Politics & Government

We cover politics and government with an eye to providing to voters clear, in-depth, nonpartisan information. 

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Democratic Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey and his Republican challenger, Congressman Lou Barletta, each touted their support of blue-collar workers in Pittsburgh Tuesday.

Lavish Court Spending In Poor West Virginia Triggers Scandal

Aug 14, 2018
John Raby / AP

A $42,000 antique desk. A $32,000 blue suede sectional sofa. A $7,500 inlaid wooden floor map of West Virginia's 55 counties.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

As midterms approach, Republicans and Democrats around the country are looking at special election results for clues on how their candidates will do in November.

A new Associated Press analysis shows Democrats, so far, have an enthusiasm advantage.

And in Pennsylvania, Democrats are trying to capitalize on that.

There have been ten special elections since Donald Trump became president. The final one before the midterms was last Tuesday in Ohio.

Charles Krupa / AP

As Pennsylvania’s Democratic Socialists get ready to have some of their own in the state House next legislative session, they’re also looking to broaden their coalition.

Casey, Barletta Spar Over Medicare Vote

Aug 13, 2018
Screenshot/Bob Casey for Senate

In a new campaign ad, Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey attacks his opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta for his vote seven years ago to restructure the Medicare program. Barletta's campaign says the ad is repeating a proven lie.

Jason Eppink / flickr

Pennsylvania plans to restore general assistance cash payments this fall for poor or disabled Pennsylvanians following a state Supreme Court decision.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A state agency has said it’s willing to let Pennsylvania’s capitol keep its uncommonly high taxes through 2020—the latest development in a battle between the city and state over how it’ll pay its bills after losing its “distressed municipality” status.

The city, however, is hoping it gets to keep its special taxing authority permanently.

The new tax option comes in the latest version of Harrisburg’s Act 47 exit plan, delivered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

Cliff Owen / AP

Ordinarily, you wouldn’t expect the chair of the Democratic National Committee to be so excited after seeing his party lose a closely watched special election. 

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

After a year of campaigning and months of legislative debate, it’s likely too late for state lawmakers to pass a constitutional amendment overhauling Pennsylvania’s redistricting process before the next map-redrawing gets underway in 2021.

So now, reform advocates are exploring alternative options.

Critics of the map-drawing methods for congressional and state legislative districts have spent months insisting state lawmakers have too much power over the process—and saying that leads to political gerrymandering and incumbent protection.  

Instead Of Tax Cuts, GOP Candidates Motivate With Anxiety

Aug 9, 2018
Kristi Boyd / Office of Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick

There's a border crisis in Pennsylvania. The radical left is surging in New Jersey. And Nancy Pelosi is a threat to New York.

Republican candidates in the nation's premier midterm battlegrounds have embraced a central message in their fight to maintain the House majority this fall — and it has little to do with the surging economy or the sweeping tax cuts that the GOP celebrated as a once-in-a-generation achievement just eight months ago.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

U.S. Senator Bob Casey was in suburban Pittsburgh Wednesday morning to advocate for protecting health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Casey was joined by health care providers and patients with pre-existing conditions at the Squirrel Hill Health Center in Brentwood, Pa.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Pennsylvania Republican Party wants an investigation into a promotion by Fayette County Democrats at the recent county fair to get people to register as Democrats or change party affiliation.

The GOP says the offer of Pittsburgh Steelers memorabilia and a one-night stay at a western Pennsylvania resort violated the state Elections Code .

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Pennsylvania’s junior U.S. senator is going toe to toe with President Donald Trump on tariffs.

Republican Pat Toomey, a staunch free trade advocate, held a roundtable discussion in Harrisburg on Tuesday to hear a range of business owners and advocates speak on how the President’s recent spate of tariffs and ensuing trade wars have impacted them.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

In an effort to shift his U.S. Senate campaign into a higher gear, Congressman Lou Barletta is in Pittsburgh Tuesday and Wednesday, with a bus sojourn his campaign calls the “Red, White and Lou” tour. And as he sought to raise his profile just three months from the election, he answered questions from 90.5 WESA about the campaign, Donald Trump's economic policies, and his ties to a controversial Trump ally.

Marc Levy / AP

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Lou Barletta is on a bus tour across the commonwealth with his golden retriever, Reilly.

The Luzerne County congressman is hoping it turns the tide of his disappointing fundraising numbers.

As of their most recent campaign filings from late June, Barletta has about $1.5 million on-hand, while opponent Bob Casey has nearly $10 million.

Matt Rourke / AP

The Republican gubernatorial nominee is updating his rhetoric on climate change.

No Shortage Of Fall Races For Pennsylvania Voters To Ponder

Aug 6, 2018
Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Midterm elections under a revamped congressional district map are certain to help transform Pennsylvania's delegation to Congress this fall. The governor and a U.S. senator, both Democrats, will learn in three months whether voters think they deserve another term. And the status of Republican majorities in both chambers of the Legislature, large margins by historical measures, hangs in the balance.

Jobs Boom Favors Democratic Counties, Not Trump Strongholds

Aug 6, 2018
Gene J. Puskar / AP

The United States is on pace to add about 2.6 million jobs this year under President Donald Trump's watch. Yet the bulk of the hiring has occurred in bastions of Democratic voters rather than in the Republican counties that put Trump in the White House.

On average for the year-ended this May, 58.5 percent of the job gains were in counties that backed Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to an Associated Press analysis of monthly government jobs data by county.

Matt Rourke / AP

With three months until midterm elections, Republican Congressman and U.S. Senate hopeful Lou Barletta has found himself trailing his incumbent opponent—both in polls and in dollars.

Now, the Luzerne County representative is leaning into one resource he can count on: the support of President Donald Trump.

On Thursday night, Trump rolled through northeast Pennsylvania to lend his voice to the cause.

FACT CHECK: Trump Says U.S. Steel Opening Mills; Not So

Aug 3, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

President Donald Trump is crediting his tariffs with persuading U.S. Steel to open a half dozen new plants. That's not so.

Trump at a rally in Wilkes-Barre Thursday night said: "U.S. Steel is opening up seven plants." On Tuesday, he told supporters in Florida: "U.S. Steel just announced that they're building six new steel mills."

Trump Renews Attacks On ‘Fake, Fake, Disgusting News’

Aug 3, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

President Donald Trump is renewing his campaign against the media, claiming at a Pennsylvania rally that the media is the "fake, fake disgusting news" and casting journalists as his true political opponent.

Natalie Piserchio for WHYY

President Donald Trump will visit Northeastern Pennsylvania Thursday, set to speak to an audience in Luzerne County, which helped deliver the state to Trump in 2016.

A day before his appearance, Republicans in the small, working-class community of Wilkes-Barre said their support of the president has not wavered over the last 18 months.

Trump will be stumping for former Hazletown mayor and current U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, who is trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in the November election.

Matt Slocum / AP

In a conference call with labor leaders on Thursday, U.S. Senator Bob Casey decried President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, judge Brett Kavanaugh, as part of an effort "to turn over the third branch of government to the corporate right."

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

City Council voted to approve UPMC’s $400 million plan to expand Mercy Hospital this week -- but one activist plans to continue the fight against Daniel Lavelle, the city councilor who brokered a deal with the health care giant.

Pennsylvania Green Party / Facebook

The Green Party is running candidates for Pennsylvania governor and lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate in the fall election.

PA House of Representatives / legis.state.pa.gov

A Democratic state representative is circulating a proposal that has prompted some concern from domestic violence advocates.

Representative Kevin Haggerty’s measure would require drug and alcohol tests for certain people who file for Protection from Abuse orders.

AP Photo

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey answered questions and listened to comments from Pennsylvanians in a tele town hall event on Tuesday, the second he's held in as many weeks.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A state commission is trying to figure out how to cut costs in Pennsylvania’s two largest, heavily-indebted pension funds.

Depending on what numbers you use, the State Employees’ Retirement System and Public School Employees’ Retirement System have between about $66 and $89 billion in unfunded liabilities.

Basically, the money needed to pay thousands of pensions isn’t there.

That’s nothing new. But what is new is a commission of lawmakers and state officials who are working to come up with a plan to pay down the debt.

Casey Ad Aims At Moderates; Barletta Embraces Trump

Jul 30, 2018

As Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race heats up, incumbent Democrat Bob Casey features a Republican in his new ad, while the GOP candidate, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, plans to play to his base this week, hosting a rally with President Donald Trump.

Casey’s been a vocal opponent of Trump, joining an airport protest of his immigration policies and refusing to support his Supreme Court pick before the nominee was announced.

But Casey’s new campaign ad is an appeal to the center.

Posted on state Rep. Hal English's website.

In a three-way contest this weekend, Lori Mizgorski narrowly won the Republican nomination to replace Hal English, for whom she has served as chief of staff, in state House District 30. 

She will face Democrat Betsy Monroe Nov. 6 in the district, which includes North Hills suburbs like Shaler, Richland, O'Hara and Hampton.

The Republican Committee of Allegheny County announced the result in a Sunday statement that quoted county party chair D. Raja calling Mizgorski "a superbly qualified candidate who will do an incredible job." 

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