Politics

Live Blog: Primary Day 2018

May 15, 2018
90.5 WESA

Check in throughout the day for 90.5 WESA's continuous coverage of the Primary Election. 

Matt Rourke / AP

Of all the crowded races in Tuesday's primary election, perhaps none is odder than the one for lieutenant governor.

Usually, a sitting LG is in a pretty safe spot once primaries roll around.

But no less than four Democratic challengers are giving incumbent Mike Stack a run for his money.

For Stack, a former Democratic Senator from Philadelphia, the trouble seemed to really start with a press conference.

Primary Will Help Set Stage For Next Crop Of State Lawmakers

May 14, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

This year's legislative races in Pennsylvania have drawn extremely high levels of interest, with reports of activists swamping normally quiet organizational meetings and an unusually large number of candidates making it onto the ballot.

On Primary Day, Both Parties Agree New Congressional Map May Cause Confusion

May 14, 2018
Joseph Kaczmarek

Days before Pennsylvania’s primary election, about 25 Democrats gathered for a meeting a few blocks away from the border of two recently reshaped congressional districts in North Philadelphia.

On a table with campaign literature, flyers that said, “re-elect Congressman Dwight Evans” were neatly tucked away and replaced with others that support Congressman Brendan Boyle.

Courtesy of Lindsey Williams for PA, Friends of Stephanie Walsh, Friends of Jeremy Shaffer, and Friends of Randy Vulakovich

One of the most competitive local races in Tuesday's primary is for state Senate in the 38th District, which includes North Hills suburbs, Allegheny River communities and some Pittsburgh East End neighborhoods.

Republican incumbent Randy Vulakovich, of Shaler, is facing a spirited challenge from Ross Township Commissioner Jeremy Shaffer, also a Republican.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Call it a tale of two Costas.

In campaign-season mailers being sent to Democratic voters in the 21st state House district, state Rep. Dom Costa boasts of his success at “Moving Pittsburgh Forward.” 

Matt Rourke / AP

With less than a week before the primary elections, GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner is voicing his support for a restrictive abortion bill.

The stance is in line with a recurring theme in the race—the York County Senator’s apparent battle with rival Paul Mango over who is farther right politically.

Katie Meyer / 90.5 WESA

It's a Tuesday evening in early May, and an elaborately-decorated lobby in Malvern is swarming with Republicans.

A number are state officials, or officers for the Pennsylvania GOP. Many more are members of the Chester County Republican Party--the group behind this particular dinner.

But the keynote speaker, and the name on most of the signs, banners, and lapel buttons, is a guy who still describes himself as a political outsider, even after four years in the state Senate.

Cliff Owen / AP

A group that's plunging money into a Republican congressional primary contest in southwestern Pennsylvania is getting most of it from the campaign account of the now-resigned U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy.

Federal Election Commission reports show the group Conservatives for PA is paying for TV and radio ads and direct mail to help state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler in his 14th Congressional District primary race against state Rep. Rick Saccone.

Laura Ellsworth Campaign video via YouTube

After being outspent and outshouted for months in the Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial primary, Laura Ellsworth is getting air time, endorsements, and — she hopes — a surge toward the finish line.

Ellsworth, a Pittsburgh attorney, never had the personal wealth to compete with state Sen. Wagner and Pittsburgh businessman Paul Mango, each of whom invested millions in their own campaigns.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A new non-partisan commission will investigate how to better secure voting machines, voter registration, and other elements of Pennsylvania's electoral system. 


Voters Eye Pennsylvania’s Wide-Open, Crowded U.S. House Races

May 7, 2018
Marc Levy / AP

Like his seven Republican rivals before him, Stephen Bloom had delivered all the conservative bona fides to the crowd at the social hall in rural southern Pennsylvania when he offered a sweetener: He will visit often if he's elected to Congress.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

The close-knit homes of Pittsburgh’s Morningside neighborhood could almost be the backdrop for the opening credits to 1970s sitcom "All In the Family." But when Sara Innamorato is out knocking doors, the first-time Democratic candidate can see at least one way she’s changing the landscape.

“It’s just a bizarre, bizarre thing to see your name on a sign,” she said.

Matt Rourke / AP

Several state lawmakers are trying to boost a proposal that would qualify women with postpartum depression for support through Pennsylvania’s Early Intervention program.

Jacqueline Martin / AP

Pennsylvania will fill the empty seat of resigned U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan in a special election on Nov. 6, the day of the general election.

Wednesday's announcement by Gov. Tom Wolf also will apply to the expected resignation of U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent.

That would leave a special election winner just two months in office before a successor picked in the general election takes over for a full two-year term in Congress.

Meehan and Dent, both Republicans, were facing a hostile electorate in 2018 in increasingly liberal eastern Pennsylvania districts.

Matt Rourke / AP

It’s almost time for lawmakers to start work on the state budget.

But after several cycles of tortuous negotiations made more difficult by persistent revenue shortfalls, it looks like this year might be smoother sailing.

Thanks to last year’s weak revenue collections, lawmakers were faced with a nearly $1.5 billion hole.

They finally filled it through—mostly—borrowing. But it took until late October, three months past the deadline.

This year, the shortfall is much smaller.

Matt Rourke / AP

In recent weeks, proponents of overhauling Pennsylvania’s redistricting process with an independent citizens’ commission have been frustrated as their bills have been repeatedly gutted by the Republican majority in a prominent state House committee.

But now, those advocates may be getting an unexpected new ally in House GOP Leader Dave Reed, who told reporters Tuesday, this is an issue he wants to address before he departs the legislature at the end of this year.  

Currently, congressional redistricting is done by the legislature, and the governor signs off on it.

Matt Rourke / AP

For the second time this month, a state House panel has stripped a bill that would have established an independent redistricting commission made up of citizens, and replaced it with language that gives the legislature even more power over the process.

Wagner As Governor Spurs Question Of Business Conflicts

Apr 30, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

If he wins the race for Pennsylvania governor, Scott Wagner would become the state's only chief executive in at least a half-century who took office with a deep financial interest in a business heavily regulated by the state.

Wagner, 63, the Republican Party's endorsed candidate to take on Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in November, maintains he will be focused strictly on a business-friendly platform of cutting spending and regulations, not helping the York County-based waste hauler he owns.

Matt Rourke / AP

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati may not have to pay more than $29,000 out of pocket for legal fees in a redistricting case.

At least, not yet.

A federal judge has put a hold on the order he made after deeming the GOP lawmaker’s actions in the case frivolous.

The case in question was initially brought to the Commonwealth Court last summer by the League of Women Voters, who argued the state congressional map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

With New Map, Pennsylvania Fields Busy U.S. House Primaries

Apr 30, 2018
Marc Levy / AP

George Scott got the inevitable question a half-hour into a meet-the-candidate house party in the rolling hills of south-central Pennsylvania: How will you inspire all those people in the congressional district who put up Donald Trump signs in 2016?

Jacqueline Martin / AP

A Pennsylvania Republican who used taxpayer money to settle a former aide's sexual harassment charges has abruptly resigned from Congress.

Congressman Patrick Meehan had already decided not to seek re-election. Meehan resigned Friday, saying he'll repay the government $39,000 he used to help settle the allegation against him.

Meehan says in a resignation letter that his decision is in the best interest of constituents and will avoid the "rigors" and expense of an investigation by the House Ethics Committee. But he says he believes he would have been exonerated.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania is starting the process of replacing its voting machines. And at the state Farm Show complex this week, election administrators and the public got a chance to see what the new ones might look like.

The display comes soon after Governor Tom Wolf handed down a mandate that all counties upgrade their election equipment by the end of next year, leaving officials scrambling to figure out how to afford it.

Matt Rourke / AP

With three weeks left before the primary election, the three Republicans seeking the party's nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in November are set to take debate questions on live television.

Wednesday night's debate between commercial litigation attorney Laura Ellsworth, ex-health care systems consultant Paul Mango and state Sen. Scott Wagner will be aired live by stations in Harrisburg, Erie, Scranton and Johnstown.

Marc Levy / AP

A GOP-controlled state Senate committee is making slow, careful progress at changing Pennsylvania’s justice system to focus on reforming the convicted and reducing prison populations.

The effort is led by the GOP Committee Chair Stewart Greenleaf, who is trying to pass as many justice overhaul proposals as possible before his retirement at the end of the year.

Greenleaf, of Bucks County, often acknowledges that his desire to change the system came later in his long career, after years of taking a tough-on-crime approach.

Matt Rourke / AP

As part of its announced effort to curb sexual harassment and abuse in the legislature, and in Pennsylvania workplaces generally, a House committee has held a public hearing on the subject.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Val DiGiorgio, the chair of the state Republican Party, said Republicans–including those running in the newly drawn 14th Congressional District–should refrain from attacking each other. But his party hasn't given up the fight against a new Congressional district map, even as voters prepare to cast ballots in those races next month.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The commonwealth’s Independent Fiscal Office has released its yearly assessment of Governor Tom Wolf’s budget proposal.

It reports that most of the revenue estimates check out. That is, if Wolf can figure out how to get his ideas past the GOP-controlled General Assembly.

The Democratic governor’s fourth budget proposal—and the final one of his first term—brings back a lot of the ideas he’s been trying unsuccessfully to pass for his entire tenure.

Key components are a natural gas severance tax, a minimum wage increase to $12 an hour, and a corporate tax overhaul.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

State House lawmakers have completed their final session in a two-week series of Judiciary Committee hearings on gun violence.

They were inspired by the call for tougher gun laws in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. that killed 17 people.

Despite some agreement on the importance of the issue, lawmakers are struggling mightily with solutions.

They tangled over one proposal after another, from expanding background checks, to arming teachers, to mandating schools install metal detectors, to banning AR-15 style weapons

Courtesy Guy Reschenthaler official Facebook page; Keith Srakocic/AP


State Rep. Rick Saccone (R - Elizabeth) sits at his campaign headquarters in Southpointe with one other staffer.

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