mail-in voting and believes that was also key in the Democrats’ wins.

“We set a record,” said Mastriano. “Over 2.2 million votes for Mastriano, 90 percent on Election Day…This is more votes than a Republican governor candidate received since  1962, William Scranton.  (It was) the second highest in our state history. The grassroots did fantastic. We won on Election Day in-person voting but we were killed, slaughtered by no-excuse, mail-in voting.”

Republican consultant Charlie O’Neill wasn’t quite as forgiving.

“Ultimately, Pennsylvania electoral woes in 2022 boil down to Doug Mastriano’s inability to run an effective campaign. Candidates matter, and while Mastriano ran away with the primary, he was no match in the general elections. The best thing Republicans in Pennsylvania can do is take candidate recruitment and vetting more seriously, along with engaging local leaders on the kinds of candidates who play in their areas. The electorate, right, left, and center is showing they want competent, serious candidates who have a plan to lead. We have leaders and activists who fit that bill. We need to get them to run.”

Commonwealth Partners President & & CEO Matt Brouillette said, “The misses of the last election stem from three major flaws: Poor candidates, poorly delivered messages, and poorly run campaigns. In our statewide races, Republicans put up weak candidates against established candidates with exceptional fundraising prowess and years of campaigning behind them.

“GOP candidates criticized what they opposed but failed to present a vision of what a better future looks like,” said Brouillette. “And Republican campaigns ignored basic tenets of winning, including shoring up their base and reaching out to swing voters. Combine this with massive outspending by the Left (with massive infusions of political cash from outside Pennsylvania) and a refusal by Republicans to embrace mail-in voting (which gave Democrats a 50-day voting window versus the Republicans’ 13 hours on Election Day)—and the recipe for Republican failure was nearly foolproof.”

“Generally speaking, the Dobbs (abortion) decision changed the calculus for many voters, particularly those in the suburbs.  That decision, coupled with a historically weak gubernatorial candidate, spelled some trouble for Republicans.  They still won the congressional vote, but these two factors had a major impact on the state house races,” said Berwood A. Yost, director of the Floyd Institute for Public Policy and the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College.

Republican political consultant Albert Eisenberg with BlueStateRed said, “Voters saw a national ticket affiliated with former President Trump, who hasn’t ‘won’ since he was elected in 2016 and has at every turn mobilized opposition more than he’s generated support. In Pennsylvania, we had a ticket led by a messianic who went out of his way to alienate moderate voters and a Senate candidate who had substance and quality but was unfortunately perceived as a carpet-bagger and did little to respond to that attack even when his radical opponent was hamstrung by health issues.”

But for longtime centrist Republican John Featherman, who ran for mayor of Philadelphia in 2011, “all roads lead to Doug Mastriano.”

“And the state GOP’s decision to rubber stamp Mastriano’s campaign – and his extreme views – rather than to endorse any of his primary race opponents, put the nail in the coffin for failed U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Oz and countless Republicans running for reelection to the Pennsylvania state House. Mastriano’s conscious decision to focus his campaign on contentious issues like restricting abortion and repealing LGBTQ rights backfired, not just for his campaign but for the GOP to retain power in the state House.

“Moving forward, the only way for the Pennsylvania GOP to succeed will be to market a less combative agenda and embrace a comprehensive mail-in voter strategy – the same strategy which ultimately pushed Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman over the top in their respective elections,” said Featherman.

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ROWE: The After-Abortion Trauma Faced by Millions of Women

Every day, 2.4 million people tune in to watch Dr. Phil give mental health advice. Described as the top mental health show on TV, it is widely trusted by many Americans because Dr. Phil examines some of our society’s difficult issues.

Abortion is among the most difficult issues, which might be why the show addressed it twice this fall. To Dr. Phil’s credit, he generated a legitimate, straightforward debate; unfortunately, he also did a disservice to millions of suffering women when he dismissed their after-abortion grief.

“There is absolutely no evidence for any post-abortion syndrome,” Dr. Phil told Live Action’s Lila Rose. “… The stress you’re talking about that increases suicidal ideation or attempts … you cannot isolate that to the fact that that person had an abortion …”

Dr. Phil is correct that women who experience abortions are facing pre-existing traumas. The Guttmacher Institute’s 2005 survey found that 78 percent of women go through an abortion because of fear of financial disaster, while 48 percent fear losing their partner or being a single mother. Bad relationships, financial insecurity and other issues are rarely one-time issues and are often related to earlier traumas that lead to poor choices.

But it is harmful to dismiss and disenfranchise the abortion-related suffering of women across the country. I know this because of the stories my organization hears every day, and even more so because of our recent study showing that one in three women suffer emotional trauma, which they directly attribute to medication abortion.

Here’s one story that represents thousands of others: A woman told our After-Abortion Line that she hid an abortion in college because she didn’t want to acknowledge her pain. She felt that there was nobody to talk to about her regrets and struggles. Dr. Phil’s generalization would dismiss her abortion-related pain and suffering instead of giving her a safe place to acknowledge her pain, embrace it, and heal from it.

Again, it’s true that trauma begets trauma. But in no other arena do we as a society dismiss how today’s traumas can, in addition to being part of a lifetime of unaddressed problems, also cause their own problems.

Perhaps Dr. Phil is confusing silence with a lack of suffering. The medication abortion study showed that, like the woman who called us, 63 percent of women either sought after-abortion emotional healing or could have used someone to talk to after their abortion. Yet only 18 percent of all women who experienced a medication abortion knew where to find after-abortion healing and care — and 70 percent of women wanted to share their experiences anonymously.

Women aren’t alone in their after-abortion grief. Forthcoming research from Support After Abortion will show that many men suffer, including those who didn’t want their partner to choose abortion. And as abortion supporter, Psychology Today contributor and Wright Institute professor Mary Lamia put it recently, men “often silently suffer after abortion” because society disenfranchises their grief.

But it is women on whom most of the abortion debate is focused. As a groundbreaking leader of the normalization of mental health and the holder of a doctorate in clinical psychology, Dr. Phil knows the power of helping people address their pain — and the power of dismissing it.

Support After Abortion exists to let millions of women and men know that their pain is real, their suffering can be healed, and their past pain can be transformed into future happiness.

We encourage Dr. Phil to join us.

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FLOWERS: In 2022, SCOTUS Righted a Grave Wrong

I generally hate year-in-review columns. They seem forced, like a list of things you must buy at the grocery store. Check this off, and then this, and we did this, and I need that, and we are out of this, and can we have extra of that, etc. Years blend into each other and it’s often hard to pick exceptional events, particularly since the same things seem to happen over and over again: Wars start and continue, and we think they end, and then they’re prolonged.

People die (surprise!) and we reflect on their lives, even when we might have forgotten they were still alive. Couples divorce and then find other partners they will eventually cast off in search of the perfect fit. Fads spring out of nowhere and insecure people with no particular talent film themselves on once-obscure social media apps in the hopes of boosting their self-esteem (after artificially boosting their lips and bosoms). Year after year, the same things tend to happen, and we try and frame them in a context where they seem historic.

But this year, something historic did happen, something that many people despaired of ever seeing, even though hope is the last thing to die. Since this is my column, this is my perspective. You won’t hear me talking about the tragic war in Ukraine, the January 6th Committee results, the disappointing red trickle at the mid-terms, the death of Sidney Poitier, or any of the other things that were indeed important (and about which I’ve written) but which did not stand out as the central, sea change event of 2022.

What defines for me the alpha and the omega of this year, the San Andreas Fault that splits two diametrically opposed tectonic plates, the BC and AD of our current historical timeline, is the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

That case, like Brown v. Board of Education, brought down a monolith of injustice: Legalized abortion by judicial fiat. The fiat was created by seven old men who ignored the voices of the American people and reached into some insubstantial and fictitious folds of constitutional jurisprudence to pluck out the right to kill a child.

Most would not be quite so blatant about it. They would replace “child” with “pregnancy” and “kill” with “terminate.” Those are the accepted terms in polite conversation, even though there is never anything polite about discussions around abortion. But the truth is clear and has been for almost 50 years.

January 22, 1973 would have marked one of the bloodiest half centuries known to modern society. That would have been the anniversary of the date Roe v. Wade, the decision to legalize abortion, was handed down and announced by that all-male court. I keep emphasizing the gender of the justices since we have been force-fed a diet of “if you can’t get pregnant, you have no right to have an opinion” by pro-choice advocates. I am going to be generous herein using the term that they prefer, pro “choice,” even though I would invite the reader to reflect on what “choice” we are discussing. There are only two: Life and death. Pro-choice advocates find both to be equally acceptable. Roe v. Wade supported that position and perpetuated a myth that there was virtue and legitimacy to the idea that women have dominion over their own bodies and the body growing within them.

But in 2022, after 50 years of lost potential and lives sacrificed to convenience and a skewed sense of autonomy, a court composed of men and women ruled that abortion was no longer a “right” and that, indeed, it never had been. And even though the reaction was brutal and there are continued attempts to codify abortion rights into law, and even though there are states where women will continue to be able to “choose” termination, there is now in this great country where immigrants find shelter and the oppressed find solace, an understanding that you cannot simply make up a right to do whatever you want, simply because you want to do it.

That principle transcends the issue of abortion. In 2022, women and men were told that no matter how much they want to engage in magical thinking and read the Constitution as a blueprint for living the lives they want, in the way they want, on the timeline they want, there are principles that are larger than their own narcissistic desires. One of them is the respect owed to other lives.

That is a lesson we should have figured out after the Civil War. It’s still a lesson we need to learn, and 2022 is bringing us closer to the point where we’re finally getting the message.

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FLOWERS: PA Voters Pick Nihilism Over Compassion

I’ve been told abortion was the deciding factor in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race.  I myself have written about the importance of abortion in the grand scheme of things, the measure and metric by which we determine our collective humanity. And if abortion really was the thing that motivated women and the men who loved (or at least wanted to date) them, we have our answer about that collective humanity: It’s missing in action.

When I think that a majority of voters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania chose to align themselves with someone who has such a radical view of abortion rights as John Fetterman, and to a slightly lesser extent Josh Shapiro, whose Twitter feed kept sending out inane messages about “a woman’s right to choose” as if it had Tourette Syndrome, then the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade revealed a very deep schism in modern society and in this state in particular.

You might think the word “eugenicist” is a bit much, given its overtones of the Holocaust and Mengele.  The doctor who performed horrific experiments in the concentration camps was attempting to design a society where only perfect Aryan creatures existed and reproduced with each other. But the pseudo “science” of eugenics has existed for generations and was embraced by exalted historical figures like Teddy Roosevelt, Oliver Wendell Homes, and Margaret Sanger. That brings me to the point of calling abortion supporters “amoral eugenicists.”

Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, championed abortion as a form of extreme birth control.  Despite an attempt at whitewashing by the PP crowd, Sanger never actually disavowed her enthusiastic support for sterilizing immigrants, people of color, poor people, and all those others who did not rise to the level of what she considered a valuable and contributing member of society. She did not use terms like “Aryan.” She simply wanted to improve society by weeding out the less desirables. Generations later, Hillary Clinton echoed that philosophy when she talked about the basket of “deplorables,” and it is clear that from a progressive standpoint, eugenics was at the very least a nuanced issue. To them, it had some value.

Abortion is an extension of eugenics. It permits people to make judgments about the value of other people, other human beings. The terminology is carefully curated so that we stop talking about “people” and shift towards a focus on “fetus.” Some have even used the term “opportunistic parasite.” Those of us who are pro-life and follow the actual science are content to settle for the universal term “human being.”  But that is something that encourages compassion and reflection on the exact nature of the act of aborting. And to those who support abortion, like John Fetterman, reflection is a dangerous and counterproductive thing.

When I think that a majority of voters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania chose to align themselves with someone who has such a radical view of abortion rights, I realize the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade revealed a very deep schism in modern society, and in this state in particular. While Roe was still in place, the abortion supporters were marginally pacified. They were not on the defensive, the law was on their side, and they could complain about conservative pro-lifers, safe in the knowledge that a half-century of creative precedent was on their side.  Then came Dobbs, and the tectonic plates shifted to create a social earthquake. Pro “choice” women saw their choice reduced to a state-by-state determination, panicked, and looked for people to blame.

The target was easy: Conservatives in general, Republicans in particular.

The method was easier: Elect the man who said he’d protect their right to abort whenever and however they wanted.

The reckoning came on Tuesday night, and I have to congratulate the sisters for their determination, organization, and motivation in making sure that they were still able to advance Margaret Sanger’s mission of selecting human value by calling it “autonomy.”

The nihilism vote won.

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QUINN: Finding The Middle Ground on Abortion

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs case, which returned abortion policy decisions to individual states, has sparked an important public policy discussion about what limits on abortion are appropriate. Most Americans are willing to have reasonable discussions about reasonable limits on abortion.

But some politicians have sought to take advantage of the heightened sensitivity of the issue, spreading false, misleading claims for personal political gain. My opponent is one of them and I want to set the record straight: I have never voted in support of an abortion ban. And if a ban were ever advanced in Pennsylvania, I would oppose it.

The Dobbs decision has fueled efforts by both supporters and opponents of abortion to vastly change state abortion laws. In West Virginia, some have pushed for aggressive bans on abortion with limited exceptions. Meanwhile, some pro-choice advocates are championing efforts to vastly expand abortion access into the third trimester. Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee hearing this summer featured panelists who championed eliminating all abortion restrictions. As one panelist stated, “every abortion restriction is extreme.”

There are also efforts currently underway through the courts to overturn a 30-year-old Pennsylvania law that prohibits the use of taxpayer funding to perform abortions. It provides exceptions for rape, incest, and to protect the life of the mother. This case, Allegheny Reproductive Health Center vs. the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, is now before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The appellants are asking the state’s majority Democratic Supreme Court to establish a state constitutional right to taxpayer-funded abortions. In its ruling, the court could also establish a state constitutional right to abortion, removing all abortion restrictions and allowing abortions to be performed up until the moment of birth.

Following the Dobbs decision, I’ve had extensive conversations with many constituents about what constitutes reasonable abortion access and restrictions. It is clear to me that the vast majority of residents hold moderate, middle-of-the-ground views. Many who consider themselves “pro-choice” believe if a woman plans to have an abortion, she should do it before the child would be viable outside the womb. Conversely, many who consider themselves “pro-life” support allowing abortions up until 20 weeks.

What I’ve learned is that most local residents do not support an abortion ban, nor do they support proposals promoted by Planned Parenthood and others to eliminate all abortion limitations. Most fall in the middle: Supporting both protecting a woman’s right to choose in the early stages of pregnancy and the government’s ability to protect life once it would be viable outside the womb.

Abortion in Pennsylvania is governed by the Abortion Control Act of 1982, which allows abortions to be performed up until 24 weeks for any reason, except to select the sex of the baby. There are additional exceptions after 24 weeks, such as to protect the life of the mother.

The proposed Pennsylvania constitutional amendment approved by the legislature this summer, S.B. 106, clarifies that it is entirely within the purview of the legislature to regulate abortion. For the constitutional amendment to take effect, it needs to again pass the legislature next legislative session. Pennsylvania voters would then approve or disapprove of it in a statewide referendum.

My opponent’s claim that the proposed amendment bans abortion is an outright lie. The amendment makes no change to the Abortion Control Act, nor does it further restrict access to abortion. On the contrary, I supported the amendment to maintain the status quo and prevent a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that invalidates current law, removes all abortion restrictions, and creates a constitutional right to taxpayer-funded abortions.

That is why the amendment is worded the way it is. “This constitution does not grant the right to taxpayer-funded abortion or any other right relating to abortion.” It does not ban abortion in Pennsylvania. It preserves current law and the ability of the legislature to establish reasonable restrictions.

This is a deeply personal public policy discussion. As elected officials, we must work to achieve a public consensus on the topic through open, honest discourse. Politicians on both sides of the abortion issue who spread inflammatory rhetoric are doing a great disservice to voters.

As a member of the House of Representatives, my job is to represent the views of the residents of my district. As such, I will not support any legislation that would either expand or ban access to abortion. This is not a public policy we should rush into until such time as a public consensus is achieved.

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Fetterman Rallies Voters – And Razzes Oz — in Bristol

On a campaign visit to Bucks County on Sunday, Democrat Senate candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman kept up his mocking attacks on his Republican rival Dr. Mehmet Oz, delighting supporters with quips about “crudite” and Oz’s connections to New Jersey.

The Bristol Borough crowd, which numbered in the hundreds, laughed and applauded,

Democrats, however, are not laughing about the latest trend in the polls which shows Oz steadily gaining on Fetterman. Several political polling organizations, including the Cook Political Report, now rate the race a toss-up.

Fetterman did his part to close the deal with Democrats and independents in the crowd, promising to be the majority-maker in the U.S. Senate for several progressive issues.

“Send me to D.C., and I’ll be the 51st vote,” said Fetterman. “Send me there to eliminate the filibuster, raise the minimum wage; $7.25 an hour is that okay? Isn’t it ironic that a guy with 10 gigantic mansions thinks $7.25 is still okay?

Congressional candidate Ashley Ehasz

“I am going to make sure we vote and pass the Pro Act. Our campaign (is) running on the union way of life and how sacred that is. It built America. It built the middle class, and we need to make more stuff in America, more stuff here in Pennsylvania.”

“I am going there to fight to expand healthcare,” he said. “I’m going to fight for veterans,” said Fetterman, who accused retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) of using veterans as “bargaining chips.”

“Another thing: Marriage equality,” said Fetterman. “Back in 2013, as mayor (of Braddock) I was the only official willing to solemnize a gay marriage when it was illegal. (Gov.) Tom Corbett threatened to have me arrested for that. And I said, ‘You know what? You know where I live.’”

“I’m going to fight to codify Roe v. Wade,” he said. “Abortion is on the ballot.”

Republicans believe the power of the abortion issue is waning and voters will turn to the GOP on more ever-present issues like the cost of living and concerns about crime.

“Dr. Oz has closed the polling gap on Fetterman for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is (Fetterman’s) awful record on crime,” said Republican consultant Charlie O’Neill. “Fetterman has never met a criminal he didn’t think was a victim, which is backward thinking to most Pennsylvanians. In addition to his terrible crime record, voters know Fetterman won’t stop inflation. He won’t secure the border. They are also meeting the real Fetterman, the trust fund kid who lived off his parents for decades and didn’t pay his taxes – it’s all tarnishing the ‘every man’ facade he tried to create.”

However, many of the rally attendees DVJournal spoke to said abortion was a top issue for them.

“I’m for John Fetterman because I believe in a woman’s right to choose,” said Phyllis Arnold of Buckingham, a retired teacher. She also said she favored “sensible gun control” and “being the stewards of the planet.” And she was concerned about access to healthcare, especially for the disabled.

Her friend, Penny Parkin, who also lives in Buckingham, agreed with all those points and added,” I am a Democrat. I vote Democrat. I always vote Democrat.”

“My number one concern is protecting the vote, protecting democracy,” said Parkin.

Bristol resident Sybil Henderson also mentioned “protecting women’s rights” and affordable healthcare.

Maggie Finn, also of Bristol, said she worries about the fentanyl crisis and lost her brother to an overdose. Substance abuse “needs to be treated as a health problem, not a criminal justice problem,” she said. “I think people should not be in jail for nonviolent possession.”

Ann and Tom Argenieri

Yardley residents Ann and Tom Argenieri came with their dog, Lyla.

Ann Argenieri’s main issues are social justice, healthcare, and “personal freedoms.”

“It’s a slippery slope to a fascist, authoritarian theocracy,” she said.

Tom Argenieri said, “We’ve already sent one con man to Washington. We can’t send another.”

In a somewhat unusual move compared to other campaigns, the Fetterman event began with a warm-up act to get the crowd pumped up and ready for the candidate. He exhorted the crowd to chant and wave the Fetterman signs they had been given when they walked in the gate, similar to a comedian talking to a television studio audience before taping a show.

No similar warm-up person was present at recent Bucks County rallies for Oz, GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, or a rally in Wilkes-Barre that former President Donald Trump held for Oz and Mastriano.

Several local Democrats took to the stage to praise Fetterman and talk about their races, including congressional candidate Ashely Ehasz, who is running against Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks/Montgomery).

Ehasz mentioned she was a combat veteran raised by a single mother. She joined the Army at 17 and went to West Point.

Ehasz said, “I value leaders who will fight for and protect veterans…When I needed her most when I was a young kid just trying to hope for a better future, my country saved me, and as I stand here before you all as your Democratic nominee for U.S. Congress, I am running to save her when she needs us most.”

While Oz and supporting PACs are running ads detailing Fetterman’s record on crime as the chair of the Board of Pardons and using Fetterman’s own words in favor of freeing one-third of the state’s inmates, Fetterman said that he is the candidate who would be tough on crime.

“They’ve spent $30 million on negative ads against me, and we’re still standing,” said Fetterman. “More than standing. We’re winning.”

“Send him back over the river to New Jersey and send me to D.C.,” he said.

During the rally, Republican protesters could be heard chanting “U.S.A.” from nearby and a boat sporting an Oz flag motored along the Delaware River honking.

After his remarks, Fetterman briefly mingled with the crowd and then left the area without taking questions from the press.

Bucks County Republican chair Pat Poprik said, “Well, I’m glad to see that he finally decided to campaign and come out of his basement and let people talk to him.”

“I think the people deserve more than that from someone who is running for such an important office,” said Poprik.

Brittany Yanick, a spokeswoman for the Oz campaign, said, “Dr. Oz is running against the most pro-murderer candidate in the nation, and he is going to win in November because he is showing up and listening to voters – Republicans, Democrats, and independents – who want to see a change from the failed policies of the past.

“Pennsylvania can’t afford a Bernie Sanders socialist who wants to release one-third of Pennsylvania inmates, decriminalize all drugs, eliminate life sentences for murderers, and raise taxes on hardworking Pennsylvanians while failing to pay his own taxes 67 times.”

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VALYO: Vote for Democrats to Preserve Democracy

EDITOR’S NOTE: For another view, see “McGarrigle: Why Voters Should Vote for Republicans.”


On Tuesday, November 8, Americans will once again head to the polls to exercise one of our most important rights – the right to vote. This year, however, the stakes are higher than they have ever been before as the differences between candidates go beyond policy.

Rather, we are choosing between those who believe in truth, democracy, and freedom and those who embrace dangerous election lies, hateful rhetoric, and political violence. The best way to protect our democracy, keep the government out of our bedrooms and doctors’ offices, and stop the spread of MAGA extremism is to vote for Democrats up and down the ballot.

It should come as no surprise that in normal election cycles, I also strongly believe that voting for Democrats is the best decision. Ordinarily, that is for policy reasons. But there is nothing ordinary about this year. We have one party – the Republican Party – that has been taken over by far-right extremists, including some calling for violence against our elected officials and institutions.

The Republicans are not even pretending to appeal to moderates anymore. Their platform calls for, among other things, a national ban on abortion; support for total and absolute gun rights; rejection of sound climate science and backward-looking energy policies that prop up the fossil fuel industry; drastic cuts and changes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid relied on by millions of citizens; elimination of the Affordable Care Act which would lead to loss of insurance and coverage for pre-existing conditions for millions of Americans; and, of course, more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations, forcing the tax burden down onto middle-class Americans and shockingly, even the poorest among us.

Moreover, we have the continued assault on our electoral system based on the “big lie” created by former President Donald Trump and his allies. We are learning every day just how deep and terrifying this assault really is. Across the country, Republicans are trying to take over election boards, county commissions, city councils, and school boards to force their dangerous view of the world on the rest of us.

We are seeing these forces at work right here in Pennsylvania where the Republican candidate for governor, Doug Mastriano, has made controlling elections, through his power to appoint the secretary of state and certify voting machines, a central tenet of his campaign. He supports a complete ban on abortion, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or even the health of the mother, and even supports charging a woman who had an abortion with murder.

His historically extreme education policy would cut public education funding by half and he has vowed to turn Pennsylvania into the Florida of the North. No, thank you. Beyond Harrisburg, our U.S. Senate and House races are also vital for protecting our democracy. If Republicans take control of the U.S. House and Senate all progress stops in terms of fighting inflation, global warming, women’s rights, common-sense gun control, civil rights, and protecting our elections.

That’s why we here in Chester County need to throw our support behind Democratic candidates at all levels, from our state legislature, to governor, to the House of Representatives, to the U.S. Senate. Our very democracy is on the ballot in November and there is only one party intent on preserving it, for everyone.


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Dobbs Decision Spurs Voter Registrations Among DelVal Women

Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Pennsylvania women have been outpacing men by 12 percent in registering to vote, according to voter data firm Target Smart. That is significant because both Democrats at the top of the ticket are outperforming their GOP opponents among women, the latest polls show.

A Pew Research Center poll released in August revealed abortion was an essential issue for 56 percent of voters this election — a 10 percent jump since March. While there has been no difference in the importance of the abortion issue among Republican voters since March, the importance among Democrat voters increased to 71 percent — a 25 percent jump since the landmark ruling.

In Montgomery County, female voters registering as Democrats has been six times higher than Republican registration since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Comparing male voters, Democrat registration is around two times greater than Republicans. According to data, 511 women have switched to the Democratic Party, while just 211 women have switched to the Republican Party, according to Kelly Cofrancisco, Montgomery County’s director of communications.

In Bucks County, the shift in women’s voter registration hasn’t been as significant. Four days before the ruling, 19,061 more women were registered as Democrats than Republicans, according to Bucks County voter registration data. On September 6, the gap between Democrat and Republican registrations for women increased only by 559. During the same period, the gap between Democrat and Republican male registrations grew by 336.

Both Chester and Delaware County spokespeople told DVJournal they couldn’t provide complete information about the sex of newly-registered voters. However, since the ruling, the Chester Democratic Party added 1,471 more new voters than the GOP.

U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester) said abortion rights are a priority for her campaign, providing a distinct difference between her GOP opponent, business leader Guy Ciarrocchi.

“On one hand, Chrissy will continue to fight until Roe is the law of our land,” said Shane Wolfe, her campaign manager. “On the other is a candidate who supports the extremists in Washington and Harrisburg trying to pass a nationwide abortion ban without exceptions for rape and incest. Voters need to know where their candidates stand on this key issue. And since the Dobbs decision, we have seen a surge of volunteers, donations, and voter registrations to support Chrissy’s election.”

Ciarrocchi pushed back on Houlahan’s attacks.

“I don’t rely on the media to educate me on ‘what women think,” said Ciarrocchi, the father of two daughters and a son, who has coached girls’ softball for 23 years. “The Inquirer story, unfortunately, continues a pattern of dividing-up Americans into political ‘camps’—based on gender, race, geography, etc. and making generalizations.”

A weak economy, rising crime, and students falling behind are at the forefront of Ciarrocchi’s campaign because those are the issues that unite everyone, he said.

“There have been a lot of twists and turns and news stories during this campaign, but the issues have remained constant,” Ciarrocchi said. “Gas is too expensive, inflation is robbing us of our paychecks and savings, violent crime is on the rise, and too many parents feel powerless as their kids fall behind academically and emotionally.”

EMILY’s List, a pro-choice political action committee, has donated $11,600 during this current election cycle to Houlahan’s campaign according to Open Secrets.

That PAC also donated $34,845 to Rep. Susan Wild’s campaign. Wild also received $8,500 from another pro-choice PAC known as A Woman’s Place. Redistricting led Wild’s seat to lean more Republican, according to the Cook Political Report. A recent poll revealed that 47 percent of respondents would vote for Republican challenger Lisa Scheller and 43 percent for Rep. Wild.

Among Democrat Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon’s top ten donors this election cycle is A Woman’s Place. Thus far, Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) has received $10,000. Her opponent, Republican Dave Galluch, is also unfazed by the uptick in voter registration among women, according to campaign manager Joe Luongo.

“From the start of his campaign, Dave has been focused on issues that are hurting families and women,” Luongo said. “Having been raised by a single mother, Dave knows first-hand the impact higher grocery and gas prices have on families, especially single mothers. Dave doesn’t need a poll to know that real leadership would never allow for a shortage of baby formula.”

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GOP’s Mastriano Targets Shapiro, Biden at Delco Rally

About 200 enthusiastic supporters packed Gatsby’s Bar and Restaurant in Aston Wednesday to listen to state Sen. Doug Mastriano, the Republican gubernatorial candidate.

Before addressing the crowd, Mastriano shook hands and posed for pictures, along with his wife, Rebecca. Dave White, a Delaware County businessman and former Delaware County councilman who also ran for governor, introduced Mastriano.

Rebecca and Doug Mastriano talk with supporters

“We came out of a contentious primary but in that primary, you had nine people that had nine great ideas and the people spoke,” said White, who has traveled the state supporting Mastriano. “And this is the time to come together. If you believe in economic development and tapping our resources and making Pennsylvania the energy capital of the United States, join this team. If you believe in school choice…we need Gov. Mastriano.”

Mastriano spoke for about 40 minutes, touching on various issues and getting in a few jabs at his Democrat opponent Attorney General Josh Shapiro as well as the press, which has not been kind to him. Every few sentences, the crowd cheered, applauded, or called out encouragement.

Dave White introduces Doug Mastriano.

Mastriano mentioned that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came to rally with him last Friday.

“The irony of coming to a state where our governor got it all wrong,” said Mastriano. “Ron DeSantis is showing us the way ahead for Pennsylvania. Our goal is to make Pennsylvania the Florida of the north.”

“My opponent spent $12 million and has nothing to show for it. He had no primary…He’s going to lose bad.”

“Sadly, Josh’s message is one of darkness and hate and division,” said Mastriano. “Of name calling, which Democrats are good at. And media, he has a six-year record as attorney general, won’t you even talk about that? No, because you like him.”

“He can’t run on his record because he’s a failure,” said Mastriano. “He’s been the attorney general for six years and crime has gone up 37 percent on his watch. Now Pennsylvania is the 12th highest in homicide, the senior law enforcement official…This guy’s incompetent. We ought to throw the bum out.”

“On his watch, we’re the 8th highest in overdoses,” he said.  “The fourth highest in Fentanyl. Sex trafficking is through the roof. He looks the other way with illegals.”

Instead of fighting crime, Shapiro sued the Little Sisters of the Poor, he said.

“Yes, he’s running lots of ads,” said Mastriano. “If anyone believes those ads I’ve got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn, cheap. As my Afghan friends said, ‘best friend price.’”

Mastriano served in the Army for 30 years and retired as a colonel before winning a seat in the state Senate to represent Franklin County. He also holds a Ph.D. in history.

He called the Biden administration’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan “disgusting,” and asked for a show of hands for Afghan veterans. “That just tore my heart out and I’m sure it’s a similar feeling to what the Vietnam veterans saw in 1975 with the fall of Saigon. Sheer incompetence. That incompetence emboldened tyrants like Putin. And I will note that Vladimir Putin behaved under Donald Trump, so we need old 45 to come rolling back.”

Trump endorsed Mastriano and plans to rally with him and Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in Wilkes-Barre on Sept. 3.

The Shapiro campaign has attacked Mastriano’s pro-life stand and, with the demise of Roe v. Wade, it has become an election issue.

About 20 demonstrators with pro-choice signs stood outside Gatsby’s before the Mastriano event and listened to remarks by Delaware County Party Chairwoman Colleen Guiney and state Sen. John Kane (D-Delaware/Chester).

“We believe that women have bodily autonomy,” she said, saying that they stand with Shapiro on women’s rights. Mastriano “has said, ‘Abortion should end right now and we should have no exceptions.’ That 11-year-old child has been victimized by a family member and is pregnant, she should carry that child to term. We don’t believe that is his choice. That is the choice of the child and their family and their doctor…I don’t believe doctors should do and I don’t believe women should go to jail for having healthcare in the United States of America.”

Kane said, “Yo, Doug Mastriano, you come into Delco with your no-comment express press conference. Delaware County does not want an extremist like you here.”

Asked by Delaware Valley Journal why Shapiro funded commercials that boosted Mastriano’s campaign during the GOP primary if he is such a ‘dangerous extremist,’ Kane said, “He wanted to make sure everybody knows what Doug Mastriano is all about. Doug Mastriano…when you’re taking rights away from women when you’re still talking about the election being stolen. When I got sworn in, I got sworn in with an awful lot of Republicans at the same time. Nobody ended up saying their election was stolen.”

During the rally, Mastriano introduced his wife, Rebecca, to talk about women’s rights.

“We believe in a women’s right to be born,” she said, and listed other rights such as safety, children’s education, and a “right to access baby formula and affordable groceries.”

“We believe in a woman’s right to raise a child where the government is enforcing the law and prosecuting crime,” she said. “We believe in a woman’s right to live in a nation with a secure border. We believe in a woman’s right to the First Amendment and after all, we are Pennsylvanians, we believe in a woman’s right to the Second Amendment. We believe in a woman’s right to compete in sports not dominated by men.”

“They don’t want to talk about inflation,” said Mastriano. “It’s so bad that even Jimmy Carter is looking decent now.”

“They don’t want to talk about the cities being burned to the ground just down the road from here, the Summer of Love,” he said.

Mastriano promised he would end Pennsylvania as a “sanctuary state.”

“When those ghost flights come into our airports, I’ll have the beautiful Pennsylvania State Police meeting those flights and…escorting those buses down to Joe Biden’s house in Delaware.” He praised law enforcement and mentioned that he’d gotten the state FOP’s endorsement.

Delaware County Democratic chair Colleen Guiney with protesters.

Mastriano also promised to take the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that is driving up the cost of electricity and to bring energy jobs back to Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania, we are truly at a crossroads between (Gov.) Wolf and Shapiro tyranny or under Mastriano freedom and liberty. I don’t know about you, but I chose freedom and liberty,” he said.

Several supporters told DVJournal why they support Mastriano.

“Our country is falling apart. I need to stick up for my children. I need to be able to tell my children I fought for our country,” said Maureen Willis of Landenberg, a former Democrat.

And Drexel Hill resident Richard Pruett said, “I support Doug, just like Donald Trump is supporting Doug. He believes in freedom. He believes in American first, energy independence. I love the fact he fought for us in battle, that he’s a colonel and on Day One he’ll open up the pipeline.”

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