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Peduto gets a birthday gift from AARP

Published by Mike Pound on .

AARP Pennsylvania State Director Bill Johnston-Walsh presents Mayor Bill Peduto with an oversized AARP card. Photo by Martha Rial.AARP Pennsylvania State Director Bill Johnston-Walsh presents Mayor Bill Peduto with an oversized AARP card. Photo by Martha Rial.

By Robert Zullo
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto got a birthday present today from the AARP: his official membership card.

Mr. Peduto, a former city councilman elected mayor last year, turns 50 today.

"We know William Peduto will continue to set a great example to all by showing that age sets no boundaries on what you can achieve in life," said Bill Johnston-Walsh, AARP Pennsylvania's state director. "We're very proud to call him a member of the AARP family."

Mr. Peduto, who plays in the city's 40-plus Iron Lung Ice Hockey League, said he was "proud to be among the growing number of 50-plus Pittsburghers enjoying the quality of life, livability and healthy lifestyles afforded to those of all ages in our city."

Mr. Peduto joins 37 million members of the AARP, a nonprofit organization for people 50 and older that also provides an vast assortment of discounts and benefits, from cheaper auto insurance to 20 percent off Cirque du Soleil.

Robert Zullo: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 412-263-3909. Twitter: @rczullo.

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Republican poll, same results

Published by Mike Pound on .

Gov. Tom Corbett campaigns in Erie. (Associated Press photo)Gov. Tom Corbett campaigns in Erie. (Associated Press photo)

There is more bad news for Camp Corbett, and this time it's coming from a Republican polling firm.

Harper Polling took its first look at the race between The Battling Toms since early September, and it found that the race hasn't changed all that much. Fifty percent of its respondents, all likely voters, said they would back Tom Wolf, Mr. Corbett's Democratic challenger, while 40 percent would back the Republican incumbent. That 10-point spread is just a 1-point improvement over the September Harper poll.

Conventional wisdom says Mr. Corbett's recent, incremental improvement in the polls is attributed to Republicans finally lining up behind the governor – see the Franklin and Marshall poll we discussed yesterday – but Harper saw something different. Support for Mr. Wolf among Democrats dwindled a bit – dropping from 82 percent in September to 77 percent in this poll – while support for Mr. Corbett among Republicans has held steady at 70 percent.

If the Republicans are already lined up behind Mr. Corbett, what's making the difference here? The GOP's ad campaigns? Mr. Wolf's own reticence to discuss details of his plans for tax reform? Does it matter? Mr. Corbett's numbers improved, sure, but by just a single point in about seven weeks. Here's a better question: can that 10-point spread translate to a win for Mr. Corbett in less than a week?

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Margin still wide for Corbett campaign

Published by Mike Pound on .

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If Tom Corbett has any ideas for a last-minute push in the race for his job, now is definitely the time to try.

A new poll from Franklin and Marshall College shows the Republican governor is still down by double digits to Democratic challenger Tom Wolf – and time to make up ground is quickly running out.

F&M found Mr. Wolf with a 13-point lead, 53-40, among likely voters; it also found that nearly two-thirds of registered voters believe the state is "off on the wrong track" and that just one third think Mr. Corbett deserves to be re-elected.

It's true that the margin between the two candidates is shrinking, something that F&M attributes an increasing level of support from Mr. Corbett's own party (48 percent of Republicans said they'd vote for Mr. Corbett in August, 62 percent in September and 66 percent this month). But the poll also said the following numbers have remained fairly consistent through the entire year: 36 percent say Mr. Corbett cares about ordinary people, 41 percent say he can be trusted to make the right decisions and 52 percent believe he is too conservative.

That's a pretty steep hill for Mr. Corbett to climb. And he doesn't have much time to get to the summit.

Sorry, not sorry. How to say you're sorry: "I'm sorry."

How to say you're sorry in a legally appropriate fashion when you actually believe that you haven't really done anything wrong: Complain about how hard this has been and then say you're sorry about the actions of your staff.

It's one thing for former state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin to say she's going to accept the penalties imposed on her after her corruption conviction, which she suddenly did on Tuesday. But it's another to issue a court-mandated apology like this one:

"In reflection, I wish I had been more diligent in my supervision of my staff and that I had given them more careful instructions with respect to the prohibition on political activity."

We're sorry, but that's the sorriest apology we've ever read.

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For The Battling Toms, it's the final countdown

Published by Mike Pound on .

As we kick off the final countdown to Election Day, we would give nearly anything to see The Battling Toms in a hair band video.

What we got instead is a Pittsburgh appearance by the Democratic Party's biggest rock star, a resignation from the state Supreme Court and new polling numbers.

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Bill Clinton wants you to vote. While decrying the partisanship that's slowed Washington to a crawl, former President Bill Clinton told a pro-Tom Wolf crowd that Democrats were at least partly responsible for the gridlock, because they don't turn out for midterm elections – like the one next week – the way they do for presidential races. And that's given Republicans the inroads in Congress they've needed to slow the progress of a Democratic presidential administration.

"We have never been able to convince younger voters, first-time voters, lower-income working people who have to get up early every morning and take their kids to day care, be at work before 8 o'clock, the elderly ... [that it is] just as important to vote in the midterms as it is to vote in a presidential election."

GOP helps build vocabulary. Prebuttal.

Yeah, That's a new one for us, too.

That's how a news conference held yesterday and organized by the state Republican Party was billed. The prebuttal was held at South Side works just a while before Mr. Clinton appeared on behalf of Mr. Wolf at the IBEW hall a few blocks away.

The themes? War on Coal. The lack of details on Mr. Wolf's income tax plan. And a legitimately funny offer by Allegheny County GOP chairman Jim Roddey to get in touch with Mr. Corbett on Mr. Wolf's behalf for revenue figures.

The numbers don't lie – unless they do. Two new sets of polling numbers were released as the Toms and their surrogates battled it out on the South Side. Camp Wolf would probably be happy to show you the results of the newest yougov.com poll, which shows Mr. Wolf with a 13-point lead, 52-39, among likely voters. That has to be a comfortable feeling result for Mr. Wolf, who probably has noticed his lead dwindling over recent weeks.

(UPDATED: The following paragraph has been edited to reflect that the poll was limited to a single Congressional district rather than statewide figures.) Camp Wolf is probably also excited about the new figures from Mercyhurst University, which show the incumbent trailing Mr. Wolf by just 7 percentage points, 48-41, among likely voters, one of the tightest polls we've seen since the primary. Why would Mr. Wolf be excited about this? Mercyhurst polled likely voters in Pennsylvania's Third Congressional district, where the incumbent, Republican Rep. Mike Kelly of Butler, holds a 22-point lead over his challenger, Democrat Dan LaVallee of Cranberry. That district, which stretches from Butler to Erie, has been solidly Republican for years and if Mr. Corbett is in fact solidifying his base as Election Day approaches, you'd think he'd be in better shape here.

Will this race hinge on turnout among each party's true believers? We'll find out in a week.

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New docs end investigations into Justice McCaffery's conduct

Published by Mike Pound on .

The retirement of Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery – it's official now – has prompted a couple of official actions to tidy up all the stuff that's happened with the court and the email scandal in recent weeks.

First, there's an order from the court itself, vacating its order from last week that suspended Justice McCaffery and gave the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania 30 days to investigate the allegations of blackmail made by Justice J. Michael Eakin. That order is below:

And then there's this statement from the Judicial Conduct Board, saying it was officially ending its investigation of Justice McCaffery. The most interesting thing? The board's uncredited statement says, without elaboration, that it has been investigating "allegations involving Justice McCaffery for several months, including some of very recent origin which have been disclosed in the media." It also said Justice McCaffery has also agreed that he won't seek elected judicial office again or won't seek to become a senior judge in the state. Full statement follows:

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