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Three GOP Holdouts Fail to Stop Shapiro Ed Secretary’s Confirmation

Three contrarian votes from Republican senators—including one from the Delaware Valley—failed to halt the confirmation of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s pick for education secretary this week.

On Monday, the Republican-controlled Senate’s education committee approved Acting Education Secretary Khalid Mumin. He was formerly superintendent of the Lower Merion and Reading School Districts. The full Senate subsequently affirmed the pick, voting 46-3 to confirm Mumin.

The three holdouts were all Republicans: Jarrett Coleman (Bucks and Lehigh), Doug Mastriano (Adams and Franklin), and John DiSanto (Dauphin County).

Coleman and Mastriano did not respond to requests for comment on their votes. DiSanto, meanwhile, said Mumin is too firmly embedded in an education system needing change.

“Pennsylvania ranks 8th nationally in per-student education spending, yet we lag in student achievement,” DiSanto told DVJournal. “The emphasis is always on more money when we need fundamental changes in the system.”

“The secretary has been part of that system for 25 years, and I don’t believe he’s capable of or interested in making the reforms needed,” he added.

Mumin began teaching in 1997. Shapiro tapped him for the acting secretary post in January, shortly before the governor’s inauguration.

The secretary won praise during his tenure as Reading superintendent. The district had been amid financial turmoil at the time of his arrival and had seen multiple superintendents in a short period. The prior director, Carlinda Purcell, had been relieved of her position after just 17 months on the job.

In 2021, the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrations selected Mumin as its Pennsylvania Superintendent of the Year, describing the significant challenges the administrator faced when he began the job.

“In 2014, when Dr. Mumin began his tenure as superintendent, he was confronted with 19 buildings of failing infrastructures, eight bargaining units without contracts for five years, and a district having little to no transparency with either staff or constituents,” the PASA said, claiming that Reading was “a district facing a financial crisis – along with a looming state takeover.”

Mumin “demonstrated visionary leadership right from the start to get the district back on a positive track and focused on academic growth and support,” the group said.

Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Dave Argall said in a press release that the committee “performed [its] constitutional duty” in voting Mumin through.

“I look forward to working with him to improve our education system,” Argall said.

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Fetterman Says Magic Mushrooms Could Be ‘Economic Boom’ for PA

It’s not every day that the phrase “magic mushrooms” turns up in U.S. Senate proceedings. But leave it to Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) to make it happen. Now critics say he is high on his own supply.

During a Senate agriculture subcommittee hearing last week, Fetterman spoke favorably about psilocybin mushrooms, claiming the mind-altering fungi can provide both economic and mental health benefits to growers and users. Fetterman has also long advocated the legalization of marijuana, writing on his campaign website that weed “should be legal, nationwide.”

Psychedelics aside, mushrooms are a major part of Pennsylvania’s agricultural economy. Chester County’s Kennett Square is known as the “Mushroom Capital of the World,” and the American Mushroom Institute says more than 60 percent of all mushrooms produced in the U.S. come from the region.

Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and Dan Meuser (R-Pa.) have introduced the Protecting Mushroom Farmers Act mandating a federal study on crop insurance benefits for mushroom farmers. Fetterman and fellow Democrat Sen. Bob Casey filed companion legislation in the Senate.

According to Fetterman, the mushroom industry employs nearly 9,500 Pennsylvanians and contributes an estimated $2.7 billion to the local economy. But “magic mushrooms” are not part of the mix.

“I’ve been an advocate of psychedelics in terms of the magic mushrooms for PTSDs and for veterans especially,” the senator said during the hearing. He argued psychedelics could present an “amazing economic kind of boom” for growers in the state and “a revolution in mental health.”

Witness Chris Alonzo, a Kennett Square mushroom farmer, quickly tried to steer the conversation away from mind-altering drugs, speaking more broadly on the need to “create healthy food for the community.”

Fetterman briefly persisted, claiming the U.S. “should have more research in microdosing and other issues” before ultimately dropping the issue.

The use of psilocybin mushrooms has been hotly debated among mycologists and drug regulators. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists the drug as “a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.”

DEA literature claims that persistent substance usage can lead to “longer, more intense ‘trip’ episodes, challenging experiences (physical and emotional), psychosis, and possible death.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs did not comment directly on Fetterman’s remarks, though a spokeswoman pointed to the portion of the Pennsylvania code that lists psilocybin as a “controlled substance.” Like the DEA, Pennsylvania claims psilocybin has “a high potential for abuse; no currently accepted medical use in the United States; and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.”

In contrast, Michael Beug, professor emeritus at the Evergreen State College in Washington State, downplayed the alleged dangers of mushrooms.

“Psilocybin mushrooms are anti-addictive (abuse them, and you do not get hooked, they quit working),” he said. “There is no known LD-50 (lethal dose in 50 percent of the population).”

“At a ‘heroic dose’ (full-scale hallucinations), the therapeutic effects can last months to years, and in some cases, even one trip can change a person for a lifetime,” he claimed, though he added “guidance is essential” as “the trip can be terrifying and unguided trips can lead to very bad decisions while tripping.

“In addition to the original, intriguing studies in the 1960s,” he continued, “serious research resumed in the late 1990s, and now dozens of major research institutions (mainly in the U.S. and Europe) have programs underway.” He called the potential therapeutic quality of the mushrooms “absolutely a ‘revolution in mental health.’”

Not everyone agrees.

“When it comes to significant side effects, experts’ primary worry about ketamine, psilocybin, and other hallucinogens, like LSD or ayahuasca, is that they can trigger a psychotic or manic episode,” The New York Times reported.

Senate Republicans Launch Pro-Gun Second Amendment Caucus

Republicans in the state Senate have launched what’s being billed as a pro-gun caucus that its chairman says will work to counteract gun misinformation in the state government.

The Second Amendment Caucus will give its members “more opportunities to become actively involved in protecting and strengthening lawful firearms ownership,” Sen. Chris Dush (R-Cameron) said in a press release announcing the association.

Dush and 13 other senators—all Republicans serve as inaugural caucus members.

Dush told DVJournal he would be working to get more Democrats involved in the caucus, noting that the state House’s Second Amendment caucus, on which he previously served, has included Democrats as well as Republicans.

Dush said the newly formed caucus has no immediate legislative aims and instead focuses on promoting accurate firearm education.

“What we want to do is get together and start planning a way to deal with the misinformation coming from the left about weapons,” Dush said.

“The phrase about ‘gun violence,’ it’s about violence, period,” he argued. “Our society is going through social contagions with psychological issues and everything, and the violence isn’t just limited to firearms. The left, though, is using this increase in violence as an opportunity to try and focus on the instrument rather than the root causes of what’s causing the psychological issues.”

“We need to make sure that we’re getting the message out that we need to address the core issues that are the causes, and we need to remind people of why the Second Amendment and Article I, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania state constitution are there in the first place.”

The state constitutional article referenced by Dush, among the oldest gun rights provisions in the United States, stipulates that “the right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.” Gun advocates have pointed to this early code as evidence of the country’s longstanding culture of individual gun rights.

Dush argued that modern Pennsylvania is rife with gun laws in contrast to its pro-gun roots.

“Pennsylvania’s got more laws on the books dealing with firearms than you can shake a stick at,” he said. “I think if you just printed out the sections of the various codes that deal with firearms, and just those sections, I think it’s several inches thick.”

One of the problems with gun violence in the state, Dush said, is prosecutors don’t aggressively follow through with gun charges.

“We don’t have the prosecutors going after these things,” he said, claiming that the state sees “so many rap sheets of firearm charges” with hefty “mandatory minimum sentences,” and prosecutors end up “just dropping them over and over and over.”

“And you have guys who were repeat offenders whose firearms charges were never prosecuted,” he added. “If they start prosecuting those and going after those mandatory minimum sentences in the first place, you would see a drop in firearms used in the commission of a crime.”

Dush said the caucus is not looking to make splashy efforts to pass gun control laws, particularly as the House and Governor’s Office remain in Democratic hands.

“I’m not going to put stuff out there just to gain headlines,” he said. “If it hasn’t been introduced, we’re probably not going to unless someone comes out with something novel.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro has indicated his support for gun control laws. As attorney general, he voiced support for what he said was “a state’s authority to protect its citizens and establish gun safety laws.” Before his inauguration as governor, he suggested pursuing at least some gun regulations while in office.

Earlier this year, Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks) introduced an “assault weapons” ban meant to ban dozens of models of popular rifles in the state. Last month the state House passed two gun control laws: A “red flag” law and a universal background check law. Those bills remain pending in the Senate.  

On June 12, at 11 a.m. on the front steps of the state capitol, the Pennsylvania Senate and House Second Amendment Caucus, Dush, and Rep. Abby Major (R-Armstrong/Westmoreland), along with other pro-Second Amendment legislators, will join with law-abiding firearm owners from across the commonwealth for the 2023 Right to Keep and Bear Arms Rally.

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Fetterman’s ‘Borderline Incoherent’ Performance in Committee Hearing Raises Concerns

Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman’s stammering, unsteady delivery during a Senate Committee hearing — and media attempts to cover it up —  are raising questions once again about the Democrat’s ability to fulfill his duties, with one commentator labeling his performance “borderline incoherent.”

Fetterman was participating in a Senate Banking Committee hearing, where former Silicon Valley Bank CEO Gregory Becker was answering questions about his institution’s collapse.

According to The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein, Fetterman said at one point, “Shouldn’t you have a working requirement after we bail out your bank? Republicans seem to be more preoccupied with SNAP requirements for hungry people than protecting taxpayers that have to bail out these banks.”

But a video of Fetterman’s comments is transcribed as follows:

“Shouldn’t you have some kind of working required after we sail your bank us billions of your bank? Because you seem we were preoccupied, uh, when, uh, then SNAP us requirements for works for, uh, hungry people but not about pro, protecting the tax, tax papers you know that will bail them out of whatever does about a bank to crash it.”

Later in the hearing, Fetterman said to Becker, “Is. Is it staggering? Is it a staggering a, res, uh, responsibility that ju— that a head of a bank could literally, could literally crash our economy? It’s astonishing.”

Fetterman only recently returned to the U.S. Senate after spending six weeks at Walter Reed Military Medical Center being treated for clinical depression. The depression is believed to be a consequence of a major stroke Fetterman suffered during last year’s U.S. Senate race.

Trending Politics co-owner Collin Rugg called Fetterman’s remarks “the most painful 90 seconds you will watch all month.”

Fox News reporter Houston Keene wrote Fetterman was “borderline incoherent” during his remarks, claiming the senator “appeared to struggle through his opening statement.”

“We are told we are to salute him for his bravery,” said John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine, “but if his aphasia is so severe he cannot speak… he obviously can’t perform his duties in the way that he should.”

Fetteman’s performance has been compared to that of fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the 89-year-old senator who has missed months of votes in the Senate due to extreme age and illness.

When asked about her absence, Feinstein told a writer with, “No, I haven’t been gone.”

When asked whether she meant that she’d been working from home, Feinstein responded, “No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting,” she said. “Please. You either know or don’t know.”

Even progressives are now urging Feinstein to step down due to her inability to do her job.

“If you’re a Democratic senator and you’re not at least privately urging Feinstein to resign and urging Schumer and Durbin to take action, you have failed the people who sent you to Congress. You’re lying to yourselves that this is *okay*,” tweeted MSNBC Host Mehdi Hasan.

But elected Democrats in Congress are standing by Feinstein.

“I don’t have a medical degree, so I’m not going to comment on how she’s feeling or what she looks like,” said House Caucus Chair Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), though he added, “We expect Senate Democrats to have our backs on some of these votes and discussions … I appreciate the fact that she’s back working and we wish her nothing but the best.”

Fetterman’s staff acknowledge Fetterman has problems, but they insist all is well.

“We have been clear for literally months and months that John continues to have auditory processing issues due to the effects of his stroke,” Fetterman spokesman Joe Calvello told Fox News.

“If sickos on the internet want to keep making fun of John for recovering from a health challenge, that’s between them and their consciences.”

Opposition to ‘Safe Injection Sites’ Brings GOP, Dems Together in Happy Unity

In a rare moment of bipartisanship between the normally warring parties, Pennsylvania Democrats and Republicans—including state Gov. Josh Shapiro—have formed a unified opposition to “supervised injection sites” in Pennsylvania.

Supervised injection sites are controversial facilities in which drug users can go to consume illegal substances while being watched by trained staff. Advocates claim the sites save lives by allowing drug addicts to get high without fear of a fatal overdose.

The Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill this month—S.B. 165—that would ban those sites across the state. Every Republican senator and 13 Democratic senators voted in favor of it, while nine Democrats voted against it.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Montgomery), told DVJournal that Democrats and Republicans came together on the bill “because nobody wants a safe injection site in their district.”

“When you think about a ‘safe injection site’ for illegal drugs, it’s just an oxymoron,” she argued. “You’re going to ask a nurse to inject a drug addict with an illegal drug, and you don’t know the potency or the efficacy or the component of what’s in that drug. All under the guise of, ‘Well, if we offer safe injection sites, they won’t overdose.’

“But you’re operating with a drug you have absolutely no knowledge of what’s in it, how quickly it’s going to work, how effective it is, and what constitutes a good dosage. It’s just a bad idea.”

The Senate bill would outlaw “the operation of a clinic or establishment that knowingly provides space for any person to inject, ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce into the person’s body a controlled substance.”

Pennycuick argued that there are “great programs in Pennsylvania” to help people kick drug habits. “We have methadone clinics, suboxone clinics,” she said.

“We need to help these people on drugs get off them and get clean,” she said. “We don’t need ‘safe injection sites.’ That’s just enabling their disease instead.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro has also voiced his opposition to the sites, a likely indicator that he will sign a ban that makes it through the legislature. He had previously come out against them as state attorney general and re-affirmed his opposition to them in December.

The facilities are also opposed at the local level. Montgomery County Republican Committee Chair Christian Nascimento told DVJournal: “There is bipartisan opposition to supervised injection sites because it’s common sense that they make neighborhoods less safe and do not actually help the people struggling with addiction.”

“Montgomery County’s Republican officials and candidates will continue to speak out against them because it is the right thing to do for the community,” he added.

Some evidence suggests supervised injection sites have a positive effect on drug use mortality.

A 2017 review in Canadian Family Physician suggests the facilities are “associated with lower overdose mortality … 67 percent fewer ambulance calls for treating overdoses, and a decrease in HIV infections.”

The federal government this month, meanwhile, announced a $5 million study to determine the efficacy of injection sites here in the U.S. The data will be drawn from locations in New York and Rhode Island.

GIORDANO: Debates Matter — And They Should

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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McCormick Concedes Republican Senate Contest to Dr. Oz

Pennsylvania, welcome to the Land of Oz.

Friday, hedge fund CEO David McCormick conceded the Republican Senate primary to Dr. Mehmet Oz. Oz, the television star and cardiothoracic surgeon who had secured the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, is the Republican nominee and will face Democrat  Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the fall.

Fewer than 1,000 votes separated Oz from McCormick and a state-mandated recount was underway. McCormick had also brought a successful court challenge to get undated ballots counted and had another one pending to have a hand recount in 12 counties.

“We spent the last 17 days making sure every Republican vote was counted,” McCormick said Friday evening. “But it’s now clear to me that with the recount largely complete, that we have a nominee. And today, I called Mehmet Oz to congratulate him on his victory.”

Dr. Oz welcomed the news.

“This evening, I received a gracious phone call from David McCormick and am tremendously grateful for his pledge of support in the fall election,” Oz said in a statement. “We share the goal of a brighter future for Pennsylvania and America. Now that our primary is over, we will make sure that this U.S. Senate seat does not fall into the hands of the radical left, led by John Fetterman. I look forward to campaigning in every corner of the Commonwealth for the next five months to earn the support of every Pennsylvanian.”

McCormick spoke to his supporters and posted the video on his Twitter feed, thanking them, his campaign team and his wife, Dina.

He promised to now lend his support to Oz’s campaign and help unite Republicans and Pennsylvanians behind his former rival.

“It’s so important that we beat John Fetterman and so important for the country that we take back the majority in the Senate in 2022,” said McCormick.

Fetterman welcomed the GOP nominee with a fundraising email mocking Oz.

“Did anyone predict that a quack celebrity TV doctor was going to run for U.S. Senate in 2022? You know, I wouldn’t believe you if you said you did. But here we are. Dr. Oz is now the *official* Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.

“There are a lot of bad things about Dr. Oz. He’s a self-funded multi-millionaire. He’s a fraudster who made a fortune by lying to people on TV. He called Roe v. Wade ‘wrong’ and supports an extreme total ban on abortions with no exceptions for rape or incest. And look…I never thought this would be a flex, but <checks notes> I actually live in Pennsylvania!!!”

Ironically, Fetterman’s attack on heart surgeon Oz comes as his campaign faces criticism over the candidate hiding his potentially life-threatening heart condition from Democratic primary voters.

“It’s not hard to understand what’s going on here,” said CNN political analyst Chris Cillizza. “Fetterman was the leading Democrat for the state’s open Senate seat. He didn’t want his health to be a top-of-mind issue when voters went to cast their ballots. So, he and his campaign downplayed the severity of his health issues.”

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Historic GOP Primary Leaves Senate Outcome Uncertain

This may be a Pennsylvania primary for the history books—at least for Republicans.

For Democrats, their election results matched the polls, with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman handily winning the Senate nomination, and Attorney General Josh Shapiro unchallenged in the governor’s race.

For Republicans, it was a different story.

Trump-backed state Sen. Doug Mastriano won with a commanding lead in the crowded field of seven in the governor’s race. President Donald  Trump’s choice for the Senate nomination, Dr. Mehmet Oz, remained statistically tied with Dave McCormick, a hedge fund CEO as of Wednesday morning. Kathy Barnette, author and Fox News commentator, surged toward the end of the race but came up short.

“As for the Senate race, Barnette’s strong finish took a toll on Oz and helped create the extremely tight race that has not played out. If Oz does prevail it certainly will be the product of Trump’s intervention and give the former president a major victory,” said Christopher P. Borick, professor of political science and director, Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion.

Richard Booker, a former Radnor Township commissioner and school board member who remains active in Republican politics, said, “Twenty-two thousand mail-in ballots in Lancaster County will need to be counted – and those could benefit McCormick. Also, statewide about 8 percent of the ballots remain to be counted. It is obvious, that the complex and cumbersome paper ballot system in Pennsylvania is not a panacea to make election procedures transparent as promised.  The change to paper ballots has to be one of the worst changes implemented by the legislature this century.”

Dr. Mehmet Oz and his wife, Lisa, walking to vote.

Jeff Jubelirer, a political consultant, said the GOP Senate results might not be known for a few weeks if a recount is needed.

“The news cycle will focus on the race, thus potentially helping take some of the focus off of John Fetterman’s health, which is clearly an issue that will be ‘on the ballot’ come November without a clearer understanding of the lieutenant governor’s condition.”

Fetterman suffered a stroke last Friday.

“Regardless of who emerges, the general election will be competitive and the Trump factor will weigh heavily again. Unlike with Mastriano, however, expect either Dr. Oz or McCormick to maneuver at least a little more to the center to try and capture swing voters and disenchanted Democrats who would be apt to split their ticket and go with them and Shapiro.”

Jubelirer says he also believes Fetterman’s victory shows a progressives trend among Democrats.

“They chose a more progressive path by convincingly supporting Fetterman, thus setting up what looks to be a very competitive general election matchup with whoever emerges on the GOP side,” said Jubelirer. “The fact that Fetterman overwhelmingly won despite receiving sparse support from fellow Democratic officeholders shows the electorate was not persuaded that a more moderate candidate like Connor Lamb was the right direction to go. Perhaps that is a response to what I am sure many feel right now about the direction of the country and the lack of action on meaningful Democratic issues in Congress and from the Biden administration.”

Daylin Leach, a former Democratic state senator, said, “The results of this year’s U.S. Senate primary were reflective, in a somewhat less intense way, of trends we’ve been seeing around the country for several years. Specifically, our nation is becoming increasingly ideological and tribal. As we become more politically divided, we demand more purity from our candidates and become less tolerant of deviation from the chosen line.”

“I say ‘chosen line,’ because in the case of the Republicans, it’s not really the Republican ‘party line’ that matters. It’s loyalty and fealty to one single personality. If Donald Trump is opposed to…say free trade, a GOP candidate had better be opposed to free trade, regardless of what Republicans have historically been for. The same is true with acknowledging the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential elections, which most Republican candidates were extremely reluctant to do.”

Dave and Dina McCormick walking to vote in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, “the Democratic side is not operating on a cult of personality. But Connor Lamb still struggled to gain traction because he wasn’t considered pure enough. I had numerous people tell me they couldn’t support him because he was “way too conservative”, despite the fact that he is pro-choice, supports ending the filibuster, supports Build Back Better, etc., and had a very mainstream Democratic voting record in Congress. This sort of ideological rigidity would have made it extremely difficult for a Bob Casey to be nominated if he were running for the first time today. While I personally am actually more on the left side of the Democratic Party, I do worry that our increasing polarization will lead to more governmental dysfunction going forward. And that’s the last thing we need.”

In the Republican race for governor, former Congressman Lou Barletta came in a distant second to the Mastriano juggernaut.

“Doug Mastriano’s victory wasn’t a big surprise, but even with candidates dropping out, he still failed to garner a majority of the vote,” said GOP consultant Charlie O’Neill. “He will still need to prove to 55 percent of Republicans why they should feel comfortable with him in the fall, as well as independents and moderate Democrats. Mastriano’s victory speech addressed a concern many have raised, his ability to fundraise against Josh Shapiro’s 10-plus million dollar war chest. His proclamation that money doesn’t win elections will certainly be put to the test.”

Borick said, “Mastriano offered voters a hyper-MAGA alternative that allowed him to dominate among that key group in the Republican electorate. His full-blown culture warrior status is not a natural fit in a Pennsylvania general election, but he has a cycle that is great for the GOP and if economic issues like inflation remain troubling in the fall he could ride a wave that allows him to be quite competitive with Shapiro.”

Republican strategist Craig Snyder, who briefly threw his hat in the ring for governor, said, “America’s singular and long splendid political system — most notably its ability for improving and self-correcting overtime — was born in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania primary elections may have just seen that system break.

“In the GOP gubernatorial and Democratic Senatorial contests, clowns and crazies carried the day–a ‘Christian Nationalist’ and a ‘socialist’ in Ben Franklin’s shoes. As for the Senate race, “it is perfectly clear that nearly all the voters endorsed insurrectionist lies about the 2020 presidential election.

“It all shows how a two-party system, plus closed and winner take all primary elections, plus the damnable egos of many who seek office for the wrong reasons, plus the learned disdain for politics among the great majority of our people, all add up to giving vastly disproportionate power and representation to a relative handful of the angriest among us,” he said.

Jubelirer said Mastriano’s win “sets up a difficult predicament for the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and for Republican fundraising groups (e.g. Republican Governors Association) moving forward. Do they bite their lip and fully support Mastriano despite trying to take him down in the primary? Do they stay ‘out of it,’ so to speak, thus putting all their chips in the U.S. Senate race and not potentially anger swing voters who could make the difference in that contest? Or do they go ‘all in’ and risk angering more moderate Republicans and swing voters who appear to be more inclined to generally support Republicans in 2022?

“The results of the election prove that Trump (or at least Trumpism) is still alive and well in the Pennsylvania GOP. While Trump’s endorsement came late and was negligible to the outcome, it still shows the power of his message and base. The challenge for Mastriano now is how does he expand his coalition?”

“His first opportunity was an abject failure–using his victory speech to outline far-right priorities he’d tackle on day one of his administration–priorities that I believe are not shared by the majority of Pennsylvanians,” Jubelirer added.

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PA Voters Picking Candidates For U.S. Senate

Pennslyvania’s hotly-contested U.S. Senate race has gotten notice from pundits around the country, but the final decision will be up to voters in places like the Delaware Valley.

The Senate race in particular has gained national attention because the body is now divided 50/50 for each party, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie votes for Democrats.

In the Republican Senate race, which for months appeared to be a duel between Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick, a hedge fund CEO, a third candidate broke through into striking distance of winning: Kathy Barnette, an author and conservative commentator.

Dr. Mehmet Oz

The Emerson College poll released over the weekend, showed Oz at 28 percent support, followed by Barnette with 24 percent, and McCormick with 21 percent. However, 15 percent were undecided. Those voters were asked who they are leaning towards. With their support allocated, Oz jumped to 32 percent, followed by Barnette with 27 percent and McCormick with 26 percent. Since last month’s Pennsylvania GOP poll, Oz gained 10 points, Barnette has gained 12 points and McCormick has lost two points.

Jim Geraghty, senior political correspondent for the National Review told the Delaware Valley Journal podcast that it may have been Trump’s endorsement of Oz that opened the door for Barnette to surge.

“A lot of Trump fans are like ‘Er, no,’” said Geraghty. The “Mehmet Oz endorsement is a bridge too far for Trump’s base…The Trump endorsement clearly has a limit to it.”

However, now that Barnette is gaining traction, she’s also become a target. Oz and McCormick have been duking it out with attack ads on the airwaves for months.

“The knives are out,” she told Delaware Valley Journal in a recent interview. “They are scared and mad.” Oz and McCormick have spent many millions more on their campaigns than her paltry $1.7 million. Although she recently attracted a deep-pocketed PAC, the Club for Growth, that is also running ads on her behalf.

Meanwhile,  the other candidates are also campaigning nonstop across the state.

“Dr. Oz is in a position to win because he’s the only conservative outsider in this race,” said Casey Contres, campaign manager. “President Trump endorsed Dr. Oz because he knows that Pennsylvanians want someone that will fight back at the woke mob and put forth solutions that will get the government out of their way.”

Rep. Craig Williams and Dave McCormick, Republican Senate candidate.

McCormick said, “I’m a battle-tested conservative, Army veteran, successful businessman, and Pennsylvania job creator who knows what it takes to revive our economy, restore our conservative values, secure our border, and solve the problems facing Pennsylvanians.”

He called his opponents “unqualified and concerning.”

Others running on the Republican side include Montgomery County developer Jeff Bartos, former ambassador Carla Sands, and Sean Gale and George Bochetto, both lawyers—all poll at single digits.

The Democrat candidates have also seen some drama also in recent days, but for a different reason. Frontrunner Lt. Gov. John Fetterman suffered a stroke but he is expected to be recover. Also, running for Senate are Congressman Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.

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Races to Watch in the Delaware Valley as Primary Voters Go to the Polls

The primary is here, and that means that Pennsylvanians will soon know who’s squaring off in November’s contests for U.S. Senate, governor and lieutenant governor.

Josh Shapiro, unopposed on the Democrats’ side, is guaranteed a matchup against one of seven Republicans battling it out for the party’s nod.

The field slimmed down with the exits of state Senate leader Jake Corman and Melissa Hart. Doug Mastriano, a far-right senator from Franklin County, is the gubernatorial frontrunner. Republicans, concerned he will hurt the ticket in November, have been working behind the scenes to unite the party behind former Congressman Lou Barletta. Both Corman and Hart have endorsed Barletta, and the influential conservative group, Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, pulled its support from former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain to back Barletta as well.

Delco’s Dave White remains in the race as well.

Will the party’s efforts be enough to stop Mastriano, who hopes to have cemented a win by picking up the endorsement of former President Donald Trump?

The Senate races feature seven Republicans hoping to replace the retiring Sen. Pat Toomey. The GOP field includes celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and the surging conservative activist Kathy Barnette on the Republican side, along with hedge fund CEO David McCormick.

There’s a four-person race on the Democratic side that includes Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who recently suffered a stroke, along with U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta. Kenyatta has been a fierce critic of Fetterman, calling him “f—ing Batman,” over an incident in which Fetterman, while serving as mayor of Braddock, engaged in an armed confrontation with a Black man jogging in his community.

While most eyes are fixed on those races, here’s a look at some of the contested races in the Delaware Valley region:

In Chester County, four Republicans – Guy Ciarrocchi, Steve Fanelli, Regina Mauro, and Ron Vogel – are battling for the right to take on incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep Chrissy Houlahan, an Air Force veteran first elected to the Sixth Congressional District seat in 2018.

Cast by her opponents as “Pelosi Democrat” in the bag for Biden, Houlihan is still favored heading into the general election in a district tending to lean slightly blue.

In Bucks County, Alex Entin and Brian Fitzpatrick are squaring off on the GOP side for the 1st Congressional District seat. The winner faces off against Democrat Ashley Ehasz.

Entin of Northampton Township is a procurement specialist and first-generation immigrant from the Republic of Moldova while Fitzpatrick is a former FBI agent and has staked out a reputation as a moderate Republican since first entering office in 2017. Fitzpatrick raised more than $3 million, while his opponent had just under $15,000 in his campaign coffers through the final days of April.

Republican voters will also decide between small business owner Bernie Sauer of Newtown Borough and marketing professional Jennifer Spillane in the GOP race in the 31st House District.

Whoever wins faces incumbent Perry Warren in the general election.

In Montgomery County, the 4th Congressional District GOP primary is between executive Christian Nascimento and small business owner Daniel Burton Jr. They’re looking to unseat Democrat incumbent Rep. Madeleine Dean in the fall.

And in Delaware County David Galluch is running for Congress to challenge incumbent Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon. Galluch is a Navy veteran, where he was an ordinance specialist who is trained in economics.


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