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Biden Visits Philly Black Church to Boost Struggling Campaign

Calls of “We love you, President Biden,” filled Mount Airy Church of God in Christ in Philadelphia as the president made a campaign swing to Pennsylvania on Sunday.

Some Democrats called for Biden to bow out of the race in the wake of a disastrous performance in the debate against former President Donald Trump last month. However, on July 7, Biden visited a Black church in Philadelphia hoping to showcase his continued strength among African American voters.

Biden, who lived in Scranton before moving to Delaware when he was 10, considers Pennsylvania his second home and has come to Philadelphia often, including eight visits this year.

Biden was supposed to speak at the National Education Association annual conference in Philadelphia on Sunday. But Biden’s campaign cancelled that event after the NEA’s own unionized employees filed unfair labor practices complaints over how the teachers union treats its own employees. Biden would have had to cross a picket line, so the campaign sent him to a friendlier forum.

The 538 poll average on July 7 showed Trump leads Biden by 3.2 points in Pennsylvania despite all those visits.

Biden thanked the pastor, Bishop J. Louis Felton, and the congregation for welcoming him.

“It’s good to be home,” said Biden. “I got my start as a public defender in the civil rights movement.”

“Our purpose is to serve others,” Biden said. “That’s our purpose. To know everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect, to know faith without works is dead. We’re all called to be doers of the world.”

“In this nation, that means keeping our eyes on the north star, the very idea of America,” Biden said. “We’re all created equal in the image of God. And deserve to be created with dignity and respect our entire lives. We’ve never fully lived up to that. But we’ve never fully walked away from it either. That’s because of you and generations before you who led the church from slavery to freedom.”

Biden mentioned his accomplishments in dealing with the pandemic, having the lowest Black unemployment, and his plans to “make housing affordable.”

Along with ensuring “you can follow your dreams without the burden of student debt.”

“To keep our communities safe by getting weapons of war off our streets,” he said. “To give hate no safe harbor.  While there are those who want to erase history, Kamala and I want to make it. Black history is American history.”

“I’ve been doing this a long time, honest to God I’m never more optimistic about America’s future if we stick together,” he said. “We must unite America again. That’s my goal. And may God bless our troops,” he said.

Some Democratic politicians, including Sen. Bob Casey Jr., Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, and Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, attended the church service as well. Dean travelled with Biden on both of his Pennsylvania stops Sunday, as did one of the president’s most loyal supporters, U.S. Sen. John Fetterman.

“There is only one person in the country that’s ever kicked Trump’s ass in an election —and that is your president,” Fetterman said. “He’s going to do it twice.”

Kenyatta, who is running for auditor general, said, “Joe Biden has delivered for Pennsylvania. Now we have to deliver for him and Democrats up and down the ballot to beat back the radical Project 2025 agenda of Donald Trump and Republicans.”

“Yesterday, Joe Biden couldn’t even be bothered to shake the hand of a Black supporter in the crowd, but today he’s continuing his minority pandering tour in Pennsylvania where his approval rating has dropped to 33 percent.  Clearly, Black voters are no longer buying the desperate and disingenuous faux outreach from Democrats,” said Janiyah Thomas,  director of Team Trump Black Media.

Republican Dave McCormick, an Army veteran running against Casey, said on X, “Today, Bob Casey is campaigning with President Biden in PA. Biden is not capable of serving as our Commander-in-Chief, and Casey knows it — he will lie all the way thru Election Day if he thinks it will help him win.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Whatley said, “Joe Biden only has 33 percent approval in the Keystone State because his policies have failed Pennsylvania families. From crippling inflation and housing prices that are making life unaffordable to police shortages and deadly fentanyl that are making communities less safe, it’s no wonder why Pennsylvania voters are lining up to Make America Great Again by supporting President Trump.”

“Short visits in front of overwhelmingly friendly groups are not going to alleviate the concerns the American people have about Biden’s ability to do the job – let alone run for another term,” said Christian Nascimento, chair of the Montgomery County GOP.

Casey was also with Biden to an ice social rally near Harrisburg later Sunday. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

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What Do PA’s Primary Results Portend for November?

Pennsylvania’s primary election is over. What do the results say about the general election in November?

Primary turnout was low, perhaps because both parties have already picked their presidential nominees. And both U.S. Senate candidates, incumbent Democrat Sen. Bob Casey and Republican challenger Dave McCormick, ran unopposed.

Only 22.5 percent of registered Democrats and Republicans voted in Delaware County, 15.69 percent in Montgomery County, 31.6 percent in Bucks County, and 22.96 percent in Chester County. Pennsylvania primaries are closed, meaning only voters registered with a party can participate.

Despite having dropped out of the GOP presidential primary after Super Tuesday, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley still received 150,000 votes — about 16 percent of the total — on Tuesday. But she did far better in the Delaware Valley, winning 18 percent of the vote in Bucks County, 22.87 in Delaware County, 24.22 percent in Chester County and 24.7 percent in Montgomery County.

And while President Joe Biden received a higher percentage of the total (92 percent) than Trump (83 percent), campaign pro Jeff Jubelirer says the numbers “don’t portend well for either candidate.”

Trump has to bring in “those Haley voters, particularly in southeastern Pennsylvania,” said Jubelirer, vice president at Bellevue Communications Group. And while the vote for “uncommitted” and U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips “wasn’t as impressive,” the race in Pennsylvania is likely to be so close in November that Biden needs to get them back, too. It won’t be easy.

“They’re particularly upset about the situation in the Middle East,” Jubelirer said.

Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow Guy Ciarrocchi, who has run for office as a Republican, agreed the candidates have to focus on their base, rather than count on pulling in swing voters.

“These two candidates will spend some time trying to persuade the three undecided voters in Pennsylvania,” he quipped. It’s going to be a contest to turn out the party’s base, “particularly with two people that have 100 percent name ID and 99 percent of Americans have made up their minds.”


Polls show Pennsylvania’s presidential race remains too close to call, and Republican strategists didn’t see anything Tuesday to change that calculus.

“There’s a significant shift now to the general election, so we should be careful not to extrapolate too much from primary results,” said Charlie Gerow with Quantum Communications. “I continue to be very bullish on the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania. He will win this pivotal state and the question is how much ‘down ballot’ effect that will have.”

Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said, “Yesterday, President Trump continued his winning streak and delivered a resounding primary win in Pennsylvania. More importantly, President Trump continues to dominate Feeble Joe Biden in every battleground state poll including his home state. The Dishonest Biden campaign has spent millions in Pennsylvania gaslighting voters, but it is not enough to make everyone ignore Bidenflation and rising costs, Biden’s border bloodbath, and his war on American energy.”

And what about the other statewide elections? What do they say about the mood of the electorate?

Allegheny County resident Eugene DePasquale, the former auditor general, beat four candidates with ties to the Delaware Valley to become the Democratic Candidate for attorney general. He will face York County District Attorney Dave Sunday in November.

Jubelirer believes DePasquale benefited from his home county and that he had run statewide before.

“What did surprise me was Erin McClelland beating [Rep.] Ryan Bizzarro for treasurer,” he added. “Not a high-profile race, but Bizzarro had institutional support.”

Ciarrocchi credited geography and gender with McClelland’s surprise win.

“If I could go to central casting and run in a Pennsylvania primary, I would love Allegheny next to my name. So, that’s one and two, in a Democratic primary, if the race is between a man and a woman, put a nickel on the woman,” he said.

Bizzarro ran commercials against incumbent Treasurer Stacy Garrity, using abortion as an issue. Jubelirer believes Democrats will continue to use abortion as a cudgel against Republicans as long as it continues to work. Ciarrocchi agreed.

“I saw this almost two decades ago in Chester County around the issue of the Mariner Pipeline, in that when we started to see races for supervisor and school board where, when Chester County was a Republican county in the early 2000s, school board members would run for reelection, as Republicans. They would say, “I kept taxes down, and test scores are up,” said Ciarrocchi.

But, “environmental activists and some of the Democratic Party committee people that started to come forward as candidates and made the races about the pipelines and pipeline safety and clean water and clean air. And at first it seemed bizarre until it started to work.”

“The Democrats don’t have much else to run on,” Gerow said about abortion. They certainly can’t promote Biden. And their support on abortion is already baked in. Plus, there is going to be pushback against the radical ‘legal abortion for any reason, at any time, paid for by the taxpayers,’ which so many Democrats now support.”

Asked whether McCormick or Casey was happier with the primary results, Jubelirer said Casey while Ciarrocchi said McCormick.

McCormick might be harmed by the lack of enthusiasm of the Haley voters for Trump compared with the young, progressive Democrats for Biden, said Jubelirer.

“They’re not going to vote for Trump and McCormick, but they may not vote at all,” said Jubelirer.

McCormick “worked very hard since 2022 in losing by a hair… yeoman’s work of going to chicken dinners, listening to people and trying to be a leader and a healer. And all of that paid off last night, he ran unchallenged, which is very unique for such a major office,” said Ciarrocchi.

And Republicans are beginning to warm to using mail-in ballots, which will also help them, he said.

One potential bright spot for the Pennsylvania GOP, according to Gerow, is the left-wing politics of Democratic candidates like U.S. Rep. Summer Lee and the party’s nominee for auditor general, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.

“Except for Eugene DePasquale, who is much more moderate, the Democrats nominated far-left candidates. Additionally, they are not people with backgrounds or credentials for the office they’re seeking. For example, Kenyatta, who’s now their candidate for auditor general, has never audited anything bigger than his own checkbook. His entire background has been promoting far-leftist ideology, not much more.”


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DelVal Candidates Didn’t Fare Well in Tuesday’s Primaries

With the exception of the Democratic race for state auditor general, candidates from the Delaware Valley were wiped out in Tuesday’s statewide primaries.

And there may also be a red flag for Donald Trump in the Delaware Valley’s presidential primary results.

The Democratic and Republican primaries for state attorney general were the most high-profile races, and they featured five candidates from southeastern Pennsylvania.

Former Auditor Eugene DePasquale emerged as the winner over four candidates with DelVal ties on the Democrat side. DePasquale, a Pittsburgh native who also served in the state House, gathered more than 34 percent of the vote.

“Democrats across the state made me the nominee, and I’m looking forward to the fight ahead,” said DePasquale after his win.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer came in second, while Bucks County Solicitor Joe Khan finished third. Kier Bradford-Grey, who was chief defender for Montgomery County and Philadelphia, was fourth, while Northeast Philly state Rep. Jared Solomon was fifth.

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party did not endorse an attorney general candidate in the primary.

State Rep. Craig Williams (R-Delaware) lost his bid for the GOP attorney general nomination to York County District Attorney Dave Sunday, who secured almost 70 percent of the vote. Williams argued for a tougher approach to crime, while Sunday encouraged redemption and reduced recidivism.

Sunday, the state GOP’s endorsed candidate, said voters understand that his policies work better. “We have to hold people accountable. But on the other end of it, we have to embrace redemption as a society.”

Williams will not be leaving politics. In November, he’ll be on the ballot for his seat in the state House. His Democratic opponent is real estate broker Elizabeth Moro.

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) defeated Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley in the Democratic primary for auditor general with almost 62 percent of the vote.

Kenyatta was considered the frontrunner in the race and had the backing of the state Democratic Party. He thinks that he’ll win in November over Republican incumbent Auditor General Tim DeFoor despite not having an auditing background. “I am confident that when voters look at our record, they will choose me to be their next auditor general,” Kenyatta said.

The biggest surprise of Tuesday night was Erin McClelland’s win over Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie) in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania treasurer. McClelland, a small business owner and former substance abuse counselor in West Pennsylvania, won 52.7 percent of the vote, compared to Bizzarro’s 44.3 percent. Bizarro outraised McClelland by more than $200,000 and had support from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.

McClelland faces incumbent Republican Treasurer Stacy Garrity, who ran unopposed.

In local Delaware Valley races, incumbent Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick sailed past pro-life activist Mark Houck in the primary with more than 60 percent of the vote. He credited the community for valuing collaboration and bipartisanship. “Our community is not far-left or far-right; we are centrist and pragmatic,” he said.

Houck claimed to have received encouragement from top House Republicans, including Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), for his run against Fitzpatrick. Johnson refuted the claim.

It was also a primary fight that featured meddling by California Democrats. A group called True Patriot PA sent mailers that attacked Fitzpatrick while boosting Houck. That group’s treasurer was Meagan Olson, who also handled the books for Rep. Eric Swalwell’s (D-Calif.) campaign.

Republicans said that it’s proof that Democrats are desperate.

“[Democrats’] lame attempt to prop up a serial liar failed miserably and showed just how desperate they are to force their extreme values on Pennsylvania voters,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Mike Marinella. “Rep. Fitzpatrick will win this November and continue his hard work fighting for Pennsylvanians.”

Fitzpatrick will face Democrat Ashley Ehasz in November. It’s a rematch of the 2022 race the incumbent won by 10 points.

And while both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have already secured their party’s nomination and all of their opponents have dropped out, there was a surprise in one “zombie” candidacy.

Though she dropped out of the race after Super Tuesday, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley received 16.4 percent of the Republican presidential primary vote. Most significantly, noted the Cook Political Report, she got about a quarter of the GOP vote in Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties. These are counties where Republicans have struggled and where Trump needs to keep the margin close in order to win in November.

Biden received nearly 90 percent of the vote statewide, with most of the rest going to U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.)

DelVal’s other congressional representatives, Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan, and Mary Gay Scanlon, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. Dean’s Republican challenger is David Winkler, while Scanlon’s GOP opponent is Alfeia Goodwin. Houlahan gets Republican Neil Young.

One Western Pennsylvania race that received attention was incumbent Rep. Summer Lee’s (D-Pittsburgh) victory over Bhavini Patel. Lee, a member of the “Squad,” received criticism over her stance on the Israel-Hamas War. She’s backed a ceasefire and planned to appear at a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) dinner in Philadelphia. Lee eventually canceled. A top CAIR executive praised Hamas for its terrorist attack on Israel last October.

There was also no contest in the state’s most high-profile race. Both Republican Dave McCormick and Democrat incumbent Bob Casey Jr. ran unopposed in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race.

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Kenyatta Attacks DeFoor, Ignores Pinsley in Auditor General Town Hall

Democratic candidates for auditor general, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, and Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley participated separately in a Zoom town hall sponsored by New Pennsylvania Project, a voting rights group.

Pinsley touted his qualifications to be the state auditor general and explained how he’s used his position as controller to discover problems and help people. He fired one salvo at Kenyatta, noting that he had refused to debate and “resorted to name calling,” referring to a video of Kenyatta telling a Philadelphia committeewoman that Pinsley “don’t like Black people.”

But Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) didn’t bother to attack Pinsley. Instead, he pivoted to the general election and attacked Republican Auditor General Tim DeFoor.

Kenyatta roasted DeFoor, claiming he abolished the auditor’s bureau of education audits.

DeFoor said, “We have never stopped performing school audits. We have transformed and improved the way we do school audits. What we are doing is school performance audits based on making sure school administrators and school boards are accountable and transparent with taxpayer dollars. In fact, in 2023, we either completed or started 18 audits of school districts, which include both public and charter schools.”

Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley

DeFoor released a report explaining how school districts, including some in the Delaware Valley, moved funds around to avoid referendums where voters would decide whether they can raise taxes.

Kenyatta also complained that when Republicans were in charge of the House, they held committee hearings on the fairness of the 2020 election.

“Tim DeFoor, our current auditor general, came before our committee and I did not think it was the gotcha when I said to him, ‘Mr. Auditor General, you just won a statewide election. Please tell my colleagues and Pennsylvanians they should have trust in the election.’

“And he did the worst dodge that I’ve ever seen where he says, ‘Well, my election was fair, but I can’t comment on the other elections.’ Give me a fricken break. And they want to put that profile in courage in charge of saying whether or not Pennsylvanians should have trust in our future elections.

“We know why he didn’t tell the truth. Because he is afraid of one man, Donald Trump. And if Tim DeFoor is too afraid to say to his party’s leader, ‘Donald Trump, no sir, you were wrong. Here in Pennsylvania, we have free and fair elections’. If he does not have the courage to stand up to one man, he certainly does not have the courage to represent millions of Pennsylvanians. He doesn’t have the courage to take on big bureaucracy and get it to work better. He doesn’t have the courage to be our auditor general for another four years.”

Auditor General Timothy DeFoor

Asked to respond to Kenyatta’s remarks, DeFoor said, “This race is not about Donald Trump or Joe Biden. Nor is it a race about national politics. It is about the Pennsylvania Department of Auditor General and who is best to be auditor general. Something which I have said to both Republicans, Democrats and independents.”

As for the 2020 election, DeFoor said, “I have said numerous times to the media and to the press that there was no fraud altering the results of the 2020 election. Joe Biden was fairly elected president of the United States.”

“My record as auditor general speaks for itself,” said DeFoor. “Simply look at the work we’ve done and the over 3,500 audits the department has performed annually. There may be a desire to make this race about politics. I simply am not going to do that. As a career fraud investigator and auditor, my focus is on the Department of the Auditor General. The citizens of Pennsylvania deserve no less.”

Pinsley, who earned both an undergraduate degree and an MBA in finance, said he found $9 million in waste in the county’s healthcare system. He also audited the county jail’s phone system and found that the county was getting a 70-cent commission on every dollar for inmates’ phone calls.

“So last year, we made $750,000 off of the backs of prisoners. Actually, their families were the ones who were paying the bills,” Pinsley said. In another case, he audited a doctor about whom he had received complaints and found she was unnecessarily sending children into the foster care system.

“My goal is to use the position to help the people, not the powerful,” said Pinsley.

Kenyatta said he’s been involved in six state budgets, chairs the commerce committee, and serves on the banking, finance, and state government committees.

“I come into this with a deep understanding of how state government works and how it can work better,” said Kenyatta.

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Kenyatta Claims His Dem Primary Opponent ‘Don’t Like Black People’

Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta was caught on video saying his opponent in the auditor general race, Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley, “don’t like Black people.”

Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) was at the home of a Philadelphia committeewoman seeking support for his campaigns. Kenyatta, first elected to the House in 2018, is also running for reelection as a state representative. He has two primary challengers in the state representative race and one, Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley, in the auditor general primary on April 23.

The video, from a Ring system, was posted to Facebook by Lewis Nash Sr., who is running against Kenyatta for state representative. The committeewoman, Jacqueline Jones, whose Ring system recorded Kenyatta, is the former mother-in-law of Jon Hankins, who was also running against Kenyatta in the legislative seat race. Hankins also posted the video to social media.

On it, Kenyatta told Jones, “So, for auditor general in the primary, I don’t think we have an opponent, and what I had said. No, we know you don’t have an opponent. I hope so. We witnessed it. There’s the guy Mark Pinsley, who I told you don’t like Black people. So we’ll see if he can get on the ballot. I have no idea. He’s from the Lehigh Valley.”

Pinsley, who is White, told DVJournal he’s angry about Kenyatta’s unfounded attempt to smear him as a racist. He called his statements “fallacious, divisive, and Trumpian.”

And he said he believes it’s part of Kenyatta’s campaign strategy to win the primary.

“He called me a racist twice in the same time frame,” Pinsley said. “Obviously, my expectation is that he’s not just saying it to one woman, that he’s going around saying it to others.”

Pinsley said there is “no truth” in Kenyatta’s allegation of racism.

“Once again, Rep. Kenyatta has shown he lacks the maturity or integrity to hold this position and continues to engage in dangerous rhetoric. He has refused to acknowledge how unacceptable his behavior was and has responded with arrogance. His language has no place in the Democratic Party. Furthermore, Rep. Kenyatta has proven that he will be incapable of winning a general election against the incumbent auditor general in the fall.”

When asked for a comment, Kenyatta’s campaign sent a statement he made to another publication: “I’m running for auditor general to make our government work for all families. I won’t be distracted by dirty political tricks. I look forward to Mark’s endorsement in the general election.”

Kenyatta’s also playing hardball with his fellow Democrats who were running for state representative.

Hankins said Kenyatta asked Jones to withdraw her support from Hankins in that race and to endorse Kenyatta for both positions.

“He accused Mark Pinsley of being racist,” Hankins confirmed.

Kenyatta’s campaign responded by challenging Hankins’ signatures on petitions and claiming he had not lived in the district long enough to run. A  judge ruled in Kenyatta’s favor.

“I could appeal it, but I’m recently engaged,” he said. Campaigning is “hard on a relationship. I’m going to choose love and God.”

Hankins, a Democratic state committeeman, has withdrawn his support for Kenyatta in the auditor general race and is now backing Pinsley.

The auditor general is the commonwealth’s chief fiscal officer. He or she audits entities that spend public money, ranging from state agencies to municipal governments to public sector unions. Campaigns for the office rarely generate as much press as the 2024 race has already.

For example, DVJournal asked Pinsley about media reports that some of the signatures on his petitions, including a Chester County judge’s name, were invalid.

“There was not a single objection to any one of our signatures other than through the media,” said Pinsley. “Signatures were gathered by volunteers who stood outside businesses and asked people to sign. You’re not asking for ID. You’re just asking for signatures. Would (a volunteer) know that somebody came up and wrote somebody else’s name? It’s a lot of foolishness. That’s why when you get signatures, you try to get twice as many as you need.”

One likely reason for the additional attention is that the office is currently held by an incumbent Republican, Timothy DeFoor. From the U.S. Senate to the state Supreme Court, Democrats have been racking up wins in statewide elections.

Another reason for increased interest is Kenyatta’s presence in the race. The Philadelphia Democrat is considered a rising star in his party, and he’s been called on to campaign for President Joe Biden. He ran for the U.S. Senate, losing in the primary to now Sen. John Fetterman in 2022.

Pinsley offered to debate Kenyatta three times before the April 23 primary, but Kenyatta did not agree.

Pinsley said he’s proud of his work as the Lehigh County Controller. He audited and reported on the county’s healthcare program and found $9 million in savings over three years.

“These same savings can be done on the state level,” said Pinsley. “The state spends billions of dollars on healthcare for its employees.”

In another case, he discovered a doctor was diagnosing many more cases of Munchausen by proxy (where a parent claims their child is sick to get attention) than was statistically possible. Those diagnoses resulted in children being removed from their homes. His report resulted in the doctor being removed from her position and multiple families suing.

Another audit found that for every dollar the county prison charged for inmates to make phone calls, 70 cents went to the county, resulting in $750,000 from prisoner phone calls.

“That’s not even the prisoner paying. It’s their loved ones, right?” he said.

Being an auditor is “not necessarily Republican or Democrat. It’s about looking at the numbers and trying to find savings or finding things that are wrong.”

“I’m focused on running a campaign about the transformative power of the Auditor General’s Office and how it can positively impact the lives of people in our state. It’s shameful that Mr. Kenyatta can’t make a case for his own campaign and must resort to personally attacking me. I am the only Democrat running for auditor general who has done the job and done so against powerful institutions. Pennsylvanians deserve to hear Rep. Kenyatta’s rationale for his toxic campaign tactics.”

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Philly Dem Pushes $21/Hour Minimum Wage, but Workers May Pay the Price

What’s the maximum amount for a minimum wage that makes economic sense? It depends on your perspective, Delaware Valley business owners say.

The Democrat-controlled Pennsylvania House passed a bill raising the minimum wage from the federally mandated $7.25 to $15 by 2026. Of more concern for restaurant owners is that it would also raise the minimum wage for tipped workers to $9 an hour, up from $2.83.

During a Zoom Town Hall Tuesday with self-declared “fair wage” advocates, Philadelphia Democrat Rep. Chris Rabb said $15 is not enough, and he wants the minimum wage to reach $21 an hour.

“Because $15 ain’t enough. Not in Philly,” Rabb said at a campaign event last year.

“Does Rabb want to pay my payroll?” asked Tom Thornton, owner of J.D. McGillicuddy’s in Haverford. Most workers are already making $15 an hour, but “$21 is an overshoot,” said Thornton. “People do need to start out in the $15 to $20 range until they become worthy of $21 an hour. To be perfectly honest, because of all the moving parts in a kitchen or restaurant or any type of business — new employees need training.”

“But the point is [the state legislature] can’t keep gouging people,” said Thornton. “$15 is more than fair; $21 is too high.”

While the $7.25 minimum wage may sound low, less than one percent of the state’s workforce earns the minimum. About 70 percent of Keystone State workers earn $15 or more already, and the average hourly wage in Pennsylvania as of 2022 was $29.88, according to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.

Chris Todd, who owns Christopher’s, a restaurant in Wayne, said, “We have no problem with $15 an hour.” His tipped employees make more than that. “If you’re good, you make a lot more money than people think.”

In 2022, according to the BLS, the average person waiting tables earned about $16 an hour, with the top ten percent taking in more than $26 an hour.

“Pay your people well, and they stay with you,” Todd said. But “$21 an hour is pretty steep.”

During Tuesday’s Zoom call, Rabb bemoaned the House’s $15 legislation, saying it didn’t go far enough.

“The reason we have passed a minimum wage bill to a lowly $15 an hour is because the Senate is controlled by right-wingers who don’t even probably believe we should have any minimum wage at all. So, the strategy behind passing this watered-down minimum wage bill is to start there. But the problem is how the Democrats’ approach was based on logic, and that didn’t really fly in the Senate. So it didn’t matter that we took a bill that was identical to a Republican’s proposal. It was ignored. But we need to start strong, with as strong as possible legislation.”

Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), who’s also running for state auditor general, was also on the call, urging higher mandated wages. Kenyatta said he grew up in a “working poor” family and started working at 13 years old washing dishes in a restaurant. He continued to work in restaurants through college, “having to figure out how to survive on tips.”

He added when it raises the minimum wage, the legislature needs to be careful not to push people off the “benefits cliff” because when their salaries go up, they may no longer qualify for tax or housing support.

Kenyatta and Rabb were joined by Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, who said he and Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) support increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“All work has value,” said Davis. “There is dignity in a hard day’s work whether you’re busing tables or driving a bus.  Pennsylvania workers don’t want handouts. And frankly, the governor and I don’t want to give them a handout.  We want to give workers a hand up and create an opportunity economy that gives everyone the shot to succeed and to live here in Pennsylvania.  We want all Pennsylvania workers to have the opportunity to earn a fair wage.”

Despite Rabb’s comments about his Senate counterparts, Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-Armstrong) said during remarks about the budget that the Republicans are willing to work on a deal regarding a higher minimum wage. However, he also added a note of economic caution: higher wages could lead to higher inflation.

“The Independent Fiscal Office pointed out that 60 percent of any minimum wage increase automatically goes into the cost of goods and services. And so, when you talk about inflationary times when you bring the minimum wage up, it also drives into inflationary products.”

Also, nonprofit agencies, like YMCAs, “that rely on part-time work, often times college students to come in and provide services to the community. They don’t have the ability to pass on the increased costs for those services. They either have to raise more in the community, or they have to reduce services,” he said.

Still, Pittman added, “We think we can get somewhere on minimum wage. But I also know we have issues such as permitting reform, clearing red tape, tax reform…”

Higher wages could also lead to fewer workers. In California, where the minimum wage for fast-food workers is headed to $20 an hour in April, The Wall Street Journal reports some chains, like Burger King, will be installing more digital ordering kiosks to soften the economic blow.

“These state leaders and the leadership out there have no concept of what real money is about,” said Thornton. “They have no concept about the little guy, the small businesses that are trying to put people into the workforce, and you just can’t gouge them at $21 an hour.

“Businesses will close left and right. These people who make the rules have no clue. They’ve never run a business themselves.”

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Kenyatta Kicks Off Bid for State Auditor General

Standing in front of the Pennsylvania Capitol, Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for auditor general, a job currently held by Republican Tim DeFoor.

“As a state representative for nearly five years, I have worked to protect workers’ rights, pass common-sense gun safety policies, and root out government corruption and waste,” said Kenyatta. “I’ve held multiple legislative leadership roles: as a member of the powerful state government committee with oversight on state agencies and elections, minority chair of the subcommittee on campaign finance and elections, minority chair of automation and technology in the committee on commerce, and a member of the finance committee.”

Kenyatta, a three-term member of the Pennsylvania House, became the first openly gay person of color to serve in that body when he was elected in 2018.

On Thursday, he discussed his story of growing up in a poor working family. He also outlined his agenda to reform the office and use it as a tool to “keep Pennsylvania families from being screwed.”

Kenyatta claimed to have the support of most of the state’s Democratic congressional delegation as well as state House and Senate leaders, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, and organized labor.

Kenyatta announced a three-point agenda for the office that includes: Rebuilding the department of school audits (which was closed under DeFoor), creating a worker liaison, and using the power of the office to take on wage theft, employee misclassification, union busting, and using the office to measure and support efforts to make communities healthier and safer.

Kenyatta ran for the U.S. Senate last year, losing the Democratic primary to now-Sen. John Fetterman.  In that race, he campaigned on an avowedly progressive platform.

House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia/Delaware) said, “Malcolm is exactly what we need in the next auditor general: Tenacious, honest, and mission-driven. I’ve watched him throughout his life and career center on the needs of working Pennsylvanians. I know he will continue that work in this critical statewide role. I’m proud to endorse him.”

Kenyatta earned a B.A. in public communications and a minor in political science from Temple University and an M.S. in strategic and digital communications from Drexel University. He completed the Harvard Kennedy School’s Executives in State and Local Government program, according to his website.

Congressman Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia) said, “I’m proud to endorse Rep. Kenyatta to be our next auditor general. I’ve served in Harrisburg and Washington. I know what it takes to deliver for people, and so does Malcolm. As auditor general, I’m confident he will be a powerful and independent voice for common sense, good government, and fairness. He has worked hard around our commonwealth for years now—he can win, and he will win.”

DeFoor, the current auditor general, took office in January 2021. He was previously the Dauphin County controller and has a background in law enforcement, working as an inspector for the state inspector general and the attorney general. According to his website, he also worked as a fraud investigator and internal auditor for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

DeFoor holds an associate degree in paralegal studies from Harrisburg Area Community College, a B.A., in sociology and history from the University of Pittsburgh, and an M.S. in project management from Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

While Kenyatta has been one of the most outspoken members of the state Democratic Party, DeFoor has largely avoided the limelight, instead focusing on the fiscal duties of his office. He released audits last month showing local school districts, including several in the Philly suburbs, were shifting around money to get higher property taxes without facing the voters.

“The overall results of this audit should raise concerns due to the districts’ common yet questionable practices that are placing an excess burden on taxpayers across Pennsylvania,” DeFoor wrote.

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Dems Circulate ‘Sedition Free Pennsylvania’ Legislation on Eve of January 6 Hearing

If you were at the riot at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021, two Philadelphia Democrats are coming for you.

State Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta and Christopher Rabb are circulating the “Sedition Free Pennsylvania” bill to amend the state constitution and bar people convicted of sedition from holding office or receiving government contracts. Their proposal would also create a new criminal offense, “seditious conspiracy against the commonwealth” and penalties for it.

Kenyatta, who ran against Lt. Gov. John Fetterman U.S. Senate Democratic primary, acknowledged to Delaware Valley Journal the bill is aimed at keeping people out of government who were involved in the January 6 incident. The most obvious target: state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who is the GOP’s nominee for governor. It would also impact Kathy Barnette, who was a Republican contender for the U.S. Senate and lost the nomination to Dr. Mehmet Oz.

The announcement was also timed just ahead of a prime-time hearing by the U.S. House January 6 Committee on Thursday, Kenyatta said.

“Pennsylvania is second in the country in terms of individuals who went to the insurrection” on January 6, Kenyatta said. “Senate candidate Kathy Barnette went to the rally.” And Mastriano “is testifying before the January 6 committee.”

“It was not your typical Capitol tour,” Kenyatta said. “If you were involved with violent sedition against the country you should not lead the state… and you should not get government contracts.”

Kenyatta expects the Congressional hearing Thursday night to “show how serious, how dangerous” the situation was in the Capitol on January 6.

If enacted, the new constitutional amendment and companion sedition law would mark “a line drawn in the sand.”

Kenyatta denied the legislation was political and said he expects members from both parties to sign on.

Some critics of the Democrat-controlled January 6 investigation say it shows a double standard. While the people who actually entered the Capitol building and damaged property should be punished, what about the people who rioted as part of Black Lives Matter or Antifa protests over the past three years? Riots that caused billions of dollars in damage and left several people dead?

Kenyatta defended the BLM protesters, saying they were trying to prevent “extrajudicial executions in the street.” And the right to peacefully protest is “enshrined in the First Amendment.”

“They were not trying to overthrow the government,” Kenyatta said, noting that BLM and Antifa are not the same. “January 6 was not a protest.”

“All of us take an oath [to uphold the constitution],” and the people who participated in the January 6 riot “cannot live up to it. Sedition is the exact opposite,” Kenyatta said.

“We’re seeing more and more of them running for government,” he said. As for those already in office, “folks would have to leave office,” he said. “Not only can they not hold office, there’s a part of it where they cannot get government contracts.”

Kenyatta said that America’s democracy is young and “fragile.”

“This democracy needs to be protected as a small child,” he said. “We’re still a young child.”

Asked whether the person arrested Wednesday while allegedly on his way to murder Justice Brett Kavanaugh over the leaked Roe v. Wade document should be charged with sedition as well, Kenyatta said, “He has to be held accountable. January 6 inspires people” to use violence to solve political problems, he said. “I’m happy this guy was caught and Justice Kavanaugh is safe.”

As for the Supreme Court rulings that he disagrees with, Kenyatta said, “People should run for office and do what I wanted to do, which was expand the court.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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