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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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DelVal Counties Could Decide Fate of Mastriano, Oz

Despite forecasts of a national red wave, Pennsylvania Democrat nominees for governor and U.S. Senate have double-digit leads in a battleground state that Joe Biden carried by just over 1 percent against Donald Trump.

If Republican candidates like gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Doug Mastriano and U.S. Senate contender Dr. Mehmet Oz are going to have a chance in November, they have to keep the margins close in the Delaware Valley counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery.

“Those counties are vital not just in this election but in every election in large part because of the large number of people who live in those communities,” Berwood Yost, director of the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College, told DVJournal. “These suburban voters used to be solidly Republican and now are more Democrat in their voting habits.”

Yost added, “Republicans can win if they really run up the numbers in the rest of the state, but it’s a lot easier if they do better in those counties.”

In the race to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, the state’s Democrat Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, part of the Bernie Sanders wing of the party, has consistently held a double-digit lead in the polls. A new poll from the Center Street PAC gives Fetterman a 47-to-30 percent advantage.

A recent Fox News poll shows Democrat Attorney General Josh Shapiro with a 10-point lead, 50 to 40 percent over Mastriano in the race to replace term-limited Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf.

Trump, who in 2016 carried Pennsylvania by a razor-thin margin, endorsed both Oz and Mastriano during the Republican primary.

A post-primary analysis by the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall College called urban and rural the “central dividing line” that was evident in both party primaries, but starker on the Republican side.

“Mastriano’s support mirrors President Trump’s support during his 2016 primary win in Pennsylvania: underperforming in the state’s large central and fringe metros and overperforming in the state’s less dense rural communities,” the analysis said. By contrast, the analysis found Oz “overperformed in the large central and fringe metros, while underperforming in the less dense communities of the state.”

Of Democrats, the analysis says: “Fetterman’s support among Democrats was much stronger in smaller, less densely populated communities than in the large central and fringe metros where Conor Lamb did a bit better. Still, he won convincingly in each community type.”

In the general election, a big part of the problem seems to be the state GOP doesn’t have the strongest nominees, both faring poorly in the Philadelphia suburban counties where Trump and Toomey held their own.

“A conventional conservative Republican rather than a MAGA Republican might fare better,” Matthew Kerbel, a political science professor at Villanova University, told DVJournal.

“For Mastriano, his problem is ideological. Voters are turned off by a candidate who can be positioned as extreme,” Kerbel said. “Oz has more of an authenticity problem. Stressing that he is from New Jersey plays into doubts people already had. Fetterman comes across as genuine. He’s certainly a liberal, but he has a demeanor that is blue collar, which minimizes his ideology.”

Delaware and Montgomery Counties are more closely aligned with Philadelphia while Bucks and Chester counties have rural areas and are more politically diverse, said Dan Mallinson, a public policy professor at Pennsylvania State University. Still, he said, the counties are much bluer than before.

“People come to the eastern part of the state out of New York City and New Jersey as those areas have become more expensive to live,” Mallinson said. “The general movement is in line with Democrats. A lot of wealth has come into that area, which used to be aligned with Republicans as the pro-business party. But now the Democrats have a lot of wealthy people in their party.”

On the flip side, Mallinson predicts both races will tighten, noting a sizeable number of Democrats changing their registration to Republican, though many have been voting Republican for a while before the registration change. Moreover, most elected Republicans in the state seem to be warming a bit to Mastriano.

“Mastriano and Shapiro remind me of the 2016 presidential race,” he said. “The Republicans had an outsider and the Democrats had an established, experienced heir apparent. That doesn’t always work out so well for all the talk we heard about Never Trumpers. We’ll see what happens with Mastriano.”

Pat Poprik, chair of the Bucks County Republican Committee, believes voters will vote their pocketbooks.

“For decades, the Philadelphia suburbs have been a bellwether for the national political environment,” said Poprik.  “Bucks County, in particular, has always been the focus of statewide and national attention for its ‘swing’ status.  For any candidate to be successful statewide, they must perform well here in our region.  We believe that historic inflation, rising gas prices, and higher food costs are driving suburban voters to reject the failed Democrat policies that have led us here.  By offering an alternative vision for our commonwealth and our country, Republican candidates will succeed in November.”

And Liz Preate Havey, the Republican chair for Montgomery County said, “Twenty years ago a successful Republican statewide candidate had to win convincingly in the southeast in order to offset large Democratic wins in the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. With huge Republican growth outside of the southeast region, it is no longer necessary for Republicans to win the Southeast. However, Republicans still need to remain competitive in the suburbs to win statewide and thus still need to appeal to suburban voters.”

While neither Biden nor Trump is popular in the state now, Trump’s favorable rating in the state is 44 percent compared to Biden at 42 percent, according to the Fox poll. So, while Democrats wouldn’t likely want to jeopardize their leads by bringing in Biden to stump, the two lagging Republicans may have nothing to lose from a Trump appearance to excite the base, should their fortunes not reverse.

The poll found more than half of voters did not think Oz was familiar enough with Pennsylvania to represent the state, while fewer than a quarter were worried about Fetterman’s health after he had a recent stroke. Still, Oz leads 10 points among rural voters. That doesn’t quite compensate for the 23-point Fetterman lead among suburban voters near the population centers of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties.

In Pennsylvania, as well as the rest of the country, the top issues for voters tend to advantage Republicans.

For Pennsylvania voters, the top concern is inflation, and most disapprove of how Biden and Democrats have handled rising prices. Democrats say abortion is their top issue, but only 14 percent of Keystone State voters agree.

More than half say their financial situation is worse than two years earlier, while more than one-third said it’s the same and just 10 percent say they are doing better.

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DelVal Republicans Hope to Catch the ‘Red Wave’ in 2022

Philadelphia GOP Chair Martina White’s party may be outnumbered seven to one in the City of Brotherly Love, but she says that won’t stop the red wave that’s coming in 2022.

“There will be a Red Wave in 2022 because people are so fed up with the lawless (DA Larry) Krasner Democrats and the incompetent Biden Administration,” White told Delaware Valley Journal. “All across the U.S in Democrat-run cities, crime of every type is surging. People can’t afford basic goods – if they can even find them – because of rampant inflation. Kids are facing mental health issues because of lockdowns unsupported by science, and being failed by schools that don’t work for them.

Tom McGarrigle

“The Democrats’ solutions are more lockdowns, more shutdowns, heroin injection sites in neighborhoods, defunding the police, letting more criminals free and doing what they’ve always done. People are fed up and it will be felt in November 2022 across the nation and here in Philadelphia.”

White, who also serves as a state rep, is one of the Delaware Valley Republican leaders recruiting candidates for what many election analysts on both sides of the aisle will be a good year for the GOP.

“We are looking for regular citizens from all walks of life — small business-people, tradesmen and women, former law enforcement officers, active and concerned parents — who are willing to step up, offer a different view, and make a change in this heavily Democratic city,” White said. “Every voter matters when you’re talking about statewide offices, and the GOP can gain many more votes in Philadelphia thanks to the work we’re doing at the Philly GOP. For local office, we have our eye on a number of flippable seats where discontent with the radical Krasner Democrats and their failure to protect our families is boiling over. ”

In Montgomery County, Republican Party Chairwoman Elizabeth Preate Havey is also seeking candidates, but delays with the new redistricting map, which happens every decade after the U.S. Census, have slowed this down.

Liz Preate Havey

“While we have already heard from a number of excellent potential candidates and have been recruiting aggressively, we remain very concerned about the State House map in Montco,” said Havey. “It divided some municipalities like Horsham breaking apart communities of interest for no discernible reason other than to make the seat more favorable to the Democrats.”

Delaware County GOP Chairman Tom McGarrigle agreed that the lack of firm boundaries for various districts is hampering candidates’ decisions but he also pointed to the ongoing pandemic as an issue.

“We will be meeting with potential candidates in the next week or two,” said McGarrigle. “COVID has slowed everyone down. It seems like every other day someone you know has this COVID, so we’re a little behind schedule. And also, because we’re waiting for the final district maps to be drawn, anyone who is thinking about it is waiting to see what the final map is looking like. We’re still gathering names.”

“There are a lot of potential candidates who have expressed interest to me verbally if the seat looks good but nobody really knows what the final (map) is going to look like,” he said. “Everybody’s just at a standstill.”

“We’ve always looked for candidates that were involved in the community,” said McGarrigle. “In years past when times were different for the Republicans, it was usually involved in the system, either a township commissioner or borough councilman who wants to move up. But right now everybody who has those elected positions seems to be happy where they’re at.”

Meanwhile, White noted that there are other ways to help other than running for office.

“There are many ways to participate, ensure fair elections and create change across Philadelphia,” she said. These include being a poll watcher, a committee person, a judge of elections or knocking on doors to hand out information. “People who are interested should go to and check us out on social media to get in touch. This will be a big year!”


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