BY JOE SHAHEELI/ Jared Solomon is challenging State Rep. Mark Cohen (D-Northeast) for the 202nd Legislative seat, scoring plugs for his stances in the major media. Normally such statements are ignored after a report is made of an initial announcement.
But Solomon is scoring voter interest as he issues charges, banging away at the incumbent. For example, if elected, he has announced he â€œwould forgo any taxpayer-funded reimbursements (known as per-diems) for personal expenses, travel, or food for state business. This pledge stands in stark contrast to his opponent, Cohen, who has used hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to build a personal library in his home, to pay the mortgage on his second house, and to fly to and from Harrisburg â€” as cataloged by CBS 3, the Philadelphia Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer among others.
â€œServing as State Representative takes a lot more than voting the right way. It means leading by example,â€ said Solomon. â€œIn 40 years in office, Rep. Cohen has only led the 253 legislators in one thing â€” taxpayer-funded personal expenses. When elected, Iâ€™ll put the brakes on the gravy train leading to Rep. Cohenâ€™s doorstep, and start diverting it to residents of the Northeast.â€
For sure heâ€™s making friends, offering two free come-and-eat-on-me dinners which were well attended. We finally heard from Cohen this week, who emailed a lengthy campaign kickoff. He is seeking his 21st two-year term.
He stated, â€œPolitics, like most human activities, has its own rituals, and one of these rituals is the announcement of a candidacy for elective office. I am announcing my candidacy for reelection to a 21st two-year term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and a 22nd term overall, counting a six-month term to fill a vacancy. My past experience with the people and the challenges facing our communities has convinced me there is a lot more that I can do to benefit my constituents and the people of Pennsylvania.
â€œI am proud to be in this session the Democratic Minority Chair of the House State Government Committee. I am deeply proud to have brought new issues onto the public agenda again and again. In this legislative session I have sponsored nearly 1,600 bills and resolutions so far, more than any other House member.â€
Cohen acknowledges, â€œFor the first time since the 1960s, the area known as the Lower Northeast or the Near Northeast is largely concentrated in a single legislative district. This represents a tremendous opportunity to focus on our common goals and challenges, an opportunity I fully embrace. I offer hope, not fear. I offer leadership, not posturing.
â€œAs a 22-year homeowner in Castor Gardens, I am the only candidate in this race who ever attended any school in Philadelphia: I graduated from Dorotheaâ€™s Nursery School, Pennell Elementary, Wagner Junior School, Central High and the University of Pennsylvania.â€
Two affirmative points, but are they enough to draw the interest of the majority of voters in the district, all new to both Solomon and Cohen.
Long-time office-holders often fall into a trap of their own making created by the fact all the good things theyâ€™ve done will be remembered by constituents. Thatâ€™s not the case with legislative races today. Though endorsed by the party, Mark needs to know he must still knock at doors and make waves.
Now to the other race, the 182nd, held by State Rep. Brian Sims, who has been running on the fact he is gay, and has heralded loud and long for his first two terms, the need to promote gay rights.
He beat 14-term incumbent State Rep. Babette Josephs by just over 200 votes.
Now, after letting Sims grow roots into his district unchallenged for four years, Babette says she will challenge him.
If she does, we know she will be propelled by a need to get even. Babette, for many of her years in the State House, was a champion of gay rights. She felt betrayed by the gay voters in her district, a sizeable number for a legislative race. They switched their allegiance to vote for Sims, who once had been a Babette campaign staffer.
It could be payback time this time around. Babette is owed a lot of chits from members of the gay community. Some have indicated their intention to make it up to Babette for deserting her for Sims.
Sims may find he is for a rough campaign.
REP. DONATUCCI IS SET FOR 3RD TERM
State Rep. Maria Donatucci (D-S. Phila.) announced she will run for a third term in the state House of Representatives.
â€œI am proud to represent the 185th in Harrisburg and it is an honor to serve as a voice for Delaware Co. and Philadelphia,â€ Donatucci said. â€œI have served this community in official and unofficial capacities for the better part of 30 years, and I am asking for the votersâ€™ support so that I can keep fighting for working families in our area.â€
Donatucci began her service in the House after winning a special election held in February of 2011 to fill the seat vacated by her late husband, the Hon. Robert Donatucci, who held the seat from 1980 until his untimely passing in November of 2010.
Donatucci currently serves as deputy whip, secretary of the House Gaming Oversight Committee. She sits on Labor & Industry, Urban Affairs with a subcommittee for Cities of the First Class, Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness with a subcommittee for Emergency Preparedness, and Policy Committee.
â€œMy track record speaks for itself,â€ Donatucci said. â€œI have always worked for the people, voicing their concerns and promoting their interests in Harrisburg, and I have been equally committed to helping cure some of the social ills plaguing the community at home â€” such as gun violence and crime.â€
According to Donatucci, solid leadership is needed in Harrisburg due to major statewide issues that will need to be addressed in the near future.
â€œEducation funding, school safety, health insurance, child abuse and anti-bullying are just a few issues involving our youth that will require real leadership,â€ Donatucci said. â€œThere is also the upcoming minimum wage battle set to take place, and I am the kind of leader that will advocate for working families and women in Pennsylvania to help secure for them a living wage and equal pay for equal work.â€
Donatucci has three constituent service offices, 2115 Oregon Avenue, 2821 Island Avenue Wellness Center and 713 Sharon Avenue (Office 1B), Sharon Hill. She encourages citizens to continue using her constituent-services offices for help with state-related issues and concerns.
PETITION SIGNING TIME REQUIRES â€˜COMMITTEDâ€™ PEOPLE
Tommy Rumbaugh, 1st Ward Democratic chairman, has been carrying around nominating petitions for Congressman Bob Brady, State Sen. Mike Stack, State Rep. Bill Keller and his own for committeeman.
With the kind of weather he and the over 3,700 committee people from both parties have been facing, he summed up his role by saying, â€œThey call us committee people. In reality we need to be called is committed people.â€
Deadline for petitions for all elected offices is Mar. 11. Petitions for committee people must be filed in Room 142 in City Hall by that date and no later than 5 p.m.
Nominating petitions for all other offices must be filed in Harrisburg at the Dept. of State, same deadline, same time 5 p.m.
All state and federal officials should not take the process for granted. Examples abound of incumbents losing their seats to successful petition challenges.
WASHINGTON LOOKS TO MAYOR NUTTER
The Obama Administration has been calling on the services of Mayor Michael Nutter more often. Just last week he was asked to take part in an on the record press conference call to discuss the need to enroll African Americans into the Affordable Care Act.
Joining him were White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and the Mayors of Sacramento and Memphis.
ELECTION TAMPERING NO LONGER TOLERATED
The word is out: The Philadelphia District Attorney means business when it comes to enforcing the laws regulating tampering with the election process. DA Seth Williams made it official policy by arresting an Election Board worker for voter fraud by tampering with voting machines and electioneering inside the polls.
Republican City Committee Executive Director Joe DeFelice stated, â€œThis is not surprising to us in the least. Such voter fraud and tampering has been an ongoing problem in Philadelphia for decades.â€ The Republicans, he notes, have appointed 300 Minority Inspectors in divisions with few Republicans as one way to mitigate voter fraud.
WAGNER BETS ON WESTERN VOTERS
Auditor General Jack Wagner feels itâ€™s his time to move up the ladder to Governor as other Democrats of that office have done.
He also believes the field is calling to him, which is why heâ€™s entered the race for Governor. As an Auditor he is supposed to know how to add and subtract and divide and multiply. That is what he has done and he feels, as the only candidate from western Pennsylvania, heâ€™ll reap the votes from that part of the state. We wonder if Wagnerâ€™s figured into his decision the fact gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf is now leading the challengers with home-run television commercials, which have moved him close to the spotlight and have now made him the chief target for Republican State Committee. Heâ€™s now at 40% in polls, with Allyson Schwartz stuck at 14%.
Unless he has mended fences, he will lose vote gatherers controlled by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who beat him in a mayoral contest last year, and Dan Onorato, who beat him out for the Democratic nomination for Governor, only to lose to Gov. Tom Corbett.
JAY PATERNO EYES LT. GOVERNOR BID
Jay Paterno, son of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, has announced heâ€™s seeking the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor.
He has a website and seems to know what he is doing. It proclaims, â€œPaterno spent over two decades as an educator and coach and now serves as an executive director of a start-up nonprofit charity. His experience includes a commitment to public service on boards of charities and a deep involvement in politics on the local and national level. As a married father of five, Jay has a passion for the issues that face Pennsylvaniaâ€™s working families today and the issues that face the children of our Commonwealth in the future. He will bring visionary leadership to Harrisburg to represent all the citizens of our Commonwealth.â€
Heâ€™ll need 1,000 signatures from Pennsylvania voters, including 100 from five different counties, to appear on the ballot for the May 20 primary. He believes there are enough Penn State Alumni residing in the state whoâ€™ll pull for him, and possibly more in the student population anxious to help vindicate his dadâ€™s name.
Pennsylvania State University boasts an enrollment of about 100,000 students across its 24 campuses.
EDUCATION-MINDED KNOW HOW TO LOBBY
The officialdom of the nonprofit Philadelphia School Partnership made its influence felt with the School Reform Commission. It hired top state lobbyist Wodjak & Associates to win support for the confirmation of Councilman Bill Green as SRC chairman.
PSPâ€™s executive director Mark Gleason acknowledged the fact, which proves there are educators who know how to work the political system.
ROBO-CALL SERVICE WORKS FOR G.O.P.
GOP leader of the 23rd and 54th Wards Bill Pettigrew has been using Phonevite, a robocall service to recruit committee people. The message follows:
â€œHello, this is local Republican Ward Leader Xxxxx , thatâ€™s right Republican, you are not alone, although we know it seems that way sometimes. I am calling on this day to ask if you would consider getting involved with fellow Republicans in your area and maybe even working a poll in the future. If you would like me to call you and discuss this further please hit 1 for yes when this call is complete, you can also leave a message.
â€œIf you would like me to call you back please call xxx-xxx-xxxx and leave your contact info. Thank you, I look forward in meeting you.â€
Clever idea if it works.
The next best way is to knock at doors. That is slower, but surer.
CHESTER COMMISSION HEADS GUVâ€™S BLACK VOTER OUTREACH
Terence Farrell, of the Chester County Board of Commissioners, is Gov. Tom Corbettâ€™s pick to head a committee of African American business and community leaders to support the Governorâ€™s reelection bid by advancing the message the Governorâ€™s policies have proven beneficial to the African American community.
A Franklin & Marshall poll shows only 23% of Pennsylvania registered voters think Corbett has performed well enough to deserve a second term.
Corbett performs much better amongst registered Republicans: 38% think he is doing an â€œexcellentâ€ or â€œgood job.â€ A mere 10% of Democrats think that he deserves reelection, compared to 42% of Republicans who want to give him a second term.
WE KNOW, NOW WORLD KNOWS HOW WE SUFFER
According to a USA Today article, â€œTop 10 cities with the highest tax ratesâ€, Philadelphia ranks second for cities with the highest tax burdens citing information from the Office of Revenue Analysis. Most revealing is the fact mentioned in the article, â€œPhiladelphiaâ€™s poorer families were subject to a much-higher tax burden than those in most other large cities.â€
The Office of Revenue Analysis determined overall local tax burden by identifying four types of taxes: income, property, automobile, and sales. Also a direct correlation exists between higher tax burdens and higher unemployment rates in large cities with Philadelphiaâ€™s unemployment rate at 8.6%, tied for third highest among the top 10 cities with the highest tax burdens.
That news engendered a â€œwe told you soâ€ from Republican City Committee Exec. Dir. Joe DeFelice.
GLOBAL WARMER AL GORE TAPS MCGINTY FOR GUV
Al Gore sees Katie McGinty as the best choice for environmentalists. He said, â€œI strongly endorse Katie McGinty for Governor. She shares my belief that we can build a better country and improve the lives of hard-working families. Katie has always viewed environmental challenges as economic opportunities. She knows how to create jobs â€” while protecting the environment. And she has the intellect, leadership skills, and optimistic, can-do attitude to build a better and more prosperous Pennsylvania. Katie has always believed that we can create jobs and economic growth, while protecting our environment. And she has the record to prove it.â€
LIBERTARIAN KRAWCHUK RUNS FOR GUV AGAIN
Ken Krawchuk plans to be the Libertarian candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania for the third time.
Krawchuk, 60, ran in 1998 and 2002, and officially began his efforts to make the ballot in 2014 at the Pennsylvania Libertarian conference last weekend in Bethlehem.
He now runs a nonprofit group working to fight malaria in Africa.
â€œIâ€™ve been campaigning around the state since early November when I announced my intent to form an exploratory committee, and the response among Libertarians has been overwhelmingly supportive,â€ Krawchuk said. â€œThe long-time party members recall my performance in the debates and on the campaign trail in 2002, and would love to see an encore. The newer members are excited by the idea of a Libertarian Governor candidate, which is something most of them have never known.â€
Getting on the ballot as a third party candidate in Pennsylvania is an uphill battle. Republican and Democratic candidates only need 1,000 or 2,000 signatures to get their candidates on the statewide ballot, Krawchukâ€™s campaign calculated the Libertarian gubernatorial ticket will need a minimum of 16,639 signatures.
The higher requirement comes from a state law that requires third-party candidates obtain a number of signatures equal to 2% of the total votes received by the most-popular candidate for statewide office in the previous general election.
ARE WE LOOKING AT AN ELECTION RECORD?
This may be a record year of gubernatorial candidates, as conservative activist Bob Guzzardi is attempting to get on the Republican ballot against Gov. Tom Corbett and seven Democrats are vying for their nomination: Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-Northeast), State Treasurer Rob McCord, former Dept. of Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, former DEP Secretaries Katie McGinty and John Hanger and Lebanon Co. Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz. Minister Max Myers has dropped out.
Can they pique voter interest?
PA-13: REP. MCCARTER BACKS DR. VAL ARKOOSH
State Rep. Steve McCarter (D-Montgomery) announced his endorsement of congressional candidate Dr. Val Arkoosh in the competitive PA-13 Democratic primary.
â€œI have known and worked with Dr. Val Arkoosh for almost 10 years. In that time I witnessed her relentless dedication to improving the health and well-being of our communities here in greater Philadelphia and throughout our Commonwealth, and Iâ€™m proud to support her run for Congress.â€ said McCarter. â€œVal was a fierce advocate in Harrisburg for expanding Medicaid, which we know would create jobs and ensure everyone in Pennsylvania has access to healthcare.â€
His endorsement followed that from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, as well as the end of an impressive fundraising year for the first-time candidate in the field of four Democrats. As of the end of the last quarter, Arkoosh remains the fundraising frontrunner with $160,000 more cash on hand than her closest opponent.
PROGRESSIVES TO HEAR GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES
Keystone Progress has invited all statewide candidates to participate in this weekendâ€™s major debates at the 2014 Pennsylvania Progressive Summit.
They include Jack Wagner, John Hanger, Jo Ellen Litz, Katie McGinty, Rob McCord, Tom Wolf and Allyson Schwartz. Tom Corbett was invited to participate but has not yet responded.
The gubernatorial debate will be held on tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Harrisburg. It is expected that over 700 progressive leaders and activists will be in attendance.
The Lieutenant Governor debate is scheduled at the Hilton for 12:15 p.m., Saturday, Mar. 1. Five of the other seven declared Democratic candidates have agreed to participate (Brad Koplinski, Mark Smith, Brenda Alton, Mike Stack, Mark Critz). Lt. Gov. Jim Crawley, Jay Paterno and Brandon Neuman have been invited but have not yet accepted.