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Houlahan, Dean Back Biden on Withholding Weapons From Israel

President Joe Biden’s threat to withhold some precision offensive weapons from Israel as it wages war on the terrorist army of Hamas has been met with an angry backlash from both political parties. And that divide among Democrats is on display in Pennsylvania, where U.S. Sen. John Fetterman has decried Biden’s “disappointing” decision, while local U.S. Reps. Madeleine Dean and Chrissy Houlahan have endorsed it.

On Sunday, Biden’s Secretary of State Anthony Blinken repeated the administration’s threat, and said even more restrictions may follow if Israel pushes into the Gazan city of Rafah to wipe out what’s left of Hamas.

“If Israel launches this major military operation into Rafah, then there are certain systems that we are not going to be supporting and supplying for that operation,” Blinken told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

The backlash from supporters of Israel began on Wednesday when Biden said he had told the Israelis that going into Rafah would result in a loss of U.S. support.

“I’ve made it clear to Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] and the war cabinet: They’re not going to get our support if they go [into] these population centers,” Biden told CNN.

Pennsylvania’s Fetterman responded via social media. “Hard disagree and deeply disappointing,” he tweeted.

“I strongly disagree with this decision and it should be immediately reversed. If there are any restrictions, it should be on Hamas, its enablers, and benefactors,” he added.

Montgomery County Democratic Congresswoman Madeline Dean, on the other hand, has been calling for Biden to restrict weapons to Israel for weeks. While her spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment, Dean signed a letter urging Biden to withhold “certain offensive weaponry or other military support that can be used for an assault on Rafah, including offensive weaponry already signed into law.”

Dave Winkler, the Republican running against Dean, called her letter “despicable.”

“Withholding aid from Israel would be an unconscionable betrayal that would embolden the forces of terror and extremism hellbent on delegitimizing and annihilating the Jewish state. As a stalwart ally, the U.S. has a moral obligation to steadfastly support Israel’s ability to defend itself against the existential threats of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Hezbollah’s missile arsenals, and the indiscriminate rocket attacks on civilians by the terrorist thugs of Hamas.

Dean’s fellow Democrat, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan issued a lengthy statement saying she also agrees with Biden’s decision to withhold arms from the longtime U.S. ally.

“Recently, President Biden decided to temporarily withhold specific U.S. weapons to Israel until such time as he receives further assurances about Israel’s military operations and humanitarian considerations, specifically in Rafah. I don’t agree with every decision the president makes, but I agree with him here,” Houlahan said.

Houlahan’s GOP challenger Neil Young disagrees. “President Biden withholding arms from Israel is not only completely reckless, but it undermines American credibility on the world stage. Israel is our most trusted ally and they should not be left to stand alone. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Many Democrats, like our senator John Fetterman, have stood against Biden’s betrayal of Israel. Chrissy Houlahan’s support for this reckless policy prioritizes party allegiance over national interest. Her loyalty lies with her party, not with the American people or our allies.”

Both Houlahan and Dean are on the far-left Working Families Party list of congressional members who have demanded a ceasefire.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) declined to respond to a request for comment from DVJournal on the topic, but he told reporters late last week he disagrees with Biden’s decision to withhold weapons. However, he’s rarely mentioned the issue while Fetterman has spoken forcefully on behalf of Israel and its right to use force.

Casey’s Republican opponent Dave McCormick has praised Fetterman’s “moral clarity” regarding the Jewish state.

Nationally, both the Republican Jewish Coalition and Democratic Majority for Israel have issued statements opposing Biden’s treatment of the Jewish state.

“Joe Biden has cemented his legacy as the worst president for the Jewish community and the State of Israel ever,” said the RJC.

“We are deeply concerned about the administration’s decision to withhold weapons now and potentially impose further restrictions,” said the Democratic Majority for Israel’s Mark Mellman.

“A strong U.S.-Israel alliance like the one President Biden has created, plays a central role in preventing more war and making the path to eventual peace possible,” he added. “Calling the strength of that alliance into question is dangerous.”

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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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Trump, Biden Ready to Repeat Battle for DelVal Voters

With former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden clinching their respective party’s presidential nominations, what will the repeat race mean to the Delaware Valley?

How will it affect other races, including the marquee U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Bob Casey and Republican Dave McCormick? And down-ballot contests?

Bucks County is seeing gains in Republican voter registration, while the other counties—Delaware, Chester, and Montgomery—are trending Democratic.

In February 2022, Democrats had an advantage of 9,289 voter registrations in Bucks County. Today, that lead has been narrowed to 2,145, said Scott Presler, a voter registration activist.

“In a quintessential swing county, like Bucks, this is huge news,” said Presler. “My organization, Early Vote Action, has volunteers from across the country writing letters into Bucks to continue this voter registration trend to the right. We’re also focused on Centre and Luzerne counties.”

Bucks County GOP Chair Pat Poprik said, “After four years of President Biden and the Democrats’ failed policies, voters have had enough of high gas prices, the rising cost of living, and a border crisis that’s worsening by the day.

“We have seen it on the ground, and the positive trend in voter registration towards the Republican Party in Bucks County demonstrates the grassroots energy building for a much-needed change in our country’s direction. Republican voters are energized. Independents and even some Democrats are also seeing that the state of the country was better under President Trump. In every sense, on the issues that matter most to working families, the Biden administration has simply been a failure.”

Temple University political science Professor Robin Kolodny believes the Senate race will be a significant factor in the presidential race in Pennsylvania.

“In 2024, we will have both a closely contested presidential race and a U.S. Senate race,” Kolodny said. “The Senate race is key to determining which party controls the chamber. Demographic trends suggest Democrats will have a slight advantage statewide and probably a bit more in the Delaware Valley. President Biden praised Sen. Casey’s bill in his State of the Union Address. I think the Biden-Casey campaigns will probably work together a bit more easily than the McCormick-Trump campaigns, but it’s too early to know for sure.”

A new Emerson College/The Hill poll shows Trump is leading among Pennsylvania voters by 47 percent, with Biden at 43 percent. However, 10 percent are undecided. When voters were asked which candidate they leaned toward, Trump’s support increased to 52 percent and Biden’s to 48 percent.

The same poll shows Casey at 45 percent, McCormick at 41 percent, and 14 percent undecided.

Former Chester Chamber president and Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow Guy Ciarrocchi noted, “The State of the Union address changed nothing. The battle for Pennsylvania will be very close: We saw it in 2016 and 2020–less than 2 percent. Any slight movement could tip the balance—and the presidency. The priorities of suburban voters will help pick the winner—and we likely won’t know until this fall, with their last mood swing.”

In 2016, when Trump beat Hillary Clinton narrowly winning Pennsylvania, Bucks County voted for Clinton 48.52 percent and Trump 47.74 percent. In Chester County, Clinton received 52.71 percent, and Trump got 43.20 percent. In Delaware County, Clinton scored 59.6 percent, and Trump eked out 37.18 percent. Clinton earned 58.91 percent in Montgomery County, while Trump had 37.44 percent of the vote.

In 2020, when Biden bested Trump, Bucks County voted for Biden at 51.66 percent and Trump at 40.88 percent. Chester County had Biden at 57.99 percent and Trump at 40.88 percent. In Delaware County, 62.95 percent voted for Biden, while  36.15 percent voted for Trump. Biden garnered 62.6 percent in Montgomery County, compared to Trump’s 47.29 percent.

Colleen Guiney, Delaware County Democratic Committee chair, praised Biden’s State of the Union speech and said she believes area voters will stick with the president.

“We have a choice between ‘Honesty, decency, dignity, (and) equality.’ or ‘resentment, revenge, and retribution.’ I am confident that Delaware County will choose the former,” Guiney said.

Frank Agovino, the Delaware County Republican chairman, said, “In my mind, the 2024 rematch of Biden vs. Trump will be more beneficial for Republicans in Delco. The combination of a nostalgic feeling of the strong Trump economy and a world not at war versus the Biden administration that has made us weaker through an agenda of mixed-up priorities at home and abroad will result in a record turnout.

“Additionally, elevated crime and the rising cost of everyday necessities such as food and gas have hit everyone hard, but most especially the largely African American communities such as Upper Darby and Darby Townships. It feels like there is real buyers’ remorse, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Trump pull 25 percent in these areas, which would be a stark improvement from 2016.”

And Chester County Democrat Committee Chair Charlotte Valyo said,  “The strong State of the Union speech by President Biden leaves no doubt that he is fit and capable to lead for four more years. The contrast between his administration and the one he followed could not be more clear. The voters in the collar counties will continue to support President Biden as they did in 2020. President Biden has demonstrated that he can achieve bipartisan legislation.”

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McCormick Talks Leadership, Values at Log Cabin GOP Gathering

Delaware County Republicans and members of the Philadelphia Log Cabin Republicans warmly welcomed Senate candidate Dave McCormick at a reception in Swarthmore on Wednesday.

McCormick, 58, touted his early support for gay marriage. In 2013, McCormick signed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court backed by Ric Grennell. Grenell, who is gay, served as ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence under former President Donald Trump. He was the first openly gay cabinet member in U.S. history.

“People told me if you want to have a future in the Republican Party, you won’t sign that,” McCormick recalled. “And the reason I signed it is because I had served in the military with a number of great patriots who were gay and closeted. I had a family member. And I’m a libertarian in many ways. I want people to have the freedom to live the life they want and equality of opportunity.”

Afterward, Alex Jablokov, a Swarthmore GOP committeeman, said, “I like Dave. He’s moderate socially. I think that will help him in Pennsylvania.”

Val Biancaniello, a Republican state committeewoman from Marple, agreed.

(From left) Delaware County GOP Chair Frank Agovino, Justin Zebley, president of the Philadelphia Log Cabin Republicans, Dave McCormick, and Swarthmore GOP Chair Rob Jordan.

“I like that Dave is working hard. He has great messaging. He’s not a career politician. He has business experience. He’s someone who has business savvy and can bring manufacturing back to the state.  He supports LGBTQ Republicans. We have a big tent and a place for everyone in Pennsylvania,” she said. The Log Cabin Republicans is an LGBT conservative group.

A new Emerson poll shows McCormick is closing the gap with Casey. It found 45 percent of voters support Casey, and 41 percent support McCormick. However, 14 percent remain undecided.

“I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think I was going to win but also had a pathway to win,” said McCormick. “This is a change election. A change election is when guys like me, who aren’t part of the system, who aren’t part of public life, beat guys like Bob Casey, who’s been there for 30 years, in a Senate race.”

McCormick and his wife, Dina Powell, have six daughters.

“I’m going to be all right. The question is, are they going to be OK? We’re on a path where they won’t be OK. Our kids won’t be OK unless we change the direction of the country.”

“This is a moment (where) we’re at a crossroads. We’re either going to do what’s necessary to get things back on track, or we’re going to say, ‘Oh my God, how did that happen?’”

“We want to make sure America remains the America we love, the America we all benefited from,” said McCormick. “We got to do something about it. And that’s why I’m running.”

He lost the last campaign against Dr. Mehmet Oz in 2022 by 900 votes out of 1.5 million cast. Oz then lost to now Sen. John Fetterman.

“The decline is evident around us,” McCormick said. “Economically, $34 trillion of debt, a $1 trillion interest payments. The interest payment on our debt is bigger than our defense budget. You see it with Bidenomics…60 percent of Pennsylvanians are living paycheck to paycheck. Prices have gone up by 17 percent. Real wages have gone up by 14 percent. So if you’re buying food or fuel or rent it got more expensive. If you’re making a payment on a pickup truck, it’s 50 percent more expensive. If you’re trying to buy a house, it’s twice as much. New home sales have gone down.”

He mentioned the open border, fentanyl pouring into the country and causing 5,000 deaths last year in Pennsylvania.

“Ten million illegal immigrants have come over the border under Biden, a huge national security threat,” McCormick said. And “160 of those—these are the ones who are apprehended—are on the terrorist watch list. It took 13 people to take down the (Twin) Towers.”

He said, “Bob Casey and Joe Biden are having an election-year epiphany that the border is now a problem.”

McCormick also discussed rising crime, increasing antisemitism, the Middle East, policies he holds his Democratic opponent responsible for.

“You see it in the war on energy,” he said. Pennsylvania has “the fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world. If we could unlock that energy supply, it would be an economic boom, not just for Pennsylvania but the entire economy.”

“But the overarching goal of the Biden administration, with Bob Casey supporting it every step of the way, is to stop using fossil fuels, drive up the prices so people buy less, and switch to alternative energy sources, which come from China.

“You can’t believe the barbarism that took place (when Hamas attacked Israel),” he said. “This is evil against Israel and the West. It’s underwritten by Iran. And the original sin was the deal Iran did with Obama. And Bob Casey was the deciding vote.”

Delaware County GOP Chairman Frank Agovino asked about abortion, noting Democrats are using it as an issue.

“We have Republicans and Democrats that supported our current legislation (allowing abortion up to 23 weeks),” McCormick said. “The governor who signed it was Gov. Casey. I’m in line with Casey’s dad, not Casey the son. (Sen. Casey) was a pro-life Democrat (but) he completely went to the other side. And he’s got the position now there should be abortions up until the day of birth.”

“I don’t support abortion bans. I do support the three exceptions. And there’s lots of common ground, like on contraception, adoption support, and restrictions on late-term abortions.”

People want leadership, McCormick said, calling Case “absolutely anything but a leader.”

“I’ll be an independent voice who will fight for what’s best in Pennsylvania,” McCormick promised.

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PA Senators Withdraw Funding Request for Philly LGBT Center ‘Kink’ Events

Pennsylvania’s two Democratic U.S. senators were for federal funding of a Philly LGBT community center that hosted “kink” sex parties — before they were against it.

The Senate voted unanimously to remove $1 million in funding requested by Sen. John Fetterman for William Way. Pennsylvania’s senior Sen. Bob Casey also withdrew his support for the funding.

However, Fetterman vowed to renew the funding request for William Way in the federal budget.

The controversy began Tuesday when the social media account Libs of TikTok noted in a post that an upcoming spending bill “includes $1M of your tax dollars to go towards renovating an LGBTQ Center in PA which boasts rooms to try BDSM and s*x f*tishes [sic] and hosts BDSM and s*x k*nk parties. There’s even a k*nk party happening there this weekend! @SenBobCasey and @SenFettermanPA are the ones who requested this funding.”

That’s when Casey and Fetterman sent letters asking the funding be pulled from the spending bill.

Fetterman’s March 5 letter says, “After further review, I am writing to withdraw my support and request the removal of the below Fiscal Year 2024 Congressionally Directed Spending project included in the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.”

The letter then referenced the William Way renovation and expansion project. The renovation would “renovate and expand the existing Community Center into an inclusive, fully accessible, and welcoming space for all individuals to gather, learn and receive support.”

But after word of his kink-club reversal was trumpeted on Twitter, Fetterman announced Wednesday his staff had sent the letter without his knowledge or consent.

“The William Way LGBT Community Center has been doing critical work in Philadelphia for decades. I do not believe that we should penalize this center based on events that are entirely legal among consenting adults. I have no problem with what consenting adults do in their private time,” Fetterman told DVJournal in a statement.

“Unfortunately, at the 11th hour, my staff was made aware that funding for William Way, which was in the bill because I championed it, would not pass in the FY24 appropriations process. The choice was either to pull it or watch it get stripped out, attacked by Republicans, and ultimately killed. This is not the end of this fight, and I am going to fight for William Way to secure their funding in the FY25 appropriations process.

William Way is the host for The Aviary, which describes itself as “an all inclusive social party for any and all that wish to come and participate, with an emphasis on Kink Lifestyle themes. From Vanilla to Experienced, we welcome players of all skill types. All inclusive means we welcome anyone of any identity or sexuality.”

Renee Gilinger, the center’s capital campaign director, said, “The William Way LGBT Community Center was disappointed to learn that support for federal Congressionally Directed Spending to renovate and expand our historic headquarters on 1315 Street in Philadelphia was withdrawn as a result of lies and distortions about our center shared by political extremists.

“These extremists falsely stated that sexual behavior is allowed in rental programs of the center, which is inaccurate and against our center’s code of conduct.  The center will continue to be a safe haven for a broad range of hundreds of community groups who rent from us, including those that provide a space for sexual health promotion, community building, and education,” she said.

A screen capture posted by Libs of TikTok shows an online invitation to people interested in “BDSM, kink and fetish.” However, when DVJournal tried the link, all that came up was a blank screen.

“The William Way LGBT Community Center stands firmly against discrimination and will work with our elected officials to ensure that support for our center, and other LGBTQ institutions across the nation, is restored,” said Gilinger. William Way serves 5,000 people.

Casey’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Libs of TikTok, an X (formerly Twitter) account, is run by Chaya Raichik and boasts 2.9 million followers. It’s known for ridiculing content posted mostly from LGBTQ and others on the left. It has also exposed teachers after posting content they’ve posted online.

“I’m new here, but I wasn’t aware that Democratic values and priorities are dictated by Libs of TikTok,” Fetterman quipped.

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Casey Backed Pro-Iran Policies That Helped Fund Deadly Terror Attacks

The Biden administration expressed shock when Israel released proof that members of a UN organization receiving hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars participated in the Oct. 7 attack. But all they had to do was follow Dave McCormick on Twitter.

Back in December, the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate warned the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was doing the work of Hamas terrorists.

“UNRWA is currently using U.S. tax dollars to support educating the next generation of terrorists,” McCormick posted. “As a senator, I would vote to end that funding immediately. Bob Casey & Joe Biden made this mess. I’ll help fix it.”

The same when Iranian-backed militants launched a drone attack that killed three U.S. servicemembers and injured dozens more. McCormick has been warning for years that the policy of allowing millions of dollars to flow to Iran’s mullahs would lead to American deaths.

So, how did last weekend’s events happen if the danger was well known? Because of the policy decisions of Democrats like Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden — and backed by Senate Democrats like Pennsylvania’s own Bob Casey Jr.

When Biden took office, one of his first foreign policy moves was restoring taxpayer funding for UNRWA, which President Donald Trump had halted. At the time, critics pointed to evidence UNRWA was working with Hamas and distributing antisemitic propaganda in Gaza.

Biden ignored those reports. But on Jan. 26, he was forced to “temporarily pause additional funding for UNRWA” after evidence emerged that at least 12 UNRWA employees were involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.

“U.S. taxpayer dollars helped cover the paychecks for some of the perpetrators of the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust,” said David May with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. “Support for terrorism among UNRWA employees isn’t a bug; it’s a feature.”

And then there’s Iran.

The drone attack that took American lives last weekend was hardly a surprise. While these were the first U.S. deaths in the region since the conflict began last autumn, American troops in Iraq and Syria have been targeted over 158 times since October, all carried out by groups sponsored by or affiliated with Iran.

And Casey has repeatedly backed Obama and Biden policies allowing cash to flow to Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime.

In 2015, he was part of the Democratic minority that saved Obama’s Iran deal. The Obama administration arranged for a plane to secretly deliver $400 million in cash to the Islamist regime.

Casey said at the time that the Iran deal “is the best option available to us” because it “will be in our national security interest.” He added that, while he didn’t trust Iran, he believed the agreement kept Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

“Implementation of this agreement may be challenging, and we need to be prepared for the possibility that Iran will violate the agreement,” Casey posted on social media.

While Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran deal — over Casey’s public objections — Biden took office pledging to return to the Obama-era policy. He has allowed millions in sanctions relief to flow to the Islamic Republic over the past three years, money that made its way to the terrorist group that killed Americans last weekend.

Richard Goldberg, a defense expert and former U.S. National Security Council staffer, recently described the Biden Iran policy this way:

“Biden removed the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, rescinded the American snapback of U.N. sanctions at the Security Council, relaxed sanctions to free up cash for Iran to pay some debts and increase oil exports to China, pulled European allies back from censuring Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, and allowed Iran’s proxies in Iraq and Syria to attack U.S. forces with near impunity.”

All with Casey’s support.

But rather than slowing the flow of dollars to UNRWA or Iran, Casey has been an advocate. He has also declined to cosponsor the UNRWA Accountability and Transparency Act.

While Casey has remained silent on the UNRWA scandal, Republicans are speaking out.

“Today’s news further underscores that UNRWA is an irredeemable organization that plays a critical role in Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure,” Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) said. “Biden should have never reversed the Trump administration’s decision to cut off U.S. support of UNRWA.”

On Sunday, Casey on social media about the deadly Iran-backed attack:

“I’m praying for the families of the U.S. servicemembers killed and for those injured by the attacks in Jordan,” Casey said. “This is a troubling pattern of Iran-backed groups feeling emboldened, and we must hold all of those responsible accountable for attacks on the U.S. and our allies.”

But, Republicans like McCormick ask, will it be enough to finally get Casey to change his policy on Iran?

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Lancaster County’s Tomasetti To Take On McCormick in GOP Senate Primary

Lancaster County Republican Brandi Tomasetti is challenging Dave McCormick for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination and the chance to take on three-term U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) in November.

Tomasetti, the secretary-treasurer of Conestoga Township, announced her candidacy last week.

“I’m just a fed-up American,” she told DVJournal. “I’m not happy with the direction that the country is headed…It seemed like the best time, especially since the two people running have been lifetime politicians. And I don’t think that they’re good for the country.

“I don’t agree with them,” Tomasetti said. “And I think I can do a better job.”

McCormick lost the 2022 GOP Senate primary to TV Dr. Mehmet Oz, who then went on to defeat at the hands of Democrat John Fetterman. Many Pennsylvania Republicans expressed regret at not nominating McCormick, and he enjoys widespread support from the state GOP.

“We welcome [Tomasetti] to the race and look forward to winning the primary in April,” Elizabeth Gregory, McCormick’s communications director, told DVJournal. “Come November, Pennsylvanians will elect combat veteran, West Point graduate, and seventh-generation Pennsylvanian Dave McCormick to shake things up in Washington and put an end to Bob Casey’s ineffective 17-year career in the Senate.”

Tomasetti, who describes herself as an America First, anti-war advocate, is undettered by McCormick’s headstart.

In her campaign video, she accused McCormick of being a Republican in name only who is “unlikely to succeed” in Pennsylvania against Casey.

She took a shot at McCormick’s past as former CEO of Bridgewater by calling him “China Dave,” a line used by Oz during the 2022 primary.

Tomasetti said she didn’t know the ‘China Dave’ line came from Oz.

“He has been known to be a wealthy investor for China,” she said. “He’s also been quoted praising China, saying something along the lines of, ‘When China succeeds, the U.S. succeeds.’ I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. I think it’s very clear what China is doing to the United States is wrong.

“Dave McCormick seems to be somebody who somewhat believes in a global economy,” she added. “I’m okay with a global economy to a certain extent, but I really support a strong localized American economy. And you go to the stores, and all of our stores are closing down. Everything’s cheaply made in China; you buy it online.”

McCormick has made confronting China a central part of his campaign. He has written a book (“Superpower in Peril”) laying out what he says is a strategy for American strength to confront China. And he has called China “the gravest threat” to U.S. security and well-being “since the end of World War II.”

Tomasetti’s complaints about McCormick extend beyond China. She took a page from Democratic attacks on McCormick’s residency. “He hasn’t been here. He doesn’t know what we’re going through here…I just really don’t respect the fact that he sells himself as a fifth-generation Pennsylvanian when he was just born here, and then his career took him elsewhere.”

McCormick has brushed aside previous residency criticisms by pointing out that he has a home in Pittsburgh and cast ballots in the Pittsburgh precinct in the 2022 primary and general elections.

He grew up in Bloomsburg, where his father was the former president of Bloomsburg University. After graduating from West Point and serving in the U.S. Army, McCormick started his financial career in Pittsburgh before joining President George W. Bush’s administration.

Tomasetti’s campaign video boasts of her Pennsylvania roots with a vow that she won’t leave.

Tomasetti said she cares deeply about healthcare reform and lowering costs. While pointing out that she doesn’t “believe in socialized medicine,” she argued that elected officials need to do something, including requiring cost transparency from doctors. “I have a feeling that the reason they’re not doing this is because they’re paid off.”

She advocated for more funding for the environment, saying America’s “water is toxic.

“There’s things in our water, there’s plastics in our water that are disruptive to women’s hormones,” Tomasetti said. “Women are having infertility problems because of all the chemicals in our environment. I just think that needs to be addressed, and I think we could do better.”

She donated to Donald Trump’s campaigns in 2016 and 2020 and said last year she was invited to private campaign events in Philadelphia and at Mar-a-Lago. She also publicly endorsed Trump on social media.

Tomasetti, 32, also said she wants to see more young people in public office. “There are no term limits,” she said. “These people stay in there forever, and they refer to the people in our Senate as dinosaurs. So, I’d really like to get some a fresh perspective in there.”

The primary is set for April 23.

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Casey Outflanked by Local Democrat on Debate Over Penn President Magill and Antisemitism

(This article first appeared in Broad + Liberty.)

Although the 2024 elections are a full eleven months away, candidates — incumbent Democrats in particular — are having to navigate the current Israeli-Hamas war with voters in mind. And just as incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D) was trying to maneuver against his likely Republican opponent on the issue as it heated to new levels, he may have been outflanked by a member of his own party.

The entire debate intensified earlier this week after Penn President Elizabeth “Liz” Magill’s testimony Tuesday to a Congressional committee, testimony that has drawn widespread criticism.

At the hearing, Magill and other university presidents were pressed by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) as to whether a student calling for Jewish genocide would be a violation of each university’s code of conduct.

More than once, Magill answered, “If the speech becomes conduct, it can be harassment, yes.”

Stefanik was incredulous. “Conduct, meaning committing the act of genocide?” Stefanik asked.

At 5:15 Wednesday evening, Casey posted on X, “President Magill’s comments yesterday were offensive, but equally offensive was what she didn’t say. The right to free speech is fundamental, but calling for the genocide of Jews is antisemitic and harassment, full stop.”

By 5:30, however, Republican Senate candidate Dave McCormick called for Magill to step down.

Even before McCormick’s statement — and just one minute after Casey condemned Magill but stopped short of calling for her removal — State Senator Steve Santarsiero significantly raised the stakes. A Bucks County Democrat, Santarsiero also called for Magill’s resignation while adding, “I will not vote for any state funding for the university until she does so.”

Charlie Gerow, a longtime GOP consultant and pundit, said Santarsiero’s stance aligned more with McCormick, thereby painting Casey into a corner.

“At a time when strength is required and demanded, Casey has again been weak,” Gerow said.

“He hasn’t called out [U.S. Representative] Summer Lee, he’s taken a hesitant stand on Magill, and a member of his own party’s strong statement and strong position on the Penn president makes Casey’s position look even weaker,” Gerow summarized.

When contacted for comment, a spokesperson for Sen. Casey pointed to a FOX News article she said represented his position.

“Like Governor Shapiro, Senator Casey wants UPenn’s board to meet and determine whether President Magill’s comments align with the university’s values,” the story noted, attributing the quote to a Casey spokesperson.

Magill’s testimony was so problematic that Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) and the White House have both condemned her testimony. Shapiro called the testimony “failed leadership.”

The political shockwaves were so heavy that Magill posted online a walk back of her testimony, and a day later Penn’s board hastily called an emergency meeting.

Santarsiero’s district makes his stance all the more important — purple-ish Bucks County, which has widely come to be viewed as a crucial swing county. And if Magill does in fact get removed or resigns, Santarsiero’s impact on the debate diminishes Casey’s role as the commonwealth’s senior Senator.

At the Congressional hearing, members of both parties demonstrated support for the protection of Jews; yet some representatives did break down along typical party lines with calls for more funding to solve the problem.

Some candidates are offering more public support than others, all of which will inevitably come to be weighed in future elections.

Rep. Summer Lee, a Pittsburgh Democrat whose district includes the Tree of Life Synagogue which was attacked five years ago, has faced substantial criticism at home. Lee was one of ten representatives (nine of them Democrats) who voted against a bipartisan resolution “standing with Israel as it defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas and other terrorists.”

A local rabbi expressed his frustration.

“I am a little disappointed that she has not been more proactive in finding the right language and forum in which to speak to and support her Jewish constituents on Israel,” Rabbi Seth Adelson told the New York Times.

The paper said Adleson’s son “has been called to active duty in the Israel Defense Forces, and he added that the division in Ms. Lee’s district — racial, religious, ethnic — over Israel and Palestine ‘is not helpful.’”

Even before Magill testified on Capitol Hill, her management of the war’s politics had come under heavy criticism from wealthy alumni who were stopping or putting on hold their donations to the university.

Those alumni were upset that Penn’s administration failed to condemn a “Palestine Writes Literature Festival” that many said crossed the lines into overt antisemitism.

New Ad Targets Casey’s Vote to Send Billion to Iran

National Republicans are targeting Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey over his votes to prop up the Islamic government of Iran, which is widely believed to be a sponsor of terrorist groups, including Hamas.

“Senate Democrats sent our tax dollars to Iran, which used that money to bankroll terrorist groups like Hamas. As the nation witnesses the unfolding conflict in the Middle East, one thing is certain: these senators can’t be trusted to keep America safe,” said National Republican Senate Campaign spokesman Philip Letsou.

The ad references a 2015 vote cast by Casey to uphold the so-called “Iran Deal” brokered by President Barack Obama that sent billions of dollars to the terror-sponsoring nation. The results of the deal immediately benefited Tehran.

“The Obama administration secretly arranged a plane delivery of $400 million in cash on the same day Iran…formally implemented the nuclear deal,” CNN reported. “The money was flown into Iran on wooden pallets stacked with Swiss francs, euros, and other currencies.”

Casey, who is seeking reelection in 2024, said he has stiffened his stance toward Iran. He touts his reversal of support for President Joe Biden’s allowing $6 billion in funds to be released to Iran. Casey now wants the funding refrozen in light of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

“These funds should remain frozen until we can determine whether Iran played a role in the attack and what the appropriate U.S. response should be,” Casey said.

 

 

For Republicans, it looks like politics at work, not a policy to contain Iran and its pro-terrorism policies.

Republican Dave McCormick, who is challenging the Pennsylvania Democrat in 2024, said on X, “The United States must work with our allies to use every tool at our disposal to constrain Iran’s ability to support its terrorist proxies.”

On Oct. 9, McCormick wrote a letter to Casey asking him to tell Biden to keep that $6 billion out of the hands of the Iranian regime.

“I call on you to join me in urging President Biden to block Iran’s access to $6 billion in recently unfrozen assets,” McCormick wrote to Casey. “And if President Biden will not do this, I call on you to introduce legislation to put a hold on these funds.”

In the same letter, McCormick asked Casey to help stop the flow of Iranian oil to China and others that provide “a lifeline to the regime,” allowing it to garner billions.

“The administration must fully implement U.S. sanctions on Iran, especially in the energy sector, to force Tehran to make difficult decisions about support to its terrorist proxies,” McCormick wrote.

According to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Casey has a record of being soft on Iran.

That group said Casey “did not support legislation to impose sanctions on Iran and Hamas that would have stopped money from flowing into terrorist coffers. On three occasions in 2015, he voted to approve the Obama administration’s nuclear deal, lifting sanctions on Iran and giving it access to billions of dollars. Some of that money funded Hamas’ training and arming for last month’s attack.

“Mr. Casey did not support the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act of 2021, which would have imposed sanctions on Hamas. That bill would have denied terrorist groups access to loans or credit guaranteed by American financial institutions and penalized foreign countries that gave money to Hamas.

“In 2019, Mr. Casey criticized Israel for barring Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from visiting. In addition, Mr. Casey failed to support the Combating BDS Acts of 2021 and 2023. These bills would have allowed state and local governments to divest from entities that support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. The movement seeks to delegitimize Israel and destroy it through economic and diplomatic means,” the coalition said.

Another Potential Conflict of Interest Between Sen. Casey and His Lobbyist Relatives

(This article first appeared in Broad + Liberty.)

In May, Sen. Bob Casey celebrated $200,000 in grant funding to a health and human services nonprofit near Scranton — one that has used Casey’s brother-in-law as a state-based lobbyist.

While there’s no evidence that the relationships involved an improper quid pro quo, it’s yet another example of Casey’s family relationships intersecting with his regular business as a senator. It’s the kind of intersection that could be viewed as even the appearance of a conflict of interest, an appearance which most elected officials studiously strive to avoid.

The May celebration wasn’t Casey’s only interaction with the nonprofit, Maternal & Family Health Services.

In May 2022, Casey held a roundtable with MFHS to discuss the infant formula shortage that was causing concern at the time..

Pennsylvania lobbying records show Casey’s brother-in-law, Patrick Brier, signed on as a lobbyist for MFHS just six months before, in December of 2021.

Requests for comment to Casey’s Senate office, Brier, and a representative for Brier were not returned.

Brier’s registration is only to lobby at the state level, meaning he is not registered to lobby on federal issues.

Similar issues have arisen before with Brier.

Broad + Liberty reported in August that Brier works as a lobbyist for Keystone First, a Pennsylvania-based Medicaid managed-care company. He started work for that company just months before a federal audit was set to be released in 2021 — an audit begun after Casey called for an investigation into managed-care companies two years earlier in 2019.

With that story, a representative for Brier defended him, and the connection to Casey.

“Mr. Brier is not now and never has been engaged as a federal lobbyist on behalf of Keystone First,” said Scott Caulfield, a Harrisburg attorney.

“In fact, Mr. Brier does not engage in any federal lobbying work whatsoever. Mr. Brier does not receive any compensation from, or have any financial interest(s) relating to, any firm or other person that lobbies any member of the United States Congress, for any purpose,” Caulfield concluded.

Caulfield’s answer was not false, but he also did not try to deny that Brier was still in fact a registered lobbyist for a company being audited by a federal agency.

In 2002, the Wilkes Barre Times-Leader reported on another potential conflict of interest between Brier and Casey.

In this instance, Brier had worked for a law firm that helped a Luzerne County-based nursing home negotiate a settlement with the federal government after it was discovered that it had overcharged Medicare by $2 million.

Casey, not yet a senator and then running for governor, had been running ads at the time boasting about how he had cracked down on nursing home billing fraud while serving as  Pennsylvania’s auditor general.

The combination of circumstances caused some in the area to wonder why Casey hadn’t discovered the overbillings at the nursing home in question. And one local leader at the time “questioned whether the Democratic commissioners decided to hire a firm [Brier’s, for the settlement negotiations] with ties to Casey as a safeguard against a state audit,” the Times-Leader reported.

Other familial connections for Casey have popped up recently, outside of Brier.

In February, Politico reported that Casey’s brother, Patrick, had just recently filed to lobby at the federal level “on issues ranging from implementation of the CHIPS and Science Act to online travel policies last year, disclosures show.”

“While there is no statutory restriction governing contact between a member of Congress and an immediate family member who is a lobbyist, Senate ethics rules require that a lawmaker whose spouse or immediate family member is a lobbyist bars their staff from having any ‘lobbying’ contact with that person,” according to Politico.

The New York Post reported in August that “Sen. Bob Casey’s political campaign has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from his brother’s personal injury law firm over the past 15 years — and the lawmaker has tapped one of its partners to help him nominate federal judges.”

Casey’s other brother, Matt, works for that personal injury law firm.

Finally, Breitbart reported that Casey was months late in reporting on a 2018 stock sale by one of his children, a transaction that is required to be reported per Senate ethics rules.

Casey has never given an explanation for why the report of the stock sale was late, and ignored questions from Broad + Liberty in follow-up to the Breitbart report.