Between the federal government shutdown and the PA Supreme Court’s noogie regarding congressional maps, the week got off to a bit of a shaky start. With the government shutdown, there was ample ugliness to go around as the R’s blamed the D’s, Schumer blamed McConnell, WaPo (as usual) blamed Trump, Abbott blamed Costello, and the American electorate collectively rolled its eyes once again. The Atlantic published an insightful piece sorting out what’s what.
In the post-mortem sweepstakes, Sen. Chuck Schumer and his fellow Democrats took considerable heat for shutting the government down in the first place, and then for backing off and leaving the 700,000 people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in limbo. U.S. News & World Report called it “the daily struggle for America’s soul.” Expect elevated bickering and more political hostage-taking as a March 5 deadline looms for ending the DACA program.
As for those congressional districts, the court ruled 5-2 – along party lines, for those keeping score at home – that the Republican-controlled General Assembly and (at the time) governor’s office overstepped in the way they configured the maps, in violation of the State Constitution. The court gave lawmakers and Governor Wolf until Feb. 15 to straighten things out, or the court will draw new maps. GOP legislative leaders appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The court decision created considerable uncertainty for congressional candidates as we move toward a May primary election with the prospect of the districts looking a whole lot different then compared with now. That didn’t seem to bother House Majority Leader Dave Reed, who announced that he’d like to succeed Bill Shuster in the PA 9th.
It was yet another interesting week for President Trump, aside from the government shutdown festivities. Reportedly surprising his own lawyers, Trump said he not only would testify in the Russian meddling probe, but is “looking forward to it.” Right – just like we’re looking forward to our next root canal.
As you may have heard, there’s a gubernatorial election this year, and the four Republican hopefuls – state Sen. Scott Wagner, state House Speaker Mike Turzai, Allegheny County businessman Paul Mango and Pittsburgh attorney Laura Ellsworth – will debate one another on March 1. The event is sponsored by our friends at PennLive/the Patriot News and CBS21.
While the Republican gubernatorial candidates are sharpening their message points, the Associated Press reports that Governor Wolf has amassed $11 million for his reelection effort, and unlike last time, none of it has come out of his own pocket, at least so far.
State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, a Republican from Bucks and Montgomery counties, announced he will retire after nearly 40 years. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and as a member of the Appropriations Committee, he leaves an impressive legacy. Running for his seat is someone with a familiar name, Stewart Greenleaf Jr.
Democrat Austin Davis, of McKeesport, won a state House seat in a special election, replacing fellow Dem Marc Gergely. Davis was a senior aide to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
PA officials had been hoping that bids for 10 new mini-casino licenses would raise $100 million, but after just two rounds the state has already raised $90 million. Some observers suspect that future bids will decline, although they require a minimum bid of $7.5 million.
Triad’s Kirstin Snow, noting that we have made it through the first year of a Trump presidency, wonders how we’ll weather the next three. Still, she says, progressives do have a few things for which to feel grateful.
Our Shameless Client Plug this week is awarded to Philly City Council President Darrell Clarke for his op-ed article in the Inquirer on tax abatement. “Without a doubt, our rapidly transforming skyline and growing population are in part the result of the abatement program. But, given the larger fiscal and policy environment in the commonwealth and in Washington, it is time to revisit the 100 percent, 10-year tax abatement in its current form as part of a broader conversation about equitable growth,” he asserts.
In our We Can’t Make This Up section, we present to you the Tide Pod Challenge, in which young humans (future Darwin Award nominees, we surmise) dare one another to ingest laundry detergent products and post videos of it on the interwebs. We are old enough to remember a time before detergent pods, when kids had to eat Tide right out of the box.
And that’s what passes for news around here this week. In keeping with our Happy Hour theme, we suggest you pair your detergent pod with an oaked cabernet or a hoppy IPA. Have a terrific weekend, and we’ll see you back here again next week!
The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh