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Thanks To Redistricting, PA Democrats Are Going Into 2020 On A Level Playing Field, Party Chair Says

Julia Zenkevich
90.5 WESA
Pennsylvania Democratic Party chair Nancy Patton Mills stands outside the WESA studios on Monday, May 6, 2019.

Pennsylvania democrats are counting on the midterm momentum they garnered last year as they gear up for the 2020 presidential race. Donald Trump's victory in Pennsylvania in 2016 came as a surprise to many democrats, including Nancy Patton Mills, who now serves as chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party

"Whenever I went to sleep, I knew we had a lot of work to do," Patton Mills says. Now she's responsible for strategizing how to get those outside her party to vote for democratic candidates.

She says the 2018 election, which resulted in a 9-9 split in Pennylvania's Congressional delegation, make her optimistic about her party's chances, but democrats will need more than the "same old playbook" courting Pennsylvania's largest cities to take the commonwealth.

Credit Photo by Heather Mull / Courtesy of Quantum Theatre
Courtesy of Quantum Theatre
Jeffrey Carpenter as King Lear in the new Quantum Theatre production at the Carrie Furnaces National Historic Landmark.

Later in the program:

The Gateway Medical Society is an association of doctors, nurses and non-medical professionals committed to eliminating health disparities among people of color. At the Gateway to Wellness symposium this Saturday, they will also offer free screenings and counseling. 90.5 WESA’s Elaine Effort spoke with Steven Evans, the group's vice president and surgical oncologist, about the need for this type of community outreach. 

Drop-in medical centers allow people with mental health diagnoses to help one another and serve as alternative to going to an emergency room. The centers are not available in many Pennsylvania counties, and some have limited hours and resources. WITF reporter Brett Sholtis looked at the effect one drop-in center in Blair County has on a community. The report was part of an ongoing series  "Through the Cracks."

And Quantum Theatre, known in part for their site-specific performances, is mixing Shakespeare with Pittsburgh’s steel heritage in a new production of King Lear at the Carrie Blast Furnaces in Swissvale. 90.5 WESA’s Bill O’Driscoll says that director Risher Reddick found similarities between Pittsburgh’s loss of identity with the collapse of big steel and Lear’s own deterioration. The Carrie Furnaces are what's left of the Homestead Steel Works and sat empty for decades before being revived as an art space and a National Historic Landmark.

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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