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Murphy gets pro-life endorsement

Published by Tim McNulty on .

The Pittsburgh area's two major congressional contests are fully in the endorsement battle stage.

Upper St. Clair Republican Tim Murphy's campaign today announced his 18th District reelection run has been endorsed by the National Right To Life PAC and the Pennsylvaia Pro-Life Federation PAC. (GOP challenger Evan Feinberg has been tapped by the tea party's FreedomWorks and an anti-union group, and enjoyed assists -- but no endorsement -- from the Club For Growth.)

"We believe that your exemplary pro-life record has earned you the support of all voters who are concerned with the right to life and with the protection of the most vulnerable members of the human family," the Right To Life PAC endorsement letter said.

UPDATE: Feinberg issued this statement in response:

"I'm 100% pro-life and helped write legislation to protect the unborn while working for pro-life stalwart, Sen. Tom Coburn. The contrast in this race is that my conservative message of limited government, pro-growth policy and honest governance sets me apart from the two big-government liberals in the race."

The Murphy camp's full statement is after the jump:

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Dermody: Hold special House elections

Published by Tim McNulty on .

The state is proceeding slowly toward holding its primary, as scheduled, on April 24. Legal notices were placed in newspapers Feb. 7. Petitions came due for most offices on Tuesday, and others for state House and Senate will be due by 5 p.m. today.

But with Republican leadership struggling with to do next in their attempt to run the state elections on new district lines -- rather than the 2001 lines ordered when the Supreme Court rejected the new ones -- things have lately been at a standstill. The Legislative Reapportionment Commission may not approve new maps until next week. Military ballots don't need to be issued until March 5.

But there is another deadline out there that could force the GOP to use the 2001 lines: special elections need to be scheduled to fill six empty districts (such as Chelsa Wagner's seat in the South Hills), but GOP House Speaker Sam Smith has not yet issued the order to do so. The seats have been vacant a month.

To give Smith a budge Minority Leader Frank Dermody of Oakmont sent him a letter today calling for the special elections to be held April 24, saying filling the seats will "not only aid the smooth operation of the House, but it will restore representation to the residents of these six districts."

Holding the specials on another date would be too costly, he added.

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Daily Santorum: Harmful to women?

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Today may be the biggest day of Rick Santorum's political life, or at the very least of this presidential campaign, as he makes his primary season debut in crucial Michigan while going toe-to-toe with establishment GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney.

The latest polls show him just ahead or essentially tied with his Michigan-born rival in the state. He's released his tax returns (showing he makes about $1 million annually as a DC consultant and Fox News talking head), which is great money for most of us but nothing near the $45M Romney territory.

How much of an advantage do Romney and his allies have? According to the Fix, his forces are spending 29 times as much as Team Santorum on Michigan advertising. And the knives keep coming out: Democrats such as Larry O'Donnell and the head of Daily Kos are promoting Santorum's bid, saying it will help Obama's reelection chances. Huffington Post did a long story -- sourced almost entirely on 1990 stories by the Press's Dennis Roddy and the Post-Gazette's Harry Stoffer -- on Santorum's moderate Republican roots.

None of that matters as much as his problems with women. Cause if the WashPost's Jennifer Rubin -- long Santorum's biggest cheerleader -- is criticizing his messages to women voters, that's big. On Santorum's stance on contraception, she writes:

. . . this sort of thing undermines Santorum’s electability argument. (Current polling match-ups between President Obama and each of the two frontrunners, before the GOP has a nominee and before Santorum’s record is out there, are virtually useless.) This is how, in part, he lost Pennsylvania — by appearing extreme and schoolmarmish, too far to the right of average voters in a purple state. If he is the nominee in 2012, he might get some blue-collar fellows, but what about those women in Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc.? And what about more secularized suburban communities? Fuggedaboutit.

The post -- called "Santorum: Birth control 'harmful to women'" -- was still the most popular opinion piece on the Post website Thursday morning.

There's lots of good news to go around too: he leads Romney in Ohio according to the latest Quinnipiac poll (where women break 36-37% in their opinions of him) and conservative thinkers like Bill Kristol and Byron York are defending him against Romney's attacks on earmarks, extending the debt limit and other moves in his Senate career.

And who needs soccer moms when you have the endorsement (though maybe not) of legendary speed-metal frontman Dave Mustaine? The founder of Megadeth and the original lead guitarist for Metallica has lurched rightward since his glory days (below) and his problems with Newt, Romney and Paul sent him in Santorum's direction. From Music Radar, via Slate:

Earlier in the election, I was completely oblivious as to who Rick Santorum was, but when the dude went home to be with his daughter when she was sick, that was very commendable. Also, just watching how he hasn't gotten into doing these horrible, horrible attack ads like Mitt Romney's done against Newt Gingrich, and then the volume at which Newt has gone back at Romney… You know, I think Santorum has some presidential qualities, and I'm hoping that if it does come down to it, we'll see a Republican in the White House... and that it's Rick Santorum.

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Buying local in transportation project partnerships

Published by Karen Langley on .

House lawmakers this afternoon amended a bill allowing public-private financing of transportation work to give preference to projects using Pennsylvania steel, among other factors.

Lawmakers voted 107-86 for an amendment, proposed by Rep. Steven Santarsiero, to give priority to these projects, as well as those using American materials and those proposed by companies based in Pennsylvania or the United States. But they rejected two other proposals by the Bucks County Democrat to encourage government to choose American partners in the projects.

One of the proposals would have required developers to use at least 51 percent American financing for their project. Santarsiero explained the amendment was intended "to keep some control over the project in the United States."

Several lawmaker argued against the proposal, none more pointedly than Rep. John Lawrence, a Chester County Republican, who asked Santarsiero how a developer could continue to limit majority ownership to American investors as bonds traded hands on secondary markets. He said investors would not consider a project requiring them to track ownership over the 20-year or 30-year terms of the bonds.

“Frankly they will laugh the project out of the room,” he said. “How on earth is an entity building a new road in Pennsylvania going to keep track of who buys and sells the bonds financing that road in the years after the bonds are sold?”

The idea got backup from Rep. Michael McGeehan, a Democrat from Philadelphia County, who said allowing foreign investors to finance the majority of an important infrastructure project would leave the state at risk.

"Money is power," he said. "Do we want the Chinese to fund the improvements in our critical bridges and airports and roads?"

Lawmakers rejected the idea 85-108. They also turned down, this time 86-107, an amendment that would require majority American ownership of a project's private-sector partner.

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Raja files for Pippy seat

Published by Tim McNulty on .

It's official -- former Allegheny County executive candidate D. Raja has filed to run for John Pippy's state Senate seat in Pittsburgh's South Hills, as we mentioned the other day.

So far only he and fellow Republican Mark Mustio have filed for the 37th District seat, though candidates have through tomorrow.