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Rick Perry's vanishing endorsement

Published by Mike Pound on .

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Just a few days after the state's primary election, Gov. Tom Corbett and a special guest showed up at an event in Washington County to talk about energy, jobs and taxes.

Corbett and his guest -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- tossed barbs at Tom Wolf, Corbett's newly minted Democratic opponent, and Mr. Wolf's plans to levy extraction taxes on the companies drilling in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale deposits.

The partnership between Gov. Corbett and Gov. Perry didn't stop there -- the Texan, a conservative darling to sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, formally endorsed the Pennsylvania's run for re-election, and the Corbett campaign trumpeted Gov. Perry's stamp of approval everywhere it could.

Ahh, those were the days.

The indictment of Gov. Perry on two felony charges last week seems to have caused a change of heart on the part of Corbett campaign officials. The folks at Poliwoops noticed over the weekend that a tweet touting Perry's endorsement had vanished from the Corbett campaign's twitter stream. And the folks at Politics PA noticed that the endorsement video featuring Perry seems to have disappeared from the Corbett campaign website.

Need a refresher on the latter? The pro-Wolf PAC Fresh Start has helpfully posted a copy:

The political future of Gov. Perry is uncertain, after he was indicted by a grand jury in relation to his veto of funds for an Austin, Texas-based prosecutor who ran a powerful anti-corruption office. The part that's easy to see? The folks running the campaign of Gov. Corbett think they'll do better without indicted friends from Texas.

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Corbett, Wolf show off comedy chops

Published by Mike Pound on .

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Why worry about writing your own political snark when the candidates do it for you?

Gov. Tom Corbett and Tom Wolf each took a stab at comedy Wednesday night at the Pittsburgh Improv Club in Homestead as part of Candidates Comedy Night, an annual event to raise money for Allegheny County Department of Human Services youth programs.

The opponents in this fall's race for Gov. Corbett's seat mostly stayed away from poking at each other -- they have attack ads for that -- although the Jeep that guest-starred in many of Wolf's early campaign ads took a beating from the incumbent.

A few other brave pols shared the Improv stage with Gov. Corbett, Mr. Wolf and the Post-Gazette's own Gene Collier, who served as the evening's emcee. How'd they do? Here's a look:

Not bad. But it's probably a good thing they all have day jobs.

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Corbett and Wolf: new ads, old claims

Published by Mike Pound on .

The Battling Toms each released new attack ads on Tuesday, but for the most part, the new spots are short on new themes.

Tom Wolf, "Get Real"

What's new: Claim that almost 80 percent of the state's school districts are raising property taxes because of Gov. Corbett's education cuts. A mention of increased gasoline taxes that were part of Gov. Corbett's transportation funding plan.

What's not: The $1 billion in education cuts. Pennsylvania doesn't levy natural gas extraction taxes. Standing up for the middle class for a change.

Bottom line: "I'll be a governor who stands up for the middle class for a change."

Random things we noticed: Really sad piano music. And does Mr. Wolf seem too nice to do effective attack ads?

Tom Corbett, "More and less"

What's new: Claim that Mr. Wolf pays income taxes at a rate less than half of the average Pennsylvanian.

What's not: Mr. Wolf is a millionaire. He wants to raise taxes on many middle class Pennsylvanians. He moved his company to Delaware. The actress who explains all these things.

Bottom line: "Tom Wolf -- higher taxes for you, less for him."

Random things we noticed: Even sadder piano music. And by letting the previously mentioned actress do the ad's narration, does Gov. Corbett appear to remain above the fray?

 

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UPDATE: Corbett adviser Tomalis resigns

Published by Mike Pound on .

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UPDATE: Ron Tomalis has stepped down from his position as higher education adviser to Gov. Tom Corbett. In his letter of resignation, Mr. Tomalis said he would leave the controversial job Aug. 26 to pursue other unspecified opportunities:

However, as you know, I have been engaged in conversations with other organizations regarding new opportunities, and given recent events, I believe it is in the best interest of the Administration that I resign my position with the Commonwealth, effective August 26, 2014, to pursue those endeavors.

In a release issued by Gov. Corbett's office, Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq thanked Mr. Tomalis for his contributions to the department:

Ron has truly been an asset to me and the department since I assumed the role of education secretary. He has been instrumental in overseeing the creation and re-establishment of important educational programs that benefit the students of the commonwealth.  I wish him all the best.

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It shouldn't be too difficult for the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett to prove that Ron Tomalis holds an actual job -- one that's worth the $139,000 salary he pulls -- in the state Department of Education.

All we'd need to see is some evidence of his work, right?

But that's a little tough to measure when officials in the department delete work-related emails every day, in an apparent violation of the department's data retention policy.

Gov. Corbett and current Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq have both defended the advisory position created for Mr. Tomalis, the former state education secretary, saying he puts in full 40-hour weeks in an office just down the hall from Ms. Dumaresq.

The trouble is that a review of the adviser's work calendar show very little work was scheduled in the last year. Officials at Penn State and Pitt, for example, say officials at either university haven't had contact with Mr. Tomalis since he took the job -- a curious thing, since the bulk of his responsibilties deal with the state's colleges and universities.

And then there are the emails. In seperate interviews in July, Ms. Dumaresq gave two reasons for turning over just five email messages produced by Mr. Tomalis in the last year. She told the Post-Gazette July 24 that Mr. Tomalis prefers face-to-face interaction over email. And on July 31, she told a Harrisburg television state that department officials delete emails every night.

That's the problem. The department's policy, obtained by the Post-Gazette after two informal requests and a Right-To-Know request, sets schedules for retaining messages that are considered public records, and only "transitory records" -- items not related to state business, reference materials from outside organizations or personal messages, for example -- can be regularly purged.

However, the five emails released from Mr. Tomalis' records, which came in response to a Right-To-Know request from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, had dates from February, May and June and all appeared to be "transitory" in nature. Two involved registering for a conference. Two others dealt with an invitation for a department representative to serve on a governing board of an education and business venture in India and a fifth email was one in which Mr. Tomalis asked for clarification about the number of higher education institutions in the state.

It's a bit tough to decide which is worse for the Education Department and Gov. Corbett -- the complete lack of evidence that Mr. Tomalis does any work whatsoever or the apparent violation of the department's own policy. Either way, there is more fuel for those from both parties who have questions about Mr. Tomalis, his job and his salary.

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Philly makes final push for 2016 Dem convention

Published by Mike Pound on .

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Philadelphia is one of five cities making a push to land the 2016 Democratic Nationall Convention, and an Associated Press story that moved over the weekend points out that Philly's history of hosting political conventions -- and its history in general -- could be the point that gives it an advantage over its rivals.

Birmingham, Ala.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; and Phoenix also have been courting the Democrats, but they don't have former Pa. Gov. Ed Rendell, Philly Mayor Michael Nutter and U.S. Rep. Bob Brady standing in a Center City beer garden. The other contenders also don't have Philadelphia's experience hosting political conventions; it's hosted seven of them -- most recently the Republican convention in 2000 -- while the other cities are all hoping to host its first.

Which town has the best shot? Each has points for or against:

Birmingham: Would give the Democrats a stage in a state that hasn't gone Democratic in a presidential election since Jimmy Carter's run in 1976. But that doesn't change the fact that the potential for a bump in one of the reddest of red states isn't especially likely. Sure, holding the convention in a small city like Birmingham would mean the Dems were the only game in town -- but that doen't matter if no one in town is watching.

Brooklyn: Good: It's New York City, the media capital of the entire planet. And it's the adopted home state of Hillary Clinton; nominating her there would make for an energizing start to the campaign. But Brooklyn and NYC might be too big for the convention, in that it wouldn't be the lone thing going on in the city's spotlight. And would the party be ready to embrace the home city of controversial New York Mayor Bill de Blasio?

Columbus: Ohio is THE swing state, and the Republicans have already staked a claim there, announcing early this summer that Cleveland would host the GOP convention in 2016. It could be that the Democrats feel it's necessary to maintain a strong presence there to continue the momentum they gained with presidental wins in 2008 and 2012. The question? Is there enough room in Ohio -- or, more importantly, is there enough money -- to pull off conventions for both parties?

Phoenix: The Latino population of Arizona could turn this historically Republican state into a swing state in 2016, and the Democrats would definitely want take advantage of that. And if immigration is still an issue on the national stage, there would be few better places in the country than Phoenix to highlight the differences between the parties. The other side of the immigration coin? The state's own tough immigration laws could make for some discomfort on the part of Democrats.

And that leaves us with Philadelphia. Like Brooklyn, it's a huge media market. Unlike Brooklyn, all of those eyeballs live in a swing state. The Democrats would love a bump from a Philly convention, especially if New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the GOP nominee and -- as a bonus -- if a bump would help Democrat unseat U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, the Republican who will be running for re-election that year as well.