What Can Joe Biden Learn From Five Pennsylvania Presidential Losers?

From left: James Buchanan, Arlen Specter, Joe Biden, Rick Santorum, William Scott Hancock.

From left: James Buchanan, Arlen Specter, Joe Biden, Rick Santorum, William Scott Hancock.

Pennsylvania has long been regarded as a kingmaker when it comes to presidential politics — we still get awarded “swing state” status by pundits even though it’s been a generation since the state swung to Republicans in a presidential election. But we do a lousy job of electing our own.

The only native of the Keystone State to actually win the presidency? James Buchanan. You might remember him from his stint as The Worst President in American History. (That tends to happen when you stand by and let the nation devolve into ugly, bloody Civil War.) As Joe Biden — Scranton native, longtime U.S. senator from neighboring Delaware (aka “Pennsylvania’s third senator“)  — contemplates his own run for the presidency, he might want to consider the woes that have befallen his predecessors.

Here are five notable Pennsylvanians who failed to win the White House: Read more »

Will Pa. Forsake the Democrats in 2016?


Democrats love Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton won her 2008 primary here. The party is holding its 2016 presidential convention here. We haven’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988. The next election is going to be a lovefest between the Keystone State and Dems, right?

Perhaps not. Political analysts are saying that Pennsylvania, which usually comes out blue in presidential elections, could in fact turn out to be a “toss-up” state in 2016.

PoliticsPA reports that the Cook Political Report, which it calls “one of the most respected political prognosticators in the country,” has released its latest electoral college scorecard for the 2016 presidential election. And Pennsylvania, which has long been in Cook’s “Lean Democratic” column is now listed as one of nine states that could go either way.

The state last voted for a Republican when George H.W. Bush — the older Bush — first ran for president. Is Pennsylvania really a state again?


“I don’t think there’s any doubt Pennsylvania will be a competitive state,” said Terry Madonna, the director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall University, said of Pennsylvania’s new status.  Read more »

NJ’s Economic Growth Near Worst; PA Just Average

GDP chartNew data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis finds that New Jersey had poor economic growth in 2014. Compared to other states, New Jersey ranked 46th, with its gross domestic product growing just 0.4 percent over the course of the year.

Pennsylvania saw about average growth with a 1.8 percent uptick, while Delaware was at 1.2 percent. Read more »

CNN Graphic Misidentifies Pennsylvania as New York

A graphic on CNN yesterday misidentified Pennsylvania as New York, and now this is a blog post telling you about it. Hmm.

It was part of a story about two convicted killers who escaped Sunday from a prison in New York (the actual New York, not the above impostor). Read more »

New Jersey, Pennsylvania Really, Really Stink at Pension Funding

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New Jersey and Pennsylvania have America’s most-underfunded public employee pension systems, says a new report from the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. In fact, the report suggests, the two states have fallen so short of making the annual required contributions to the funds that they’ve managed to separate themselves from the pack.

Political battles are being waged in both states over how best to deal with the underfunding — Chris Christie versus the teachers unions in New Jersey, while House Republicans in Pennsylvania say pension reform must be part of any budget deal with Gov. Tom Wolf — but the report traces the underfunding back to the flush days of the late 1990s. Read more »

Pennsylvania Attorney General, Chief Justice Reach Porn Deal


Pennsylvania’s porn email scandal drags on. On Wednesday, the office of Attorney General Kathleen Kane said she and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille reached a deal over porn emails. She will turn over the names of judges or judicial employees who had exchanged sexually explicit emails on state accounts.

She won’t, however, give the messages to Castille. She’ll allow him to view the emails and pornographic content, but will only give him copies of the emails “without explicit content,” per the Inquirer. It’s unclear why Kane won’t share the porn with Castille. Does she think he’ll, in turn, start forwarding around these messages again?

To be fair, a judge is involved in this scandal: Judge Seamus McCaffery (of Eagles Court fame) reportedly sent at least 10 messages from a personal email account to the state account of someone in the Attorney General’s office. (“I just wonder why a half dozen private emails, allegedly from Justice McCaffery’s personal computer, are front page news,” a spokesman for the judge said in a statement.)

Read more »

Pennsylvania Defending Lawsuit by Blaming Woman for Her Own Rape

A 24-year-old was working at the Rockland state prison in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania prison as a typist when she was attacked and raped by an inmate. Omar Best was convicted of her rape. The victim has sued the state of Pennsylvania, which is defending the lawsuit by claiming that her actions “in whole or in part contributed” to her own rape.

Kathleen Kane’s office was flooded with calls yesterday after the Centre Daily Times initially reported the lawsuit response. The Attorney General’s office says Kane didn’t know about this response to the lawsuit when it was filed, even though her name is on it. Kane spokesman David Tyler talked to the Centre Daily, which explained, “Kane’s name is attached to hundreds of documents every week, most of which she did not author and might not have read.” (I guess “It’s my first day!” or “The dog ate my copy of the filing” sounded worse.)

“This initial filing should not necessarily be interpreted as meaning this defense will be pursued throughout the entire case,” Kane’s office said in a statement sent to media outlets. “Attorney General Kane is disappointed that she was not made aware of this matter prior to the filing, and was saddened to learn that the filing implied that the victim somehow contributed to this crime.”

Read more »

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