POLS ON THE STREET: State GOP Feels the Trump Card

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Among those filling the Marriott ballroom for the Mayoral Luncheon of the Greater Phila. Chamber of Commerce were, L-R, Bill Sasso of Stradley Ronon; Mayor Jim Kenney; Trayce Parker of UPS; and Craig Adams of PECO. Photo by Bonnie Squires

Even though Philly’s Democratic Party, under the leadership of DCC Chairman Congressman Bob Brady, delivered a record-setting vote of over half million to Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, State Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) believes there are still rich pickings in the Commonwealth’s other counties that delivered record turnouts and majorities to win Pennsylvania for Donald Trump.

That’s why Wagner has set himself up to be the leading contender for the GOP nomination for governor. He’s been doing enough of the right things to protect him from primary opposition in his effort. Going for him is the fact many credit him for winning the GOP a veto-proof Senate majority, as he led the party’s 2016 campaign for that body.

And fortunately for him, Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf has been busy helping him.

Wagner was among the Republicans criticizing Gov. Wolf’s budget speech this week. The senator didn’t wait until that speech, instead making it obvious his only target is a Wolf on the move. He leveled sharp criticism at the governor’s decision to spend $1.8 million in tax money for a private firm to figure out how to close the Commonwealth’s $600-million deficit.

Wagner said, “After holding the taxpayers hostage for several months last year so he could get a budget that raised taxes while being nowhere near balanced, Tom Wolf now blows $1.8 million on a no-bid contract with an outside firm to tell him how to do his job. In 2014, Tom Wolf sold himself to the voters as a savvy businessman with state government experience. However, what we see in the Commonwealth’s CEO is the total failure of someone who is unsuited for the position, and it costs the taxpayers dearly every day he’s in office.”

The global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. was awarded a no-bid contract for $300,000 a week, over a six-week period, to make suggestions to the Wolf Administration for ways to reduce the cost of state government, as well as provide ideas for which state taxes and fees to raise. This firm brags on its web page, its ability to make automation and human interaction a time and money saver. Maybe Wolf sees automation as a fund saving way.

Wagner, like Wolf a successful York County businessman, is the only person in Pennsylvania’s history to win a seat in the General Assembly with a write-in primary campaign, which he waged in 2014 after Harrisburg powerbrokers tried to install their chosen candidate through political machinations.

GOP Chair Has S. Philly Roots

HIGH UP in the Pyramid Club, city Republican activists celebrated their strong statewide showing at a cocktail party. Keynoter was House Speaker Mike Turzai from Pittsburgh, who had the attention of RCC Chair Joe DeFelice, L, and General Counsel Mike Meehan.

Born and bred South Philadelphian Val DiGiorgio, chairman of the Chester County Republican Party, was elected chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania last Saturday and lost no time in making waves, guesting on one of Philly’s popular early-morning drive-time radio shows. Expect to see him make more media appearances.

His Philly ties helped him gain a two vote margin over local attorney Lawrence Tabas, with nearly 350 State Committee members voting in Harrisburg.

DiGiorgio was quick to announce his fellow party officers: Bernadette “Bernie” Comfort, vice chair, Lehigh County; D. Raja, treasurer, Allegheny County; Andy Reilly, secretary, Delaware County (re-elected) and Peg Ferraro, assistant secretary, Northampton County (re-elected).

The state GOP judicial slate was voted in unanimously, saving the GOP money in the primary. Some opposition in the lower courts may surface anyway.

Named were: for Supreme Court, Justice Sallie Updyke Mundy, Tioga County; for Superior Court: Judge Emil A. Giordano, Northampton County; Judge Wade A. Kagarise, Blair County; Judge Paula A. Patrick, Philadelphia County; and Craig W. Stedman, Lancaster County; for Commonwealth Court: Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon, Delaware County, and Paul N. Lalley, Allegheny County.

Chairman DiGiorgio turned his focus to the 2017 elections. “A united Republican Party is unstoppable. This year we will double down on our success from last year and bring home victories for all seven of our endorsed candidates.”

Local GOP ward leaders have expressed hope in DiGiorgio’s taking over the reins from long time chair Rob Gleason. They trust he will be more hands on than was his predecessor, long-time chair Rob Gleason.

2 Local Judges Seek Superior Court Seats

With the announcement by local Democrat Common Pleas Judge Maria McLaughlin at a Harrisburg press conference of her intention to seek a seat on the state Superior Court, odds increase this city could have a representative on that court. Supporting her at the conference were Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and former popular City Controller Jonathan Saidel.

Since both she and Judge Paula Patrick are well-respected Philly jurists, we may see some ticket splitting in the Philly general election to boost their chances.

27TH WARD Democratic Leader Carol Jenkins convened a discussion in University City on the long-range gameplan Democrats must develop to advance their cause in Penna. Forty progressive activists listened as State Rep. James Roebuck, R, and other campaign veterans laid out strategies for 2018 – beginning today.

Another Lawyer Runs for DA

Attorney Larry Krasner may feel the anti-Trump fervor running through the city’s protest groups will generate support for him should he follow through on his thoughts to enter the Democratic primary May 16 and challenge incumbent DA Seth Williams. He’s defended most of them when they’ve had run-ins with the law.

His entry would make him the six planning to challenge Williams.

This will fracture even more what vote Williams will not get this primary, increasing his chances for victory. The deadline to file nominating petitions ahead of a run for office is March 7. The primaries are May 16.

Second Casino a Hostage?

Since the city needs money and the state finds itself in an economic bind as Gov. Wolf tries to close budget holes without raising taxes, we ask what happened to the second casino license awarded by the State Gaming Commission in November 2014.

Well, it is still tied up in the State Supreme Court, pending appeals filed by some losers in the awards competition and, of course, SugarHouse, busy making sure the South Philadelphia casino stays entombed for as long as possible.

The second casino would be a boost to Kenney with added revenues and to the state as well, since several hundred will be employed and dutifully taxed, as would be casino revenue and imagine the numbers of union workers who can benefit from the construction.

So why no uproar? Our call to the SC’s communications division has not produced a response as to why it is long overdue in handing down a decision. Meanwhile, SugarHouse continues to appear regularly among the casinos fined for infractions of the law.

Trump Pumps City Republicans

Feeling vindicated as a political party with some substance, the members of the Philadelphia Republican Party are showing more interest in seeking nominations for city offices.

Giving Councilmen Al Taubenberger and David Oh some cause to worry about their re-election still long way off is Dan Tinney, who will again be seeking a Republican Council seat.

His campaign reports he has more in his war chest than the two combined.

Tinney closed 2016 with $22,282 cash on – which topped the two sitting GOP incumbents. Taubenberger finished 2016 with $21,026 cash on hand but also listed outstanding debt totaling $6,871. Oh’s political action committee finished 2016 with a negative balance of $1,077.

But Tinney’s boast could be short-lived. “Typically, incumbents enjoy a significant fundraising advantage over their challengers, especially during the off-election years,” explains Christopher Vogler, GOP leader of the 55th Ward in Mayfair.

Tinney was named Republican leader of the city’s 66th Ward, which has the largest number of registered Republicans in the city, and was awarded Billy Penn’s “Who’s Next” award for young people involved in city politics.

White Becomes GOP Headliner

State Rep. Martina White (R-Northeast) is beginning to draw attention among more statewide GOP organizations. Soliciting her appearance as a guest speaker at their annual brunch is the Cheltenham Township Republican Organization.

The event will be held Sunday, Feb. 26 at the Flourtown Country Club.

She is also the youngest female state representative. She is the first new Republican elected in Philadelphia in 25 years, and easily won her second term.

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