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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

President Obama, Vice President Biden endorse Katie McGinty for U.S. Senate

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 5:57 PM

  • Official White House portrait from whitehouse.gov

Former Pennsylvania environmental secretary and U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty received the high-profile endorsements from President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

“I am proud to endorse Katie McGinty to be Pennsylvania’s next United States Senator,” said Pres. Obama in a press release on McGinty's website this morning. “Katie is a true champion for working families, with a proven record of taking on big challenges and delivering for people. She spent her entire career working to promote clean energy and combat climate change, and worked closely with my administration to implement the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicaid coverage to more than 500,000 Pennsylvanians. I know Katie will take that same tenacity and drive with her to the Senate to ensure affordable, available heath care, to protect Social Security and Medicare, and to uphold and enforce Wall Street reforms.”

  • Photo by Ryan Deto

Biden cited McGinty's family experience as the "ninth out of ten children, the daughter of a restaurant hostess and a police officer" as giving her the know-how to work hard. 

"Katie’s voice is sorely needed in the Senate to advocate for equal pay for women, a raise in the minimum wage, college affordability, and a quality education for every child," he said in the press release.

McGinty touted the endorsements in several tweets this morning:

For more context on McGinty's campaign, City Paper has covered McGinty's thoughts on upward mobility for young peopleeconomic plan for women, her stances on fracking and affordable housing, among other statements and debate appearances.

McGinty is facing former U.S. Rep. and Navy Admiral Joe Sestak and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman for the Democratic nomination to face incumbent U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

According to an early-March Harper Poll, Toomey led all Democratic candidates among voters, but Sestak polled best against him.

The Pennsylvania primary is on April 26.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman releases ad on impact of heroin addiction

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2016 at 1:48 PM

This week, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman released an ad on the growing heroin epidemic that is affecting Pennsylvania and the U.S.

In the video, Fetterman walks through abandon homes in North Braddock, which neighbors Fetterman's community, calling one of the abandoned homes a "cathedral to addiction" because people broke in and striped the home of what is valuable, like its copper piping, to sell and fuel their drug addiction. (In fact, City Paper wrote in February about another nearby community, Turtle Creek, that is also experience a heroin epidemic.)

"What would our country look like if 30 years ago we didn't declare a war on drugs but we declared a war on addiction and treated it like the medical condition that it is," Fetterman asks in the ad. "How many millions of families lives would not have been damaged or destroyed by seeing their loved ones get sent away for years and years through mandatory sentencing?" 

Fetterman's press release points out that more than half of Pennsylvania's drug overdose deaths in 2014 were a result of heroin use, according to a report from the Drug Enforcement Administration. In Allegheny County, opioid overdose deaths were down from 326 in 2014, to 246 in 2015, but the majority of overdose deaths were still caused from opioids (particularly herion) in 2015, according to Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner.

Fetterman says in the press release that white suburban neighborhoods have also been experience rising opioid use, but communities of color have been the hardest hit by the epidemic. Fetterman points to his first hand experience as mayor of a community that has experienced such problems as why he wanted to highlight the heroin issue.

The ad is available online and will be showed over the air in select Pennsylvania TV markets.

Pennsylvania's primary election is April 26, and Fetterman is going up against former state environmental secretary Katie McGinty, former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, and Findlay township small business owner Joe Vodvarka. To learn more about other issues important to the U.S. Senate candidates, read CP's coverage of their thoughts on affordable housing, fracking, and gun control

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Friday, March 25, 2016

U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton opens campaign office in Pittsburgh

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 3:24 PM

A young person wrote “Feminism. DUH.” on a wall-sized poster headed with the prompt “I’m with her because …” The walls were covered from floor to to ceiling with that infamous ‘H’ logo in a seemingly endless combination of colors.

“Wow. What a crowd we have here tonight. What a cross-section of Pittsburgh. Young people. Middle-aged people. People as old as me,” County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said to a laughing crowd of Hillary Clinton supporters. “We know that this is Hillary Clinton country.”

On Thursday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened her first Pennsylvania campaign office in East Liberty. Both Clinton and her opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, opened campaign offices in Pittsburgh this week in advance of the March 28 deadline to register for the primary vote.

The new offices seemed to match the candidates. Clinton’s new office is neat, organized, covered in campaign memorabilia — in-line with what one might expect from a campaign office. Unlike at the grassroots, rustic setting of the Sanders campaign office, there were no reggae songs singing of revolution at the Clinton event.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

African-American leaders in Philadelphia criticize Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala's campaign ad

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 6:30 PM

Screenshot of video footage from the press conference in Philadelphia
  • Screenshot of video footage from the press conference in Philadelphia
At a press conference today, leaders in Philadelphia's African-American community criticized the television advertisement recently released by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala who is running for Pennsylvania district attorney.

"Mr. Zappala who I have not met uses footage of the untimely as well as unjust death of unarmed African Americans in Texas and South Carolina to make the case that he's been a leader in pursuing justice during his time as district attorney," said Rev. Marshall Mitchell of Salem Baptist Church. "We don't know it to be true if he has, but here's what we do know. A closer look a Mr. Zappala's record shows a failure to properly respond to overt, revolting, documented acts of violence against our community, the African-American community."

Zappala's advertisement features video footage from the traffic stop of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was found hanged in jail in Waller County, Texas, after being taken into custody after a routine traffic stop in July 2015. The next clip is from the April 2015 shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man who was shot in the back while fleeing from police in North Charleston, S.C. The third clip is from elevator footage of Janay Palmer, after she was beaten by professional football player Ray Rice in Atlantic City. 

Continue reading »

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U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders opens campaign office in Pittsburgh

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 4:23 PM

Reggae songs singing of revolution, posters decrying the injustice toward the 99 percent, exposed brick walls and cubicles made from what appears to be reclaimed wood. That is right, Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has opened a campaign office on East Carson Street in the South Side.

Inside the Schwartz Market building,  about 50 Sanders supporters gathered and eventually filled the space before Ryan Hughes, Sanders' Pennsylvania campaign organizer, rallied  the troops.

"I think we are gonna have a very competitive race here in Pennsylvania. We are 50 percent through the primary, and we believe the latter 50 percent favors the senator," Hughes said to applause.

Hughes said he is optimistic about Sanders' chances running against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Keystone State, and particularly in Pittsburgh. He said Sanders really appeals to the working-lass roots of the Steel City.  Sanders already has some political support here in the Pittsburgh area, including Braddock Mayor and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman, who has endorsed Sanders.

Hughes also pointed out Sanders' platform on social and racial injustice, including Sanders' call for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. When asked about affordable housing, Hughes said that Sanders would work with Congress to pass legislation to address that issue, including possible legislation on community land trusts. (Lawrenceville has started the city's first community land trust, and Sanders created the country's first while mayor of Burlington, Vt., in the '80s.)

The event was a chance for volunteers to get to know each other, according to Hughes, and there were voting registration stations as well as literature about the Sanders campaign. Hughes also said that supporters should expect a lot of visits from Sanders closer to the New York state Democratic primary, held on April 19.

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Pennsylvania voters must register by March 28

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 1:45 PM


Pennsylvania's primary is on April 26, but the deadline to register to vote is this Monday — March 28. 

Of course, the presidential primary has much of the spotlight, but also up for grabs is the Democratic nomination for one of Pa.'s U.S. Senate seats — a seat which has been called crucial for party control. Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, former Pa. environmental secretary Katie McGinty and former congressman Joe Sestak are vying to face incumbent U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey in the general election.

Also on the primary ballot: candidates seeking the Pa. Attorney General nomination (controversial incumbent Kathleen Kane will not seek re-election) and local candidates seeking re-election to their Pa. House posts. (See our more of our PolitiCrap blog posts for coverage of these races.)

In mid-February, Pa. Secretary of State Pedro Cortes stopped by City Paper's offices to talk about the state's new online voter registration system. Pennsylvanians can find online voter registration info at register.votesPA.com, where the application is offered in both English and Spanish. So far the system has seen just over 200,000 new users. Residents can also use it to update their voting records — address change, party change, etc.

"About 40 percent of those using online voter registration [are] using the tool to update their records. And, every time you update a record, what that means is our voter rolls are more accurate," Sec. Cortes told CP. That means, he says, a more efficient workflow for county election offices.

Historically during presidential election years, voter turnout is around 60 percent in Pennsylvania. During municipal elections, turnout can dip as low as 40 percent. 

“We have a challenge here in Pennsylvania when it comes to actually voting,” Sec. Cortes said. “A large percentage of our population don’t exercise their right to vote.” 

Currently there are about eight million registered voters in the state — four million Democrat, three million Republican and the rest unaffiliated. In Allegheny County, about 865,000 citizens are registered, with around 512,000 Democrats, 240,000 Republicans, and the rest unaffiliated.

Pennsylvania is a closed primary state though, so only voters registered with a specific party will be able to vote on April 26.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Pennsylvania Sen. Casey endorses Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty

Posted By on Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 1:27 PM

  • Photo by Ryan Deto
Pennsylvania’s current race for Republican incumbent Pat Toomey’s U.S. Senate seat could be the deciding factor in which party controls the Senate. “It is inconceivable to think Democrats could win control of Senate without winning this seat,” G. Terry Madonna, a professor and director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College, told City Paper in January. 

And Pa.’s other Senator, Democrat Bob Casey, has officially decided who he would like to work with for the next couple years. Last week, Casey endorsed former Pa. environmental secretary Katie McGinty.

“Katie McGinty will fight tirelessly for Pennsylvania families, and I’m proud to endorse her in the race for U.S. Senate,” said Casey in a press release. “Katie will lead the fight to raise incomes for middle class families, ensure women get equal pay for equal work, raise the minimum wage and make it possible for more families to afford child care.”

McGinty has been the choice of Democratic party leadership for the U.S. Senate seat since she entered the race. Before Casey’s endorsement, she was endorsed by Gov. Tom Wolf, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle of Allegheny County, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.

“I am honored to have the support and endorsement of Senator Casey – someone who I admire and would be privileged to work alongside,” said McGinty in a press release. “I would be a partner with [Casey] in the Senate and fight for good-paying jobs, investments in clean energy and work to ensure that every child, no matter their zip code, has access to quality and affordable education. I’m eager to get to work for the hard working people of this commonwealth.”

And while the support of the person who will become your immediate colleague is a big boost for the McGinty campaign, competitor and former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak downplayed the endorsement in a recent press release.

Sestak claims to have had no politicians’ endorsement in the race thus far. (This is partially true, as U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright from Lackawanna County, Pa. held a fundraiser for Sestak last August but did not officially endorse the former congressman.)

Sestak writes that he is unsure why most Democratic party officials have rejected endorsing him, given his support of big Democratic policies, like the Affordable Care Actand the Economic Stimulus bill, while serving in the congress. He speculates that his time in the military (Sestak is a former Navy Admiral) and shorter time in politics may have led to the rejections.

“There aren’t many veterans in Congress, and none who served 31 years and was a ... general officer — except me,” wrote Sestak. “Perhaps that’s why [I have not received endorsements] … I never grew up in politics.”

According to PBS, the U.S. House and Senate contain around 20 percent members who are veterans. This is down from about 75 percent in 1970 (however, veterans also now make up half of the percentage of total U.S. population as they did in 1970).

“Perhaps too many of our politicians in both parties have acquiesced and maybe that is why the general public — from the old Tea Party to today’s progressive Democrats — have felt attracted to those who seem to break the system,” wrote Sestak. “They just want a public servant.”

And Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, the other main Democratic U.S. Senate candidate who is also looking to break the system (Fetterman has endorsed U.S. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders), also downplayed the endorsement.

His campaign spokesperson Leslie Wertheimer sent this response to CP: "The last seven months of [McGinty's] campaign have shown establishment endorsements don't equate to campaign momentum or support from actual voters."

The most recent Harper poll shows potential head-to-head match-ups of Democratic candidates against incumbent Toomey. Sestak fares the best, but is still trailing 47-41, while McGinty trails 47-39 and Fetterman trails 46-36. McGinty has gained five percentage points since September, while Sestak gained four. (Fetterman entered the race after the September Harper poll.)

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Stephen Zappala uses victims Sandra Bland, Walter Scott and Janay Palmer in tv ad for Pennsylvania attorney general

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 12:13 PM

Today, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala released the first television advertisement in his campaign for Pennsylvania attorney general.

Zappala's ad begins with video footage from the traffic stop of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was found hanged in a Waller County, Texas jail after being taken into custody after a routine traffic stop in July 2015. The next clip is from the April 2015 shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man who was shot in the back while fleeing from police in North Charleston South Carolina. The third clip is from elevator footage of Janay Palmer, after she was beaten by professional football player Ray Rice in Atlantic City.

The clips are meant to show how similar tragedies have been avoided in Allegheny County as a result of Zappala's efforts "fighting domestic violence and racial profiling."

"Stephen Zappala has a story to tell that no one else in this election can match. Because of his leadership and unbending commitment to fairness and equal justice, Pittsburgh has not experienced the kinds of community upheaval that resulted in other cities from Chicago to Ferguson, Missouri to Miami Gardens, Florida," Zappala's campaign manager Marty Marks said in a statement. 

Zappala will face Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro and Northampton District Attorney John Morganelli in the April 26 primary. In February, Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced she would not be running.

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Josh Shapiro launches first TV ad in campaign for Pennsylvania attorney general

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 10:40 AM

On Sunday, Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro released the first television advertisement in the the campaign for Pennsylvania attorney general.

In it, he highlights endorsements from current and former Pennsylvania politicians like Gov. Tom Wolfe and former governor Ed Rendell, along with a recent endorsement from women's health advocates Planned Parenthood PA PAC.

“I’ve always taken on the status quo,” Shapiro says in the ad. “In Harrisburg, they didn’t like it when I stopped their perks and pushed for reform.”

In the video Shapiro also expresses a commitment to senior citizens, marriage equality and the environment. 

Shapiro will face Allegheny County District Attorney and Northampton District Attorney John Morganelli in the April 26 primary. In February, Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced she would not be running.

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Campaign 2016's Silly Season: A Weekly Tweet Roundup March 18

Posted By on Fri, Mar 18, 2016 at 12:14 PM

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

Since our last roundup in this head-spinning campaign, there has been: a semi-riot at an eventually cancelled Trump rally in Chicago; a "man from ISIS" (utterly unconfirmed) bum-rushing Trump on stage; a state finally won by perennial also-ran and Ohio Gov. John Kasich; a thumping of Marco Rubio in Florida by Trump; the dust blown off the Big Book of Rules for a Contested Convention; and 1,000 think-pieces about what it all means.

Hillary Clinton got a beer in Youngstown, which turned out to be money well spent; she won the state's primary.

Trump got all Warriors on Sanders.

Sanders got all indie pop on the voters.

Trump tweeted a photo of this signed baseball, which prompted Pete Rose's attorney to deny that the former Reds player had signed it. But really, does it even matter? #MakeAmericaPeteRoseAgain


John Kasich did some pandering. Big whoop: Call me when you get Coach Taylor. #cantlose


Ted Cruz awkwardly links his campaign to March Madness.


Marco Rubio learns a lesson too late: "Vain and self-absorbed" are critical attributes to being a winning politician.


Hillary guested on the stoner comedy Broad City, where another political milestone fell: A presidential candidate keeping a straight face while an effusive female supporter blurts out: "I pegged!"

And we say goodbye to Marco Rubio, who spent the last week looking like he was about to cry. His web store is still up, and you can get a good bit of use out of this now-commemorative The Year That Wasn't 2016 calendar.


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