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Houlahan, Ciarrocchi Spar in 6th District Debate

U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan faced off against challenger Guy Ciarrocchi at a forum sponsored by the Greater Reading Unity Coalition Sunday evening.

There were some clear differences, as Houlahan (D-Berks/Chester), who was first elected in 2018, defended her record, and Republican Ciarrocchi laid the blame for the 8 percent inflation hitting Pennsylvania residents at the feet of the Biden administration and the Democratic Congress.

“The economy is in shambles. Inflation is out of control,” Ciarrocchi said. “We all know that every time we buy gasoline, every time we pay a utility bill, every time we go to the grocery store, every time we have to talk to our parents or grandparents who are senior citizens, every time we talk to a single mom. Every time every one of us gets out and about every day of the week. It’s out of control.

“Energy prices are too high. The stock market’s sinking, so if you saved money, you have less money than before you saved. Mortgage rates are going up and denying people the ability to buy their first home. The economy is in crisis, much of it because of bad decisions.”

“Washington has been spending money way too fast,” he said. “We spent almost double the federal budget passing out money…You don’t need a degree from Wharton to understand that spending $6 trillion extra dollars is going to cause inflation. You don’t need to be an expert in the economy to realize if the president and the Democratic Congress decide to slow down our output of oil and gas, it’s going to cause prices to spike. So, what do you do? Stop spending if you’re in a hole; stop digging. This crowd starts looking for a bigger shovel.”

Ciarrocchi said high energy prices are increasing the costs of everything that is transported, including food and medicine.

Houlahan said, “Inflation is real, and it is painful, and it is a consequence of a lot. It’s a catastrophic virus we had to deal with for the first time in 100 years. It’s the catastrophic war in Ukraine that we’ve all dealt with. It’s a lot of decisions we all have made, the very best decisions that we could make when thousands and thousands of people were dying every single day over the last two years. We made choices.

“I am working really hard in Congress as a person who has a background in supply chain management, a person who’s a former businessperson that we made all the best choices that we possibly could,” she said. She said she has developed a package on how to deal with inflation. “We passed the Inflation Reduction Act that will reduce drug prices and that will put more money in pockets. So, inflation isn’t just about increasing prices but how far your dollar goes.

“It allows for more renewables as well…The Infrastructure and Jobs Act is also part of that plan to make sure we have more jobs that are better paying and allow us to get to work safely and more cheaply…There is more to do.”

“With all due respect, I think the Democratic Congress spent most of the last year pretending that inflation wasn’t real,” Ciarrocchi responded. “And then, when we got close to the election, they decided to take the Green New Deal title off it and call it the Inflation Reduction Act.

“According to CBS, CNN and Wharton, it’s not going to lower inflation. It’s more likely to make it go up and get worse. Our energy prices are going up. Our food costs are going up…The Inflation Reduction Act was taking $730 trillion and adding to the billions already spent…It gave us 87,000 more IRS agents,” Ciarrocchi added.

Houlahan said the IRS agents are needed for customer service, including money to modernize that agency’s aging computer software.

Asked about the environment and agriculture, Houlahan said, “Climate change is real, and people cause it.” She said it was an economic and national security issue.

“We saw in the last few years, 100-year floods twice in our area that caused, in the case of Chester County, a federal state of emergency…At a federal level, what we can do is worry about evolving toward renewable energy.” She said the Inflation Reduction Act would add more renewable energy.

Ciarrocchi said, “It is important that we protect our environment…One way is we protect family farms…Well run, good farms protect our environment, protect our quality of life…right now, the government all too often at the national level tries to get involved.” He said he’d prefer the federal government partner with state and local government. “No matter how smart and well-meaning the folks at the EPA are, somebody on the 13th floor at the EPA doesn’t know Berks County as well as the folks here, to trust and empower them to what’s necessary… It’s a balance. We should have a good, clean environment and a strong, vibrant economy.”

The candidates disagreed on abortion, with Ciarrocchi saying he is pro-life and that the Dobbs decision allows each state to decide its own laws. Houlahan said she is strongly pro-choice and has voted twice for federal legislation to ensure women’s right to choose on a national level, so there isn’t a “wild, wild west” on abortion.

Ciarrocchi called on her to stop misrepresenting his position in campaign mailings.

And on the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and the committee investigating it, the pair also had a difference of opinion. Ciarrocchi said the country needs to move on.

“It’s time for this committee to bring this to a close,” he said. “We have an economy that’s falling apart. We have problems of safety in our own communities. We have issues within our own nation. We need to work on our own energy supply. We need to get Republicans and Democrats to stop fighting with each other and focus on the things that impact our lives. The committee has been in existence for a year and a half. Either things need to be brought to the attention of the Justice Department, and people need to be charged, or we need to bring this to a close. We need to move beyond this chapter…We need to move forward.”

Houlahan said, “We cannot simply put the past behind us. There’s too much at stake. Clearly, our democracy is at stake. This was a free and fair election…This is a case where Congress can do both. We can obviously consider the everyday issues, kitchen table issues, but I would argue our democracy is a kitchen table issue as well. It’s the thing that allows us to exist as a free and fair election…This was an insurrection, and it’s really important that we identify it, recognize it, that we investigate it, and we make sure that it never, ever happens again under any circumstances or under any person’s watch.”

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Scanlon Defends March With ‘Defund the Police’ Activists in LWV Debate

When Republican challenger David Galluch called her out for marching with ‘Defund the Police’ advocates in a Black Lives Matter event, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Montgomery/Philadelphia) did not back down.

“I have marched, however, in vigils and protests of the murder of George Floyd,” Scanlon said. “I think the more pertinent question is, where were you?”

“Marching behind a bloody American sign flag that says ‘You see stars and stripes we see prison bars’– that doesn’t send the right message on the 4th of July,” Galluch shot back.

That was just one of the several fiery exchanges between the two candidates during a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters on Monday.

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlan participates in a Black Lives Matter march on July 4, 2020.


Galluch scored points on skyrocketing inflation and rising crime while Scanlon touted her experience in Congress, as a lawyer, and as former school board president.

Scanlon, first elected in 2018, said she was a volunteer for more than 30 years before running for Congress and had represented people who could not afford a lawyer.

She said she voted to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and passed the “first infrastructure and gun violence bill in decades.”

Galluch said he grew up with a single mother, went to the U.S. Naval Academy, graduated sixth in his class, and volunteered to defuse bombs, which he called “the best choice I ever made in my life.”

“Our leaders have failed us. We’re facing inflation. We’re facing historic crime increases. We need change and we need a new direction. I would like to bring a new bipartisan approach, a collective rebirth in the American spirit,” he said.

Answering a question, Scanlon said, “Constituent service is key.” District residents are 25 percent African American and include 12 percent immigrants. She “embeds” her staff members in state representatives’ offices.

“In the 30,000 doors that I knocked on many people say, ‘I don’t know my congresswoman,’” Galluch said. He noted that a bridge in Ridley Park has been closed for repairs for eight years. “It’s choking off access to the business district.”

Scanlon said she knows about the bridge and is working with local and state officials to fix it fixed. “It’s a complicated process,” she said.

(from left) Kevin Foevinger, with Main Line TV, League of Women Voters moderator Jane Mogil, David Galluch, and Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon.

Moderator Jane Mogil mentioned rising crime, with more than 1,000 carjackings in Philadelphia this year, and that Scanlon was a carjacking victim.

Scanlon attempted to shift blame by labeling crime a national problem and suggesting lax gun laws are responsible — though states with less restrictive gun laws have lower crime rates than Pennsylvania. She also highlighted her vote for a bill to ban lawful gun owners from purchasing what she described as “assault weapons,” a category that includes some of the most commonly owned rifles in Pennsylvania. “Unfortunately, with the Senate filibuster, that hasn’t gone through the Senate,” Scanlon said.

Galluch opposes the gun ban and called out Scanlon’s participation in a march that included “Defund the Police” activists.

“I believe in putting common sense over politics,” said Galluch, who noted that he has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police. “That starts with supporting police on crime. I think we need to support our police. I think we need to fund our police.”

Then the Republican brought up Scanlan’s participation in a march

“Scanlon marched with ‘Defund the Police’ on the 4th of July behind a bloody American flag sign. She has endorsed out-of-the-mainstream policies like eliminating cash bail and she has stood with DA Larry Krasner” when (Krasner) said, ‘We do not believe just arresting people for guns is a viable strategy to reduce shootings.’”

Scanlon denied she advocated for defunding the police.

“I have marched, however, in vigils and protests of the murder of George Floyd,” said Scanlon. “I think the more pertinent question is, where were you?”

“Marching behind a bloody American sign flag that says ‘You see stars and stripes we see prison bars’– that doesn’t send the right message on the 4th of July,” Galluch responded.

Scanlon said that event was organized by the Collingdale mayor and “faith leaders,” and she suggested the photo was being used as a political smear against her. “The photo was shared by dark money groups supporting your campaign and cropped out the police officers marching with us,” she said.

In fact, the photo is prominently displayed on Scanlan’s Facebook page.

Asked about gun safety Galluch said, “We need investments in school safety and to enhance mental health.”

“I don’t think it makes sense for us to be having a conversation about having new laws if we’re not enforcing the laws we have on the books,” said Galluch.

“Congresswoman Scanlon has been silent on this. Philadelphia is not enforcing the laws on the books, and that crime is not only leading to spikes in violence. Two hundred children under 18 have been killed in Philadelphia this year. That’s a shame. That’s unacceptable.”

Scanlon said she had been “working on gun safety for more than 20 years” and voted on legislation to “stop the flood of guns on our streets,” including ghost guns and AK-47s.

“Unfortunately, our Republican colleagues back the gun lobby instead of children’s health,” Scanlon said. She has worked with Delaware County’s district attorney on a program that reduced gun violence in the city of Chester by 40 percent, she said.

“We need a Senate that will actually support the laws our population wants, and for that reason, we need to get rid of the filibuster,” said Scanlon.

Galluch said, “Congresswoman, since you’ve been in office, Philadelphia has set a new record for murders every year. In 2019, we had two murders in Upper Darby. In 2021, we had 21 murders in Upper Darby. Since you have been in office, and since Larry Krasner has been in office, murders and gun violence have been exploding. You’ve failed to control this violence, you’ve failed to support our police, and you’ve failed to demand that we have the commonsense enforcement of laws like if you’re a felon, you go away the first time if you’re caught with a firearm. Why would you not call out Larry Krasner for his position?”

“Since 2020, isn’t that when you moved here?” she quipped.

Asked about Medicare and Social Security, Scanlon said those are “earned benefits that people are entitled to.” She claimed Republicans want to cut Social Security, raise the retirement age, and cut Medicare.

“I’ve worked with folks with disabilities and seniors for decades to be sure they have what they need,” she said. “We can’t just go cutting those funds willy-nilly. I’ve sponsored legislation to protect social security and make sure it continues well into the future.”

Galluch said his mother can’t survive without Social Security and pledged to support those programs.

He said Scanlon was referring to a study, not an official plan endorsed by the Republican Party.

“Inflation is the greatest threat to our seniors,” he said. “It erodes the value of their Social Security. We’ve seen what inflation has done to their 401ks and their hard-earned savings.  I think the best way to care for our seniors and people on a fixed income is to get the cost of essentials down, the cost of gas down, the cost of groceries down.”

“If there was a silver bullet, I am quite sure we would do it,” Scanlon said.

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GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Square Off at Cairn University Forum

During a two-hour forum at Cairn University in Langhorne, GOP gubernatorial candidates made their case to Pennsylvania primary voters on their top priority: beating presumed Democratic nominee Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Several hundred people attended the event sponsored by the Pennsylvania Family Institute. Thousands more listened on 1210 WPHT as seven of the nine GOP candidates for governor debated the issues.

“I’m the ultimate package deal,” said Dr. Nche Zama, a cardiothoracic surgeon who emigrated from Cameroon as a teenager. “I’m a heart surgeon. When you grab the scalpel, you only have one chance to do it right. You espouse excellence, discipline. I’m results-oriented.”

Dr. Nche Zama speaks with Melissa Hart (right) and Bill McSwain (rear)

Former Congresswoman Melissa Hart noted she is the only candidate from western Pennsylvania, while Shapiro is a Montgomery County resident. Before running for Congress, she was a state senator and won in Democratic majority districts in every election. For the last 15 years, she has practiced law in the private sector.

“Something Josh Shapiro isn’t quite familiar with, working in the private sector, because he jumps from office to office and he expects you to continue to pay him his salary…We all know he’s going to run for president if he wins the governor’s race,” Hart said.

Political consultant Charlie Gerow said he is “the exact opposite” of Shapiro.

Charlie Gerow (front), Dave White (rear)

“I’m not a career politician who has been taking taxpayer paychecks for decades to run for other offices. I’m committed to conservative values and principles. I began my career with Ronald Reagan. I’m currently the vice-chair for CPAC…And I can take (Shapiro) on in those three nights in October when he will be required to face whoever the Republican is on a debate stage.

“I’ve debated him, and I’ve beaten him. And I can do it again. And that’s where the rubber will meet the road.”

Former congressman and Hazleton mayor Lou Barletta said, “I have a record of beating Democrats.” He was elected mayor three times despite a 2-1 Democrat majority, the third time with 90 percent of the vote, he said.

“Politics is about match-ups, and I think I match up well against Josh Shapiro,” said former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain. “I am a conservative. He’s a liberal. I am a political outsider, I’ve never run for office before, and he is a career politician. I like freedom. He likes mandates and government control. I’m a real prosecutor… He’s a fake prosecutor who never actually prosecuted a case in his life, even though he’s the attorney general. I am a United States Marine, and he’s not.”

“I defended the 10 Commandments (on a plaque on the Chester County courthouse)…What does Josh Shapiro do? He sues the Little Sisters of the Poor,” added McSwain.

Dave White greets supporter Karen DelMarmol of Franconia.

Dave White, a Delaware County businessman and former county councilman, said, “I am a unique candidate. I don’t want to match up with Josh Shapiro. I want to be the exact opposite. We need to give Pennsylvania residents a reason to come out and vote for us. We need someone that’s like them, that has their values. Someone that has a story behind their name. Someone like a pipefitter…that came out of vo-tech and grew an $86 million business. Someone who is not afraid to take on Josh Shapiro…I am a private business owner, an outsider.”

Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale attacked the two candidates who did not come to the forum, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) and Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Centre), who Gale called “Jake the Snake.” Both legislators voted for Act 77 that allowed 50 days of no excuse mail-in ballots and so should be “disqualified from holding any office, let alone being promoted to a higher office.” Gale touted his willingness to criticize fellow Republicans and added, “I have a groundswell of support in southeastern Pennsylvania…and come from (Shapiro’s) home turf.”

Radio personality Rich Zeoli, one of the moderators, said his listeners are concerned about election integrity and asked the candidates what they would do to fix it. They all promised to repeal Act 77.

Barletta, White, Zama, Gale, and McSwain called for mandatory voter ID rules. Gale blamed the Republican majority legislature for passing Act 77, saying they “colluded with Gov. Wolf” and noted that Act 77 is “the reason why Donald Trump is not president today.”

Lou Barletta (front), Joe Gale (rear)

“We know dead people have been voting in Pennsylvania all of our lives. Now they don’t have to leave the cemetery to vote. They can mail in their ballots,” Barletta quipped.

McSwain highlighted his experience prosecuting voter fraud. His office prosecuted a judge of elections in South Philadelphia who was part of a “large conspiracy” called “ringing up votes” by going into voting booths when no one was around and pressing buttons as fast as he could.

“I stopped the riots in the summer of 2020 by charging everyone we could identify who torched a police car or blew up an ATM,” said McSwain. “I stopped heroin injection sites from invading neighborhoods in Pennsylvania.”

Gerow took issue with McSwain’s statement.

“I wish I had some more time because I think I’d cede some of it back to Mr. McSwain to tell us how he stopped those riots. Because I believe there are a lot of Philadelphia police officers and state troopers who might have a very different view because they are the real heroes,” Gerow said.

“This race, folks, is not about who is going to be the best prosecutor,” he added. “Frankly, every person in this room would be a better prosecutor than Josh Shapiro, and all of you have tried as many or more cases than he has, and the root causes (of crime) isn’t just joblessness. What’s needed are stronger families, like the Pennsylvania Family Institute advocates for,” he said.

White said he would bring a special prosecutor to Philadelphia to counter the damage being done by progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner.

“There is no way we should be putting up with 600 or 700 murders a year,” said White. He would also appoint special prosecutors for Pittsburgh, Scranton, and other crime-ridden cities.

Melissa Hart and Bill McSwain

During the 2020 riots, Gale said he was the only elected official brave enough to speak out about Black Lives Matter, calling out “radical left-wing hate groups perpetrators of domestic terror” and endured protests at his house and celebrities calling for his ouster.

“I know what the men and women who protect us, what they do,” said Barletta. “Every day they come to work, they have no idea if they are going home,” he said, mentioning the two state troopers who were recently killed by a drunk driver on I-95. “Gov. Wolf walked in a parade with Black Lives Matter while people held banners that Blue Lives Murder. I will stand with our police and not only give them the funding they need but the respect they deserve.”

Zama said the others’ are offering old ideas that have not worked. He would begin “citizen councils” in high crime areas and “engage religious leaders” to address the root causes of crime, such as education and jobs.

“And begin to allow children to espouse excellence in their lives,” said Zama. “On the scale of desirable goals, excellence trumps diversity any day.”


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