New Poll: Toomey-McGinty Race Is Essentially Tied

Katie McGinty, Pat Toomey

Katie McGinty photo by Donald Derosa, used under a Creative Commons license

A new poll from Quinnipiac University says that the Senate race in Pennsylvania is very much like the presidential one here: A dead heat.

Sen. Pat Toomey gets 45 percent of the vote in the new poll, while Katie McGinty gets 44 percent. Much like the poll Quinnipiac took of Trump/Clinton, men back the Republican candidate (53–36 percent), while women say they’re going to vote for McGinty (51-38). The pollsters interviewed 1,077 Pennsylvania voters and say the poll has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points. Read more »

Face It, Sen. Toomey, You’re a Cafeteria Catholic Like the Rest of Us

Sen. Patrick Toomey, speaks to reporters outside his office in Washington on April 12, 2016.

“I was born and raised Catholic. I am a practicing Catholic. We are active members of our church. Our kids attend Catholic school, so my faith is a part of who I am. What I have learned through faith helps inform my judgment on many, many issues. It’s hard to quantify, but my faith is an important source of informing my judgment.”

The preceding quote is one of Pat Toomey’s responses to a candidates’ questionnaire prepared by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office of Communications and and published in the Catholic Standard & Times October 28, 2010, edition, just prior to the election in which he eked out a victory over Admiral Joe Sestak to claim the U.S. Senate seat for Pennsylvania.

Truth is, no Catholic disputed his religious bona fides — he was outspoken about his pro-life views, and had long been a supporter of school choice and the vouchers that favor archdiocesan education. Since then he’s taken a number of stands that he (and other conservative Catholics) have characterized as safeguarding religious liberties and practice — including efforts to exempt religious employers from carrying insurance that covers birth control and opposing discrimination laws that include LGBTQ protections. He is not — by many Pennsylvania Catholics’ accounting — a “cafeteria Catholic,” that is, someone who has cherry-picked which issues to stand Catholic about.

Well … except for immigration.  Read more »

Attack Ads Already Flying in Hotly Contested Pennsylvania Senate Race

McGinty / Toomey attack ads

It’s been just a week since the Pennsylvania primary election, but the general election is ramping into high gear — at least in the race for the state’s junior senate seat. Per the Associated Press, “tens of millions of dollars” are expected to be spent by outside groups in the race for the Pennsylvania Senate seat.

Katie McGinty, the Democratic establishment-backed candidate, easily bested Joe Sestak and John Fetterman for the Democratic nomination. Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey was unopposed in the Republican primary; he beat Sestak, 51-49 percent, in the 2010 Senate election. This race is also expected to be close.

The general election began even on primary election night, when Friends of Pat Toomey paid for a Snapchat filter attacking Katie McGinty at McGinty’s election-night party. Meanwhile, several outside groups have already begun airing attack ads.

The Club for Growth, a conservative group that pushes tax cuts and reduced government spending, is airing ads attacking McGinty. This one has been airing during Phillies games in the area. Toomey, a U.S. Congressman for three terms in the late ’90s and early 2000s, was president of the Club for Growth between 2005 and 2009.

McGinty has never held elected office. The ad, which helpfully notes it is an “actor portrayal” of McGinty, accuses her of funneling grants to her husband. The website Blue Nation Review calls the ad “sexist.”

McGinty’s camp has released a detailed response to the ad. The campaign says much of the work going to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (where Karl Hausker works as a consultant on several projects) began under Republican administrations. The campaign also says McGinty has never been a lobbyist, and that several newspaper editorials called the “largest tax increase” claim “deceptive.”

“McGinty’s fight for the middle class is resonating across the state and it’s no wonder that Pat Toomey’s allies are up with a baseless attack to distract from Toomey’s hurtful record against Pennsylvanians,” Sabrina Singh, McGinty’s communications director, said. “It is hard to take an ad like this seriously but what is serious is Pat Toomey’s commitment to putting Wall Street and special interests ahead of Pennsylvanians.”

Ah, yes, Wall Street. That’s the subject of an ad launched by the AFSCME PEOPLE Independent Expenditure, an arm of the union, against Toomey. It notes his long record as an investment banker and his support of loosening government restrictions that caused the financial crisis.

The Toomey camp responded with a long press release responding to the claims in the ad. The campaign says Toomey opposed the Wall Street bailout and has introduced legislation to end “too big to fail” banks. Toomey has also worked with Democratic senators to sponsor legislation ending subsidies for the sugar and corn industries, his campaign says.

“Pat Toomey is widely known for his longtime efforts to fight corporate cronyism and stop government handouts to special interest groups,” Toomey for Senate spokesman Ted Kwong said. “Katie McGinty has built her entire career on doing just the opposite, using her posts in government to enrich herself on corporate boards and her friends with taxpayer dollars.”

It’s only May. Get ready for more of this all the way to November.

Follow @dhm on Twitter.

Sen. Toomey to Meet with Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee

Pat Toomey; Merrick Garland

Pat Toomey (left) says he’ll meet with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, but he won’t vote to confirm him.

Pat Toomey has taken a beating in the wake of Merrick Garland‘s nomination to the Supreme Court. His Twitter mentions are a series of jabs from Democrats tweeting #DoYourJob. He’s taken almost a month of attacks from the three primary Democrats vying for his senate seat.

That’s because Toomey has been steadfast in his decision for the last month: He’s not going to vote for Garland, saying it should be up to the next president. After Garland was nominated, Toomey said he wouldn’t even meet with him. But, today, Toomey released a statement changing his mind: He would meet with Garland.

But don’t get too excited, Democrats. Toomey still isn’t voting for Garland’s confirmation. He said in a statement: Read more »

Bob Casey Endorses Katie McGinty in Senate Primary

Bob Casey (left), Katie McGinty

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey has endorsed Katie McGinty in the primary for the state’s other U.S. Senate seat.

“McGinty will fight tirelessly for Pennsylvania families,” Casey told the Associated Press, “and I’m proud to endorse her.”

Casey, the son of Pennsylvania’s governor from 1987 to 1995, has been a senator since 2006. He is pretty popular: He knocked Rick Santorum out of office with 59 percent of the vote that year, and won re-election with 54 percent of the vote in 2014.

Casey’s endorsement cements McGinty as the establishment candidate this year. She has a long list of establishment backers, including former Philly mayor and Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Gov. Tom Wolf. McGinty ran against Wolf in the gubernatorial primary two years ago and was later his chief-of-staff. Read more »

What They’re Saying: Pennsylvania Pols React to Obama’s Pick for Supreme Court

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, stands with President Barack Obama as he is introduced as Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016.

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, stands with President Barack Obama as he is introduced as Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016.

Today, Barack Obama made one of the most important decisions of his presidency: In his final NCAA tournament poll, he picked the Kansas Jayhawks to win the NCAA Championship.

Oh, wait. He also nominated Merrick Garland for the vacant spot on the Supreme Court. Justice Antonin Scalia died last month.

The president has even launched a website section — complete with FAQ! — about Garland’s qualifications. Notably, it includes a quote from ultra-conservative Sen. Orrin Hatch praising Garland as a possible pick for the Supreme Court.

Naturally, the Republicans don’t want to confirm Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court. They have cited the Thurmond Rule, a guideline that judges shouldn’t be confirmed in the run-up to an election, though that guideline generally refers to a six-month time period. Basically: The GOP would rather have a conservative nominate the next Supreme Court justice, and it’s close enough to the election that Republicans can probably stall until then.

As such, Mitch McConnell said the GOP won’t even hold hearings on Garland. Republicans have a majority in the Senate, which needs to confirm Supreme Court nominees, and they plan to sit this one out. Read more »

Which Toomey Foe Had the Best Dig About Senator’s Supreme Court Vacancy Stance?

Pat Toomey (Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons); Katie McGinty (Jeff Fusco); John Fetterman (By PopTech from Camden, Maine and Brooklyn, NY - John Fetterman - Pop!Tech 2009 - Camden, ME, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8688092); Joe Sestak (By US Congress - http://www.gwcc.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/sestak-headshot-09.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10689676)

Clockwise from left: Pat Toomey (Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons); Katie McGinty (Jeff Fusco); John Fetterman (PopTech via Creative Commons); Joe Sestak.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on February 13th. His body may still have been warm when battle lines started forming: Democrats said President Obama should appoint a new justice to the Supreme Court, while Republicans said it should wait until the next president.

The Constitution is clear on the matter: The president should appoint a nominee, who has to be confirmed by the Senate. But Republicans have pointed to the Thurmond Rule, a relatively recent tradition that appointments should not be made in the months before a new president is elected.

In reality, nobody really cares about tradition, as you can find Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden decrying the nomination of judges in the run-up to a presidential election in slightly different situations (in Biden’s case, a hypothetical one). Both parties care about the optimal result for their politics: Democrats want a liberal nominated to the Supreme Court, so they want Obama to name him now so they don’t have to wait for an election the party could lose. Republicans want a conservative, so they want to wait until after the election and hope they win.

But Republicans, who can block any nominee from being seated, still have to go through the motions. Maybe! GOP senate leaders said earlier this week not only will they not hold hearings on Obama’s nominee, they won’t even meet with the person. (Traditionally, the nominee meets with senators before hearings.) Obama wrote on SCOTUSBlog today he will have a nominee in the coming weeks. Read more »

Nutter: DNC Attendees Will Eat Out

salmon nutter

Salmon, left. Mayor Nutter, right.

Good morning, Philadelphia. Here’s what you need to know this morning:

Preparations for the Democratic National Convention in 2016 begin now. And officials say attendees will probably eat at local restaurants.

Democratic Party officials announced the opening of their Philadelphia office on Thursday, and promised the Summer 2016 event will pump $350 million into the economy. Some of that money will even go to restaurants, which will presumably be able to sell every slice of pecan-crusted salmon they can produce. (Last time we make that joke. Promise.)

“There’s no question, I would anticipate during that week virtually every, any kind of serious restaurant or other business to pretty much be sold out,” Mayor Michael Nutter said. The convention is expected to attract 50,000 people. (CBS3)

Read more »

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

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

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 »

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