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Midterm Election Dominated DVJournal’s 2022 Coverage

Looking back at 2022, the most significant stories the Delaware Valley Journal covered involved the midterm election.

The primary campaign for governor and lieutenant governor on the Republican side brought out many candidates. In contrast, on the Democratic side, only Josh Shapiro ran for governor while a few Democrats contested for the lieutenant governor’s nomination. Many Republicans supported Shapiro, who ran as a moderate.

The race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R) drew several candidates in both parties. Democrats fielded Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke during the campaign, Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Philadelphia physician Kevin Baumlin, and western Pennsylvania Congressman Conor Lamb.

Among area Senate candidates, conservative author and commentator Kathy Barnette, Montgomery County businessman Jeff Bartos, Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto, and Montgomery County lawyer Sean Gale all took part in a debate sponsored by the DVJournal that was broadcast on Pennsylvania Cable Network.

Celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick duked it out, spending massive amounts on television ads. With former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, Oz prevailed by a slim margin, only to lose in the general election to Fetterman. Fetterman’s poor showing in a late October debate failed to move the needle since many voters had already cast their ballots via mail-in voting before seeing it.

The DVJournal also sponsored an online debate for Republican lieutenant governor candidates.

The wide field of men and one woman running for the Republican nomination for governor also debated several times. State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) came out on top in the primary despite a last-minute play by party leaders to back former Congressman Lou Barletta. Locally, Delaware County businessman Dave White made a strong showing and Chester County attorney Bill McSwain enjoyed the deep-pocket financial support of Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs.

Shapiro, who spent millions on television commercials to paint Mastriano as an extremist, went on to handily win the governor’s race. Many believe redistricting in the Delaware Valley collar counties gave the Democrats a new advantage. Democrats defeated several incumbent Republicans, notably Todd Stephens in Montgomery County, Chris Quinn in Delaware County, and Todd Polinchock in Bucks County.

Other 2022 stories in the region included the saga of private utility companies buying up municipal sewer and water authorities. The DVJ has highlighted Pennsylvanians’ likely higher energy bills with Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), despite opposition from the state legislature.  And the state’s crucial Marcellus Shale natural gas industry remains under assault from the Biden administration’s embrace of the Green New Deal.

This year, many other DVJournal articles focused on parents who are at war with “woke” school boards and school administrators who impose critical race theory (CRT) and gender-fluid ideology on their students and critical race theory (CRT) and gender-fluid ideology on their students as well as stocking school libraries with obscene books.

The Delaware Valley Journal also brought readers the saga of the state House versus progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner that culminated in the House voting to impeach Krasner for mishandling of his official duties, which they allege is a significant factor in the skyrocketing crime rate in the city. An impeachment trial for Krasner is set in the Senate for Jan. 18.

While crime has been a big issue for DVJournal’s 2022 reporting, inflation was also a hot topic with skyrocketing prices for gas, food, and other goods biting into Delaware Valley residents’ budgets.

Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision weighed on the election, causing a rise in Democratic voter registration and driving some women, particularly women in the Delaware Valley suburbs, to the polls. Conversely, the increase in arrests of pro-life activists by the Biden Department of Justice has stirred up passion on the other side of the abortion issue.

And the local reaction to the war in Ukraine is also a concern, with many Ukrainian immigrants living in the area. DVJournal also brought our readers letters from a Ukrainian mother about what it was like to live in that war-torn country.

Amid all the other news vying for attention, the DVJournal has kept its eye on the sad case of the death of Fanta Bility, the 8-year-old girl hit by a bullet fired by police officers. Three Sharon Hill officers pleaded guilty in that case, and a federal lawsuit brought by Bility’s family is pending.

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New Poll Makes Mastriano Frontrunner in GOP Governor’s Race

With just a week to go before the May 17 primary, state Sen. Doug Mastriano is far ahead of the others in the GOP race for governor.

A Trafalgar Group poll put the Franklin County, Pa. Republican at 27.6 percent, followed by former Congressman Lou Barletta at 17.6 percent. Delaware County businessman Dave White was in third at 15 percent, and former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain was fourth at 14.4 percent. The other candidates were in the single digits while 11.3 percent remain undecided.

The poll of 1,080 Republican voters had a 2.99 percent margin of error. It was conducted May 6-8. The Trafalgar Group is rated by the data analysts at FiveThirtyEight as one of the most accurate polling firms in the country.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running unopposed.

GOP consultant Charlie O’Neill said, “The only poll that matters is on Election Day. With a very large field, this race is still anyone’s game. I also have noticed that enthusiasm on the ground doesn’t always seem to match these polls. Candidates like Charlie Gerow are attracting lots of attention and attendees at campaign events–much higher than this poll would indicate.”

Before Mastriano became a state senator, he served 30 years in the Army and retired as a colonel.

“The recent Trafalgar poll has our campaign with a double-digit lead over all the other candidates is evidence that the people do not want to settle,” Mastriano said. “The people want a fighter. Someone who stood with them through the dark times of the shutdown. It’s a clear choice between proven leadership or more of the same. We will win next week, and we will win on November 8 to restore freedom.”

But the Barletta campaign said not to write them off yet.

“Lou Barletta has run the biggest and best grassroots campaign in Pennsylvania history and the data that we see shows that Lou is the best candidate to beat Josh Shapiro,” said Barletta advisor Tim Murtaugh. “Shapiro is running TV ads trying to boost the Republican he knows he can beat [Mastriano] and we must not let a Democrat interfere to choose a candidate we know will lose in November.”

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PODCAST: F&M Poll Reveals That Things Still Up in The Air as GOP Primary Nears

A new Franklin & Marshall College Poll hit Thursday showing the GOP races for governor and U.S. Senate remain very close as the May 17 primary approaches.

In a podcast interview with DVJournal, Berwood Yost, director of the college’s Center for Opinion Research, said one thing that surprised him was the decline in “the trust and confidence that citizens have” in the election process.

The F&M Poll asked that question before the 2020 election and 75 percent of people said they were satisfied with the “rules and procedures.” Most of those who were dissatisfied complained about a lack of ballot access, Yost said, not concerns about ballot security.

But now, “You have 52 percent saying they are dissatisfied with the rules or procedures that guide elections.”

“And it’s pretty partisan,” he said, with only 8 percent of Democrats that were polled dissatisfied. Republicans want to see voter ID, elimination of mail-in balloting and drop-boxes, “and basically, preventing voter fraud.”

Also, 64 percent of voters support having open primaries, instead of the closed primaries for party members only in place now.

Asked about the large number of Republican voters who are undecided over the Senate and governor’s race, Yost said it is not unusual in primaries where the candidates tend to have similar views on the issues.

Yost also noted the messages in the barrage of attack ads between Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick in the Senate primary.

“If you watch the commercials in the Senate Republican Senate race, it looks like there are two liberals running against each other, right? It’s almost like the ‘Twilight Zone.’ And so I think that, that there’s been a lot of confusion created by all that advertising…We have not seen a clear leader emerge in probably either gubernatorial primary, either gubernatorial or Senate primary on the Republican side. Those candidates haven’t separated themselves.”

The F&M poll found Oz at 18 percent, McCormick at 16 percent, and Kathy Barnette at 12 percent. But 39 percent of voters were undecided and 57 percent of voters who say they are backing a candidate also said they could still change their minds.

For the Democrats running for Senate, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman was the clear leader at 53 percent, followed by Congressman Conor Lamb with 14 percent. The remaining 22 percent of Democrats were undecided.

Only one Democrat, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, is running for governor; but among the nine Republicans, 20 percent picked state Sen. Doug Mastriano. Bill McSwain was at 12 percent, Lou Barletta at 11 percent, and Dave White at 8 percent. The real leader, at 34 percent, was “undecided.

The poll revealed more bad news for the president in Pennsylvania as well. Asked about their personal finances and whether they feel better or worse off, the trend since March 2021 when Biden took office, has continued to move steadily downward.



“These midterm races are always about the party in power and their performance,” Yost said, “I think we’re going to hear a lot about President Biden in the general election campaign.”

Scott Martin Suspends Gubernatorial Campaign

Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) announced Friday he is suspending his campaign for governor due to ongoing medical issues caused by his recent leg injury.

“The injuries to my leg were beyond a simple broken bone and included a severing of numerous ligaments and tendons in my ankle that are going to require greater and longer rehabilitation than I originally hoped would be necessary.

“Continuing to campaign in the coming months would put my future ability to walk without impediment in danger, which is something I cannot do to my own family. It would also mean that I would be unable to campaign in the manner I feel the people of Pennsylvania and the countless supporters who have come to our effort deserve.

“While this is extremely disappointing, it is the correct decision for my family, for myself, and for the supporters to whom I owe my very best effort. I thank everyone who has given me their support throughout this campaign, and I will continue to be a strong conservative voice getting positive results for Pennsylvania as a state senator.”

Martin was one of a large group of candidates vying for the Republican voters’ nod for governor in the primary. These include former Congressman Lou Barletta; former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain; Guy Ciarrocchi, the president of the Chester County Chamber of Business; businessman and former Delaware County councilman Dave White; state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin); Senate Pro Tempore Jake Corman; former Congresswoman Melissa Hart and Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running on the Democratic side.

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PA Governor, Senate Races Shaping Up to Be Costly

The Beatles said “money can’t buy me love,” but it definitely comes in handy when you are running for statewide office in Pennsylvania.

Campaign fundraising reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show the biggest names in the Senate race have collectively raised more than $25 million. In the governor’s race, candidates have raised a total of more than $16 million.

Millionaire Republican candidates Dr. Mehmet Oz and David McCormick are already duking it out on the airwaves in the GOP Senate primary.

Meanwhile, the sole Democrat running for governor, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, has already raised some $13.4 million, more than enough to blanket the same airwaves in the general election.

So, do candidates with smaller purses have a chance?

Political consultant Jeff Jubelirer with Bellevue Communications Group says it will be difficult for those with smaller war chests to get their message before the public, especially in Pennsylvania, a large state with multiple media markets.

But there are plenty of caveats and politics can always be surprising.

Jeff Jubelirer

For example, despite his numerous TV ads, Dr. Oz doesn’t seem to have made many inroads among the party insiders who vote in the regional straw polls, Jubelirer noted. And most of Oz’s money is from his own wallet or his family’s. The Oz campaign had $5.8 million as of Dec. 31, 2021.

“These committee members are the people in some respects,” said Jubelirer. “They’re heavily involved in party politics, but they’re not bigwigs, per se.” Jubelirer said he does not see Oz getting much grassroots support.

“Sean Hannity doesn’t count,” Jubelirer said.

McCormick grew up in western Pennsylvania, but until recently was running a Connecticut-based hedge fund. He is expected to draw on his vast wealth, as well as his connections in Donald Trump’s political organization. And he is already spending big on TV ads, as well as bringing in national support like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Montgomery County businessman Jeff Bartos has come in first in most of the regional straw polls, but his campaign financing trails Oz, McCormick, and Carla Sands, a wealthy former ambassador who is largely self-funding her campaign. Bartos is also self-funding, which should keep him competitive. Sands had $4.2 million as of Dec. 31, records show. Bartos had $3.3 million in his campaign coffers at year’s end.

Between Oz and McCormick, “I think McCormick is the one who has shown he’s more formidable,” said Jubelirer.

Bartos, however, also benefits from name recognition and grassroots contacts, having run for statewide office before in a bid to be the lieutenant governor.

On the Democratic side, Senate candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has $12 million and the fundraising lead. Congressman Conor Lamb, who appears to be the favorite of the party establishment, including Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, had $3.9 million. Montgomery County Commissioners Chair Val Arkoosh had $2.6 million but announced Friday she was suspending her campaign. And Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta listed $1.5 million at year’s end.

“The sort of conundrum that Democrats are facing, even when Biden was running in 2020, is electability,” said Jubelirer. The state leadership “believes Conor Lamb is more a traditional Democrat or moderate.” And Lamb won in an “extremely competitive” Pittsburgh area congressional district, too.

“He’s not as far to the Left as Fetterman,” said Jubelirer.

While Josh Shapiro has the luxury of running essentially unopposed, the opposite is true for the large cast of would-be governor candidates lining up on the Republican side.

In this race, too, Jubelirer believes there are tiers of candidates. Delaware Valley’s Dave White and Bill McSwain are the front of the pack, along with former Congressman Lou Barletta, state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, and possibly state Sen. Doug Mastriano.

White, a former Delaware County councilman who owns an HVAC business, had $3.2 million in his coffers at the end of the year, while McSwain had $1 million. But McSwain recently received the backing of the Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, which has $20 million to spend, enough for McSwain to ink a $6.8 million ad buy through the May 17 primary. Pittsburgh lawyer Jason Richey also made a major investment in his own political fortunes, lending his campaign $1.43 million for a total of $1.6 million raised.

But both former Congressman Lou Barletta and Mastriano are well known among GOP primary voters and are strong supporters of former Trump, an attribute that plays well with the party’s base.

“We are so thankful for the thousands upon thousands of Pennsylvanians who have invested with a donation to our Governor victory campaign,” said Mastriano, whose report was filed late. “Most of these are first-time donors to any race for office. We are the only ones with a true grassroots army of supporters and volunteers that literally spans from Erie to Philadelphia.”

Corman, meanwhile, raised $3 million and has $2.7 million in cash on hand.

“Pennsylvania Republicans are going to need a candidate who can raise money and be competitive – and I’m that candidate,” Corman said. “While being among the last to join the race and facing the challenge of raising funds over Thanksgiving and the Christmas season, we quickly raised millions of dollars.”

And Barletta’s yearend reports showed he had raised somewhat more than $1 million with $244,920.78 cash on hand.

“Lou did not self-fund or loan his own campaign money like some others,” said his spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

However, Jubelirer said, “with so many Republican candidates running, the question is, who is going to break through?”

“The issue with all of these primaries is that we have a plurality system in Pennsylvania, not a majority system like Georgia,” said Robin Kolodny, chair of the political science department at Temple University. In majority systems, candidates must win 50 percent of the vote plus one in order to become their party’s nominee. Often run-off elections are required.

In Pennsylvania, a primary election winner is the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes, even if he or she does not win an outright majority of votes cast.

“So, if there are many candidates in a race, then local consolidation matters a lot since one candidate can win in a crowded field with deep, but not wide support. However, that doesn’t normally bode well for the general election. Remember Ron Klink? Didn’t think so.”

Klink won a six-way Democratic primary for Senate in 2000 with 41 percent of the vote. He lost the general election to Republican Rick Santorum.

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FLOWERS: Shapiro’s Letter on Recruiting More Cops Rings Hollow

Josh Shapiro wants you to think that he cares about law enforcement. He wants you to believe that policing is one of his priorities, which makes sense because he is the Attorney General of Pennsylvania.  It’s also a bit rich, at this late stage in the game. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

Shapiro is running for governor of this great commonwealth, which is actually something he’s been doing since he put his pencil protector in his pocket, pulled up his socks, tied his shoelaces (by himself), and trotted off to kindergarten. Shapiro is one of those people who’s been campaigning since he knew how to spell the word “win.”

And there’s nothing wrong with that because most of us have ambition and some of us aren’t afraid to put it on display. Shapiro is one of those people, which means he’s followed his dream through jobs as Montgomery County commissioner, his current position as AG, and now, of course, his claim on the governorship of Pennsylvania.

And because he’s quite intelligent and understands that an AG running for higher office needs to at least pretend to care about law enforcement, he’s sent a letter to the Pennsylvania legislature urging it to hire more police. Shapiro reminds us that he is the “Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the Commonwealth” and writes: “I am once again calling for you to step up so our communities can provide essential public safety services. While you must prioritize between a variety of worthy causes, and current workforce shortages impact many professions, I believe we must hire hundreds of new officers to fill these vacancies. Filling these open positions will make our neighborhoods safer and allow departments to restart foot patrols and outreach efforts that build and repair relationships between the police and the communities they serve.”

If you take the letter at face value, you have to applaud the AG for stepping up and stating the obvious:  we are dealing with a severe and significant policing shortage. The number of early retirements has increased, the number of new applicants has decreased, and the number of lateral moves into other areas of law enforcement has also increased. The volume of officers who are either walking a beat or dealing directly with the communities they live in is shrinking. It’s true, it’s troubling, and it needs to be addressed.

So again, at face value, Josh Shapiro is both stating the obvious and doing his job: trying to keep the commonwealth safe for We, the People.

But if you dig deeper, this letter has the scent of chutzpah and the taste of irony. Democrats like Josh have spent the last two and a half years telling us that police are bad, that they are racist, that they are incompetent, that they regularly kill people based on the color of their skin, and that they need to be “retrained.”  These Stepford Cops will be programmed to make sure that they don’t offend the sort of people who value pronouns over character. They will not put their own safety first but, rather, treat a gun-wielding stranger as someone who needs therapy and understanding.

In tweet after tweet, posting after posting, commercial after commercial, and press conference after press conference, Democrats have continued to remind us how broken the police force is, and how much havoc it has caused in vulnerable communities (and the term “vulnerable” has a very broad and ever-shifting definition). Even Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, who was a recent victim of crime, could not bring herself to disavow earlier comments about the need to combat racist policing.

So it seems to me that Josh Shapiro has what my Italian grandmother would have called “corraggio” or nerve to only now come to the realization that we need more police. Perhaps he and his colleagues on the left should acknowledge the fact that one of the reasons, perhaps a central reason that there is a police shortage, is because these men and women in blue do not want to risk their lives for folks who consider them racist, who second guess their actions, who constantly question their character and who want to put the figurative handcuffs on them, instead of on the criminals where they belong.

Shapiro has long had the ability to do something to protect the vulnerable communities he’s worried about. Rep. Martina White shepherded a bill through the legislature which gave the AG’s office the ability to wrest jurisdiction from Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner. That was a direct response to Krasner’s failure to keep Philadelphians safe as he presides over a historic increase in homicides, one not seen in decades.

And Shapiro hasn’t used the weapon, because he’s a political animal and his Democrat benefactors wouldn’t like it. Even in the face of dead children, Democrats are loathe to criticize other Democrats.

So, this letter from Josh Shapiro is good as far as it goes. We need more police officers, and we need to treat them equitably, provide them with salaries that recognize their sacrifice, and restore respect to a profession unfairly stripped of it by demagogues. But it’s also a reminder of just how tone-deaf politicians can be, even those who’ve been campaigning from the crib.

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DelVal Candidates Have Edge in GOP Gov. Primary

In a crowded field, several leading Republican candidates for governor hail from the Delaware Valley, and party officials and strategists are optimistic the GOP could ride gains in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh suburbs to victory in November’s election.

More than a dozen candidates are in the race to succeed outgoing Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat who is term-limited. Early straw polls, endorsements, and fundraising results have a handful of Philadelphia-area candidates attracting attention.

“We have several top-tier candidates from the Philly area,” noted GOP strategist Charlie O’Neill. “The candidates from the western part of the state just aren’t as strong.”

One of these Philadelphia-area candidates, business-owner Dave White, earned the most votes during the recent Central Caucus of the Republican State Committee straw poll. He also won a significant victory in the southwest Pennsylvania GOP straw poll last weekend. White won twice as many votes from committee members than any other candidate.

Meanwhile, former U.S. attorney Bill McSwain won the endorsement of Commonwealth Partners, a Harrisburg-based business organization that can provide key fundraising support.

White’s early success can be attributed to his early start in the campaign, as well as his small business success story that connects with voters, O’Neil observed.

“White got out early and visited personally with people,” he said. “He’s a lunch pail kind of guy that made good, and that’s appealing to a lot of folks.”

Other gubernatorial candidates with Delaware Valley connections are:

Guy Ciarrocchi, who touts business leadership credentials with the suburban Philadelphia area Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry;

Charlie Gerow, a conservative activist now based out of Harrisburg, who grew up in Warminster. and still has strong, local ties.

Joe Gale, a member of the Philadelphia-area Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and controversial conservative firebrand. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor in 2018.

However, both O’Neill and Dick Stewart, co-chair of the Central Caucus of the Republican State Committee, said that for most Republican voters, it matters less about where the candidate is from and more about whether they are positioned to challenge Josh Shapiro, the state’s attorney general and likely Democratic candidate.

“We’re looking for the confidence that, that individual is the one to beat Josh Shapiro,” Stewart said.

Some members of the Central Caucus got their first look at the candidates during the Jan. 15 meeting before voting in a straw poll. At this point, Stewart said the top five vote-getters probably had the best chance at winning the nomination, which included White (21), McSwain (17), former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta (16), Gerow (12), and Martin (12).

Republicans are enjoying a surge in support in the Pittsburgh area, but that doesn’t mean the Delaware Valley will not be an important political battleground. In fact, O’Neill cites last November’s New Jersey governor’s race as evidence Republicans can win in 2022. While Republican Jack Ciattarelli did not win his race against the incumbent Democratic governor, his close showing in a state bordering the Philadelphia suburbs is encouraging, O’Neill added.

“It shows there’s a desire for change in these Democratic strongholds,” said O’Neill, who also pointed to Republican Glen Youngkin’s victory over the incumbent Democratic governor in nearby Virginia, a state which had been trending toward Democrats in recent cycles. “Candidates should be looking to the Glen Youngkin model for their campaign and see how he was able to succeed in the suburbs.”

Also running in the GOP gubernatorial primary are former Congressman Lou Barletta, businessman Shawn Berger, former Congresswoman Melissa Hart, state Sen. Scott Martin, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, and businessman John Ventre.

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Commonwealth Partners to Endorse McSwain for Governor

The influential Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs is endorsing Bill McSwain in the Republican primary for governor, sources tell Delaware Valley Journal.

McSwain, former U.S. Attorney for southeastern Pennsylvania, is one of 15 candidates in the hotly-contested primary.

“I am proud and honored to have the endorsement of Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, whose dedication to improving our business climate, expanding educational opportunity, and unleashing Pennsylvania’s energy potential is unmatched,” said McSwain. “Together, we will work toward victory in November and a freer, safer, more prosperous Pennsylvania for years to come.”

McSwain, 52, a Yale graduate who served in the Marine Corps and then earned his law degree from Harvard, was appointed U.S. Attorney by former President Donald Trump.

Commonwealth Partners is a free-market advocacy group with a statewide reputation on the political right. In the 2021 election, its political action committee, Commonwealth Leaders PAC, backed Kevin Brobson for the state Supreme Court, donating $2 million. Brobson won that seat. It also backed both Megan Sullivan for Superior Court and Stacy Wallace for Commonwealth Court, both winning candidates. However, Drew Compton, its second pick for Commonwealth Court, lost.

“We always knew Commonwealth would be a big player in the election for governor, and this kind of move is expected,” said Paul Martino, a Bucks County venture capitalist, who is a GOP donor. He said Commonwealth’s CEO Matt Brouillette “has always said he had an affinity for Bill, so I am not surprised. This certainly vaults Bill into the top tier of candidates.”

As U.S. Attorney, McSwain prosecuted rioters who torched police cars and argued and won the Philadelphia heroin injection site case, preventing such sites from invading Pennsylvania neighborhoods.

The West Chester native also prosecuted corrupt politicians and fought against the Sanctuary City doctrine by prosecuting illegal aliens who committed crimes. He has been a strong proponent of law and order on the campaign trail and a frequent critic of progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner as the crime and murder rates have spiked in that city.

While in private practice, McSwain fought to keep the historic plaque of the 10 Commandments on the Chester County Courthouse that was presented to the county as a gift more than 100 years ago. He also won a case for the Boy Scouts of America when Philadelphia tried to evict the group.

Pennsylvania GOP strategist Charlie O’Neill said, “Commonwealth Partners has been an important voice over the past seven years. They represent conservative leaders and business leaders, and their support sends a message that conservatives can trust McSwain.”

And while their support is valuable, O’Neill said “This certainly doesn’t mean the primary race is over. It’s a strong field.”

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TRACY: Why the Pennsylvania GOP Gubernatorial Primary Debate Matters

In a sense, the 2022 Pennsylvania gubernatorial race began on November 8, 2018, when Governor Tom Wolf won his second term against Scott Wagner. With Wolf term-limited, 2022 will see a new face in the Governor’s Mansion, and Republicans and Democrats have been scrambling to figure out who that should be.

Democrats, for the most part, seem to have their ducks in a row on this one. Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, has been a rising star in the Democratic party for years now, and even before he announced his bid for Governor, he had been essentially running unopposed for the nomination. Shapiro has the advantage of being able to focus entirely on the general election, but his disadvantage is that as the presumptive nominee he has had a target on his back for quite some time.

Republicans, on the other hand, have an abundance of candidates, as gubernatorial hopefuls with a wide range of ideas, philosophies, and backgrounds have thrown their hats into the ring seemingly on a weekly basis. This Wednesday, January 5, will mark the first time all those different ideas and personalities will be tried against one another in real time, as thirteen declared candidates come face-to-face on the debate stage.

Every candidate in the history of democracy would tell you why their election is one of the most important elections ever. Whether this particular election will live up to the hype remains to be seen, but Wednesday’s debate sets the scene for leadership changes that will have a drastic effect on the future of the commonwealth.

This election matters because Pennsylvania has become very used to a highly involved governor. Governor Wolf is on track to issue the most vetoes in Pennsylvania history — and he is not shy about taking executive action either. During the past seven years of Republican legislative control, Pennsylvania has been ruled by warring branches acting as jealous guardians of their power — perhaps to the delight of those worried about the tyranny of faction. But if the state house and senate stay pat, a Republican governor could change that dynamic. Wolf’s vetoes from last month alone include a curriculum transparency bill, and a concealed carry bill.

With Pennsylvania’s population declining to the point where it will lose another congressional seat, many would argue that it is time to break up the stagnation between the legislative and executive offices. A Republican could do that, but in a purple state and against a formidable opponent in Shapiro, it would need to be a Republican with a compelling message and widespread support.

This primary also matters because of the issues. Covid dominated the past election cycle, and the only difference this year is that the disease is presenting slightly different problems. Republicans are generally against mandates, but their tolerance for lockdowns and government stimulus will vary.

Energy is also a contentious topic in the state that produces the second-most gas and electricity in the nation. Huge new national gas plants should bring even more revenue in the coming years. As oil and gas businesses look for welcoming homes, Pennsylvania must decide whether this is an industry it is willing to commit to in the long term.

School choice bills have been flying around the legislature without much hope of getting past Wolf, and a new administration could mean some huge changes on the education front. But Republican plans to make a lasting impact on the Pennsylvania public school system vary dramatically from candidate to candidate, and many plans regarding school choice stray into uncharted waters.

Finally, one of the largest issues the candidates disagree on is philosophy. The old GOP that prioritizes markets and morality is still very much alive in the Keystone State. But the state, and the nation, have seen a rise in the “new right”, characterized by nationalism and populism, which brings a set of issues surrounding big tech and immigration that add a new element to the party dialogue. The philosophy that emerges victorious from the Republican primary will have united enough of the Pennsylvania right-wing in order to win, but will it be the philosophy that can unite the rest of the state?

These issues and more should be on full display on Wednesday night. The debate will take place at 7 pm at Dickinson College, moderated by former State Rep Becky Corbin, PA Chamber Director of Political Engagement Allison Coccia, and yours truly. In the interest of full disclosure, Broad + Liberty is an event sponsor and is proud to partner with the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, the Keystone Free Enterprise Fund, and ProtectPA PAC to bring this program to you.

You can watch the livestream on Wednesday, January 5th, on PCNTV. Immediately following the 7:00 debate, PCN will host a call-in program, with special guests former Congressman Ryan Costello and ColdSpark Founding Partner Mike DeVanney. Expect a clash of ideas, and a great example of the lynchpin of any good republic: civil dialogue.

This article first appeared in Broad + Liberty.

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Lou Barletta Promises to Bus Illegal Immigrants to Delaware, President Biden’s Home State

If he becomes Pennsylvania governor, Lou Barletta says he will bus illegal immigrants to Delaware.

Barletta is taking a page out of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ playbook in saying he would send migrants that the federal government has been flying throughout the country to President Joe Biden’s home state.

The Florida governor recently told Fox News he was considering responding to the Biden administration’s policy of flying migrants from the U.S. southern border to states like his by sending them on to Biden’s home state.

“Our view is that if they’re going to be dumping, we want to be able to facilitate transfer to places like Delaware. And so we have $8 million in my new budget to be able to do that,” DeSantis said.

Barletta, 65, who is polling ahead of the other 14 or so candidates running for the GOP voters’ nod in the May 2022 primary, first made national headlines with a no-nonsense attitude toward illegal immigrants when he was mayor of Hazleton. He says he likes what DeSantis is doing.

“We’re a lot closer to Delaware than Florida, and it will cost us all lot less money to ship people from Philadelphia to Wilmington than it will for DeSantis to ship them from Fort Lauderdale,” Barletta told the Delaware Valley Journal podcast on Wednesday.

Barletta said that he has stayed true to his principles “his whole political career” and always did what he thinks is right, “even if it’s not politically popular.”

“When I was mayor of Hazleton, I was the first mayor in the country to stand up against the illegal immigration because it was affecting our city,” said Barletta.

It’s a matter of fairness to Barletta.

“How many millions of (legal) immigrants who are waiting, have waited, have gone through the process, have paid the price (to) bring their families here legally,” said Barletta. “And, you know, they’re watching people just cross the border and getting the same benefits…which is unfair. It’s a case of unfairness, but everybody should care.”

Barletta, who also served in Congress and ran for the Senate against Democrat Bob Casey, said that his experience in government, coupled with his background as a small business owner, has prepared him to be governor.

Barletta promised to get the state’s economy back on track.

“I would open up our economy.” Pennsylvania “was blessed with all this energy under our feet,” he said. The commonwealth has as much mineral wealth as “an entire country.”

“That’s how much energy we have that we could be exporting, but also using it to bring manufacturing here, building pipelines, which will put people to work, having all this gas under our feet and not building a pipeline is like being in college and having a keg of beer without a tap.”

Barletta would also cut taxes and regulations to bring more businesses here.

“Pennsylvania’s not business-friendly,” said Barletta. The state has “the second-highest business taxes in the country” and “our regulatory agencies are used as weapons to punish businesses right now. The DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) stands for don’t expect permits.”

Asked about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that Wolf is entering Pennsylvania into without the legislature’s agreement, Barletta said, “Day one, I’m repealing RGGI.”

“It’s ludicrous that we would be a state with all this opportunity here. And we would put ourselves in a consortium of other states that could care less because they don’t have it. They don’t have the energy…that we have and our country needs this energy. Look at the price of gas…Pennsylvania can be a leader and we will be a leader, and that’s going to mean a lot more jobs and a lot more opportunities.”

So far the only Democrat running for governor is Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Meanwhile, many of the Republican gubernatorial candidates will be in Carlisle on Jan. 5 for their first debate, although Barletta will not attend any debates until after the qualifying period to be on the May primary ballot.

Among those also running: Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale; former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain; Jason Richey, a Pittsburgh attorney; Charlie Gerow, a political strategist based in Harrisburg; Guy Ciarrocchi, who is on leave as president of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry; Dave White, a former Delaware County councilman and small business owner; Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, who lives in Centre County; Melissa Hart, a lawyer and former congresswoman from Allegheny County; and Lancaster state Sen. Scott Martin, who also owns a small business. State Sen. Doug Mastriano of Franklin County, is also expected to run.

If he does, Mastriano may compete with Barletta for voters who support former President Donald Trump. Barletta was the first congressman to support Trump when the former billionaire businessman and TV star began his quest for office. Mastriano is a strong advocate of Trump’s contention that he lost to Biden in 2020 because of a rigged election.


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