POLS ON THE STREET: Sen. Kitchen Stakes Her Claim

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GUESTS GALORE joined festivities at Stinger Lounge, hosted by State Sen. Shirley Kitchen and Sid Booker. From left are Lou Agre, State Rep. Rosita Youngblood, Ward Leader Shirley Gregory, Congressman Bob Brady staffer Ducky Birts, Kitchen and State Rep. Mark Cohen. Photo: Joe Stivala

State Sen. Shirley M. Kitchen (D-N. Phila.), who easily won her fifth term to the 3rd Dist. State Senate seat she has held since winning her first term in November of 1996, has made it obvious to all Democrats everywhere  she “has a mind of her own.” To prove that, she hosted a party last Friday night at Stingers Lounge, Broad & Belfield, to celebrate her primary victory along with the primary winners in three legislative races.

All three had one thing in common, they faced  strong opposition, with one exception: The Senator was supporting them with all her resources.

STATE SENATOR Shirley Kitchen, and Stinger Lounge owner Sid Booker, congratulate J.P. Miranda for winning Democrat nomination in the 197th District. Photo: Joe Stivala

She threw her strength behind community organizer J. P. Miranda for the 197th Legislative Dist. and incumbents State Reps. Michelle Brownlee, representing the 195th Dist., and Rosita Youngblood of the 198th.

Kitchen, celebrating her own primary victory,  said she looks forward “to continuing to serve the needs of the 3rd Dist. and the overall community, along with my colleagues and friends in the State House of Representatives. By casting their votes on Election Day, the people have chosen the best representation for North and Northwest Philadelphia.”

The veteran Senator holds a legacy of constituent services and delivering benefits to the people, including the State’s minimum wage. She lobbied for affordable healthcare, equal pay for women, and those with drug dependencies and in need of rehabilitation. She is the author of PA Act 134, which allows individuals with summary offenses to request their local court expunge an offense from their criminal record five years after they completed their sentence.

DUNBAR BEGINS TAYLOR CHALLENGE

William F. Dunbar, the Democratic nominee for State Representative in Philadelphia’s 177th Dist., will gather Monday with Democratic leaders including Congressman Robert Bob Brady and Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (both D-Phila.), District Attorney Seth Williams and State Sen. Mike Stack (D-Northeast) at the Hinge Café in Port Richmond to kick off his uphill campaign against 14-term incumbent State Rep. John Taylor (R-Kensington).

For more information about Dunbar, visit www.williamfdunbar.com.

THREE SWORN IN TO HOUSE SEATS

State Rep. Harold James (D-S. Phila.)  was sworn in to his 186th Legislative seat Tuesday in Harrisburg to fill out the unexpired term left by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, continuing a service that began in 1988 and ended in 2008. Also filling unexpired terms were Ed Neilson in the 169th, the seat left vacant by Councilman Dennis O’Brien, and Gary Williams, who will fill the unexpired term in the 197th left vacant by Sheriff Jewel Williams.

Ed Neilson is the only one of the three who will be campaigning in the General Election to hold onto the seat.

Madeleine Dean was sworn in for the 153rd Legislative Dist. from Montgomery Co., replacing State Rep. Josh Shapiro.

PENNA. LEANING TOWARD OBAMA

ELAINE TOMLIN, Democrat Leader of Ward 42, tells fellow Ward Leaders Shirley Gregory and Sharon Losier, Esq., of her Obama Reception to be held in Portuguese Hall, Roosevelt Boulevard, in September. Photo: Joseph Stivala

Riding the voters’ perception he is as good as or better than President Barack Obama at fixing the economy, Republican challenger Mitt Romney catches up with the President in Florida and Ohio, two critical swing states; yet the President opens an 8-point lead in Pennsylvania, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll.

This compares to the results of a March  Swing State Poll by the independent Quinnipiac University showing President Obama ahead of Gov. Romney 49–42% in Florida, 47–41% in Ohio and 45–42% in Pennsylvania.

Voters in all three states approve of the president’s handling of Afghanistan, but by margins averaging 2-1, voters say the US should not be involved there.

SANTORUM ANNOUNCES HE’LL SUPPORT ROMNEY

Sen. Rick Santorum  is on board the Mitt Romney presidential bandwagon. Santorum said, “Above all else, we both agree that President Obama must be defeated. The task will not be easy. It will require all hands on deck if our nominee is to be victorious. Gov. Romney will be that nominee and he has my endorsement and support to win this the most critical election of our lifetime.”

Santorum notified his supporters by email, thanking them for their support of his campaign.

IMAGINE IF CITY HAD ITS 2ND CASINO!

April slots revenue at Pennsylvania’s 11 casinos rose 1.3% to $214.1 million from a year ago, boosted by returns from newly opened Valley Forge Casino Resort.

SugarHouse, in Fishtown, had the highest growth percentage, up 7.5% last month from last year, while Harrah’s Chester — which is being renamed Harrah’s Philadelphia — posted the largest decrease at 7.6%, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

The State Legislature is moving to place the second casino, Foxwoods, which had been assigned to Philly, up for bids … which means any winning bidder can move it anywhere in the State. If the State Senate agrees, our city’s need for additional taxes will remain unabated, thanks to those well-intentioned citizens who put the screws to Foxwood.

Six years of increasing casino revenue that made Pennsylvania the nation’s No. 2 gambling market have done little to increase property-tax breaks for most Pennsylvania homeowners, according to state data. An average property owner receives about a $200 discount on annual property tax bills prepared by the state’s 500 school districts. That average has been roughly the same since the 2008-09 fiscal year — fluctuating year to year by $2 to $3 among Western Pennsylvania school districts.

Gross revenue from slot machines statewide in 2008-09 was $1.75 billion. The figure reached $2.35 billion in 2010-11, a 34% increase.

NO SPECIAL ELECTION IN DeWEESE’S DIST.

Officials will not conduct a special election for the 50th House Dist. seat that State Rep. Bill DeWeese of Waynesburg held until he resigned because of his felony corruption conviction said House Speaker Sam Smith.

DeWeese was nominated by Greene, Fayette and Washington Co. voters as the Democratic Party’s candidate last month after his conviction in February for using public resources for campaigns.

He is still running even though he soon reports to prison, but he can’t serve. He is hoping for an appeal to clear him by January when the new House is sworn in. His attorney has asked a Dauphin County judge for bail while he is appealing the case.

WILL LADY KANE BREAK DEMS’ JINX?

Will Democrat candidate for Attorney General Kathleen Kane break the jinx that has kept Democrats forever out of winning that office since it first became a voters’ choice in the late ’80s?

She leads Republican David Freed 48% to 27% in current polling.

BROWNLEE HOSTS HOUSE COMMITTEE

State Rep. Michelle Brownlee (D-N. Phila.) is hosting a House Policy Committee meeting to examine cuts being proposed in the upcoming 2012-13 state budget next Tuesday at 10 a.m. at IBEW Local Union 98.

Scheduled to testify are Jerry Jordan, president, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; J. Bruce Hulick, executive director, the Arc of Philadelphia/PDDC; Joe Willard, VP of policy, People’s Emergency Center; and a panel from Maternity Care Coalition: Letty Thall, public policy director; Erin Cusack, community engagement coordinator; Tamicka Stephens, Cribs for Kids advocate; and Aisha Coulson, EHS family and community partnerships coordinator.

For more information, contact Brownlee’s constituent-service office at (215) 684-3738.

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