Does it ever seem to you that all the political advertising is really just the same? It's not always your imagination. Sometimes the political advertising really is just the same. Local website 2politicaljunkies yesterday turned up the fact that state Reps Adam Ravenstahl and Harry Readshaw were both using the same clip art in a mailer advising voters about their education plans.
As PoliticsPA explained in a follow-up post earlier today, the duplication stems from the fact that both campaigns have retained the same consulting group, 7 Points Consulting, for their election efforts. Although you might think that would make such a snafu a bit less likely.
But lest we progressives grow too smug ... Ravenstahl challenger Tom Michalow has had his own mailer problem. This mailer was sent to City Paper by a 20th district voter who noted that both the name of the state and the word "legislative" are misspelled.
"And Michalow is a teacher!" exclaimed the resident. Although in fairness ... he teaches German, where a few extra consonants rarely go amiss.
In any case, let the political blogger who has never committed a typo cast the first stone.
Former Pennsylvania Treasurer and state Auditor General Barbara Hafer told reporters today that Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Tom Wolf needs to prove that there isn’t a gender wage gap in his company -- although she doesn’t have evidence that one exists.
Hafer, who is backing Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz in the race, also criticized Wolf for having just two women on the 19-person management team of his York, Pa. kitchen-cabinetry company.
“Voters deserve the whole record and the full story,” Hafer told reporters. “What we know is that the Wolf Organization, the board of directors is all men and ... of the 19 people on his management team, he only has two women."
A day after she took Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Tom Wolf to task during a debate at Franklin and Marshall college, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz released an ad Friday about "the full picture of Tom Wolf and his business record."
“Tom Wolf’s ads tell a nice story, but like any fairy tale, the story simply isn't true,” Mark Bergman, spokesman for the Schwartz campaign said. “Tom Wolf is just a typical business executive looking out for himself first. That's not different, that's what corporate CEOs do. He wasn’t a different type of businessman and won’t be a different type of Governor. Pennsylvania deserves the truth, not just a pretty picture.”
According to a release from the Schwartz campaign:
"In 2006, Tom Wolf loaded up his company with millions of dollars in debt in order to take a leveraged buyout of $20 million. The result was that in 2009, the company couldn’t keep pace with the debt that Wolf’s leveraged buyout created, and a majority of Wolf Organization employees lost their jobs.
Wolf told the Central Penn Business Journal in 2009 that the only issue at the time was the debt load.
The Business Journal reported, “When Wolf returned to the company, its only issue was its debt load, he [Wolf] said.
He and his partners were able to recapitalize the firm with an infusion of cash, which gave it the financial ability to implement this expansion project, he said. ‘What we had was a great company (that) ... had already figured out how to make money with the reduced sales that are out there in the housing market right now.’”
“Allyson Schwartz is a proven, tested leader who has a record of standing up for Pennsylvania families. As Governor, she will bring that experience and leadership to shake up the status quo in Harrisburg and get important things done for Pennsylvania,” Bergman added.
The ad quotes a piece published last month in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the leveraged buyout of Wolf's cabinet-making company that netted he and his cousins $20 million each, funded at least partially by debt the company took on to make the payments. When the company began having trouble paying down the debt, Wolf infused cash back into the company and resumed his role as CEO.
UPDATE: Tom Wolf responded to the attacks this afternoon with an ad of his own featuring employees of his business crediting Wolf with saving the business when it was ready to close.
"In 2009, the company was about to shut down but Tom bought the business back," General Manager and 23-year-employee Mike O'Brien says in the commercial. "
Adds Logistics administrator Christine Fisher, "Tom changed the business model and saved jobs."
You can see the ad here:
This week, Democratic candidate for governor Allyson Schwartz hitched her re-election wagon to the Affordable Care Act, touting her pride in the legislation as well as her efforts in helping to craft the law.
"I am the only Democrat in the race that helped write the Affordable Care Act, worked with President Obama to pass it, and now am campaigning on the success of the law," Schwartz said on Wednesday. She also released a 30-second television spot on the subject:
In a conference call with reporters, Schwartz challenged the race's frontrunner: "Tom Wolf and the other Democrats in the race have been evasive in their support of and pride in the Affordable Care Act. If they won't say they are proud of this law and its success now, then they won’t be able to take on Tom Corbett or get the Affordable Care Act implemented right for Pennsylvania."
All Democratic candidates say they support the Medicaid expansion that governor Tom Corbett rejected. On Sunday, the York Daily Record ran a roundup of where exactly the candidates stand on the ACA.
And while her comments didn’t get an immediate reaction from her Democratic challengers, it did get a strongly-worded retort from Corbett:
"Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz is the only Democrat brave enough to run on President Obama's failed policies and the ObamaCare disaster she helped to write," the Corbett campaign said in a release. "We already know they all want to expand ObamaCare's grasp in Pennsylvania, but we agree that our opponents should speak up and join her in proudly voicing their support for this disastrous legislation." The release called out the ACA for allegedly causing 250,000 Pennsylvanians to lose their health plans, even after President Obama pledged "If You Like Your Plan, You Can Keep It.’"
"That number is expected to continue to grow, leaving tens of thousands of more Pennsylvanians without access to health care," according to the release.
The release also alleged that premiums were spiking, citing a Forbes magazine piece based on a recent survey of a 148 insurance brokers nationwide. The survey, carried out by Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley, contends that individual insurance premiums in Pennsylvania are up 28 percent, while premiums for the "small market group" are up 66 percent due to provisions of the ACA. In New Hampshire, it adds, premiums increased by an unholy 90 percent!
Both those claims are, well ... problematic.
The 250,000-residents-lost-their-coverage plan, for one, was skewered by Philadelphia journo Chris Brennan last month. The number, Brennan reported, came from the state’s Department of Insurance, and listed the "number of policy cancellation notices prompted by the Obamacare rollout." But as a department spokeswoman told Brennan, after sending out those notices, insurers had the option of either bringing the policy into compliance with new Obamacare standards, or helping a customer find a new policy that met the criteria. And according to Brennan: The department "never followed up with the companies to find out what happened to those 250,000 policy holders. Some may have been among the 159,821 Pennsylvanians who have signed up for health-care exchange policies as of March 1." In any case, the Obama administration later extended deadlines, allowing non-compliant insurance policies to be renewed all the way to October 2016.
Team Corbett's premium-spiking numbers, meanwhile, also seem skewed.
Although happy with the LGBT and women’s rights positions of the four Democratic candidates running for governor, the Gertrude Stein Political Club chose two clear favorites in local state house races when they announced their Primary election endorsements Sunday.
In a release, in fact, the club told voters, “If you want to make a difference. The one race that most clearly pits the good versus the cruddy aspects of the PA Democratic Party is playing out in PA House District 36.” That race features two incumbents fighting for reelection in a district that was a victim of redistricting. Progressive Erin Molchany is the club’s choice in a race they label as “the ultimate grudge match” against long-time incumbent Harry Readshaw.
“Tell your friends, help phonebank, support her in whatever way you can — she's excellent,” according to the press release. “Her opponent Readshaw's positions are consistently hateful, and he's a pill.”
The organization also endorsed Thomas Michalow over incumbent Adam Ravenstahl. According to the release, “While not quite as stark a contrast, the Democratic primary for PA House District 20 showcases thoughtful endorsed candidate Thomas Michalow (against the lackluster "other Ravenstahl"). Please put the word out.”
In the race for the Democratic Nominee for governor, the club says any choice between Rob McCord, Katie McGinty, Allyson Schwartz, and Tom Wolfe has the blessing of the organization. According to the release, “Enjoy voting for any of these fine people in the primary, and know that you can feel good supporting any one of them in the fall!”
The full release, which also includes endorsements for Lt. Governor and state committee, can be found after the jump.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Allyson Schwartz, herself a former director of a women's health clinic, today received the endorsement of the Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC.
“The Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC is thrilled to announce its endorsement of Allyson Schwartz for Governor,” said Sari Stevens, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and PAC. “Allyson has a distinguished record advocating for women’s health and economic security and will be a strong ally in the Governor’s office.”
Although she currently serves in the U.S. House of Representatives, Schwartz founded Philadelphia's Elizabeth Blackwell Center — a women's health clinic — in 1975 and served as it's director until 1988. According to a release the Blackwell Center "provided comprehensive health care services for women of all income levels, races, and backgrounds including access to fertility treatments, prenatal care, breast cancer screenings, and contraceptive services"
In a release, Schwartz said she welcomed the endorsement.
“It's unacceptable that women are still fighting to get access to the care they need in 2014 — it’s time for a powerful voice to stand up when legislators try to tell women what health care decisions they can make and push for offensive legislation meant only to create obstacles to safe, legal care,” Schwartz said.
“And it is absolutely unacceptable that Governor Corbett’s response to these obstacles is telling women to ‘just close your eyes.’ Pennsylvania women deserve better.”
The full release appears after the jump:
When I spoke earlier this week with Jack Wagner about his newly launched run for governor, perhaps the most surprising thing was how unconcerned he seemed about getting into the race while short on money, campaign infrastructure and time.
He also rejected the notion that the only reason he’s getting in the race is the belief that a single candidate hailing from Western Pennsylvania can pick up a lot of votes against a handful of Eastern challengers.
Then again, when Wagner sat down with City Paper prior to last year’s mayoral primary, he didn’t want to discuss strategy either. And there too, he faced questions about how an under-funded late-comer could surpass candidates who’d already been campaigning for months.
Wagner was more willing to talk about the reasons he says he got into this race, and the fact that he has run and won a statewide race, making him one of only two candidates in this race (state treasurer Rob McCord being the other) to do so.
Here are some snippets from my conversation with Wagner that didn’t get into this week’s print edition:
On Marcellus Shale Drilling
Wagner says there must be “strict oversight” of natural gas drilling because he has concerns that fracking “can potentially harm the environment.” He is against drilling in state parks and forests, and says protecting the state’s waterways from pollution from fracking and drilling must occur “without exception.” Wagner also says that drilling companies must start paying more in taxes to the state. He wants to see a severance tax in place, similar to those imposed in other major energy-producing states. “Look: Texas has a severance tax, Alaska has a severance tax. I find it odd that the revenue coming into our government is far below that of other states that are far more conservative than Pennsylvania.”
On Fuel Alternatives
Wagner says within one year of taking office he would turn the Pennsylvania Turnpike into “the first alternative-fuels road,” offering refueling and recharging stations for vehicles powered by compressed natural gas and electricity. He would also offer incentives for retailers to offer the same services within one mile of freeway exits so “you can virtually travel anywhere in the state on alternative fuels.”
On Running a Statewide Campaign and completing with Eastern Democrats
“I know what it’s like to run a statewide campaign,” says Wagner who points out that he’s “never lost a general election” (although he has lost Democratic primaries for both governor and Pittsburgh mayor). He says he is known across the state and he will appeal to the majority of Pennsylvanians that he says favor moderation like him and know him from his days as auditor general. “As auditor general, I had a stellar record of leadership and governance. I think my candidacy will be successful because of the professional job I did in that post.”
As the debate over raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour ramps up, Katie McGinty, Democratic candidate for Governor wants to make sure that food servers and other tipped workers don't get forgotten in the discussion.
On Monday, McGinty released a statement calling for the minimum wage for tipped workers — which currently sits at a paltry $2.83 an hour — to be raised to $10.10 an hour just like workers in every other job. In recent minimum wage discussions, President Obama has supported raising the minimum wage for tipped workers to 70 percent of that amount. And according to the Philadelphia City Paper, fellow candidates Allyson Schwartz, John Hanger and Tom Wolf agree with the president while Rob McCord told Philly CP that he would roll his own plan out in the near future.
“This issue has a particular impact on women, who represent 67% of restaurant workers. It’s time that tipped workers receive the same minimum wage as every other worker in Pennsylvania,” McGinty said in the statement. “While employers are supposed to ensure that consumer tips bring every employee to the overall minimum wage, too often that does not happen.
"Tipped workers, who often work several jobs to support their families, should be paid at least a minimum wage for the hard work they do.”
The full release appears after the jump.
Confirming reports from late last week that he was ending his campaign for Governor of Pennsylvania, Democratic Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski officially withdrew from the race and threw his support behind Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord.
“It has been a good campaign and we have accomplished several of our key objectives, most importantly, drawing attention to the need for economic development and more jobs for Pennsylvanians,” Pawlowski said in a release following a Monday morning press conference in Allentown with McCord. “But the truth is that it takes a lot of money to run for a state leadership position and raising that money takes a lot of time,” he continued. "Because of my duties as Mayor of the third largest City in the State, I simply was finding it difficult to run a city and spend the 8 to 10 hours a day fundraising that is needed to run an effective campaign.
"Every time I sat down to make fundraising calls, another issue with the City would come up. My time and focus needs to be concentrated on the continued revitalization of Allentown."
Both men were in Pittsburgh Jan. 26 as part of an eight-candidate debate between the Democratic hopefuls looking to unseat Incumbent Republican Tom Corbett.
Of McCord, Pawlowski said, “We have had some very good talks, and I believe this is the person who can lead Pennsylvania to a new and brighter future.”
“Mayor Pawlowski and I share a common vision for the future of Pennsylvania,” McCord said. “We both believe in the power of education and economic development and the core need for safe neighborhoods. And we both know that, with appropriate innovation and investments, the best days of our Commonwealth are ahead of us.”
The full release is after the jump.
While his brother — former Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl — decided to get out of local politics last year, state Rep. Adam Ravenstahl (D-Summer Hill) has decided to seek a third term in office.
“It has been an incredible honor to serve the residents of the 20th Legislative District and I hope to earn their support for another term,” Ravenstahl said in his announcement release (available after the jump). “I’m proud of my record of fighting for good paying jobs and more funding for local school districts. Ensuring that our children have the opportunity to receive a quality education will remain a top priority of mine.”
The new 20th District is not the same North Side-centric area that Ravenstahl first began representing in 2010. A few suburban areas were also added into the mix during redistricting including Bellevue, Avalon and parts of Ross Township.
While it’s unclear if he will see a primary challenger, Ravenstahl will see opposition in November from Bellevue resident, pastor at Emmanuel Christian Church in Brighton Heights and U.S. Air Force veteran Tom Fodi. Fodi, who PoliticsPa calls a “self-declared Libertarian-Republican, has scheduled his official campaign kick-off for Feb. 3.