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FLOWERS: PA Voters Pick Nihilism Over Compassion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The nihilism vote won.

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Obama, Biden Rally DelVal Dems to Back Fetterman, Shapiro

If anyone doubted Pennsylvania is Ground Zero for the 2022 election, the events on the final Saturday before the midterm elections left no doubt. The current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and two previous tenants came to the state to campaign for their favored candidates for governor and senator.

Former President Trump was in Latrobe to rally with Republican senatorial candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano. President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama came to the Liacouras Center at Temple University to rally for Democrats John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro before a largely young crowd.

President Joe Biden

Like a clean-up hitter, Obama spoke last.

He urged the crowd to vote, lashed out at the Republicans, and bemoaned the 2014 midterms when Democrats lost the Senate.

“Midterms are always hard for which every party is in the White House, and typically midterms are tougher on Democrats. A lot of folks don’t pay attention to politics the way they do in a presidential year. In fact, maybe they don’t know Congress matters…Young people, especially, are less likely to vote in midterms, and that hurts Democrats. Young people tend to be more progressive. I can tell you from experience that midterms matter a lot. Some of you are too young (to know).

“When I was president, I was elected in the midst of a financial crisis. We did the right thing to get the economy back on track, but it was hard, and people were frustrated just like they are now. Sometimes it takes a while for things to settle down, so in 2010 we lost the House. And then, in 2014, even though now the economy was improving, we saw the lowest voting rate in modern history, and because of it, we lost the Senate.”

So, his agenda on guns, climate change, and immigration reform stalled, he said.

Former President Barack Obama

“Sometimes I like to imagine what it would have been like if enough people had turned out to vote in those elections,” said Obama. “If we had maintained control of the House and maintained control of the Senate.”

It was clear from the loud and sustained applause he garnered Obama is still a Democratic Party rock star.

Biden mentioned his childhood in Scranton and that First Lady Jill Biden is from Philadelphia.

He told the audience of several thousand they have the power to make “John Fetterman your next United States Senator and Josh Shapiro your next governor in three days.”

“Your right to choose is on the ballot, your right to vote is on the ballot, Social Security and Medicare are on the ballot. And something else is on the ballot. Character. Character is on the ballot. When I think of character, I think of John Fetterman…John Fetterman is Pennsylvania.”

“I lived in Pennsylvania longer than Oz has lived in Pennsylvania, and I moved away when I was 10 years old,” said Biden.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman

“Courage is also on the ballot,” he said. “When I think of courage, I think of Josh Shapiro…He stood up for the people of this state, and he’s going to be a fantastic governor.”

Fetterman mentioned that he is recovering from a stroke and gave his standard stump speech, taking shots at Oz, eliciting boos from the crowd.

Oz “likes to pander,” said Fetterman.  “I want to get this off my chest. Wawa is so much better than Sheetz.”

He said Oz would be on a stage with Trump and Mastriano, but “we are 100 percent sedition free,” an allusion to the Jan. 6 riots. Earlier in the day, when Fetterman made that same statement in Pittsburgh, the wind blew down the American flags behind him.

Fetterman said that he would vote to “codify Roe v. Wade” and to be the 51st vote to end the filibuster and “fundamentally change America.”

He also promised to ban “assault weapons.”

Shapiro said if elected, he would increase spending on public school education and teachers’ pay, start an apprentice program for high school students and remove the requirement of a college degree for thousands of state government jobs.

He said he “dedicated himself to public service” for his four children. He worries about their climate, their safety, and that they have “fewer opportunities than the world I was blessed to be born into.”

He also cited his Jewish faith where no one is required to complete the task of improving the world but “neither are we free to refrain from it.”

Shapiro promised to make sure that every child “has a safe community to live in.”

Attorney General Josh Shapiro

Shapiro also spoke about abortion, saying Mastriano would take that freedom from women, while he promised to veto any bill that would restrict it. Mastriano has said that while he opposes abortion, as governor he does not have the power to ban it. That would be up to the legislature.

Shapiro called his opponent extreme. However, during the primary Shapiro funded commercials that boosted Mastriano’s primary campaign, a move made by Democratic candidates across the country to pick the opponents they believed were easiest to beat.

Shapiro also mentioned Mastriano went to Washington D.C. on Jan. 6 and “he plans to decertify voting machines…Probably the ones here in Philadelphia. Are we going to let him get away with that? That is not how our democracy works.”

“It’s not freedom to tell women what to do with their bodies,” said Shapiro. “It’s not freedom to tell children what books they’re allowed to read.”

Delaware Valley parents have been objecting to obscene books in public school libraries, such as “Gender Queer.” Mastriano has sided with those parents.

Earlier in the rally, lieutenant governor candidate state Rep. Austin Davis (D-McKeesport) spoke about being the son of a bus driver and hairdresser, the first in his family to go to college.

“I’m going to be the first Black lieutenant governor,” Davis said.

Gov. Tom Wolf also spoke about abortion and touted the state surplus that he will leave the next governor.

And Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) accused Republicans of being about “fear, smear, and divide.”  He urged the crowd to vote for Democrats.

“Let’s win in 2022,” Casey said.

GIORDANO: Debates Matter — And They Should

Are you amazed that a key state like Pennsylvania–in an election cycle that might change the history of our country– will end up having only one debate for the two highest offices being contested? If you’re like me, you might also be tired of pundits droning on TV that voters don’t make decisions based on what occurs in debates.

Is there any doubt that the Oz-Fetterman debate shook up the race?

More importantly, it underlined the seriousness of the issues that Fetterman still faces. The Insider Advantage poll taken the day after the debate had Oz leading Fetterman by 47.5 percent to Fetterman’s 44.8 percent. A subsequent poll released by Wicks Insights had Oz at 47.6 percent and Fetterman at 45.9 percent. It also was telling that among undecided voters, Oz led Fetterman 64.4 percent to 35.6 percent.

On my radio show, Dr. Oz told me he regrets the debate moderators did not spend enough time talking about crime. By my count, the actual time spent on crime was a little over two minutes. It was fine to spend ample time on abortion positions because there was a lot of contention over the positions of the two candidates. Oz made it clear once again he supports exceptions to abortion bans in the case of rape, incest, or the life of the mother. It is unclear to me, but I sense that Fetterman is for abortion rights in any situation and time frame.

As I said, the moderators made a big mistake by not allowing the candidates to debate their visions on personal safety. Crime is the issue that distinguishes these two candidates and the issue that filtered back into the race. It is the issue across the country that people care about the most after their deep concerns over inflation. A central part of this debate should have been Fetterman’s defense of his work as chairman of the state Pardons Board and his views on sentencing convicts to life in prison.

This was even more important because Fetterman supports the policies of radical Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. Of course, Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives announced last week they will formally try to impeach Krasner on various grounds in the near future by adding some days to their legislative session.

There is quite a backstory to this development. Republican leaders were afraid to go forward with impeaching Krasner because it would be done in retaliation to their guys in various offices. However, their members in the House revolted and forced them to move on to impeachment. As I have said many times before, Larry Krasner will be impeached. If Oz beats Fetterman, it will be more about the Democrats’ radical positions, particularly on crime, rather than his difficulties brought about by his stroke.

Regarding these after-effects and what they mean regarding Fetterman’s ability to serve as a senator, he could resolve some of the debate by releasing his complete medical records from his cardiologist and neurologist. They would give insight to voters about his cognitive ability and possible future issues.

There is a good chance that this Senate seat will determine which party holds the majority in the Senate. I believe Republicans will overwhelmingly take back the House of Representatives. If Dr. Oz beats Fetterman, President Joe Biden’s unprecedented spending will be stopped, and we will slowly roll back inflation.

If that happens, we’ll think back to the one debate between major candidates held in Pennsylvania this year and remember debates often do matter.

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SZEKELY: Montco Sheriff Abuses His Office With Fetterman Endorsement

My name is Andy Szekely and like John Fetterman, who is running for the United States Senate, I was once a small-town mayor. Unlike John Fetterman, I never pulled a gun on someone or attempted to play police officer without any formal training. In 2013, John Fetterman chased and then detained jogger, Chris Miyares, a black man for what he thought was a shooting in progress.

Not only was this action reckless and dangerous, but Fetterman tried to justify his behavior by saying that as the mayor, and therefore chief law enforcement officer, it was his duty to act as he did. I can tell you that every responsible mayor in America would condemn his actions. Additionally, every police chief and every municipal solicitor would condemn his vigilantism as well.

And while the example above is the most egregious action committed by Fetterman while he was mayor, there are numerous other examples of unethical and distasteful behavior. For example, according to Wikipedia, John Fetterman frequently missed council meetings. He retaliated against his mayoral opponent, Jayme Cox, through using his position as mayor to release non-public records that showed that Cox was arrested in 2004. Even the solicitor agreed Fetterman’s conduct constituted “an abuse of his mayoral authority” and violated the Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Information Act. These actions were vengeful and retaliatory and should have disqualified Fetterman for re-election.

Recently, the sheriff of Montgomery County and municipal lawyer, Sean Kilkenny, has endorsed John Fetterman for Senate in a television ad touting his record on crime. There is poor judgment here on two counts: one, Kilkenny is wrong to use the sheriff’s office—especially while wearing his uniform—to endorse Mr. Fetterman and two, as the chief law enforcement officer in the county and solicitor to several municipalities throughout the county, he should know better than to overlook this serious breach of conduct on behalf of John Fetterman.

Not only did Fetterman put Chris Miyares’ life at risk, but he also put the lives of innocent bystanders at risk as well in the town of Braddock. And of course, Kilkenny wearing his solicitor’s hat should also be critical of Fetterman for his lack of attendance at council meetings and his violation of the Pennsylvania Criminal History Information Act. Fetterman was bad for Braddock and Fetterman will be bad for Pennsylvania and the United States. Kilkenny should know this.

From a small-town mayor’s point of view, John Fetterman’s conduct while mayor of Braddock was deplorable with no lasting results. I cannot imagine the outcry if I had behaved similarly during my nine and half years as mayor of Lansdale. His success as mayor of Braddock was as superficial as the Carhartt clothes and hoodies he wears. I hope the public can see the truth through his vanity and therefore put an end to his play-acting politician.

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At Bensalem Rally, Brian Fitzpatrick Boosts Oz Senate Bid

Dr. Mehmet Oz got a big boost from fellow Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick during a rally at a fire station in Bensalem, one week before Election Day.

The first-time Senate campaign appears to have momentum in the polls in the final days, but political observers say for Oz to win, he must outperform fellow Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano, the GOP gubernatorial candidate, in politically purple places like Bucks County. Fitzpatrick, a Republican representing a district Joe Biden carried in 2020, was on hand to introduce Oz to the crowd and make the case on issues like border security and fighting crime.

“We have people trying to get into this country the right way, the legal way, like so many did at Ellis Island,” Fitzpatrick said. “And everything is broken due to the choice of the far left.”

“Without any enforcement, there is no law,” he continued. “Our police officers across America are under assault. They’re having a hard time recruiting officers and keeping the ones they have. And this is what the far left wants, folks…If nobody does (police work) they advance chaos in the streets.”

Fitzpatrick also talked about national security and Biden’s inept withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan. “We all saw what transpired in Afghanistan. I have not had a pit in my stomach, since 9/11, the way that catastrophe occurred…We disrespected our American soldiers.

“And lastly, inflation. This is a big problem caused by politicians making poor decisions,” Fitzpatrick said.

Oz echoed the same issue set, urging the 250 or so supporters to talk to their friends and neighbors about those same issues: The economy, crime and the border. And then to make sure to get those folks to come out to vote next Tuesday.

Oz said when his father came to America from Turkey, “We were welcoming immigrants who would work hard to make themselves better and make our country better. And what he instilled in me is we are the land of opportunity. We are the land of plenty. The American dream lives on in me and you.”

But now, “people are struggling,” he said. “I’ve talked to seniors who don’t see their Social Security checks stretching far enough (because of) inflation. I’ve talked to young couples who can’t buy their starter house because the mortgage rates are too high now. These are self-inflicted problems. I’ve talked to families in every part of the commonwealth who fear what’s in their mailbox. They know their kids can literally order pain pills that could kill them.”

He mentioned a Chester County woman whose 32-year-old daughter died after receiving fentanyl-laced pills in the mail.

“That makes us a border state,” said Oz. “That fentanyl came across the border—an open border.” Drugs and human trafficking “have made these cartels a fortune.”

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” he said. “Why isn’t Washington getting involved? I have a diagnosis. Washington isn’t getting involved because of these extreme positions. They need a dose of Pennsylvania reality. I want to go to Washington and bring balance so we address the problems that are plaguing Pennsylvania and all around this beautiful country.”

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick with a Wawa Eagles T-shirt for Dr. Oz.

Oz said he is for “common sense” but his opponent, Democrat John Fetterman, “constantly takes extreme positions.”

And Oz added people tell him “they don’t want to be part of a social experiment.”

Fetterman wants to “raise taxes on people already feeling pain from inflation. It’s easier to raise taxes when you’re not paying taxes of your own,” he said.

Oz noted the Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed him.

“They know I have their back and they are sick and tired of far-left political leaders not supporting them,” Oz said. When he was going to medical school in West Philadelphia, he could walk to his classes.  Now “it’s too dangerous.”

“Up in North Philly a pastor said it’s easier for him to buy fentanyl than baby formula,” said Oz. “Are you kidding me? The solution is to let people do their jobs.”

“Let the police do their jobs. Let the prosecutors do their jobs,” he said. And political candidates should answer questions. And Fetterman has “taken a strong stance of letting people convicted of murder be released.”

And as for legalizing all drugs, “Oregon actually did this experiment and Fetterman supported it. There was a 50 percent increase in homicide rates…People pay with their lives.”

“I’m not a politician,” he said. “I’m a heart surgeon…I’ll unite us. I’ll bring balance and I’ll address the challenges we’re facing.”

State Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia)

State Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) was also on hand. “Here’s one thing I know for a fact: I could never support a guy who wants to let murderers and criminals out onto our streets,” she said. “We already have one of those in Philadelphia. (District Attorney Larry) Krasner. That guy’s got to go.

“John Fetterman is just the same. He wants to bring those dangerous policies to Washington and to America. And cannot afford to let that happen.”

Bucks County Republican Chair Pat Poprik also emphasized the need to vote and to bring others to the polls because this is the most important election in “our lifetime.”

“Never have our liberties and our rights been so encroached upon by a bunch of people that think they know better than you,” Poprik said. “They know what schools you should have; they know where you should shop. Well, you know what? That’s going to stop. And you know where we’re going to start that stop? Right here in Bucks County.”

Bensalem resident Andrew Tyra told Delaware Valley Journal he came to America from Poland 35 years ago and supports Oz because “he’s fighting for what we’re fighting for…The other guy can’t even make one sentence.”

Philadelphia resident Ronni Newton said she supports Oz because she is pro-life.

Jerry Adler of Warrington supports the entire Republican ticket because, “I believe in our liberties, freedom and our constitution.”

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Fetterman Dinged Oz Over ‘Mansions,’ But Faces Ethics Questions Over Property Holdings

In Tuesday’s Senate debate, Democrat John Fetterman dinged Republican Mehmet Oz about his “10 gigantic mansions.” However, Fetterman’s properties have also become an issue in the campaign.

A watchdog group wants the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to investigate Fetterman for failing to report property on his financial disclosure forms, as required by Senate members and candidates.

The Fetterman campaign countered he was not required to report on properties that did not produce income. The discrepancy seems to hinge on different sections of the Senate ethics committee’s financial disclosure instructions.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, or FACT, filed a complaint with the ethics committee that pointed to Alleghany County records saying Fetterman’s July 29 financial disclosure form did not report eight real estate properties that he owns.

But the disclosure laws and Senate rules did not apply to these properties, the Fetterman campaign contended.

“These properties don’t produce any income and are not investment properties, so John did not need to disclose them,” Fetterman campaign spokesperson Nicholas Gavio told the Delaware Valley Journal in an email. That statement has also appeared in other media outlets.

The campaign’s response is disappointing, said Kendra Arnold, executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust.

“Homes or investment property, all real property is in one of those two categories,” Arnold told the Delaware Valley Journal. “There is not a ‘bought it just for fun’ category.”

The Fetterman campaign’s rationale would allow someone to avoid reporting stock or other investments that lost money, Arnold said.

“In the past, we’ve filed these complaints and candidates have said they didn’t understand or it was an oversight, and updated and amended their filing,” Arnold said. “Then it becomes a moot issue. Our hope is that candidates and senators will see complaints and take their ethical duties seriously.”

Property has been an issue in the fiercely contested Pennsylvania Senate campaign, as Oz had once stated he owned two homes, and The Daily Beast later reported he owns 10 houses. Oz responded that he reported the properties on his financial disclosure form. But the Fetterman campaign later attacked the doctor and former talk show host for being out of touch.

Senate ethics rules and federal law require Senate candidates to fully disclose financial information including assets, debts, and income as well as any position held. As for assets, FACT contends a candidate must report anything with a value exceeding $1,000.

“The Senate Select Committee on Ethics must act to ensure compliance with the most basic ethics requirements to maintain the public’s trust,” the complaint said. “Senate candidate Fetterman’s failure to disclose his assets and apparent failure to comply with federal law must be investigated and appropriate sanctions imposed.”

The Daily Mail first reported the ethics complaint last month.

The complaint quotes from the Senate disclosure instructions.

“Report the complete identity and category of value of any interest in property attributable to or held by you, your spouse, or your dependent children in a trade or business, or for investment or the production of income, with a fair market value exceeding $1,000 as of the close of the reporting period or from which you received or accrued unearned income in excess of $200 during the reporting period,” the disclosure instructions say on page 14. “You must report the value of each asset and the type and amount of income generated by each asset or received from each source.”

In fact, a few pages after the portion cited by the FACT complaint, the disclosure instructions seem to provide some cover for the Fetterman campaign.

“Generally, you are not required to report a residence if it is not used to produce rental income,” the disclosure instructions say on page 17. “If any portion of a personal residence or other real property was rented for any period during the reporting period, or if the property includes a working farm, ranch, mineral excavation, or other income-generating asset, the property must be reported. Other requirements may apply if the real property is held by a trust, LLC, or other entity.”

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Rising Crime is Theme Running Through PA 2022 Campaigns

A man was shot in Collingdale Sunday evening in what police say may have been an attempted carjacking. It happened in Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon’s congressional district, herself a victim of a Philadelphia carjacking last December.

In Philadelphia, carjackings have doubled this year from the previous year, with more than 1,000 so far. Delaware County does not keep statistics on that crime, said a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.

Crime is an issue in many political races this year, as it has spiked in cities helmed by progressive prosecutors like Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. Krasner has been under investigation by a state House bipartisan committee for his prosecution or lack of prosecution of repeat offenders.  The committee, which may or may not ultimately recommend the House impeach Krasner, issued a report this week.

The pro-law enforcement mantle has been claimed by all four candidates at the top of the ticket. U.S. Senate candidates Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz and Democrat Lt. Gov. John Fetterman both claim to support the police. They are currently airing dueling commercials with Montgomery County Sheriff Sean Kilkenny supporting Fetterman and Bucks County Sheriff Fred Harran backing Oz. Oz has also garnered endorsements from many other law enforcement organizations, including the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association and the state FOP, as well as the Philadelphia FOP.

Oz even received the endorsement of the FOP that represents the Braddock police, the town where Fetterman served as mayor and where he claimed to be tough on crime.

Fetterman, the lieutenant governor, has also drawn fire for his role as chairman of the state Board of Pardons, where he voted to release a record number of prisoners, even when other members of the board voted no. For example, he was the one yes vote to pardon a man who killed his girlfriend’s mother with a pair of scissors. 

In the governor’s race, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat who was endorsed by the Philadelphia FOP, is claiming to be a crime fighter, running ads that say he has taken guns and drugs off the streets. But he did not implement a law passed by the legislature to allow him to step in and handle gun cases in Philadelphia. And like Fetterman, he favors the end of mandatory sentences and ending life sentences for felony murder.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, takes a tough-on-crime stance, saying he will keep violent criminals behind bars and make sure that municipal police departments receive adequate funding.

Scanlon declined to comment about crime in her district. Her Republican opponent, David Galluch, has been outspoken.

“Congresswoman Scanlon has marched with Defund the Police. She has endorsed out-of-the-mainstream policies like the elimination of cash bail. She has stood alongside and refused to condemn Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner for his approach on the non-prosecution of repeat and violent offenders. It should come as no surprise that as a result, crime is on the rise in PA-05. In fact, every year since Mary Gay Scanlon has been in office, Philadelphia and Delaware County’s largest municipality, Upper Darby, have set murder records,” Galluch said.

“I’m committed to doing what Congressman Scanlon hasn’t done — delivering on enhancements to public safety through supporting and funding our police, investing in technology to help us catch offenders and get them off the street — but perhaps most importantly — using my office as a bully pulpit to demand that commonsense laws are enforced and that there is accountability for lawbreakers.”

 

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Strategists See ‘Stranger Things’ Scenario in Fight for U.S. Senate

In April, Republican control of the U.S. Senate looked like a lock. In August, all GOP hope appeared lost.

In the past few weeks, however, polls — and the news cycle — have been trending the Republicans’ way. Seven Senate seats are in play according to the RealClearPolitics polling averages: Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Other prognosticators predict fewer states will come down to the wire, as Republicans defend 21 Senate seats and Democrats defend 14 in November. But Republican Party strategist Ford O’Connell says pundits and the press are making the same mistake they have made every two years for a decade now.

Trusting the polls.

“The media’s reliance on GOP suppression polls is nothing new and 2022 is no different,” O’Connell told Inside Sources. “Generally speaking, Republican candidates are underperforming in the polls. That said, if Republicans at the top of the ticket continue to hammer home in unison the rising cost of living, crime, and the need to secure the border, the party will be victorious in November.”

A 2021 investigation by the American Association for Public Opinion Research found polls at both the national and statewide level in 2020 missed races by the biggest margins in decades, and always in the Democrats’ favor. If polling is off by the same margin as two years ago, Republicans are competitive, or better, in all seven of these races.

Events are working in the GOP’s favor, too, said Tim Jones, a former Republican speaker of Missouri’s House of Representatives, now a talk radio host who monitors the national scene. The economy is not likely to improve before the election and the Democrats seem overly reliant on the abortion issue after the Dobbs decision in the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Democrats have stopped talking about COVID. They are not talking about January 6 anymore. They are only talking about abortion,” Jones told Inside Politics shortly after his plane arrived at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Tuesday. “Republicans could be undercounted or maybe just don’t want to be counted.”

Jones suspects the Dobbs decision might have come too early for Democrats.

“When the decision came in June, Democrats predicted the world would end and it would be Handmaiden’s Tale,” Jones said. “Now people are starting to figure out it just means that red states are probably going to have stricter abortion laws and blue states are going to have looser abortion laws.”

And then there is the ‘Stranger Things’ factor, said J. Miles Coleman of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Every election cycle has at least one “Who’da thunk it?” outcome. For 2020, it was Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, surviving; in 2018, it was Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., being booted from office in a national Democrat year, Coleman said.

One potential Senate race surprise could be in Colorado, where Democrat Sen. Michael Bennett is fending off GOP challenger Joe O’Dea.

“Some Republicans think they’ve got a decent shot in Colorado,” Coleman told InsideSources. “We think Michael Bennett is likely to win, but not safe. The GOP nominee there has tried to frame himself as a Republican version of Joe Manchin. Michael Bennett is not as much of a brand in Colorado.”

The UVA Center for Politics’ Crystal Ball ranks Georgia and Nevada as the outright tossups in November. It scores North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio as leaning Republican while Arizona, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania are leaning Democrat.

“Leaning” counts as less than “likely,” on the rating scale.

The Cook Political Report rates four Senate races as tossups: Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Cook, meanwhile, counts Arizona, Colorado, and New Hampshire as leaning Democrat, while putting Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio in the leaning Republican category.

Of the major prognosticators, FiveThirtyEight takes the dimmest view of GOP chances, giving Democrats a two-thirds chance of maintaining control of the Senate based on its statistical modeling.

Among the most closely watched races in Pennsylvania, for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, which presents a pickup opportunity for Democrats.

“If the Republicans win in Pennsylvania, it is all but guaranteed that they will win control of the Senate,” O’Connell said. “There are a number of permutations and combinations that could give Republicans the gavel in the upper chamber without Pennsylvania, but a win in the Keystone State affords them the best opportunity for control.”

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee there, has closed the gap with Democrat Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. But Coleman believes the race is still Fetterman’s to lose.

“Oz’s unfavorables are terrible,” Coleman said. “Fetterman’s unfavorables have gone up, but Oz’s unfavorables are about 50 percent. That’s hard to overcome.”

Of the seven races, New Hampshire is widely viewed as the least likely to flip to the Republicans. Even GOP Gov. Chris Sununu’s expected double-digit victory would not be enough to lift Republican challenger Don Bolduc over incumbent Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan, Coleman said.

“Sununu will likely win, but New Hampshire voters like to split their tickets,” Coleman said. “The Senate Leadership Fund is still spending money there. So, Republicans are not giving up.”

Jones is not so sure. As a former state legislative leader, he sees the popularity of Republican governors as a significant force in these elections. For example, a strong victory by Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp over Democrat challenger Stacey Abrams could be enough to lift embattled Senate nominee Herschel Walker to victory over Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock.

“Gov. Kemp has been up by as much as 8 points. I can’t imagine a world where voters are voting for Kemp and Warnock,” Jones said.

As inflation continues to hit voters in their pocketbooks and President Joe Biden struggles in the polls, some Republicans see the potential of a red wave that could even reach the very blue states of Vermont and Washington, where GOP candidates are in striking distance in polls. But O’Connell is doubtful.

“Stranger things have happened, but for the GOP to pick up Senate seats in Vermont and Washington, the floodgates would really have to open up,” O’Connell said. “I’m not saying those races don’t merit our attention, but the most important races with less than 30 days to go are—Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.

“In recent weeks the Democrats have backtracked on the map and poured more resources into both Senate and House races that they weren’t as focused on over the summer. That’s a good sign for Republicans.”

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PA Republicans React to Biden Visit on Thursday

President Joe Biden came to Pennsylvania on Thursday to campaign for Democrats. But Republican Guy Ciarrocchi wants to talk about what’s coming to the Philly suburbs: Crime.

“It’s not about what’s happening in New York,” said Ciarrocchi, the GOP candidate in the Sixth Congressional District. “It’s very real in our district. Violent crime has come to the suburbs.”

While the president was in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to boost embattled U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman, Ciarrocchi joined fellow Republican nominees Rep. Dan Meuser (PA-9) and Jeremy Shaffer (PA-17) at a press briefing to call out the Democrats’ record.

The Biden administration has “managed to harm every sector of the economy,” said Ciarrocchi. “From families who’ve managed to save for the future, whether was for a daughter’s wedding or their retirement, they’ve seen up to a third of that savings wiped away as the stock market has fallen. Young families who were saving for their first homes are now looking at mortgage rates…escalating.”

Ciarrocchi said his home is heated with natural gas, and the price is going up 81 percent. People using heating oil are seeing a 300 percent increase.

“These folks want answers,” said Ciarrocchi. “They want to know how they’re going to pay their bills this winter.”

Meuser said the GOP’s message in the final weeks of the campaign centers on high inflation, now at 11 percent in Pennsylvania. “We’ve got consumer demand way up and supply way down,” he said. “I promise we’re not going to raise taxes on American businesses.”

On energy, Meuser said Biden repeated the GOP complaint about his refusal to issue permits for drilling. According to The Wall Street Journal, Biden has slashed the number of acres leased for energy exploration at this point in a presidency by 97 percent.

“So, you have people hurting here in Pennsylvania, and you have President Biden eating an ice cream cone,” said Meuser, “telling us the economy is ‘strong as hell.’”

The Delaware Valley Journal asked Ciarrocchi what he would do to bring down inflation.

“It begins with American energy,” he said. “The president announced to the world we’re going to try and get out of the fossil fuel business and then canceled a series of projects, most notably the Keystone XL pipeline. And then, as we learned today, there are up to 4,000 permits being slow rolled by the federal government.

“So, what the president needs to do, what Congress under Republicans will force him to do, is to announce we’re back in the fossil fuel business. Americans will not be dependent on Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Russia,” Ciarrocchi said.

Shaffer, an entrepreneur and software engineer is a political newcomer, as is his Democratic opponent Chris Deluzio in their western Pennsylvania race. Shaffer hit high energy costs as well, and all three Republicans called out Democratic reluctance to develop the Keystone State’s energy resources.

“Right beneath our feet in western Pennsylvania and so much of Pennsylvania, we have the solution,” said Meuser. “We sit on the Saudi Arabia of natural gas, one of the world’s largest energy reserves.”

But, he noted, Biden did not talk about that when he came to Pittsburgh. Instead, the president begged Saudi Arabia for more oil and is draining “our strategic petroleum reserves in a reckless way,” said Shaffer.

Asked about the Democrats’ emphasis on abortion rights, Ciarrocchi argued they are missing the mark.

“It’s not only the president, it’s a cookie-cutter campaign that most of them are using in open seats and races like mine with a challenger,” said Ciarrocchi. “I think the more they do it. They just appear to be out of touch. And it’s obvious that they’re using a political wedge issue.”

Police Union Representing Braddock Cops Backs Oz Over Former Mayor Fetterman

In his stump speech, Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman likes to brag about his work with the Braddock police during his time as mayor.

“I’m running on my record on crime,” Fetterman told a Bucks County audience earlier this month. “I ran for mayor of Braddock, a community that has significant gun violence, to be mayor and fight that, and because of our working with the police and funding the police and working with the community, we went more than five years without a murder. It never happened before and never since I’ve been mayor.”

But on Tuesday, those officers gave their endorsement to his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz.

“Many times, I was called to assist in Braddock when Mr. Fetterman was mayor. I know he says that he’s a law-and-order candidate. I have to disagree with that,” said Vincent Dicenzio, Jr., president of the Allegheny County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 91, which includes the Braddock police officers.

Fetterman “was always good to show up for a photo opportunity. But as crime was going on in Braddock, you did not see Mr. Fetterman. Instead, you saw other police departments there assisting Braddock Police Department. I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Fetterman when he ran for lieutenant governor, and as the mayor of Braddock, he had no idea what their officers made. They didn’t even have a contract or benefits. They were one of the lowest paid police departments in Allegheny County.”

Fetterman’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment about the Braddock police officers’ endorsement of his opponent.

Oz, who is also endorsed by the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of the Police, the EP Jermyn FOP Lodge 2 in Scranton, and the Pennsylvania Sheriffs’ Action PAC, used the opportunity to return to his campaign’s law-and-order theme.

“We have seen a tragic increase in crime in Pennsylvania. As senator, I will work across the aisle to ensure we are keeping our communities safe from criminals and cartel organizations and preventing the flow of illegal drugs like fentanyl across our borders. The Pennsylvania FOP has unanimously endorsed me because they know that I will put the safety and security of officers and law-abiding citizens first. Together, we will return safety and security to our commonwealth,” Oz said.

Oz added Fetterman “supports releasing murderers, decriminalizing heroin, and open borders, while I will secure our border, fund our police, and support critical local services that provide help to addicts.”

A day earlier, Oz was also endorsed by a coalition of local unions in the Council of Prison Locals, a national group representing more than 30,000 federal corrections officers across the country. That endorsement followed the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association’s endorsement earlier this week.

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