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UPDATE: Senate Dem Declares Mastriano ‘Insurrectionist’ for Questioning 2020 Election Results

First, Colorado. Then Maine. Now — Pennsylvania?

Using the same argument progressive Democrats are relying on to remove former President Donald Trump from the ballot in at least two states, state Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) announced Tuesday he’s filing an ethics complaint in the state Senate against his Republican colleague Sen. Doug Mastriano.

Mastriano is an outspoken Trump supporter who has repeatedly claimed the 2020 election was stolen, the results corrupted by widespread fraud.

Calling him an “insurrectionist,” Haywood said there is ample evidence showing Mastriano wanted to overturn the 2020 election that brought President Joe Biden into office. As a result, Haywood says, an investigation by the Senate is warranted. The Senate could vote to expel, censure, or reprimand Mastriano (R-Adams/Franklin) or reject the complaint.

He accused Mastriano, who ran for governor in 2022, of taking part “in a coup attempt to keep Donald J. Trump in office.”

“He used his prominence and reputation in the Senate and his office to conduct a bogus hearing, at which advisors of the then president who were not under oath provided testimony which proved later to be false,” said Haywood. “Further, he introduced a resolution to ‘disapprove and reject’ the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results.”

Holding hearings and introducing resolutions is not a crime. In fact, it’s part of a state legislator’s job. And although he attended the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C., and listened to Trump speak, Mastriano did not go into the Capitol Building and was not charged by federal authorities.

Haywood argues the Senate is free to declare a member an insurrectionist, just as Colorado’s Supreme Court and Maine’s secretary of state have done in Trump’s case. Trump has never been charged with insurrection.

“He was part of a large, angry, armed, violent mob that was assembled at the Capitol for the purpose of overturning the election,” Haywood said Tuesday.

It may not be a coincidence that Haywood said he received information from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) to make his complaint. That’s the same progressive nonprofit organization that brought the case to take Trump off the ballot in Colorado.

Brie Sparkman, policy counsel for CREW, said, “The constitution must be enforced, and accountability must be pursued against those who engaged in an insurrection against it.”

“Sen. Mastriano is an election denier, who despite having taken an oath to defend the United States Constitution, he supported and appears to have taken part in an insurrection against it. His continued service in the Pennsylvania Senate poses an acute and ongoing threat to democratic institutions in the commonwealth and nationwide.

“Sen. Mastriano has expressed no remorse in the actions on that day, even going so far as to continue to uphold the big lie during his unsuccessful run for governor in 2022,” said Sparkman.

Investigating candidates for public office in Pennsylvania over claims the other party believes are false would be unusual, to say the least.

The Senate Republican Caucus said in a statement, “It is unfortunate we are seeing the new year start with political gamesmanship. As outlined in Senate Rules, any ethical complaints are reviewed in a thorough manner.”

Mastriano had called for an audit of the 2020 general election and the 2021 primary election in July 2021, citing a poll that showed 40 percent of Pennsylvania voters believed there were problems. He was later subpoenaed to testify by the Congressional Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.

Mastriano released this statement:  “One would think that the long time Senator for the Fourth District of Pennsylvania would start out the New Year by helping people and improving quality of life in his own district which is suffering from record crime rates and an epidemic drug overdose that is cutting down so many of his constituents in the prime of their lives.

“Sadly, the Senator is focused on a partisan PR stunt. What is truly unethical is a Senator using his bully pulpit to attack the freedom of speech of those he disagrees with. The Senator should tread carefully with this new precedent. Some could construe that his inflammatory anti-law enforcement rhetoric and actions led to the deadly and destructive riots across our commonwealth during the Summer of 2020.

“The Senator further embarrassed himself by justifying his specious ethics complaint with a report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). CREW is a well-documented far left activist organization founded by a Democrat operative and uses a DNC vendor (Act Blue) to solicit donations from left-wing donors.

“I do not need a lecture on the U.S.  Constitution. I volunteered to defend it while serving our nation for over 30 years as an officer in the U.S. Army.

“This stunt will not intimidate or silence me,” he said.

Two Republican strategists said they believe Mastriano does not have much to worry about.

Christopher Nicholas, with Eagle Consulting, said, “Sen. Haywood is bored.”

Charlie Gerow, CEO of Quantum Communications, agreed.

“You’ve got to wonder where Sen. Haywood has been for the last two or three years,” said Gerow. “We’re almost through the Biden presidency, and he’s just waking up to the act he can get some headlines by attacking Doug Mastriano?”

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Buttigieg Was Slow to East Palestine but Rushed to Philly. DVJ Asked Him Why

It took nearly three weeks for U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to make time to come to the scene of a Feb. 3 toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, just minutes from the Pennsylvania border.

Former President Donald Trump, hauling thousands of bottles of “Trump Water” along the way, made the trip before Buttigieg did.

But it took less than three days for “Mayor Pete” to travel to Philadelphia and hold a press conference at the site of the I-95 bridge collapse, letting affluent suburbanites know he was on the job.

“This tragic crash is having an outsize impact on commuters and goods moving up and down the I-95 corridor,” Buttigieg told the press. “It’s a key artery for the movement of people and goods. That’s why it’s important to get this restored quickly.”

Why did Buttigieg clear his calendar for a Philly visit after waiting so long to show up in rural, red-state Ohio? DVJournal asked him that question at Monday’s press conference.

“When I went [to East Palestine], I decided to break from the precedent, the norm, that generally transportation secretaries don’t go to active response sites,” Buttigieg said. “Part of what I found was important — especially when you saw all the politicization and misinformation that the people of East Palestine had to deal with — is that we’re just in a new world in terms of the importance of presence to help make sure everybody understands what is happening, the coordination that is happening, the teamwork that’s happening.

“And so, in the same way that I value the ongoing conversation that I have with people I spend time with on the ground in East Palestine, I value the opportunity to be both on the ground and coordinating over the phone with everybody who’s involved in the [Philadelphia] response.”

Buttigieg’s claim that his learning curve covers the disparity was met with skepticism. Critics argue the slow response in East Palestine was more evidence that rural, largely White communities are a low priority for the East Coast elites who dominate the Democratic Party.

In February, CNN reporters tried to downplay criticism of Buttigieg’s absence. “Former President Trump is going to Ohio today,” reported CNN anchor Poppy Harlow. “East Palestine, to be specific, the site of the toxic train wreck in a county where he won more than 70 percent of the vote in 2020… the transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, hasn’t been yet. Trump capitalizing on that?”

The Washington Post noted at the time that Trump carried East Palestine with nearly 70 percent of the vote. It quoted former Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan (D), “who said that what he described as the slow response from the federal government reinforced the idea that officials in Washington don’t care about voters in Ohio.”

“You want to show the people in that community … that when something like this happens that their government is able to react in an effective and efficient way, in an immediate way,” Ryan said. “The feedback we’re hearing from the community, people in the community, is that nobody cared.”

On the other hand, Philadelphia is a Democratic stronghold along the Acela corridor and a large contingent of Black voters — a key part of the coalition that made Biden his party’s nominee and, eventually, president. Biden, who at age 80 rarely travels for politics, has already made multiple stops in the area since taking office. And he is scheduled to appear in Philadelphia on Saturday, where he will receive the AFL-CIO’s endorsement.

The class divide and partisan politics are obvious, Republicans say.

Pothole Pete continues to play politics as he flirts with battleground state Pennsylvania while turning a blind eye to solidly red Ohio,” said Republican National Committee spokesperson Rachel Lee. “Buttigieg’s political aspirations have long been clear, and voters know exactly where his true priorities lie.”

State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) took issue with Buttigieg’s claim that he had to appear in person to address “politicization and misinformation.”

“The genuine fear and concern from the residents affected by the train derailment were never about politics or ‘misinformation,’” Mastriano said. “My Senate committee (veteran’s affairs and emergency preparedness) held the first hearing in the nation to hear testimony from those folks. They expressed fears that they may never feel comfortable living in their communities again.

“I’m pleased to see that Mayor/Secretary Pete visited the I-95 site so quickly,” added Mastriano. “But it shouldn’t have taken him over 20 days to come to East Palestine to tour the disaster zone and hear the concerns of the residents.”

Kim Bedillion, president of the Pennridge Area Republican Club, noted Buttigieg’s lack of experience and what many see as a troubled record ionthe job. “One would hope that Secretary Buttigieg’s relatively speedy response to the I-95 overpass collapse when compared to his three-week delay in visiting East Palestine is not politically motivated, but considering that East Palestine has a Republican mayor and Philadelphia is decidedly Democrat, politics may very well have played a part.”


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McConnell Puts PA on GOP’s ’24 Top Four Target List, Touts McCormick

Congrats, Pennsylvania — You made Mitch McConnell’s final four.

In an interview with CNN, the Senate’s GOP leader laid out what he believes is the most likely path for Republicans to regain control, and it runs through four states: Montana, West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

McConnell and many GOP pundits say Republicans are on track in West Virginia, where popular Gov. Jim Justice has announced he plans to run for the seat currently held by Sen. Joe Manchin. The two-term Democrat has not said if he will run for reelection next year in a state Trump carried by 40 points in 2020.

The other states are less settled, particularly Pennsylvania, where Republican strategists believe Dave McCormick would have the best chance to stop Democrat Sen. Bob Casey from winning a record fourth term. But McCormick may have to get past state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who polls show remains popular with GOP primary voters despite his crushing defeat in last year’s gubernatorial race against now-Gov. Josh Shapiro.

According to CNN, McConnell and the NRSC “are expected to go all-out for McCormick, whom the GOP leader called a ‘high-quality candidate.’”

And what about Mastriano? “I think everybody is entitled to run. I’m confident the vast majority of people who meet Dave McCormick will be fine with him,” McConnell said.

“The Senate GOP Leader understands what nearly all Republican leaders here know,” Republican strategist Christopher Nicholas told DVJournal. “Only Dave McCormick can give Casey a run for his money in 2024.”

There has been little polling about a GOP primary, but the available data give Mastriano a lead. Pennsylvania GOP pros say the passion for Mastriano in the MAGA section of the party remains strong. At the same time, losing the Senate seat in 2022, particularly to John Fetterman, a left-of-center candidate with significant health issues, sent a shockwave through the state GOP, one source told DVJournal.

“There is no ‘MAGA’ magic,” the source said. “If they really don’t care about winning [the general election], then we just have to find a way to beat them.”

Republicans may need to pull out all the stops in Pennsylvania. In Montana, another state Trump carried big, popular incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D) has already said he will run again, giving his party its best chance of holding the seat. And while Ohio has been trending red for more than a decade, incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) is a populist Democrat in the mold of Sen. Bernie Sanders. He may be particularly tough to beat, as well.

So even though Democrats have to defend more than twice as many seats as Republicans next year (23 to 11), McConnell laughed when asked if he was confident about the GOP’s chances.

“No, no – I’m not,” McConnell said. “I just spent 10 minutes explaining to you how we could screw this up, and we’re working very hard to not let that happen.”

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Mastriano Promotes Bill to Prevent Cruelty to Lab Animals

From a press release

Joined by a group of beagles and their owners, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) Tuesday announced at a capitol news conference he has introduced legislation to end taxpayer-funded painful experimentation on dogs and cats in Pennsylvania.

“It is barbaric to think dogs and cats in Pennsylvania are being subjected to cruel testing in 2023,” Mastriano said. “Animal cruelty is prohibited in the Bible, and it should be prohibited in our state. Proverbs 12:10 says, ‘The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel.’ We want to end taxpayer-funded cruelty to animals in Pennsylvania.”

Mastriano’s Senate Bill 658 would prevent institutions from using state funds to support painful experimentation on dogs and cats as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Beagle owners surrounding Mastriano held signs reading, “Dogs belong on laps, not labs.” The dogs were rescued from labs, and their owners are promoting their stories and supporting Mastriano’s bill using the hashtag #LapsNotLabs.

The families shared stories about their adopted dogs being used as breeders when they were in the laboratory and birthing multiple litters of puppies during their lives.

“These are heartbreaking stories, and Pennsylvania needs to take action,” Mastriano said. “The way we treat animals says something about the state of our society and the values we hold dear.”

More than 3,000 dogs and more than 1,000 cats currently are subjected to cruel testing at universities and labs across Pennsylvania.

Dogs have their hearts, lungs, or kidneys deliberately damaged or removed to study how experimental substances might affect human organ function. Cats have their spinal cords damaged and are forced to run on treadmills to study how nerve activity might affect human limb movement. The vocal cords of dogs and cats are removed so they can’t make noise when they are in pain.

Mastriano’s legislation would require institutions that use state funding for dog and cat tests to remain compliant with federal laws. A laboratory that fails to comply with federal law would lose its eligibility to receive state funding for one year.

The bill also would specifically prohibit the use of public funds to surgically devocalize dogs or cats in laboratories.

Mastriano’s bill also would increase transparency by requiring institutions that receive state funding for dog and cat tests to disclose the amount of state funding it received, the amount of federal and private funding it received, and to clearly indicate in all public communications that “funding for these experiments was provided with Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars.” It also would require the Pennsylvania Department of the Treasury to release an annual report about animal research directly or indirectly funded with state dollars.

In addition to ending the cruelty, Mastriano also wants to help animals used in animal experimentation find homes. His bill would require institutions receiving state funding to make healthy dogs and cats used in experimentation available for adoption when they no longer are needed for testing.

“We want these dogs and cats to find loving homes where they can live out the rest of their lives in peace and comfort,” Mastriano said. “I’m so grateful to the families who adopt these dogs and cats and give them a second chance at life.”

The bill soon will be assigned to a standing committee for consideration.

The beagle event was supported by the Humane Society of the United States, the Adams County SPCA, and the White Coat Waste Project. The White Coat Waste Project is a bipartisan coalition of three million taxpayers opposed to the government’s wasteful spending on animal experiments.

“Thousands of dogs and cats are locked in Pennsylvania labs, and we applaud Sen. Mastriano for his outstanding efforts to ensure that taxpayers aren’t forced to foot the bill for cruel and wasteful experiments on these animals,” said Tristan Daedalus, government affairs director at White Coat Waste Project. “We’re also grateful that he’s leading the charge to retire dogs and cats from taxpayer-funded labs and to improve transparency about government spending on animal tests.

“As our watchdog’s investigations have exposed, taxpayer-funded white coats are wasting tens of millions of dollars yearly to de-bark and poison dogs, cripple cats and give them brain damage, and even inject puppies with cocaine. A supermajority of Americans across the political spectrum wants lawmakers to cut wasteful spending on dog and cat experiments. The solution is clear: stop the money, stop the madness,” said Daedalus.

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PA Senate Committee Demands Answers on East Palestine Derailment

Pennsylvania state senators hammered Norfolk Southern Railway’s chef executive Monday over his company’s recent train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. It also affected Pennsylvania residents just across the state line.

The Senate Veteran’s Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, chaired by Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) and Sen. Katie Muth (D-Berks/Chester/Montgomery), asked Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw a battery of questions about the decision for a controlled burn of rail cars that carried toxic chemicals at the East Palestine derailment site.

“Who specifically in unified command said to do this?” Mastriano asked. “You’re blaming it on the fire chief in East Palestine. Your cars are on fire, it’s your railroad, and you’re going to leave it to the local fire chief who never had to deal with such a catastrophe before? Who said, ‘We’re going to this’?”

Shaw said the decision was made by “unified command” and that “ultimately, the decision falls on the incident commander under consultation with unified command.”

Sen. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Bucks/Montgomery) claimed the committee was “kind of glossing over” the seriousness of the situation in East Palestine just after the derailment.

“I personally think that the fire chief did the right thing,” she argued. “I’ve seen a helicopter explode, and I’ve seen the injuries when we didn’t do a controlled burn and let the fuel out.”

“I’m just trying to see if you can paint a picture for us of what that might have looked like if you had not done a controlled burn,” she said, calling it “important that we all understand what it would have looked like because I think (that) would have been catastrophic in life and property.”

Shaw responded that “the very real concern” at the time “was there would have been an uncontrolled, catastrophic explosion which would have shot vinyl chloride gas which, as you know, is denser than air, throughout the community along with shrapnel.

“So, all the relevant parties got together and modeled the dispersion, the government authorities modeled the dispersion with inputs from a number of sources,” he said.

Shaw added post-burn testing in the area indicated that “it was a success. It worked.” He said Norfolk Southern would compensate residents and businesses for their losses and reimburse them for medical care.

Andrew Whelton, a professor of civil, environmental, and ecological engineering at Purdue University, argued before the committee that the EPA and state agencies are not testing for all the toxic chemicals that might have been released in the incident.

Whelton, who has been studying soil, water, and air samples of the area with a team of volunteer researchers, said if a test is not done for certain cancer-causing chemicals, investigators won’t find them.

“The numbers don’t matter,” he said. “It matters what you test for.”

Mastriano, at one point, claimed that when he visited the site with his staff, their upper respiratory tracts burned and they developed rashes. Residents have told him about various health problems stemming from the wreck, he said.

The committee also heard briefly from railroad accident investigator Robert Comer, who said the railcars that carried the toxic chemicals did not belong to Norfolk Southern but to private companies. He speculated as to whether the railroad had checked those cars for problems before it added them to the train.

A bearing that caught fire is being blamed preliminarily for the derailment. Previously, the National Transportation Safety Board said the train continued running with an overheated bearing for 20 miles before it derailed, despite warning indicators.

Comer said poor track conditions with old, wooden railroad ties could also have played a role in the accident.

Shaw promised to help the residents and clean up the area affected by the derailment.

“I am determined to make this right,” said Shaw. “Norfolk Southern is determined to clean the site safely. We’ll get the job done and help these communities thrive.”

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Mastriano Reportedly Eyes Run for U.S. Senate

If God wants state Sen. Doug Mastriano to run for U.S. Senate, He hasn’t told the leadership of the Republican party.

Last week, Politico reported Mastriano — crushed by nearly 15 points in last year’s governor’s race against then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro – is considering a challenge to Democrat Bob Casey in 2024. He’s “praying” about it, Mastriano told the magazine. After God, his wife, Rebbie, will have the final word he said.

But National Republican Senate Committee Chair Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who is in charge of the group’s candidate recruitment, already has a word or two on the subject: No way.

“We need somebody who can win a primary and a general election. His last race demonstrated he couldn’t win a general,” Daines tweeted.

He is not alone. “Mastriano running for any statewide office would be another big gift to Pennsylvania Democrats,” said Christopher Nicholas with Eagle Consulting Group.

Mastriano ran as a solidly MAGA candidate with hardline views on social issues like abortion in the relatively purple state of Pennsylvania. He lost the money race, raising just $7 million compared to Shapiro’s $73 million.

Pennsylvania Republicans told DVJournal they were not interested in a repeat performance.

Republican insiders are already looking to former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick in 2024.

“I think [Mastriano] has little to no chance of defeating David McCormick in a primary,” said Jeff Jubelirer with Bellevue Communications. “McCormick came within a whisker of defeating Dr. Oz in the GOP U.S. Senate primary in 2022, and many observers believed he would have fared better, and perhaps even beat, John Fetterman in the general election.

Charlie Gerow, CEO of Quantum Communications who also ran in the GOP gubernatorial primary, said Mastriano would have to give up his state Senate seat or run for both offices at once.

“I think his constituents would not be happy with that,” said Gerow. “A lot of people are talking about running for the U.S. Senate. He took a lot of time away (from his state Senate job) to run for governor.”

And, Republicans say, defeating an incumbent like Casey won’t be easy.

“Perhaps if Donald Trump injects himself again in the Senate race, it could benefit Mastriano a little [in the primary], but it didn’t help him make a dent when he ran against Josh Shapiro for governor,” Jubelirer said.

“I think the Republicans would prefer a stronger candidate, especially after taking it on the chin statewide in 2022.”

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Pundits, Politicos Offer Autopsy of PA GOP’s 2022 Election Losses

With the Pennsylvania Republican Party paying a D.C. firm a reported $100,000 to study why Republicans here lost so badly in the 2022 midterms, the Delaware Valley Journal asked some politically savvy people for their opinions about what went wrong.

Our pundits believe that there is plenty of blame to go around.

Like many in PA politics who spoke to DVJournal, Delaware County GOP Chair Frank Agovino had two names on his list of challenges for Republicans last year: Mastriano and Dobbs.

“It seems to me that 2022 was more about the inability for Republicans to coalesce around an electable gubernatorial candidate,” Agovino said, a reference to Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin). “And the surprise of younger voters taking the bait laid by Democrats painting Republicans as extreme on abortion. If the study doesn’t grapple with these fatal flaws, it won’t be worth the paper it’s written on,” said Agovino. Dobbs was the U.S. Supreme Court decision issued last year that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Liz Preate Havey, chair of the Montgomery County Republican Committee. also used the “E” word to analyze her party’s failures.

“The Democrats were successful in convincing a majority of voters that our candidates were extreme,” she said. “And clearly, the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v Wade was much more of a motivator for pro-choice voters than Republicans anticipated.  Those things, along with no significant statewide mail-in ballot push by Republicans or conservative groups, put our candidates at a disadvantage.”

Guy Ciarrocchi, the former president of the Chester County Chamber of Commerce who ran for Congress in 2022, said, “Biden and the Democrats’ priorities caused obvious failures—from inflation to broken supply chains, more violent crimes, parents’ roles being undercut by school boards and an unsecured border. Yet, Republicans underperformed nationally. In Pennsylvania, it was a train wreck, with the highest ‘casualties’ in the suburbs.

“Independent voters either didn’t blame the Democrats for this mess, didn’t see these problems as their top priorities, or they didn’t trust Republicans to fix the mess—or, a bit of everything. It’s imperative that we find out what went wrong—especially in the suburbs. Far more important than reviving the GOP, our quality of life and our nation’s future depend on our connecting with these Independent voters and growing our base,” Ciarrocchi said.

In an interview with radio talk host Dom Giordano, Mastriano offered his own take on what went wrong. Not surprisingly, he argued that his campaign was a relative success. Instead, he said Democratic advantages in fundraising and mail-in voting doomed him from the start.

He pointed out that Democrat Josh Shapiro had raised $75 million and spent $70 million while the Republican National Committee and Republican Governor’s Association “walked away,” leaving him with only the money he could raise on his own so he was not able to get his message out.

“Every week there was another $1 million anti-Doug ad,” Mastriano said.

He also said that the GOP must embrace mail-in voting and believes that was also key in the Democrats’ wins.

“We set a record,” said Mastriano. “Over 2.2 million votes for Mastriano, 90 percent on Election Day…This is more votes than a Republican governor candidate received since  1962, William Scranton.  (It was) the second highest in our state history. The grassroots did fantastic. We won on Election Day in-person voting but we were killed, slaughtered by no-excuse, mail-in voting.”

Republican consultant Charlie O’Neill wasn’t quite as forgiving.

“Ultimately, Pennsylvania electoral woes in 2022 boil down to Doug Mastriano’s inability to run an effective campaign. Candidates matter, and while Mastriano ran away with the primary, he was no match in the general elections. The best thing Republicans in Pennsylvania can do is take candidate recruitment and vetting more seriously, along with engaging local leaders on the kinds of candidates who play in their areas. The electorate, right, left, and center is showing they want competent, serious candidates who have a plan to lead. We have leaders and activists who fit that bill. We need to get them to run.”

Commonwealth Partners President & & CEO Matt Brouillette said, “The misses of the last election stem from three major flaws: Poor candidates, poorly delivered messages, and poorly run campaigns. In our statewide races, Republicans put up weak candidates against established candidates with exceptional fundraising prowess and years of campaigning behind them.

“GOP candidates criticized what they opposed but failed to present a vision of what a better future looks like,” said Brouillette. “And Republican campaigns ignored basic tenets of winning, including shoring up their base and reaching out to swing voters. Combine this with massive outspending by the Left (with massive infusions of political cash from outside Pennsylvania) and a refusal by Republicans to embrace mail-in voting (which gave Democrats a 50-day voting window versus the Republicans’ 13 hours on Election Day)—and the recipe for Republican failure was nearly foolproof.”

“Generally speaking, the Dobbs (abortion) decision changed the calculus for many voters, particularly those in the suburbs.  That decision, coupled with a historically weak gubernatorial candidate, spelled some trouble for Republicans.  They still won the congressional vote, but these two factors had a major impact on the state house races,” said Berwood A. Yost, director of the Floyd Institute for Public Policy and the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College.

Republican political consultant Albert Eisenberg with BlueStateRed said, “Voters saw a national ticket affiliated with former President Trump, who hasn’t ‘won’ since he was elected in 2016 and has at every turn mobilized opposition more than he’s generated support. In Pennsylvania, we had a ticket led by a messianic who went out of his way to alienate moderate voters and a Senate candidate who had substance and quality but was unfortunately perceived as a carpet-bagger and did little to respond to that attack even when his radical opponent was hamstrung by health issues.”

But for longtime centrist Republican John Featherman, who ran for mayor of Philadelphia in 2011, “all roads lead to Doug Mastriano.”

“And the state GOP’s decision to rubber stamp Mastriano’s campaign – and his extreme views – rather than to endorse any of his primary race opponents, put the nail in the coffin for failed U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Oz and countless Republicans running for reelection to the Pennsylvania state House. Mastriano’s conscious decision to focus his campaign on contentious issues like restricting abortion and repealing LGBTQ rights backfired, not just for his campaign but for the GOP to retain power in the state House.

“Moving forward, the only way for the Pennsylvania GOP to succeed will be to market a less combative agenda and embrace a comprehensive mail-in voter strategy – the same strategy which ultimately pushed Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman over the top in their respective elections,” said Featherman.

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GIORDANO: The Three Reasons for PA’s GOP Debacle — And How to Fix It

Last week’s anticipated Red Wave wasn’t even a Red Puddle, and it could be argued, Pennsylvania was the GOP’s biggest disappointment of them all.

Pennsylvania Republicans didn’t flip a single seat in Congress, they lost a U.S. Senate seat, weren’t competitive in the governor’s race, and even handed over control of the state House of Representatives. All this at a time when Democrats were defending an unpopular president and a struggling economy.

I have three major reasons for the losses here in Pennsylvania and some solutions Republicans must adopt.

The first reason is spelled out in just two words: Doug Mastriano. Mastriano lost so badly that if you removed Philadelphia and Pittsburgh from the voting, Democrat Attorney General Josh Shapiro still beat him by 195,000 votes. How is that even possible?

In Lancaster County, Republican registered voters outnumber Democrats by 64,453. And yet Mastriano only beat Shapiro by 4,399, the smallest margin of any Republican gubernatorial nominee in modern history. Even Scott Wagner, the previous Republican nominee who got drubbed by Gov. Tom Wolf (D), won the county by a 6,189 margin.

In Bucks County around 40,000 fewer voters supported Mastriano than voted for winning Republican candidate Brian Fitzpatrick.

I got the first area radio or TV interview with Mastriano and eventually interviewed him five times during this election cycle. I liked the style of debate he proposed with Shapiro, in which each side would pick a moderator for each debate and basically allow the candidates to debate without the usual rules.

However, I had to beg Mastriano to bring his campaign to our area. It was also clear to me that there was no infrastructure to take on a force like Shapiro. When Mastriano announced he would not support any exceptions to a total ban on abortions in Pennsylvania, I knew any hope of a victory was dead, and I said so at the time.

No one will win a race for statewide office in Pennsylvania demanding a ban on all abortions without exception. Dave White, a candidate for governor who lost to Mastriano and someone I saw as a potential bridge to moderate Democrats, also says no exceptions should be allowed under an abortion ban.

If he maintains that position, he cannot win statewide.

The solution to the Mastriano problem is for the Republican State Committee to endorse candidates for statewide offices. That does not mean we can’t still have open primaries. But an endorsement and discussion might give the public more information and dissuade some candidates from staying in the race.

Pennsylvania Republicans should take a page from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) who allows for exceptions in the case of rape, incest, and the life of the mother under any abortion laws, and also move toward supporting a time limit on how many weeks an abortion can be performed within and be legal.

DeSantis might offer an antidote to the second major reason for Republican losses: President Donald Trump. What do Mastriano, Dr. Oz, Don Bolduc, Blake Masters, and Herschel Walker have in common? They all came in second last Tuesday, and they were all boosted by Trump. At a critical phase of the election, Trump inserted himself in our races and allowed Democrats to run against him. It worked.

DeSantis has gained tremendous traction against Trump due to his stunning victory in Florida. I’m not adverse to the two of them squaring off in the 2024 presidential primaries.

Finally, mail-in ballot issues are a major problem in Pennsylvania. I think Republicans have done a pretty good job in the last two years of stopping Democrats from exploiting flaws in the system around things like drop-box security, undated ballots, and counting procedures. However, they have given up the advantages of early voting entirely to the Democrats. Historically Republicans were at least as likely to vote by absentee as Democrats. It allows the parties to “bank” votes and focus their GOTV efforts on others.

In the Trump era, Republicans were attacking the idea of early voting — and now are paying the price for it. I think they have to do better to get more of their vote to effectively use mail-in balloting.

The reforms I’ve suggested are not monumentally hard to put into place. The first step is to acknowledge that these are significant issues. I don’t think abortion be the top issue in 2024, but again no statewide candidate will win if they don’t follow my method of addressing the issue.

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Rising Crime is Theme Running Through PA 2022 Campaigns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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DelVal Parents Press State Senate for Bill to Codify Their Rights

For Bucks County parents Megan Brock and Jamie Cohen Walker, Tuesday’s state Senate committee hearing on parent’s rights was not an abstract political conversation. It was about real life for their kids, who had been locked out of classrooms during the COVID-19 crisis under false pretenses.

Brock and Walker were part of a parent-led effort to force Bucks County into revealing why it ignored the recommendations of its own county Health Director  Dr. David Damsker who recommended in-person learning. Emails overriding his decision were authored by a Democratic operative with “no training or experience in public health” rather than Damsker, Brock said.

“Instead of answering our questions, our Bucks County commissioners used their positions to call us liars, conspiracy theorists, and accuse us of playing politics,” said Brock. “If that wasn’t bad enough, after we won access to public records through the appeals process in Harrisburg, Bucks County commissioners refused to comply. Instead (they) filed a total of five lawsuits. Five.

“They are using taxpayer dollars to sue us so they can publicly withhold records, which they have been ordered to provide. We are being abused by our government for simply being concerned parents who asked questions.”

They were at the hearing for Senate Bill 996, sponsored by Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), which would have Pennsylvania join 15 other states in establishing a parents’ bill of rights.

Alex Nester of Parents Defending Education spoke about the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District court case that revealed the content of Critical Race Theory (CRT) training given to teachers. The district had told parents they “did not have a right to review” that material.

“Parents know what’s best for their children,” Nester said. “It is both their right and responsibility to care for them.”

Committee minority chair Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) called the hearing “a clown show” and one-sided, alleging Democrats weren’t allowed to call witnesses. Committee chair Sen. David Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill) responded that Democrats were asked if they wanted witnesses but did not respond.

Street said when the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision integrated public schools, many White parents did not want their children going to school with Black children. Studies showed that Black children had lower self-esteem because of discrimination.

The proposed law “does more bad than good and should not move forward,” Street said.

“Parental rights are still under attack in Pennsylvania,” Brock said during her testimony. Two weeks ago, the ACLU filed a federal complaint against Central Bucks School District alleging discrimination against LGBQ students because the district instructed teachers to obtain parental consent before using students’ preferred pronouns. Some teachers say they will not comply and will keep hiding student information from parents.

“I’ve always taught my children to never to keep secrets from me,” she said. Keeping secrets from parents is a warning sign of grooming by sexual abusers, she claimed. “This is dangerous, and it needs to be stopped.”

The ACLU argues for teachers to use gender-affirming care without knowing if children are being treated for sexual dysphoria. And psychiatrists say 70 percent of gender dysphoria resolves by the end of adolescence, she said.

“As a mother I find it extremely alarming that our attorney general, Josh Shapiro, wants to ban children suffering from gender dysphoria from receiving any alternative treatment other than gender-affirming care. How can anyone force parents to a care model that gives children highly invasive, irreversible, fertility-ending treatment when there are less invasive options? It is truly the ultimate attack on parental rights.”

Malvern mother Fenicia Redman spoke about obscene books at the Great Valley High School. In August Redman filed a federal lawsuit to get those books out of school libraries. The obscene books, including “Gender Queer,” “Fun House” and “Lawn Boy,” are available in school libraries throughout the state.

Redman also took posters with enlarged pictures from the books to the state capitol to protest. While there, a capitol police officer told her to put some of them away since children might see them, she said.

She read federal statutes that say distribution of pictures of children performing sex acts is illegal and sections from the book “Push” that was extremely graphic description of incest until committee chair Sen. David Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill) told her they heard enough.

Argall said his father had been a school librarian.

“I can’t imagine in any way he’d allow those books in the school library,” he said.

Pediatrician Dr. Chaminie Wheeler spoke about parents bonding with their babies. She told the committee it is normal for adolescents to question their identities.

“Who loves that child more? Their parents or their teachers?” Wheeler asked. The state Department of Education is coming between the relationship of parents and children, she said.

Questioned by Street about curriculum to prevent bullying, Wheeler said it was better to focus on people’s similarities rather than on their differences.

Mastriano thanked those who testified for “for your courage standing against powerful forces, even the government.”

“Speaking truth to power. That’s what we heard here today,” said Mastriano. “We’re in an environment where evil is called good and good is called evil. Where it seems like parents are co-parenting with the government and that’s just not the way it should be…Now, more than ever, it’s important that citizens rise up and stand for their children and their families.”

The Josh Shapiro gubernatorial campaign released a statement calling the hearings a “waste of time and taxpayers’ dollars.”

Brock and Walker said they have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars fighting for parents’ rights. For that, they have been labeled “domestic terrorists” and called “libelous” names in newspapers.

“It should not be this hard,” said Brock. “It should not take this much effort for parents to exercise their fundamental right of being their child’s advocate, protector, counselor and provider.”


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