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Hearing on Quinn Open Primaries Bill Held at Villanova University

Should Pennsylvania join the states with open primaries where people with no party affiliation can vote to nominate Democrat or Republican candidates?

That was the question considered at a House State Government Committee hearing Tuesday at Villanova University. State Rep. Chris Quinn (R-Media) is the prime sponsor of a bill that would allow open voting.

“I want all Pennsylvanians to have a role in our democracy and play a part in our primary elections,” said Quinn. “For this reason, I’ve introduced HB 1369, better known as the Open Primaries Bill. As Pennsylvania becomes more and more politically polarized, partisanship has become more relevant than ever in our politics. Primaries are the marquee election that determines who represents us in Washington, Harrisburg, and in our local communities.”

Nearly 1.2 million state residents cannot vote in the primaries because they are registered independent and not affiliated with one of the two major parties, he said.

Reps. Chris Quinn (left) and Craig Staats

John Opdyke, president of Open Primaries, a group that lobbies to convert cities and states to open primaries, was among those who testified. He said the traditional image of independent voters being less engaged is wrong.

“Their levels of engagement are very high,” he said. A recent Arizona State University study analyzed social media and found independent voters are just as engaged as Republicans and Democrats but have more politically diverse networks as far as their contacts, he said.

“I think that giving independents the right to vote in primaries is not just an issue of fairness; in some ways, it’s like laying down a red carpet for those voters that I believe have a really important role to play in American politics right now, given how polarized it’s become, given how divisive. And how the temperature has gone up in many ways. Bringing independents into the equation I think creates much more opportunity of bridging the partisan divide at both the legalization level and the community level.”

Closed primaries decrease turnout in the primaries and decrease turnout in the general election by 20 percent, according to a University of Southern California study, he said.

“This is the norm around the country,” he said of open primaries. Pennsylvania is one of only nine states with closed primaries. However, voters can change their party up to 15 days before a primary to vote in it. And according to an Associated Press poll, 69 percent of voters favor open primaries.

He noted that in 35 percent of Pennsylvania districts only a Democrat or Republican is running in the general election. So the primary determines who represents the voters.

Former Republican State Chairman Alan Novak and T.J. Rooney, former Democratic State Chairman, both testified in favor of the bill.

“From a party perspective, it’s a smart thing to do,” said Novak. In Chester County, where he lives, 18 percent of the voters are independent, with 12 percent statewide. “The swing voters today are independent voters.” And those voters decide close elections. He says he believes candidates should start communicating with them earlier in the process.

Reps. Paul Schemel (left) and Jared Solomon

Rooney said it would be “healthy for democracy” to allow independent voters to vote in primaries.

Jack Wagner, with Ballot PA Vets and Pittsburgh Hires Veterans, also spoke in favor of open primaries, along with Army veteran Marilyn Kelly-Cavotta with Ballot PA Vets, who is also the executive director of veteran and military services at Moravian University. Both said open primaries would benefit veterans.

Wagner, a former Marine who also served as state auditor general said, “I don’t know of any issue in a democracy that is more fundamental than the right to vote.”

Because many veterans identify as Americans rather than as Democrats or Republicans, they tend to register as independent, which prevents them from voting in the primaries, he said.

“How about the veteran who shows up that lost both legs in Iraq or Afghanistan? In a wheelchair and shows up thinking they can vote on the primary election day and they find out they can’t. They’ve just given part of their body to their country by serving their country,” said Wagner.

Wagner added, “The country called on them to serve the country, and they did so. And now they’re being excluded from voting 50 percent of the time (as independents).”

Rep. Paul Schemel (R-Franklin Co.) asked, “If they don’t want to be with either party, why do they want to select that party’s nominee? The general election is to select who serves in the office.” Schemel does not believe it’s the government’s responsibility to fix this problem, but rather it should be up to the political parties.

Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia) said he does not have a Republican opponent. “Maybe my unaffiliated voters like me, maybe they don’t…So independents have no say. They have zero say in the process,” said Solomon.

The Open Primaries bill will be taken up by the House State Government Committee before going to the full House for a vote. In the last session, the state Senate passed a similar bill.

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Point: Sellout or Statesman? Manchin Charts a Prominent Path

For an alternate viewpoint, see “Counterpoint: Manchin Disappoints With Inflation Reduction Act.”

What more do the Democrats want from Joe Manchin?

The West Virginia senator has voted in favor of President Biden’s policies more than 90 percent of the time. Among 52 key votes that help define a presidency, Manchin cast the decisive vote six times on important issues ranging from protecting voting rights to providing $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 relief. A fiscal conservative, he cast the critical vote to increase the federal debt limit and to approve a $3.5 trillion budget plan.

Just last week, he signed off on expanding subsidies for President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Health Care Act, making a record $370 billion investment in combatting climate change, implementing a minimum 15 percent corporate tax, and allowing Medicare to negotiate less-expensive prescription drug prices for beneficiaries, a move fiercely opposed by Big Pharma.

So crucial was his role that influential news outlets dubbed the package he hammered out with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “the Manchin deal.”

All this from a senator who represents a poor Appalachian state still dependent on coal mining, one who voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in the last two presidential elections.

Remarkably, in a sign of the follow-the-leader politics that now dominate both parties, Manchin’s 90.4 percent pro-Biden voting record on major issues places him dead last in presidential loyalty among all 50 Democratic senators.

Despite supporting Biden most of the time, it’s Manchin’s contrary stances that grab headlines and spark anger from more progressive Democratic lawmakers.

Most significantly, Manchin made it clear he would singlehandedly kill the centerpiece of Biden’s legislative agenda, the Build Back Better Act, after the House passed it in November. Manchin said he opposed the package because of its effect on inflation and its overall $2.2 trillion price tag.

So strong was Manchin’s opposition, it led Biden and Schumer to rename the bill, which upon its July 27 Senate introduction was called the Inflation Reduction Act. Most significantly for Manchin, its $443 billion price tag is one-fifth that of the House measure.

Months before the trimmed-back package was released, Manchin faced fury from some progressive lawmakers for blocking Biden’s much bigger BBB plan, as Schumer and other Washington insiders call it. Rep. Cori Bush, a Missouri Democrat, branded Manchin’s opposition “anti-Black, anti-child, anti-woman and anti-immigrant” because the package included funding for those groups.

During Donald Trump’s four years in office, Manchin voted against Trump’s positions half the time on his most important issues. Here, too, he was dead last among Democratic senators — the lowest percentage of key votes opposing the Republican president.

Some pro-Trump votes were popular bipartisan measures such as pandemic aid, economic stimulus in response to coronavirus shutdowns, and efforts to ease the opioid crisis.

But on other, more controversial issues, Manchin joined Republicans in passing legislation that narrowly overcame Democratic opposition. Reflecting his coal constituency, he helped block tougher restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. He helped defeat an aid bill for migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and helped pass a measure providing $5.7 billion for a border wall. He voted for William Barr and Jeff Sessions to become attorney general. He backed Republicans in a close-but-failed bid to end federal funding of abortions. He cast the only Democratic vote to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

At a different age at a different time, Democratic leaders who parted paths with their party compatriots were hailed as visionaries.

President Lyndon Johnson overcame fierce resistance from fellow Southern Democrats to push through the historic Civil Rights Act in 1964 and, a year later, the landmark Voting Rights Act, making some concessions to gain needed support from a few.

“I am a compromiser and maneuverer,” Johnson said. “I try to get something. That’s the way our system works.”

With his New Democrats movement, President Bill Clinton led his party back to the center while gaining two terms in the White House. Among his more moderate policies, Clinton backed work requirements for welfare recipients, supported a tough anti-crime bill, and pushed for a balanced budget.

“The era of big government is over,” he famously said in 1996, halfway through his tenure.

Thirteen years later, newly elected President Barack Obama resisted many fellow Democrats’ calls for universal health care, opting instead to maintain private insurance. That compromise helps explain why Republicans have failed dozens of times to repeal the law now universally known — and widely heralded — as Obamacare.

So far, Manchin has resisted outreach from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to ditch the Democrats and switch parties, following the path of Democrat-turned-Republican luminaries such as Ronald Reagan, Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms.

That prospect would give Republicans control of the Senate and increase Manchin’s clout. So, too, does the fear that a Trump acolyte could defeat him in two years.

In his 2012 race for his first full Senate term, after serving the last two years of Sen. Robert Byrd’s term following Byrd’s death, Manchin defeated his Republican opponent by a 24-point margin. Six years later, with Trump hugely popular in West Virginia, Manchin’s victory margin was sliced to barely 3 points.

Facing re-election in 2024, when Biden is vowing he’ll be back on the ballot and Trump is more than hinting at another run, Manchin will seek a third full Senate term.

Voters will decide then whether the man who was dead last in opposing Trump and dead last in supporting Biden has been a sellout or a statesman.

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Counterpoint: Manchin Disappoints With Inflation Reduction Act

For an alternative viewpoint see “Point: Sellout or Statesman: Manchin Charts a Prominent Path.”

Throughout Joe Biden’s presidency, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has acted as a check on his party’s worst excesses. Manchin has stopped billions, possibly trillions, of unaffordable government spending. He trimmed bills into a reasonable state and was the key voice bringing, for instance, the Biden infrastructure bill from $715 billion down to $550 billion of new spending.

Manchin has generally been a voice of moderation in a party under pressure from its most fervent Big Government voices. As inflation strains household budgets and recession threatens our economy, imagine how much worse off we would be without Manchin.

After all that, he caved. The now infamous deal struck with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer means the absurdly named “Inflation Reduction Act,” which includes $369 billion worth of climate spending, can go forward in Congress.

There are protectionist tax credits for electric vehicles with bureaucratic hurdles such as “Made in America” provisions, income limitations and maximum vehicle value restrictions. Red tape, not the consumer, is the real winner.

The bill will also make offshore oil drilling more expensive, which can only increase energy prices. The royalty rate to the government for offshore oil will increase by a third. The minimum amount one can bid for an offshore oil lease is going up. So is the annual rental rate for holding such a lease. There will be new fees on methane leakage at oil and gas sites, including transmission and processing facilities, and royalties on flared gas.

And while the bill does include some incentives for opening up new offshore oil leases, those offshore rigs will still face years of slow, inefficient regulatory processes such as environmental impact statements before oil can come out of the ground.

What does it all mean? Your energy bill every month will be higher. You’ll pay more at the pump to fill up your car — even if you own an electric vehicle. Sixty percent of power still comes from fossil fuels, after all, so even Tesla owners will be paying more for using their cars.

Climate bills aim to make fossil fuels more expensive and make renewables seem less expensive by subsidizing them. To that end, the bill includes $60 billion for domestic manufacturing of clean energy, including solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and mining. But those incentives will take time to take effect, and new manufacturers and renewable energy providers in the meantime will have to navigate regulations and red tape at both the state and federal levels.

Meanwhile, the penalties — the disincentives against fossil fuels — have no delay. They go into effect immediately, punishing energy producers with higher taxes, fees and penalties, leading to price hikes. Manchin and the Democrats put the cart before the horse. They’re trying to transition Americans to a renewable energy world that simply doesn’t exist. And in the end, people will suffer as energy costs skyrocket.

That can’t bode well for Democrats come election time, with people upset about higher prices at the pump, the grocery store and their energy bills. Even in Manchin’s home state of West Virginia, a potential Republican challenger for his Senate seat is already attacking Manchin’s support of the Inflation Reduction Act for “betraying West Virginia and destroying our economy.”

Manchin made his choice. And in 2024, voters in the Mountain State might feel done with those bad policies.

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Are DelVal Dems Hidin’ From Biden?

When President Joe Biden came to Cleveland on Wednesday to tout his success at keeping Americans on the job, it apparently hit home with one prominent Democrat: U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Tim Ryan was too busy to show up for Biden’s speech.

Ryan, who is in a tough race against Republican J.D. Vance, had “a busy campaign schedule with prior commitments,” his spokesperson told Roll Call.

Ryan wasn’t the only one. The Democrats’ candidate for governor of Ohio, Nan Whaley, was also a no-show for Biden’s appearance.

It’s part of a national trend. Last week, Virginia Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanbeger, when asked if she wanted the president to campaign for her in her swing district, told Fox News, “I intend to do the campaigning myself.” And prominent progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) created headaches for the White House with her recent remarks that if Biden runs for re-election she may not support him.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Still, Biden is determined to stay on the campaign trail and the head of the Democratic Legislative Campaign told Politico she hopes he will campaign with state legislative candidates in the coming months.

“We have a great relationship with the Biden White House,” said chair Jessica Post. “So we hope that translates into seeing President Biden out campaigning for us, for state legislatures.”

In Pennsylvania, where 54 percent of voters have a negative view of Biden, that may be wishful thinking — even in the blue environs of the Delaware Valley. While gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro insists he would welcome the president to join him on the campaign trail, the question is whether other Keystone State Democrats feel the same.

Delaware Valley Journal reached out to seven Democratic candidates for both state House and Senate across the region, asking if they would be willing to appear with Biden. Only one responded.

“With the national attention on this election, I am confident that public officials from both parties will be visiting our area,” Ann Marie Mitchell, Democratic nominee in state Senate District 6 in Bucks County, said in a statement.

She added she hopes that and other efforts by her team will lead to higher voter turnout and engagement in the campaign, but declined to say whether she would appear with Biden if given the chance.

The other six candidates contacted included incumbents like state Sen. Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery) and state Rep. Danielle Friel-Otten (D-HD155), and challengers like Cathy Spahr in House District 160 (Delaware/Chester), and Jill Dennin in Senate District 24 (Montgomery/Bucks/Berks).

“When it comes to Democrats in tough elections, I guess Joe Biden doesn’t ‘have a friend in Pennsylvania,'” quipped GOP strategist Charlie O’Neill. “And who can blame them? Running with Joe Biden this election cycle is like starting a baseball game down 10 runs. Nevertheless, Democrats nominated him, and they have to defend his record. So whether they want to or not, all Democrats on the ballot have to contend with Biden’s lack of success.”

Biden convincingly carried the Delaware Valley in 2020 while outperforming down-ballot candidates and winning some of the districts Democrats hope to flip this November.

However, Biden today is more unpopular than he was in 2020. In a new Harvard/Harris poll, 71 percent of Americans said they do not want him to seek a second term. And a new Civiqs poll put Biden’s approval rating nationwide at just 30 percent.

In 2020, Democrats wanted Biden to be more visible and prominent with their slates of candidates. Now, hoping the fight over abortion will boost their chances in November by energizing their base, Democrats, at least in the Delaware Valley, won’t say if they will appear with the president.

Biden has endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and pitched his candidacy in Philadelphia to an AFL-CIO convention. Still, Fetterman has not said whether he would welcome a chance to campaign with the president.

 

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Philly Democrats Remain Largely Silent on Krasner Non-Prosecution Stance for Illegal Guns

The political focus on guns in Philadelphia has dramatically intensified in the wake of two mass shootings: a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 students and two teachers on May 24, then a street fight that exploded into a full shootout in Philadelphia’s South Street entertainment district, killing three and wounding eleven.

In the wake of the South Street shooting, political leaders across the city issued calls for more gun control legislation from Washington D.C. and Harrisburg, while also addressing various local issues related to gun violence.

For all the calls for new gun laws, some laws on the books remain conspicuous because District Attorney Larry Krasner has indicated his office will not pursue violators.

“We do not believe that arresting people and convicting them for illegal gun possession is a viable strategy to reduce shootings,” Krasner’s office told the Inquirer in January.

Absent any evidence of a shift in thinking at the district attorney’s office, Broad + Liberty asked 23 different elected officials across the city — Mayor Kenney, all sixteen members of the Philadelphia City Council, as well as seven state representatives or senators who represent a part of the city —  their opinions on Krasner’s stance on illegal guns, given the heightened interest in gun violence.

Only two responded.

“Mayor Kenney believes that individuals carrying guns illegally should be held accountable for that choice,” said Kevin Lessard, Mayor Kenney’s press officer. “The Philadelphia Police Department took a record number of guns off the street last year, and they continue to remove a substantial amount of guns this year. We will continue to do everything we can to address the major causes of violence, while attempting to remove the tools that generate that violence: guns.”

Councilmember Mark Squilla gave a more generic answer.

“My stance has not changed on this topic: all elected officials are responsible for the rise in crime and sense of lawlessness,” Squilla said. “What are we doing to ensure public safety for our Residents, Businesses and Visitors?   We all need to work together and show a united front supporting safety policies to reverse this trend. I am committed to working with all stakeholders to make public safety our number one priority.”

While Squilla was the only one of the sixteen members of council who provided a comment, the state representatives and senators who also did not respond were: Sen. Art Haywood, Sen. Anthony Williams, Rep. Amen Brown, Rep. Kevin Boyle, Rep. JoAnna McClinton, and Rep. Joseph C. Hohenstein

(Sen. Williams did place a call to this reporter about the query, but Broad + Liberty asked that he submit his answers in writing. No other response was forthcoming. Councilmember Bass attempted to coordinate a statement, but said she was unable to do so because of time constraints.)

Kenney was slightly more pointed in the days immediately following the South Street shooting.

“It’s gotten to the point where there’s no price to pay for carrying illegal guns, so people carry them because they don’t think anything is going to happen,” he said.

Krasner’s office pushed back, saying, “Fewer than 30 percent of shooters are actually arrested by police, which is why the DA has been so vocal about the Kenney administration shifting resources to forensic technologies and more rigorous investigative training to help police solve more cases.”

However, a Broad + Liberty investigation earlier in the year turned up no evidence that the district attorney’s office had ever made direct, specific requests to either the mayor’s office or to the city council with detailed forensic needs.

In newsletters, Krasner has said he has made repeated requests to City Hall for better forensics.

One Philadelphia Police captain highlighted the illegal guns issue on Twitter.

“Yes. Out of 303 total illegal firearm arrests (VUFA’s) from 2019 & 2020 in the @PPD18Dist. Only TWO… Have received a state prison sentence. Two,” wrote Captain Matthew Gillespie.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw also brought up the issue in a long form conversation with 6ABC but didn’t mention Krasner by name.

 

 

 

“But we’ve also taken a record number of illegal crime guns off the street — close to 6,000 last year. And we’re on pace to do the same thing this year. And if these guns are not prioritized, we’re going to continue to keep seeing the same thing that we’re seeing year over year,” Outlaw said (minute 10:00 of the video).

“There has to be consequences for those carrying illegal guns or are using them in ways that are not in alignment with what the law says,” she concluded.

On Monday, three Republican members of the Pennsylvania House announced they are taking the first steps to begin impeachment proceedings against Krasner for “dereliction of duty in willfully refusing to enforce current criminal laws already on the books[.]”

The impeachment push faces long odds. If charges were able to pass out of the Pennsylvania House (where Republicans hold a majority) with a simple majority vote, they would still need to peel off at least five Democratic senators for the two-thirds majority needed to convict in the upper chamber.

This article first appeared in Broad  + Liberty.

Radnor Democrats Push Pro-Choice Ordinance Blocking Enforcement of Future Abortion Laws

Radnor Township is ready to break with the rest of Pennsylvania, at least when it comes to abortion.

On Monday, the township commissioners voted to advance an ordinance that would prohibit the use of township resources to enforce any new abortion restrictions the state might put into place if Roe v. Wade is overturned as many U.S. Supreme Court watchers expect.

George Badey, chair of the Radnor Democrats, touted the proposed ordinance in his May newsletter and asked members to come out and support it. “We will not tolerate the GOP using Radnor taxpayer-funded local law enforcement resources to take away the currently existing rights that Pennsylvania women have had for almost 50 years!” Badey wrote.

BOC Vice President Jack Larkin offered an overview of the ordinance at Monday’s meeting.

“What this would do (is) to preclude the police or any other township employee from using township resources including their salaries to affect an arrest or otherwise investigate, prosecute, or penalize abortion as it is currently permitted in Pennsylvania,” he said. “This would essentially freeze the right to abortion here within Radnor Township.”

Current Pennsylvania law bans abortions after the 24th week unless the woman’s life or health are at risk.

Commissioner Lisa Borowski, who is running to be a state representative, said the ordinance, if adopted, would protect a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions.

“Overturning Roe v. Wade would put state and local leaders on the front lines to protect women’s rights,” she said. “Tonight, we are takings steps to protect a woman’s right to choose.

“I deeply value the doctor-patient relationship and I don’t believe we should be putting our police in the middle of that relationship.”

The vote was 4-2 with one abstention. Larkin, Borowski, Maggy Myers, and Board President Moira Mulroney voted yes.

AnnaMarie Jones and Jake Abel voted no. Both expressed concerns that the ordinance, if passed, would place undue restrictions on the township’s police force.

“I voted “no” primarily because of the uncertainty of what the unintended consequences would be if police are kept from investigating a call -no matter what the issue is,” Jones said. “There could be criminality above and beyond a reproductive issue. That being said, I am in support of women being able to make their own healthcare choices and will stand with my colleagues to find a way to protect women and physicians in our community if Roe is overturned.”

And most residents agree with her, she said.

“Many say it’s too soon. Roe hasn’t been overturned and we have the Delaware County district attorney saying he won’t prosecute women and doctors. I’m prepared to pivot based on the Supreme Court’s future decision, if women and practitioners will become targets, who our governor will be in 2023, and what the majority of constituents are feeling at the time,” she said.

Commissioner Sean Farhy abstained.

Marlene Downing. who serves on the board of the Prolife Union of Greater Philadelphia, was dismayed by the board’s action.

“We are saddened by the township’s decision to come against state law if Roe v. Wade is overturned,” she said. “We don’t believe any city should be excited to be an ‘abortion sanctuary.’ This places a very dark label on Radnor Township where the end of innocent human life will be a main attraction.”

Like Jones and Abel, Downing expressed concern that the ordinance, as it now stands, undermines the township’s police department.

“The fact that local jurisdictions feel comfortable in overturning higher authorities depicts the state of our country. Where is the order? Local police departments being forced to abstain from investigation of criminal activity regarding abortion is very concerning. We should all be concerned,” she said.

A final vote will likely be taken in June before the Supreme Court is expected to rule on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a Mississippi law banning abortion after the 15th week of pregnancy.

A leaked draft of an opinion by Justice Sam Alito appears to show a majority of the court is prepared to overturn the controversial Roe v. Wade decision in its ruling on the Dobbs case.

Abortion is certain to be a hot topic in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race. The Republican candidate, state Sen. Doug Mastriano  (R-Franklin) has called for a ban on abortions in the state with no exceptions for rape or incest. Democrats and their allies are spending $6 million on ads attacking Mastriano’s stance on the issue.

His Democratic opponent, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, is pro-choice.

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Fetterman’s Foes Attack Him on For Shotgun Incident

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman was acting like “f—ing Batman” when he brandished a shotgun at an unarmed Black jogger in 2013, one of his opponents, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta said.

The incident happened when Fetterman was mayor of Braddock, a majority Black borough where he served for 13 years.

Fetterman said he saw the man running away after hearing what he believed were gunshots, a claim backed up by two witnesses who also reported hearing gunfire, according to a police report. He chased down the man and detained him until police arrived. Police said in their report they arrived and found Fetterman’s truck parked in the middle of the roadway.

He was holding a black shotgun in his hands and continued screaming at cops that he knew that the jogger “was shooting.” The man was searched for weapons but he was unarmed.

The shotgun-toting episode has received renewed attention from state and national media as Fetterman’s profile has risen in recent months since he announced his candidacy for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat. Now firmly the Democratic frontrunner, with a sizeable campaign war chest, Fetterman has spent the last few weeks fending off attacks from Kenyatta and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb ahead of the May 17 primary.

PA state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia)

Kenyatta, who has fallen far behind Fetterman in recent polls, returned to the incident during both televised debates. At one point, given a chance to ask opponents a question, Kenyatta urged the hulking lieutenant governor to own his mistake and apologize to the jogger, Christopher Miyares.

In an interview with Delaware Valley Journal this week, Kenyatta ratcheted up his attacks on Fetterman, drawing comparisons between his actions and that of three men who were convicted of chasing down and fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery with a shotgun as he jogged through a neighborhood in Brunswick, Ga. in February 2020.

He said that while he did not believe Fetterman to be a racist, his actions still constituted an “act of gun violence.”

“I don’t think the parallels stop at Ahmaud Aubery,” Kenyatta said. “You can also look at Trayvon Martin. You can look at Kyle Rittenhouse – people who feel like they can be vigilantes. I mean, John is not f–ing Batman. There’s no way you can look at his behavior and say this is appropriate. … He has to model a basic level of leadership. A part of leadership is owning up to mistakes. … What he did was wrong. He knows it was wrong.”

Kenyatta was not holding his breath about Fetterman apologizing because “any type of accountability” for him feels “like persecution.”

“Powerful men like John are used to having to play by a different set of rules,” Kenyatta said at the debate. “He wasn’t held accountable because he was the mayor, and he’s trying not to be held accountable now.”

For his part, Fetterman did not offer a mea culpa at the debate, instead suggesting it wasn’t a big deal in the minds of majority-Black voters in Braddock who re-elected him. And his camp did not respond to DVJ’s emailed request for comment.

Kenyatta pointed out at the debate that Fetterman won re-election with only 186 votes.

“I’m not sure why you’d want to diminish a small marginalized Black community,” Fetterman shot back.

Even some of the most ardent of Fetterman’s supporters believe it would be good for him to apologize for the incident.

“People never let us forget our mistakes, even if you’re a lieutenant governor,” said Alim Howell, an activist with Race for Peace who spoke supportively of Fetterman. “I think it was just a family protection instinct. But I think he should apologize. We all have to apologize at some point for our actions.”

The activist said it would have been better for Fetterman to let the police handle the situation rather than intervening.

But two legal experts who spoke to the Delaware Valley Journal said the then-mayor’s actions appeared justified despite his opponents’ attempt to paint him as a vigilante and Fetterman’s own seemingly incriminating interview with a local news outlet that his actions that day may have run afoul of state law.

It can be a crime to point a gun at somebody in the state of Pennsylvania, but prominent defense attorney Charles Peruto Jr. said Fetterman was protected from prosecution because he was acting in an official capacity.

“As the mayor of Braddock, he is also in charge of the police department. He is ostensibly the highest law enforcement agent in town,” Peruto said. “He can hold the guy in custody for investigative purposes.”

Fetterman’s camp started using the term “chief law enforcement officer” last year to rebut suggestions from opponents like Kenyatta who accused him of acting like a vigilante, NBC News reported.

The Pennsylvania Association of Borough Mayors describes the duties of mayors in its handbook as “to preserve order in the borough, enforce the ordinances and resolutions, remove nuisances, exact a faithful performance of the duties of the officers appointed and perform such other duties assigned by law or ordinance.”

Former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. said the law doesn’t punish people for “making mistakes of fact.”

“It punishes people for making intentional or reckless decisions that are objectively criminal or so obviously ‘bad’ as to be unreasonable under the circumstances known to the actor at the time. … My opinion is that there was no crime on its face,” he said.

The man at the other end of the shotgun, Miyares wrote to The Philadelphia Inquirer while serving a prison sentence for kidnapping, terrorist threats and unlawful restraint, among other crimes.

In letters, he claimed Fetterman “lied about everything” when he denied pointing the shotgun at his chest and claimed he did not initially know his race.

But Miyares said he did not believe the incident should keep the lieutenant governor from holding higher office.

“It is inhumane to believe one mistake should define a man’s life,” Miyares said. “I hope he gets to be a senator.”

Still, Democrats fear that any act of contrition from Fetterman at this point may ring hollow and won’t be enough to assuage the concerns of Black voters come the November general election..

“I don’t believe he can appeal to swing voters,” Lamb said at the debate.

Kenyatta, in the interview, encouraged his political rival to “sit with how his actions feel to Black and Brown Americans who have seen situations like this go in a different way.”

“This is telling us a lot about who John Fetterman is, and I’m not sure it’s telling us anything good,” Kenyatta said.

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NASCIMENTO: Dean Cannot Distract Voters from Madeleinflation

Democratic leadership is failing America and desperate liberals like Madeleine Dean have already reduced their candidacies to inarticulate insults and shameful political theater.

On a recent Saturday night during a cable news broadcast Congresswoman Dean (D-Montgomery)  said that Republicans, “have no agenda, they’re simply the mouths of a cult.”

I’m a Republican. Here are three points of my agenda:

1. Normalize interest rates a year ago when the Covid-driven economic emergency was over.

2. Stop extending the moratorium on student loan repayment and SBA loans.

3. Don’t be a cheap politician on cable news. Voters deserve better.

Of course, we’ve seen this type of divisive rhetoric before from ultra-wealthy, far-left politicians like Dean who have few accomplishments to show to voters and unlimited amounts of time to spend pandering to their radical friends on cable news programs. It’s nothing new. And that’s the problem.

It’s particularly rich to hear this malarkey come from Dean, an Obama-Biden liberal who has spent her political life kneeling at the altar of Nancy Pelosi, AOC, and defund the police activists like Kadida Kenner.

Politicians like Madeleine Dean and her liberal cabal in Washington have created a mess and it feels like the 1970s again in America. And now – after months of catastrophic polls – it’s clear they’ll do and say anything and everything to deny responsibility, including a concerted and coordinated effort by the Left to gaslight voters.

But it was the left’s agenda that purposefully cut off domestic oil production, paid people not to work, spent trillions on wasteful, expanded government programs, released criminals back onto the streets, pointlessly restricted individual freedoms, and demonstrated weakness to the world.

As a result, all-time record inflation is devastating working families, violent crime and drugs are sweeping through our cities, gas prices are crippling our economy, and a red army is once again violently attempting to redraw Europe.

The monumental failures of Democrats in Pennsylvania and across the country who are now facing long odds of reelection means Dean and her liberal comrades will continue to do and say desperate things on television to distract voters from their failures.

But the proof is in the prices: gasoline is 48 percent more expensive than it was one year ago, gas bills are 22 percent more expensive, meats, fish, and eggs are 14 percent more expensive, rents are up 17 percent and home prices are up 19 percent.

Democrats aren’t failing Americans because gas prices are more expensive, they’re failing Americans because everything is more expensive.

Shockingly, instead of adjusting the financial levers back to normal a year ago when our national economic emergency began to wane, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Madeleine Dean kept the excess cash flowing. Interest rates remained near zero, student loan payments were deferred repeatedly, unemployment benefits remained more lucrative than working, the free government money kept rolling into households, and the fed kept printing cash.

Inflation was the inescapable result.

Democrats are in trouble now. The big government socialism and woke mob values at the heart of liberal orthodoxy have proven overwhelmingly to hurt more than help. People are struggling to pay for the goods and basic services they are used to having and it’s happening on the left’s watch.

Nevertheless, voters still deserve real solutions to the problems we face – especially from the leaders in Washington who caused the problems. But Democrats will not take responsibility. They’ll blame Russia, the supply chain, high demand, and of course, the “Republican cult”.

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Democrats Meet in Harrisburg This Week, Senate Endorsements Unlikely

This week the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee is holding its annual meeting in Harrisburg.

In past years, the committee voted on whether to endorse candidates for statewide office. This year that includes Senate, governor and lieutenant governor. Making a call on the governor’s race is easy since Attorney General Josh Shapiro is the only candidate who’s announced. And Shapiro has endorsed state Rep. Austin Davis for lieutenant governor. State Rep. Brian Sims and Ray Sosa, a consultant, are also running for lieutenant governor.

However, there are several people running for the Senate seat that Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) will be vacating, creating potential conflict for the PADSC.

The Democratic Senate candidates include Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Congressman Conor Lamb, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Montgomery County Commissioners Chair Dr. Val Arkoosh, and Philadelphia ER Dr. Kevin Baumlin, among others.

Montgomery County Democratic Chairman Joe Foster said, “With four candidates, it is typically unusual for a state party endorsement, so I doubt there will be one. I am going to state committee, and I do believe in endorsements. I don’t believe, however, one will be forthcoming with so many candidates at a very high 66 percent (approval) requirement for endorsement.”

Dr. Kevin Baumlin

The Delaware Valley Journal asked the leading Senate candidates whether they expect to be endorsed, whether the party will endorse anyone and why they should be the person who is endorsed.

Baumlin said that he does not believe the party will endorse any candidate, and the party should hold off because there is a contested primary.

“We need to let the voters of Pennsylvania decide who the nominee is,” said Baumlin. “The primary process will be a great opportunity for our party to showcase its diversity and platform to voters of the commonwealth.”

And if he were to be endorsed, Baumlin said that he would decline.

“The party’s nominee should not be decided by a small group of party insiders in Harrisburg. It should be decided by voters all across the commonwealth,” he said.

Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta

Kenyatta was more circumspect.

“As always we are going everywhere and talking to everybody about how we restore the basic bargain for working families and deliver a government that actually works for them. My hope, and the work that we have done, is to earn as much support as possible.

“We have a people-powered campaign and regardless of the outcome, we will be back on the road talking about creating good jobs, good public education, safe communities with affordable housing, the ability to go to the doctor and fill the prescription when you leave, and clean air and clean water. I think that is a message that resonates all across Pennsylvania, and I hope to get as many votes as I can, and that is the message I will be delivering until the campaign is over.”

Arkoosh, Fetterman and Lamb declined to respond.

 

 

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UPDATE: As Biden’s Polls Sag, Top PA Dems Dodge His Pittsburgh Visit

He may be the top Democrat in Washington, D.C., but he’s having a tough time drawing a crowd in Pittsburgh. Two of the state’s top Democratic candidates will be no-shows when President Joe Biden appears in western Pennsylvania on Friday.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is running for the U.S. Senate, and Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the presumed Democratic nominee for governor, were invited by the Biden team to appear with the president. Both declined the invitation citing scheduling problems, the AP reports.

But after running into the president when he rushed to the scene of a Pittsburgh bridge that collapsed, Fetterman then appeared with Biden on the stage after all.

However, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, who is also a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), will stand with Biden. Lamb is viewed as a more mainstream Democrat from the Biden wing of the party.

Skipping a presidential appearance, particularly in his native state, is quite a snub, political insiders say. And it is an indication the November midterms are being viewed by Democrats as a referendum on an unpopular incumbent.

Biden’s poll numbers have gone from bad to worse over recent weeks, with his approval plunging to 39 percent. That is more than 10 points lower than President Barack Obama’s in 2010, when Republicans picked up a whopping 63 seats — and a majority — in the House of Representatives.

“It’s no wonder why even the most extreme members of the Democrat Party are staying far, far away from Joe Biden – with approval numbers in the tank, Biden’s political toxicity is inescapable. Democrats can cite ‘scheduling conflicts’ all they want, but voters know the truth: Joe Biden is already destroying his party’s hopes for November,” said RNC spokesperson Allie Carroll.

While some Democrats appear to be dodging Biden, at least one Delaware Valley Senate candidate said he would definitely stand with the president. “Absolutely,” said state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia). “He is my friend,” said Kenyatta. “I would welcome him here any time in the 181st District.”

“Last week I was on a zoom with the President marking his 1 year anniversary in office alongside Governor Rendell, and a small group of early supporters of his campaign,” he said.

Kenyatta noted he was an early Biden supporter and went across the country to rural Iowa and other areas to campaign for him.

“I think the more the president talks about restoring the basic bargain with America the better,” said Kenyatta, saying that is what Biden’s Build Back Better plan is about. It is making sure people have a good education, good jobs, and a retirement where they can “live with dignity,” Kenyatta said.

Montgomery County Commission Chairwoman Val Arkoosh, a Democrat who is also running for the Senate, did not respond to a request for comment.

Former Gov. Ed Rendell had tough words for Democrats who are avoiding Biden.

“They’re stupid because things can turn around in politics pretty dramatically,” Rendell told The Associated Press. “You can’t hide. People end up thinking less of you for not showing up.”

 

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