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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Posted By on Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 11:23 AM

Pennsylvania state House candidate Dan Smith calls out state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe for post insulting Parkland students
Dan Smith Jr. (left) and Daryl Metcalfe (rigth)
On Feb. 14, 17 students and teachers were killed in a mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla. In response, Florida students are organizing walkouts and protests, hoping to encourage legislators to pass more gun-control measures, and their efforts are being joined from high school students across the country.

On Feb. 21, more than 100 students from the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School, Downtown, joined the effort by walking out and marching to Market Square.

But for Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry), those students are just left-wing agitators.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Posted By on Mon, Feb 19, 2018 at 1:57 PM

click to enlarge Democratic Socialist Kareem Kandil seeking Pennsylvania state house seat in suburban Pittsburgh
Photo courtesy of the campaign
Kareem Kandil
Pennsylvania's 30th State House District isn’t the most conservative district in the region, but it still supports Republicans. State Rep. Hal English (R-Hampton) has represented the North Hills district since 2013, and though the district has become a bit more liberal over the years, voters there still supported President Donald Trump by a 7-point margin in the 2016 election.

But even with the district’s conservative leanings, a socialist candidate believes he can flip the district from red to blue. Kareem Kandil is a member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, a progressive grassroots group that formed to push left-leaning, populist policies similar to those espoused by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).

Kandil is running as a Democrat in the 30th District, which includes Fox Chapel, O’Hara Township, Hampton Township and Richland. Kandil believes policies like single-payer health care and stricter environmental regulations have support among voter in the 30th District.

“I want to talk to constituents about universal issues,” says Kandil. “Everybody wants good health care, good schools and clean air.”

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Posted By on Mon, Feb 12, 2018 at 2:54 PM

Democratic state House candidate Emily Skopov gears up for race against House Speaker Mike Turzai
Emily Skopov (left) and Mike Tuzai
After failing to secure the endorsement of the Pennsylvania Republican Party this past weekend, Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Marshall) announced his withdrawal from the 2018 gubernatorial election. Turzai’s campaign strategist, Jeff Coleman of Churchill Strategies, told TribLive on Feb. 10 that Turzai will now focus his energy on preserving the state House's Republican-held majority.

“The House Republicans have a majority to defend and a number of competitive races. And at the highest level, there is really only one person with statewide ability to fundraise and preserve that majority, which is critical as a backstop to the Wolf agenda,” said Coleman in the TribLive article, referring to Turzai.

But Turzai’s Democratic challenger for Pennsylvania’s state House District 28 seat, Emily Skopov, of Marshall, says Turzai’s failure to pick up the GOP endorsement indicates he shouldn’t be the leader of the state House moving forward.

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Friday, February 2, 2018

Posted By on Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 1:32 PM

click to enlarge Betsy Monroe, inspired by the Women’s March, is challenging state Rep. Hal English in Pittsburgh’s North Hills
Photo courtesy of campaign
Betsy Monroe
Like many left-leaning women in Western Pennsylvania, Betsy Monroe of Fox Chapel felt the need to do something in response to the election of President Donald Trump. Monroe attended the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and the presence of about 500,000 marchers inspired her to get more involved in her local politics.

“I went to the march on Washington and it was absolutely eye-opening. It was absolutely amazing,” says Monroe. “I came away from it knowing I was going to have to continue to take action.”

Monroe started by writing letters to her local elected representatives. She said she got mostly “lip service” from local Republicans, and “I’m here for you” messages from local Democrats. She wanted something more substantial.

Monroe started growing more frustrated with Pennsylvania state Rep. Hal English (R-Hampton) and his votes on women’s health and his stances on environmental protections. Then, when she realized that English had run unopposed in the last two elections, she decided to run against him herself. “When [elected officials] have no opponents, they get cozy, and they stop listening to the people,” says Monroe.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Posted By on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 5:00 PM

click to enlarge Daniel Smith Jr., an openly gay candidate, is running against homophobic Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe
Photo courtesy of the candidate
Daniel Smith Jr.
Daniel Smith Jr. is a Butler County native and longtime resident, who grew up in Zelienople and now lives in Adams Township with his husband, Don. He has been paying close attention to his state representative, Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry), for years. Smith has grown frustrated as Metcalfe has continually focused on bombastic and divisive issues, such as opposing same-sex marriage and attacking immigrants’ rights. Over the years, Smith felt that with every controversial Metcalfe issue that made headlines, Pennsylvania’s 12th House District suffered from being cast in a negative light.

Then a video was released in December 2017 of Metcalfe freaking out when his colleague, state Rep.Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery), touched him on the elbow during a committee meeting on land use. Metcalfe exclaimed, “I am heterosexual. I love my wife, I don’t like men, as you might. Stop touching me all the time.” The video went viral and was mocked on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Late Night with Stephen Colbert.

“The moment he had at the committee meeting, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” says Smith. “Yes, what [Metcalfe] said pissed me off. But I saw the rest of the representatives in the meeting shake their heads. And I was thinking, ‘How does a district keep voting for this person?’ Then I thought, I needed to do something.”

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Posted By on Tue, Jan 16, 2018 at 5:15 PM

Summer Lee touts Democratic-socialist policies in campaign event for District 34 state house seat
CP photo by Ryan Deto
Summer Lee at Portogallo Peppers ‘n’ At in Braddock on Jan. 15
On Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when state house candidate Summer Lee got up to speak in front of the crowd of more than 150 packed into Portogallo Peppers N'at in Braddock, she spoke of a rarely cited detail about King.

“A lot of people don’t know this, but Martin Luther King was a radical,” said Lee. “He called for an end to capitalism. He wanted to unite poor people. He knew that if we can’t end that system, we would fail in our goals.”

King, after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, in 1964, and the Voting Rights Act, in 1965, began to campaign against the effects that capitalism had on poor people of all races and backgrounds. In a 1967 speech, King said, “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Lee is running as a Democrat in the primary election against incumbent Paul Costa (D-Braddock), whose Pennsylvania state House District 34 encompasses towns like North Braddock, Swissvale, Forest Hills and other nearby boroughs.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Posted By on Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 10:55 AM

click to enlarge New report shows Pennsylvania still behind other states on statewide LGBTQ protections
The LGBTQ Pride Flag
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest pro-LGBTQ organization, released its 2017 annual report detailing every state's legislative efforts to provide, or inhibit, equality for LGBTQ Americans. The Pennsylvania state government, again, left much to be desired for those advocating for LGBTQ rights.

The HRC gives four general scores to states, with “working toward innovative equality” being the best and “high priority to achieve basic equality” being the worst. Pennsylvania ranked “high priority to achieve basic equality” in 2017. (The state also received this distinction in 2016, 2015 and 2014.) Pennsylvania is also the only state in the Northeast U.S. to be given the bottom score for LGBTQ equality. It should be noted that some Pennsylvania cities, like Pittsburgh, have been given high-marks by the HRC, despite the low grades on the state level.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Posted By on Fri, Dec 8, 2017 at 2:07 PM

click to enlarge State rep. candidate Emily Skopov wants Daryl Metcalfe out of committee chair seat
Photo courtesy of the candidate
Emily Skopov
On Dec. 5, a video of Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry) exclaiming he is a “heterosexual” when a Democratic colleague touched his arm went viral. It spread so far and wide, that on Dec. 7 it was featured on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

And while Metcalfe’s blatant homophobia is undoubtedly humorous to most Americans, some people involved in Pennsylvania state politics are taking it seriously. On Dec. 6, Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York) requested that House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Marshall) re-examine Metcalfe’s chairmanship of the House’s state government committee.

And the woman who is running to challenge Turzai’s state House District 28 seat, Democrat Emily Skopov of Marshall, was even more unambiguous in her request; she believes Turzai needs to remove Metcalfe from the committee chair.

“Mike Turzai needs to do the right thing and remove Daryl Metcalfe as chair,” said Skopov in a press release. “Metcalfe’s actions are repugnant and dishonor our state government. By allowing Metcalfe to continue as chair, Mike Turzai further demonstrates his lack of a moral compass, endorsing homophobia and bigotry. It is time for Speaker Turzai to grow a spine and do the right thing.”

Metcalfe is arguably the general assembly’s most anti-LGBTQ member. He has tried to deny spousal benefits to same-sex couples and tried to make it illegal for LGBTQ people to marry. Metcalfe also chairs the state House’s state government committee, and thus controls the fate of civil-rights legislation that can affect the lives of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians. He has used this position to refuse to let the Fairness Act see a vote (the bill would grant LGBTQ Pennsylvanians the same non-discrimination rights that minorities and Christians receive under federal law).

According to a 2015 study from the Public Religion Research Institute, 70 percent of Pennsylvanians support a statewide LGBTQ non-discrimination law, while only 25 percent oppose such a law.

Turzai, as the state House’s highest ranking member, has the ability to move Metcalfe out of the state government committee into another committee chairmanship, but he alone cannot strip Metcalfe from his current chairmanship, because of Metcalfe's seniority. It should also be noted that Turzai placed anti-marijuana state Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga) at the chair of the health committee, which was a main reason why the state took so long to pass a medical-marijuana bill, despite widespread public support.

In a Dec. 7 article in Lancaster's LNP , Turzai brushed off calls to move Metcalfe out of the state government chair seat. A request for comment to Turzai's office was not returned.

Regardless, Skopov feels that Metcalfe should be removed from the state government committee because of his anti-LGBTQ views, as well as other controversial behavior in the past. For example, even though the 1964 federal civil-rights act granted non-discrimination rights to immigrants, in 2015 Metcalfe attempted to pass English-only legislation and brought a white nationalist to Harrisburg to lobby for his cause.

“Time and time again, Representative Metcalfe has displayed bigotry, and Mike Turzai has remained silent,” said Skopov in a press release. “Mike Turzai either supports homophobia and bigotry or he doesn’t. If he refuses to strip Metcalfe of his chairmanship, everyone will know exactly where he stands.”

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Posted By on Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 4:33 PM

A Dec. 5 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette headline was one for the ages: “State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe comes out as heterosexual.” The P-G story was about Metcalfe (R-Cranberry) freaking out when state Rep. Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery) briefly touched his arm during a committee meeting about land-use policies.

“Representative Bradford, look, I am heterosexual,” said Metcalfe after Bradford tapped his arm. “I love my wife, I don’t like men, as you might. Stop touching me all the time.”

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Posted By on Thu, Nov 16, 2017 at 10:55 AM

click to enlarge John Fetterman wants to unite the left to defeat the right in his run for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor
CP photo by Ryan Deto
John Fetterman during his 2016 U.S. Senate campaign.
On Nov. 14, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman announced his campaign to run for the state’s second highest office, lieutenant governor. The seat is currently held by Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia). Stack has been criticized for allegedly abusing his staff, as well as for trying to expense thousands of dollars in hotel stays in Philadelphia, where he owns a home. Fetterman, also a Democrat, is hoping to unseat Stack, and join Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York) on the 2018 general election ticket.

In a Nov.14 phone call with Pittsburgh City Paper, Fetterman acknowledged the infighting between the Democratic Party and arguments over how the left should move forward to secure votes in the era of President Donald Trump. The neoliberal side of the Democratic Party, which is more aligned with the policies of Hillary Clinton, believes a more moderate, while still generally progressive, approach will succeed. The Democratic Socialist side, which is more aligned with the policies of Bernie Sanders, feels that drastic changes must take place in order to win elections.

But Fetterman believes his record shows that the two sides can come together. In 2016, he was one of the first U.S. Senate candidates to endorse Sanders, but after Sanders lost the primary, Fetterman started to campaign for Clinton. (He even started campaigning for his senate-election opponent Katie McGinty when he lost in the primary election.)

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