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State Democrats Hope To Turn Pennsylvania Blue In 2020, Focus On Legislature

Carolyn Kaster
State Democratic Party chair Nancy Patton Mills says the party hopes Pennsylvanians will not only vote for former Vice President Joe Biden this November but also candidates in down-ballot races.


On today's program: U.S. Senator Pat Toomey will not seek a third term in 2022 and will not run for governor; state Democrats want to turn Pennsylvania blue in the 2020 election; and Pittsburgh author Lee Gutkind discusses his new memoir.

Toomey won’t seek reelection in 2022, won’t run for governor 
(00:00 — 5:22)

More than two years before his term expires, Senator Pat Toomey announced hewon’t seek reelection in 2022 or make a bid for governor.

The choice was personal, not political, according to Toomey. 

“The decision is consistent with the long-held view I’ve had in support of term limits,” he says. “I’ve committed myself to limiting my terms in the House. I didn’t do that in the Senate but I always thought I’d serve just two terms.”

The early announcement will give other contenders more time to consider their campaigns, saysChris Potter, 90.5 WESA government and accountability reporter. 

“Frankly, it will be helpful for Republicans across the state who are thinking about running either for the Senate or for governor.”

While candidates will likely wait to make any announcements, Potter says people are beginning to name potential contenders on both sides of the aisle.

“You’ll certainly be hearing a lot of names, and some of them will be familiar, and don’t be surprised if there’s a curveball or two coming down the road,” he says. 

Pennsylvania Democrats focus on 2020 election strategy
(5:23 — 13:09)

In 2016, Donald Trump became the first Republican presidential nominee to capture Pennsylvania since 1988. He won the commonwealth and its 20 electoral votes by a narrow margin—44,000 of the nearly 5.9 million votes cast.


Nancy Patton Mills, the chair of thestate Democratic Party, says Democrats are working to regain Pennsylvania in the general election. They’re not only hoping to turn Pennsylvania blue in the presidential race, but also gain control of at least one chamber in the state legislature. Republicans currently control both chambers of the legislature, with a 26 seat margin in the House and a seven-seat margin in the Senate.

“This is important; we’re four seats away from taking back the state Senate majority; we have target races all over the state to achieve this,” Patton Mills says. “This is where we’re working and we coordinate every minute of every day to not only elect the president and turn PA back to blue but to really turn it blue and be able to help Governor Wolf his last two years in office.”

New memoir chronicles one Pittsburgh writer’s experiences with aging
(13:10 — 17:48)

Pittsburgh-based authorLee Gutkind has written nonfiction books about everything from baseball umpires to the world of organ transplants. Now Gutkind has a new memoir revolving around his own experience with aging.


Gutkind spoke with 90.5 WESA’sBill O’Driscoll about his book, “My Last 8,000 Days.”

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.


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. kgavin@wesa.fm
Marylee is the editor/producer of The Confluence, the daily public affairs show on WESA. She got her start in journalism at The Daily Reveille and KLSU while attending Louisiana State University. She took her passion for audio journalism to UC Berkeley's graduate program and worked in public radio at WPR in Madison, WI, and WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Julia Zenkevich is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at jzenkevich@wesa.fm.
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