America’s Gun Problem Isn’t Pat Toomey’s Fault

Pat Toomey, Joe Manchin

I get that it’s an election year and thus partisan attacks won’t always be fair, but still: It seems pretty silly that Democrats are taking aim at Sen. Pat Toomey, of all people, on the gun issue.

Why? Because a few years ago, after the Sandy Hook massacre, Toomey became the rare Republican to buck the NRA — he joined Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and sponsored a bill to expand background checks for gun purchases. Modest? Sure. Watered-down? Probably. And yet: It was still too much for the Gun Caucus to accept. The bill never came close to passage.

Despite this, Toomey is now being criticized by his campaign rivals for not doing enough to end the scourge of mass shootings. Read more »

Rendell: Nutter Mishandled Papal Visit

Good morning, Philadelphia. Here is what you need to know today.

• Ed Rendell says Mayor Nutter mishandled the papal visit.

You knew Ed Rendell wouldn’t keep his opinions to himself for long. Tuesday, he threw Mayor Nutter under the proverbial bus for his administration’s handling of papal visit preparations, criticizing everything from poor restaurant sales to the lockdown security. Nutter had previously blamed the media for depressing turnout for the visit.

They did things very, very well on the one hand. On the other hand, we’re starting to get tremendous blowback, and not just from reporters,” Rendell said of Nutter’s administration, talking to Rich Zeoli on WPHT. “The reporters just basically reported what the Secret Service and the Mayor and the Police Commissioner said. I don’t think they can be blamed in creating fear in people’s minds.” Read more »

Planned Parenthood Targets Toomey

Planned Parenthood is running an ad attacking Sen. Pat Toomey, suggesting his vote to defund the organization could be the first step toward a costly government shutdown.

Toomey is one of four “vulnerable” senators in the 2016 election being targeted by the ads, The Hill reports.

“’First Pat Toomey voted to defund Planned Parenthood — risking healthcare for millions of women,’ the Pennsylvania ad says. ‘Now Republicans want to shut down the government — to block funding for Planned Parenthood. What would a shutdown mean for Pennsylvania?’

“The ad then shows a veteran wondering about getting benefits and a senior worrying about Social Security checks.”

Three things to know about this controversy: Read more »

Katie McGinty Launches Senate Campaign

As expected, Democrat Katie McGinty launched her campaign for U.S. Senate today, two weeks after stepping down from her post as Gov. Tom Wolf’s chief of staff, re-introducing herself in a web video where she promises to fight for working Pennsylvania families.

“I will be a Senator who believes in Pennsylvania’s promise and I’ll work to make us the manufacturing and technology powerhouse we know we can be,” she said. Read more »

Toomey, Casey on Opposite Sides of Planned Parenthood Debate

Pat Toomey, left; Bob Casey Jr., right.

Pat Toomey, left; Bob Casey Jr., right.

In recent weeks, a pro-life group has released several videotapes purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials haggling over the price their organization will be paid for fetal tissue, from abortions, that it provides to researchers. The tapes have sparked a new battle over federal support for the organization, and Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey Jr. find themselves on opposite sides. Read more »

Report: Katie McGinty Close to Deciding on Senate Challenge to Pat Toomey

Katie McGinty

The wooing of Katie McGinty has apparently become quite serious.

When last we checked in, McGinty — Gov. Tom Wolf‘s chief of staff — had been approached about running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Pat Toomey by Democratic leaders desperate not to have Joe Sestak represent the party on the ballot next fall. But Ed Rendell pooh-poohed the whole thing and that, we figured, was probably that.

Think again.

“This weekend the DSCC held a retreat at Martha’s Vineyard. Dozens of Senators and Senate candidates were there. So was Katie McGinty,” PoliticsPA reports. “PoliticsPA has learned she flew to the event on a chartered flight with over fifteen Senators. We were also able to confirm with McGinty’s top political strategist Mike Mikus that she left on Friday night and returned Sunday.”

She’s apparently generating enthusiasm that Sestak, who lost to Toomey in 2010, hasn’t been able to muster.  Read more »

Katie McGinty Approached on Senate Run

Businesswoman and former DEP Secretary Katie McGinty has run a solid campaign, building a network and achieving fundraising success. But most important, she, unlike opponents Allyson Schwartz and Rob McCord, stayed away from attacking Wolf. Given that, combined with Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s implosion and much of the Democratic establishment disliking former congressman Joe Sestak, watch for the articulate McGinty to quickly become the frontrunner against freshman Pat Toomey in 2016.

Katie McGinty, who ran for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination last year, has been approached by party leaders about running for Pat Toomey’s Senate seat.

It’s starting to look like the Democratic establishment really doesn’t want Joe Sestak challenging Pat Toomey for the U.S. Senate in 2016. Sestak hasn’t always helped himself as a candidate, and each week brings fresh rumors of efforts by party leaders to recruit a primary opponent for Sestak.

The latest? Katie McGinty.

McGinty ran for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination last year, losing to eventual winner Tom Wolf, but ending up as his chief of staff.

“Former governor, Ed Rendell, says national Democrats have contacted Governor Tom Wolf’s top aide about running for U.S. Senate,” WITF reports. “However, Rendell says he doesn’t think Katie McGinty will run and that she’s committed to working through a budget standoff with state lawmakers as Wolf’s chief of staff. ” Read more »

Pat Toomey Sent Us a Box of Chocolates

Toomey Candy

Turns out, Sen. Pat Toomey is way more than a Hershey’s guy.

Earlier this month, we told you that Toomey is keeper of the Senate’s traditional “candy desk” — and that one of his predecessors in keeping the chamber’s sweet tooth sated during interminable debates was perpetual presidential candidate Rick Santorum, and that big home-state suppliers like Hershey’s and Just Born were largely responsible for keeping Toomey supplied with sweets.

Cut to this morning, when we arrived at work to find a medium-sized box on our desk. The return address was Toomey’s office. There was no note inside — just lots and lots of candy. All of it, as far as we can tell, from Pennsylvania. (See the pic above.) Read more »

Pat Toomey Is Keeper of Senate’s “Candy Desk”

Toomey Candy

Something we didn’t know about U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, the Pennsylvania Republican: He is the keeper of the Senate’s candy.

National Journal details the matter in a story about how senators chose where, in the chamber, to keep a desk.

But as a long night wears on, there’s one desk particularly critical to keeping the Senate running: That’s the one used by Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican. Tucked inside his desk is a spread of candy and chocolate from his home state. When asked if the rumblings were true, if he was the senator with the candy, he responded, “I am the candy supplier.”

It’s a tradition. An aisle seat on the back row of the Republican side—adjacent to the chamber doors where many senators flit in and out—is the candy desk. It’s a commitment Toomey readily accepted.

“Since Pennsylvania is the No. 1 candy maker in the country, I took the desk,” he said. “And I keep it stocked.”

Read more »

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