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Wolf stumps in Bloomfield

Published by James O'Toole on .

York County businessman Tom Wolf wandered from store to shop to church to store in Bloomfield Tuesday, campaigning for the Democratic nomination for governor.  He was accompanied by two of his more prominent local supporters, both of whom know the territory well.  County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who grew up in the neighborhood, started the tour at Dan Cercone's barber shop on Liberty Avenue.

They were soon joined by Mayor Bill Peduto, who represented the community during his years on city council. The gray stubble of Mr. Peduto's playoff beard matched Mr. Wolf's own neatly trimmed beard.

Greeting the Democrats, and helping to lead the tour of Pittsburgh's Little Italy was Jane Cercone Scullion, the president of the Bloomfield Citizens' Council, who presented him with the history of the neighborhood that she wrote.  At another stop, at the Groceria Italiana, the trio shared a peperoni roll the size of a catcher's mitt. 

In the Paddy Cake Bakery, they ran into Debbie Pekich Demchek, of Lawrenceville, who recognized Mr. Wolf from his many commercials.  "You're the one I decided to vote for,'' she said.  "I'm liking eveything you're doing.

Near the end of the brief tour, Mr. Peduto led them to a spot outside the parish house of St Maria Goretti's Church, to view the memorial to three police officers killed in a 2009  shooting in Stanton Heights.

Two of Mr. Wolf's Democratic rivals, Katie McGinty and state Treasurer Rob McCord, were to meet later Tuesday a few miles away at a panel organized by a variety of African-American organizations, but the Wolf campaign said that he had a schedule conflict and would miss the event.

 

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Schwartz ad embraces ACA

Published by James O'Toole on .

Rep.  Allyson Schwartz, the Democratic candidate for governor, has launched a new television ad that highlights her role in supporting the passage of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.  The commercial, running across the state, is notewarthy in that, at a time then Democratic across the country are treating the legislation warily, Ms. Schwartz is embracing it so prominently.  

The other three Democrats seeking the gubernatorial nomination share Ms. Schwartz overall position on the law.  They have all criticized Gov. Tom Corbett for failing to go aliong with the law's expansion of Medicaid and, in contrast to the governor, they would establish a state-based exchange for Pennsylvanians shopping for health insurance under the law.  Ms. Schwartz, however, is the first to feature that position so visibly.

The ad includes shots of Ms. Schwartz with President Barack Obama at a time when his overall approval rating continues to lag.  An aggregation of recent polls compiled at Pollster.com found the president overall job approval rating at 46 percent approve, 49 percent disapprove, while views toward his record on health care are even more negative, with 41 percent approval and 53 percent disapproval.  His ratings, and attitudes toward the landmark legislation, are considerably more positive among Democrats, however, and that's the audience Ms. Schwartz is worried about now, in the face of the polling lead amassed by York County businessman Tom Wolf. 

“I worked with President Obama on the Affordable Care Act and getting health coverage to all Americans,” Schwartz says at one point in the ad. “It was my legislation that said insurance companies can no longer deny coverage for kids with pre-existing conditions. It’s something I’m proud of because it also closed the gap in prescription drug coverage for seniors.”

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Readshaw ad scrutinized

Published by James O'Toole on .

Kate Giammarise takes a critical look at the claims in a an ad for Rep. Harry Readshaw in which he denounces a transportation funding bill, enacted last year, as a giveaway to Philadelphia. 

"While [the ad] is factually correct, it lacks any meaningful context,'' political scientist Chris Borick, tells our correspondent.  Ms. Giammarise points out that the bill's funding also extends to the Allegheny County Port Authority as well as road and bridge projects across the state.

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Lamb, Firefighters for McCord

Published by James O'Toole on .

“Rob McCord's picking up more insitutional support in PIttsburgh _ city Controller Michael Lamb and the politically active Firefighters union.

The treasurer's campaign heralded the controller's support in a press release which quoted Mr. Lamb explaining that, "Rob McCord knows Pittsburgh better than any candidate in the primary ...  That’s because he’s spent so much time here, it’s like a second home for him. As treasurer, McCord's accomplishments have helped all working people in Pittsburgh. McCord helped us not just by fighting and beating Corbett on the lottery and other issues, but also by providing great fiscal work, like fully repairing the PA 529 college savings program and generating incredible investment returns. I know that, with Rob McCord as governor, we’ll have a great leader and a real champion of Pittsburgh fighting for us in state government.”

Darrin Kelly, the Firefighters' political director, said the union decided to throw its support behind McCord because they're been impressed by his track record as treasurer.

"McCord's done a great job through his years of service and we know he would make a great governor,'' Kelly said.

 

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Welfares eligibility hurdles

Published by James O'Toole on .

Kate Giammarise examines how a change in state law made it even tougher for Pennsylvanians to qualify for welfare benefits. She reports that, "The vast majority of applicants for welfare benefits in Pennsylvania are rejected every month, data from the state show, and some blame a 2012 change in state law for sharply increasing the rate at which people are rejected from the program.''