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Weeks Before Primaries, McCormick, Casey Air General Election Campaign Ads

Three weeks before their party’s primaries even pick the nominees, the leading candidates for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania are already running TV ads targeting their November opponents.

Republican Dave McCormick’s campaign is airing an ad called “Wrestling.”

The ad highlights the Republican’s time on the Bloomsburg Area High School wrestling team. He was co-captain when the Columbia County team came in fourth place in the state and was a PIAA District 4 champion. He went on to wrestle at West Point, where he was co-captain of the Army Wrestling Team, and twice qualified for the NCAA Division I Tournament.

“Pennsylvania wrestling taught me to do the hard thing. Hard work. Hard choices. The Pennsylvania way. That’s not what we get from Washington. The career politicians don’t do the hard work. They’re selfish and soft,” McCormick says into the camera.



McCormick’s all-but-certain opponent, three-term incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr., has an ad called “Stench.” It talks about veterans who were exposed to burn pits, mainly in Afghanistan and Iraq,  and may have developed health problems from them. Casey helped pass the bipartisan Burn Pits Bill to make the Veterans Administration pay for their care.

He followed that up with “Fleeced,” which blames big corporations for “greedflation.” In the ad, Casey says he plans to give the Federal Trade Commission “the power to punish corporate price-gouging.” He also wants to “roll back their huge corporate tax breaks, putting money in your pocket instead.”


Casey is a native of Scranton (like fellow Democrat Joe Biden) and the son of a former Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey Sr.

Casey ran for treasurer in 2004, then used the statewide office as a platform to defeat incumbent Republican Rick Santorum in 2006. He’s the first Pennsylvania Democrat to win three terms in the U.S. Senate.

Casey chairs the U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging, as well as serving on the Finance, Intelligence and HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) committees.

McCormick served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. He was deployed to the Middle East during the First Gulf War and received the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq before retiring as a captain. After leaving the Army, McCormick, 58, earned a Ph.D. in international affairs at Princeton. He then joined and led a successful tech business in Pittsburgh before taking positions in the George W. Bush administration.

He served as the U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs, on the National Security Council, and in the Department of Commerce. McCormick was CEO and president of two publicly traded software companies and a consultant at McKinsey & Co.

He was the CEO of Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, before jumping into politics in 2022. At that time, he told DVJournal that he was inspired to run for office after President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, where 13 service members and numerous Afghan people lost their lives.

He ran for Senate and lost the primary by fewer than 1,000 votes to Dr. Mehmet Oz, who went on to lose to now-Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.)


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Monto Commissioner Races Heat Up

The old saying “politics ain’t beanbag” is playing out in the Montgomery County commissioners race, which is more wide open than it has been in recent memory.

Monday is the last day to register to vote in the May 16 primary. And in the last two weeks of April, the contest for two Republican Montgomery County commissioner spots on the fall ballot has ramped up into high gear.

Radio stations are running ads for incumbent Joe Gale and another narrated by Liz Ferry, touting herself and her running mate, Tom DiBello.

Ferry also has many digital ads on Facebook and other platforms and plans to air TV ads, too. Both Ferry and DiBello were endorsed by the county GOP. Gale did not seek its endorsement.

And there are the mailings, too.

Gale sent at least two cards that urge voters to “bullet vote” or vote for only him while decrying the other Republicans as “liberals” who voted to raise taxes in their previous positions. He slammed Ferry for voting for a resolution as an Upper Dublin commissioner that “deplored” law enforcement for the death of George Floyd and mentioned “the innate racial prejudice in each and every person.”

One Republican voter told DVJournal that after seeing that mailing, he is unlikely to vote for either Gale or Ferry.

On the other hand, a mailer on behalf of DiBello and sent by a political action committee (PAC) offered an upbeat message. It said he would support small business and law enforcement, wants to keep elections fair, and is for “parents’ voices in their kids’ education.”

Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale

Asked about negative ads, Charlie Gerow, a Republican consultant, and CEO of Quantum Communications, said, “They work. Otherwise, people wouldn’t use them. But they generally work only in a positive environment. That means it’s best to establish your own positive identity by telling voters about your qualifications and what you’ll do in office before going after your opponent.

“It’s also important that the negatives be limited to compare and contrast ads focused on things in the public arena. Cheap shots and slander usually backfire.”

Asked about his attacks on his fellow Republicans, Gale blamed “party bosses” who want an “insider” on the board to funnel contracts to their favored companies.

He said that he is an “unwavering fiscal watchdog.”

“I have opposed every tax increase sent to my desk, identified hundreds of millions of dollars in wasteful spending, and exposed pay-to-play politics. In addition, I battled the totalitarian COVID-19 lockdowns and shutdowns that brought harm to so many schoolchildren and small-business owners.

“Most notably, I have been Pennsylvania’s leading voice in the effort to restore election integrity. I voted to implement paper ballots that provide an auditable record of every vote cast, opposed the purchase and installation of mail-in ballot drop-boxes, and opposed all contracts related to mail-in voting and the mail-in Ballot Counting Center.” He also refused to certify elections since Act 77, allowing no-excuse mail-in votes, passed the legislature.

“The Republican voters of Montgomery County have the right to know that the GOP establishment is deceiving them by endorsing two candidates who have a proven record of governing like left-wing Democrats,” said Gale.

The commissioners will be paid $98,200 next year. However, Gale voted against the pay raise that the two Democrats on the board–Val Arkoosh and Kenneth Lawrence Jr.–passed as they also raised taxes by 8 percent. Gale said he would not take the pay increase.

But Ferry paints Gale as ineffective.

She said that even though there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the county, she and DeBello have a good shot at taking back the county Board of Commissioners, which has been in Democratic control since 2011.

With five relatively unknown people running on the Democratic side, Ferry and DeBello say there is an opening for Republicans to win this year by wooing independent voters.

“People are tired of Joe Gale working for third place. Tom and I believe we can win if we get out the vote,” said Ferry, who mentioned that Gale campaigned for governor last year while serving as commissioner.”

The three-member board has one seat reserved for the minority party.

“I get things done, unlike Joe Gale, who says he votes against tax increases and then approves almost every expense without asking any questions,” said Ferry.

Ferry said the last two years, she got her Upper Dublin board to pass budgets with no tax increases, despite being the only Republican among the seven members. And before that, she was able to pare costs to reduce tax hikes, she said.

She said she was able to stop high-density development in several residential areas and preserve open space, work to get small businesses open during COVID-19, worked with the Turnpike Commission to build a new zip ramp at Fort Washington in order to revitalize the Fort Washington office park and bring in new companies.

Of the five Democrats running—Commissioner Jamila Winder, Tanya Bamford, Neil Makhija, Kimberly Koch, and Noah Marlier–only Makhija appears to be sending campaign postcards so far.

Cheltenham resident Carol Bassetti, a registered Democrat, said she has received a few from him that “go straight to the shredder.” She doesn’t know about any of the five Democratic candidates running but said she would do her own research.

“I’m not going to look at his advertisements that say he’s the guy,” said Bassetti. “He’s not going to fix cancer or stop the war. I will do my due diligence before the election.”


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‘Dems for Florio’ Target Muth Over Allegations of Abuse, Transphobia

Attack ads are hitting mailboxes in the state Senate District 44 contest between incumbent Democrat Katie Muth and her Republican challenger Jessica Florio. One stands out because it is an intraparty crossfire: The call is coming from inside the house.

“Democrats for Jessica Florio” sent mailers in the last week attacking Muth for recent reports that she fostered a hostile, bullying work environment in her Senate office and that she made a transphobic remark about Admiral Rachel Levine, a transgender woman who was previously the state’s health secretary.

Muth’s seat is considered one of the closest Senate races this midterm. The district, based mainly in Chester County but also touching parts of Montgomery and Berks, is evenly split between registered Republicans and Democrats. Muth won in 2018 by a 52-48 margin in a Democrat wave year.

The front side of the mailer says Muth “is an abusive employer,” and that she is “transphobic,” and concludes the argument on the flip side with “Bigotry is not progressive.”

“I’ve been a loyal party operator my entire life,” said Adrienne Redd, a Montgomery County Democrat who has run for office in the past. Asked why she was part of the Democrats for Florio effort, Redd said it’s because of her values. “Humanity and kindness are my highest values. and I am a pragmatic progressive with impeccable credentials.”

The mailer references two previous reports from Broad + Liberty, an online-only news and opinion site based in Philadelphia. Its opinion content features mainly right-of-center voices.

In the first report, Broad + Liberty used employment data from the Pennsylvania Senate to show Muth, still in her first term, had quickly cycled through numerous staffers, including four chiefs of staff and four communications directors. The report said her office witnessed 200 percent turnover, and no other Senate office came close to approaching that figure.

The report also included a Facebook quote from a former staffer who alleged Muth fostered a hostile work environment.

“All you have to do is check the public records to see that she’s had the highest turnover of chief of staff and everybody all the way down of any legislator ever in the history of the state of Pennsylvania.” And, Redd said, some of those staffers sought mental health treatment after their experience, including for PTSD.

Adrienne Redd

Muth did not deny the high turnover rate at the time, arguing  that her political mission “requires that I hold myself and my team to high-performance standards.” But in a statement to DVJournal, Muth now rejects the allegations as a “personal vendetta” against her from disgruntled Democrats.

“Personal vendettas have no place in government or in politics,” Muth said. “This election should be about issues and the ability to make an impact for our constituents and for all Pennsylvania residents. Since the beginning of this campaign, I have been subjected to outright lies, deceptive mailers paid for by dark money, and solicited, libelous articles in sham online publications like Broad and Liberty.”

[Muth’s entire statement to DVJournal can be found here.]

The mailer also references a second story about an official transcript of unsworn testimony from a former Air Force Major General who said Muth had called then-Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine a “mess in a dress.”

The former major general, Eric Weller, had previously been the second in charge of Pennsylvania’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and had some oversight of the Southeastern Veterans Center, a long-term care facility in Muth’s district that saw a higher-than-average death rate, especially in the earliest weeks of the pandemic.

Muth pushed out two of the top administrators at the SEVC, with the support of some upset families of residents. Weller believes those administrators were scapegoated as he theorized that culpability would either fall on the pandemic response of Gov. Wolf’s administration, or it could depend on the mid-level administrators.

Once again, Muth did not confirm or refute Weller’s claim about the Levine comment at the time of the first story. Today she is calling Weller a liar.

“Not only is Major General Eric Weller lying in his testimony, but he should be ashamed considering he was forced to retire due to his poor leadership, which resulted in dozens of veterans dying in the state-run veteran’s homes that he oversaw,” Muth said.

Muth also claimed that former state senator Daylin Leach was behind the attack ad.

“The recent PAC that was created was done so to smear my reputation by a group of individuals loyal to Leach, who lost his bid for re-election in 2020 after losing nearly all of the support from the Democratic Party and the district that he served,” Muth said.

“Not surprisingly, my opponent has accepted their help in a last-ditch effort to salvage her campaign,” Muth added.

Even when she was a candidate for the Senate, Muth, a rape victim, signaled she intended to try and push Leach out for alleged sexual improprieties. The Senate Democratic caucus did eventually force him to resign.

The mailer alleges that ethics complaints have been filed against Muth, but no evidence in the public arena exists to substantiate that idea.

Michael Straw, who runs the Pennsylvania Republican Senatorial Committee, says it is time for Democrats to dump Muth.

“Katie Muth has spent the last four years abusing and bullying her staff. No one deserves that. Democrats should be distancing themselves from Sen. Muth.”

Even some Chester County Democrats admit off the record Muth’s defensive reaction isn’t helpful.

“The old saying in politics is ‘if you’re explaining, you’re losing,’ said one local political insider. “But this isn’t just ‘losing.’ She’s ‘losing it.’”