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Friday, February 26, 2016

Campaign 2016's Silly Season: A Weekly Tweet Roundup Feb. 26

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 2:20 PM

We slog through the Twitter streams of the 2016 Presidential candidates and give you a weekly roundup of the more entertaining ones.  

Another head-spinning week, as Trump racked up victories in South Carolina and Nevada (and every other time and place ever according to him), and America was treated to another free-for-all "debate." (Best line of the night: Ben Carson pondering the "fruit salad of their lives," when asked about potential Supreme Court picks.)


And we lost Jeb(!). He sent out this sad farewell tweet. Not even a rousing exclamation point see us off.

I know I'll miss his truly terrible Twitter optics, like this one him posing awkwardly and alone in a green screen.

jeb6.jpg


The word-nerd part of me loves this: Used like a GOAT, fired like a DOG.



Kasich gives some answers, including "yes" and "nope."



Clinton shamelessly co-opts this viral moment, and also misses the point of it all.


The Sanders playlist expands: Killer Mike, Red Hot Chili Peppers, now Woody Guthrie.


Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney jumped in the fray, using some of that fancy-person talk that helped torpedo his 2012 campaign.


Marco Rubio picked up endorsements, including highly coveted ones from wrestler Kurt Angle, Mr. Proud to Be an American Lee Greenwood and "the other Wahlberg."






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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak discusses link between climate change and national security during a visit to Pittsburgh

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 5:09 PM

There is little question that the U.S.’s and the world’s military attention is currently heavily concentrated in the Middle East. But Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak brought up another area where a chilling hypothesis could play out.

The Arctic could become a new potential battleground, according to the retired Navy Admiral and former U.S. Congressman. He says that with the melting of the polar ice caps, the frozen region could become ripe for countries looking to extract its natural resources. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, the Arctic could hold about 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered conventional oil and natural gas resources.

Joe Sestak speaks at University of Pittsburgh Law School - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Joe Sestak speaks at University of Pittsburgh Law School
“We might want to start patrolling the Arctic,” said Sestak to a crowd of about 25 inside a University of Pittsburgh Law School classroom, “or people are going to decide on their own who owns the natural resources there.”

Sestak says that the number one threat from climate change is famine caused by droughts. But he questions if the country is addressing this potential polar conflict. He says, if elected, he would advocate for the U.S. to join the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an agreement that establishes guidelines and responsibilities of nations; roles in the oceans, including rules about marine natural resources.

The former U.S. Rep also talked about how the rising sea levels associated with climate change could have a negative effect on the Naval Station in Norfolk, Va., the world’s largest naval base. Rising sea levels could render the piers in Norfolk unusable, says Sestak. He adds that by focusing on diplomacy, enhancing economic partnership, and making the military run more efficiently, the U.S. can shrink its military budget.

At the event, Sestak also touted his environmental record by explaining to the audience he has been calling for a moratorium on fracking since he last ran for U.S. Senate in 2010. (To read all the Democratic candidates’ views on fracking, see City Paper’s coverage here.) Sestak believes that fracking should be halted until protections for the environment and public health are established; oversight agencies are properly staffed; and a severance tax of approximately 5 percent is put in place.

He explained to the crowd that taxpayers invested in fracking — for example, a military-developed sonar technology now used by the natural-gas industry —  and that citizens, at the least, are entitled to a 5 percent return on their investment.

Polling for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race has been sparse, but a straw poll (which are incredibly small in scope) taken by Keystone Progress, a progressive organizer, of audience members at last Saturday’s Democratic debate show Sestak in the lead with 42 percent. Braddock mayor John Fetterman polled at 31 percent and former gubernatorial chief of staff for Tom Wolf, Katie McGinty, polled at 27 percent.

A survey released by Harper Polling in January had Sestak in the lead with 33 percent, McGinty in second with 28 percent, Fetterman in third with 11 percent, and the rest undecided. These polls didn’t include Findlay Township small business owner Joe Vodvarka, who has run a quieter campaign up to this point.

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Jessica Wolfe campaign buys up old Jake Wheatley campaign websites to post unflattering articles

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 11:41 AM

Editor's Note: The statements below were received after the original story was posted

Wheatley’s campaign responded to the websites in a statement from campaign manager Brandi Taylor:

“It is truly unfortunate that Ms. Wolfe continues to stoop to this low level. First she blamed everyone else for why she was soundly defeated in the endorsement of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee and now she has resorted to an amateurish tactic of buying old website domains.

“Additionally, Jake Wheatley has directly addressed the matter of his family with the people of the 19th District on multiple occasions. The voters recognize that, have witnessed his family grow much stronger and have continued to vote for him to serve their best interests.

“Our advice for Ms. Wolfe would be to instead spend her time trying to produce constructive ideas on the economy, education and many of the issues facing the hardworking families of our community.”
In a phone interview with City Paper, Wolfe explained her campaign’s motivations for purchasing the domain names.

“I purchased them because I knew it would be a strategic advantage. He reuses his campaign literature from election to election and it all has jakeforstate.com [or jake4state.com] on it,” Wolfe says. “I knew it would anger him a little bit and throw him off a little. And I knew it would force him to redo his campaign literature.

“I think Jake has a long but not so well-documented history of being outside of the societal norms as far as his behavior. He’s been in trouble with the law a number of times. He purports himself to be a rehabilitated figure. He has this narrative that he’s a changed person. If you take a step back and look at his public story, he’s constantly having these mistakes and missteps with the law that have to do with being aggressive and bullying. He’s not a positive figure.”

Wolfe goes on to say that the redirects to the KDKA story and blog are her way of “collecting these stories” and she doesn’t “think collecting the truth is dirty.”

Wolfe’s husband, Ken Wolfe, was a former staffer for Wheatley.

www.jakeforstate.com redirects to this article
  • www.jakeforstate.com redirects to this article

District 19 state Rep. Jake Wheatley is probably wishing this morning that he would have renewed all of his old campaign websites.

Jessica Wolfe, the only challenger remaining against Wheatley, bought those domains and is using them to post not-so-flattering stories about the incumbent. Two of the websites now redirect to Wolfe's campaign website and another redirects to a May 2012 KDKA article about a domestic violence incident involving Wheatley and his then fiance. 

In a message exchange with a City Paper reporter, Wolfe says "...he did not feel that it was important to keep up the licensing on his campaign and personal websites. If you visit jakeforstate.com, jakewheatley.com and jakewheatleyjr.com it might give you a clue as to who has ownership over those domains."

We reached out to Wheatley's campaign who said they would be reviewing the sites. We will update this blog when we get a comment. If you're wondering, Wheatley's actual campaign website can be found here.

Wolfe says her campaign purchased the domain names "[a]bout 8 months ago...[w]ell before Trump did it to Jeb." Wolfe is referencing the United States presidential election where Republican candidate Donald Trump recently purchased former candidate Jeb Bush's domain name when Bush's campaign let the domain name license lapse.

Wolfe went on to add that her campaign also purchased jake4state.com, a website that now redirects to a blog entitled "Lavelle Truth." The post it redirects to is originally from a now-defunct blog called Pittsburgh Hoagie, which was run by Matt Hogue, a former Pittsburgh City Council staffer, who had his own legal problems.

Wheatley and Wolfe will face off in the upcoming April primary election for the 19th legislative district seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. 

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Aerion Abney drops challenge to Pennsylvania Rep. Jake Wheatley

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 5:31 PM

Aerion Abney
  • Aerion Abney
The race for Jake Wheatley's state house seat lost a candidate Tuesday as Aerion Abney announced he was dropping out of the race to represent the 19th Legislative District.

"As a lifelong Democrat and a former Democratic committeeman, I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Allegheny County Democratic Committee and the annual endorsement process. Unfortunately, our campaign did not win the 2016 Primary Election endorsement, and as a result of the decisive vote, I have decided to withdraw from the race and end my campaign for State Representative, PA-19," Abney said in a statement.

Abney is a program director at the POISE foundation, an African-American community foundation. He also serves on the boards of Community Human Services Inc., the Hill District Federal Credit Union and the Human Services Center Corporation.

"I would like to thank everyone who has supported, volunteered, and donated to my campaign. Although I am no longer running for office, I believe there is still much work to be done for the residents who call PA-19 home. I plan to continue to work on empowering our communities, creating employment opportunities, and improving public safety across Pittsburgh," Abney concluded in the statement.

Abney's withdrawal leaves Wheatley with a sole challenger — social worker Jessica Wolfe — in the April Primary. Both Abney and Wolfe's husband Ken Wolfe previously worked as aides for Wheatley.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Campaign 2016's Silly Season: A Weekly Tweet Roundup Feb. 19

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 10:04 PM

We slog through the Twitter streams of the 2016 Presidential candidates and give you a weekly round-up of the more entertaining ones.  

Tomorrow South Carolina goes to the polls and another head-scratching chapter in this nutso campaign will likely be written.

Last weekend saw the nosiest GOP debate yet, where pretty much everybody called everybody else a liar, and a fight broke out in Spanish.

This week began with former President George W. Bush stumping for his brother, Jeb, and Trump taking his feuding to the next level. Over on the Democrat side, the two candidates kept it fairly restrained, but this race is edging toward being a nail-biter, which means the knuckles might be next.


We need a president who isn't afraid to deploy the ALL CAPS tweet. 

Or get in a fight with the pope. Trump's outrage was too big for Twitter, where he could only muster a link to a Facebook page where it got heavy fast:

pope2.png



Continue reading »

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Democrats vying for Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate seat square off in Keystone Progress debate tonight, Attorney General debate tomorrow

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 1:02 PM

Tonight is your second chance to catch the three major Pennsylvania Democratic U.S. Senate candidates square off. Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, former Pennsylvania Secretary of Environmental Protection Katie McGinty and retired Navy admiral and former U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak will debate their polices and platforms in front of a live audience in Harrisburg tonight at 6 p.m. 
John Fetterman, Katie McGinty, and Joe Sestak - PHOTOS COURTESY OF CANDIDATES
  • Photos courtesy of candidates
  • John Fetterman, Katie McGinty, and Joe Sestak

The debate is part of the 2016 Keystone Progress Summit, a weekend long summit of progressive politicians and thinkers from across the state.

Ritchie Tabachnick, the chair of the board of directors of Keystone Progress, says on the summit's website, “This debate will be the most insightful and interesting debate of the year. Our questions will not be the questions you have heard at other events.”

You are probably thinking a few things: why does the Democratic party insist on holding debates during the most inopportune times for viewing (during happy hour on a Friday, really?!) and how can Pittsburghers watch a debate that is taking place in Harrisburg?

Well PCN-TV, "Pennsylvania's Cable Network," has you covered. The debate will be shown on the channel, which has been called Pennsylvania's version of C-SPAN, in its entirety starting at 6 p.m and again at 8:30 p.m.

A live stream of the Senate debate can be seen, here. And if you want to watch on the ol' boob tube, Comcast subscribers in the city of Pittsburgh can watch PCN-TV on channel 48 and channel 100 for most of those living in the suburbs (check here for channel listings in your area). 

Allegheny County small businessman Joseph Vodvarka is also on the ballot for the Democratic nomination for incumbent Republican Pat Toomey's U.S. Senate seat. He told City Paper that he asked to be included in the debate, but he says Keystone Progress denied his request. 

Also scheduled for live stream and on TV tomorrow at 4:15 p.m., is a debate of the Democratic candidates for PA Attorney General: Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, and Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala. This debate is also taking place in Harrisburg. For a link to the live stream of the PA Attorney General debate, click here.

PCN-TV also normally posts videos of past events on their website, so check pcntv.com to watch the debate at a later date. And check out CP's print and online edition next week for an in-depth look at the Senate candidates' views on fracking.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pa. House Speaker and Allegheny County Rep. Turzai skewered on 'Last Week Tonight'

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 5:24 PM

Allegheny County politicians seem to be garnering some national attention lately, especially from late-night comedy shows. First, Braddock's mayor and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman was featured in a panel discussion on Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore in January.

Last Sunday, our very own Pa. House Speaker Mike Turzai, of Marshall Township, was featured in the Season 3 premiere of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. But not really in a “thanks for coming on, let's hear your thoughts” kind of way. More like the pie-in-your-face kind of way, due to Turzai’s ideas on voter-ID laws.

Oliver argues that voter-ID laws tend to disproportionately affect African-American and Latino voters; are an overblown problem, mostly peddled by conservative lawmakers; and may expose the true agenda of their proponents. 

Archival video of Turzai shows him talking about the hoped-for role of voter-ID laws in then upcoming 2012 presidential election. “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania. Done,” said Turzai in the video. (Turzai comes in at around 9:45 on the video).



Turzai's statement was made before voter-ID laws were struck down in Pennsylvania in 2014, something another Western PA House rep took issue with. And another Pennsylvanian was also featured: Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason argued that voter-ID laws helped former Massachusetts Gov. Romney gain ground on President Obama in 2012, compared to Obama's contest against Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008.

Oliver characterized these gaffes as “saying the thing that everyone knows, but you are not supposed to say out loud” and compared them to “writing ‘I’m desperate to bone’ on an online dating profile.”

According to the Pennsylvania Election Commission, Turzai is currently up for re-election in Pennsylvania’s 28th House District and is running unopposed in the primary and general election. 

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County Democratic Party Chairwoman responds to criticism of the endorsement process

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 12:16 PM

Nancy Patton Mills - COURTESY OF WWW.ALLEGHENYDEMOCRATS.COM
  • courtesy of www.alleghenydemocrats.com
  • Nancy Patton Mills
The chairwoman of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee is responding to criticism leveled at the county endorsement process over the weekend.

Candidate Jessica Wolfe, who was seeking the endorsement against incumbent Jake Wheatley in the 19th legislative district, told City Paper Tuesday that “the fix was in for the incumbents and it is a very big piece of why women can't make it into the legislature." She also said “not one single ward convened a public candidates' meeting before the endorsement in my district. ... There was zero public process.”

Nancy Patton Mills, chairwoman of the ACDC, said there was not a concerted effort to keep anyone from securing the nomination, but added that “incumbents always have an advantage because they’ve been there and have made relationships. That’s the nature of incumbency.”

Wheatley soundly won the endorsement over his three challengers with 78 votes. Wolfe was second with 20. Patton Mills went on to say that Wolfe “is a very good friend to the Democratic Party” and commented that she personally has a good relationship with Wolfe: Wolfe and her husband, who used to work for Wheatley, were married at Patton Mills' farm.

Patton Mills also said that Wolfe had “very good position” at the endorsement meeting and was able to greet people as they came in the door. “I thought her presentation was very good,” Patton Mills says. “No one knew what was going to happen with the endorsement for this race because there were three good challengers.”

As for inclusion in ward events, Patton Mills says the committee “encourages committeepeople to share the podium with all candidates,” but that this cannot be enforced by the committee. She says the ACDC encourages all wards to send events to the committee for inclusion in it online calendar, and while many do, it’s not a requirement.

Finally, Patton Mills says this issue “has nothing to do with why we don’t have more women in office.” Patton Mills says that the committee is always encouraging more women to run for office and that, as more and more legislators retire, more and more women are being urged to seek out those seats.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Kathleen Kane announces she won't be running for re-election

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 at 5:27 PM

new_image.jpg
Earlier today, embattled Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced she would not be running to retain her position in the upcoming April primary election.

"This was not an easy decision, but the decision today I am comfortable with, I will sleep well with," said Kane.

Kane, who was the first woman in Pennsylvania elected to her position, has been at the center of a swirl of controversy over the past two years after she released emails in a statewide pornographic email scandal and had her law license suspended by the state Supreme Court for allegedly leaking information to a newspaper.

Just last week the senate held a vote to remove her from office, though the vote turned out in her favor.

"I am ahead of the Democratic candidates by double digits in the polls. I have fought and won against the senate removal," Kane said earlier today. "And I believe that a core group of Democrats and Republicans understand the battles that I am fighting and that they're fighting with me to continue to tear down this network of corruption that we've seen in Pennsylvania, a network that is tearing apart our judicial system. Today I continue that I will do just that, for the next 10 or 11 months, whatever there is, I will work tirelessly to continue that."

In her remarks at a press conference, Kane attributed her decision not to run to her family.

"I love being the attorney general. I love serving the people of Pennsylvania. I hope that they know that and I hope that they feel that," said Kane. "And while this was not an easy decision for me, while I love Pennsylvania, I love my sons first. I am a mother first and foremost because at the end of my life I hope history judges me well, but that's for time to tell. I hope more that God and my sons judge me well. They will be the ones with me towards the end."

Kane was set to face Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, Montgomery County Commission Chairman Josh Shapiro and Northampton District Attorney John Morganelli  in the April 26 primary.

In a statement released today, Marty Marks, Zappala's campaign manager, said: "From the start of this campaign, Stephen Zappala has said that whether or not Attorney General Kathleen Kane seeks re-election is a decision she has to make and he respects the decision she made today. Stephen Zappala entered this race because he believes he is best positioned by his long and highly-regarded career as the District Attorney in one of the biggest and busiest prosecutors offices in America, to restore confidence in the office of Attorney General. District Attorney Zappala has a proven track record of holding public officials and powerful corporations accountable who have betrayed the public trust. He will provide the steady hand, strong leadership and unquestioned integrity needed to right the path of the Attorney General's office."


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State House candidate criticizes Allegheny County Democrats' endorsement process

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 at 4:16 PM

Jessica Wolfe
  • Jessica Wolfe
At the Allegheny County Democratic Committee endorsement proceedings on Feb. 14, incumbent state House Rep. Jake Wheatley easily received the party's endorsement over his three challengers in the upcoming race to represent the 19th legislative district.

The April primary election pits Wheatley against social worker Jessica Wolfe, nonprofit administrator Aerion Abney and former Pittsburgh Public Schools Director Mark Brentley.

Wheatley bested his endorsement opponents with 78 votes compared to 20 votes for Wolfe, 17 for Abney and seven for Brentley.

"Our district expects hard work and results," Wheatley said in a statement. "And that is exactly how we represent our office and how we set out to win this campaign.

"I thank all the Democratic committee women and men of the 19th district who stood up today and endorsed our campaign. We all recognize the problems going on in Harrisburg. Today's endorsement is a resounding statement that in order for us to make a positive change in our community, leadership matters."

But challenger Wolfe says the Democratic committee didn't give all of the candidates an equal shot at the endorsement.

Jake Wheatley
  • Jake Wheatley
"I don't want to sound like sour grapes, but the fix was in for the incumbents and it is a very big piece of why women can't make it into the legislature," Wolfe says. "The people who do the gate-keeping don't want them to succeed.

"Not one single ward convened a public candidates' meeting before the endorsement in my district. ... There was zero public process, [b]ut all of the chairs signed on as sponsors for a 'unity breakfast.' Jake Wheatley paid for that, and even though I was a committee member in the district, I was not invited."

Nancy Patton Mills, chairwoman of the ACDC, told CP this morning there was not a concerted effort to keep anyone from securing the nomination, but added that “incumbents always have an advantage because they’ve been there and have made relationships. That’s the nature of incumbency.” More from Patton Mills on the subject can be found here,

Wolfe, whose husband Ken Wolfe previously worked for Wheatley, goes on to say she feels like she was slighted by the chair in her ward as well.

"Also, my ward chair Tony Mosesso, who is [a] legislative aide for Sen. Wayne Fontana, told me that he would not help me,   as he was instructed by his employer, a sitting senator, to help Jake Wheatley," says Wolfe.

While Fontana confirmed Mosesso works for him, he said he doesn't instruct his aides on who to support in elections or endorsements.

"He wasn't told not to support her or to support anybody. That's not what I do. Tony made his own mind up to support Jake Wheatley. I support him also, but that happens a lot," says Fontana. "She's not the most qualified candidate in that race. That was reflected in the vote on Sunday." 

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