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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Acting state police Commissioner Marcus BrownActing Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown

1) Marcus Brown isn't going anywhere, even after the state Senate rejected his nomination to become commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. Monday's vote came after Gov. Tom Wolf withdrew the nomination of Col. Brown in hopes that he'd have more time to convince senators that the former head of the Maryland state police was worthy of the position. The Senate wasn't convinced; neither was the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, which called the news that Col. Brown would remain as acting commissioner "disheartening." The Wolf administration explains that Col. Brown was hired as a deputy commissioner and then elevated to acting commissioner ... and that he would stay there, regardless of the Senate's vote. What does this portend? Perhaps A) another legal battle between Harrisburg Republicans and Gov. Go Time (see Erik Arneson) and B) an ugly – and extended – budget season.

2) Here's an appointment for which Mr. Wolf won't need Senate approval: Jim Burn, chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, is thinking about stepping down.

iggy tweet

3) With an announcement on Twitter Monday night, Iggy Azalea gracefully bowed out of her scheduled performance at Pittsburgh Pride this weekend, ending the debate over her worthiness to perform after making racist and homophobic comments in the past. To her credit, Ms. Azalea acknowledged and apologized for those remarks, which the 25-year-old said she made as "a young person." But while the flap over Ms. Azalea is over, the furor over the Delta Foundation, the group that organizes Pride, seems to be just getting started.

4) The Washington Post takes us back to 1984, when current Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley jumped into national politics by working on the candidacy of Gary Hart. The team of upstarts is now a bit more seasoned, and they're working for Mr. O'Malley this time around. Like Mr. Hart, Mr. O'Malley -- the former governor of Maryland – is a long shot, but it's worth noting that Mr. Hart was able to sustain his effort through the Democratic convention that summer.

5) We're all aware that successful political campaigns require cash, and lots of it. But we wonder if any of the Republican presidential candidates will fall in with Jay Faison, a North Carolina businessman who has started a $175 million campaign to push the party to stop fumbling over the science of climate change and to start talking about solutions.

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Perry on Politics: Walker an ideal tea party candidate

Published by James M. Perry on .

Republican presidential hopeful, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker addresses an economic summit hosted by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in Orlando, Florida, June 2, 2015. (Steve Nesius/Reuters)Republican presidential hopeful, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker addresses an economic summit hosted by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in Orlando, Florida, June 2, 2015. (Steve Nesius/Reuters)

If you believe the next president of the United States should work tirelessly to outlaw abortions even in cases of rape and incest, to prohibit same-sex marriages, to end collective bargaining for municipal and state workers, to overturn Obamacare, to do little or nothing about climate change, and to entertain thoughts of invading Iraq again, then Scott Walker, the 47-year-old Governor of Wisconsin, is your man.

He is, in fact, the Tea Party's ideal candidate, and he's thinking seriously of joining the mob of candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination next year.

Let no one say this man avoids a fight. In his latest gambit, he proposed to weaken tenure for professors at his state's first-class university system and to undermine the faculty's role in campus governance. "If this proposal becomes law," grumbled the New York Times editorial board, "it will damage the university, perhaps irreparably." And so it might. Who, after all, would want to teach there?

Mr. Walker, the son of a Baptist preacher, seems to revel in trouble-making. It started when he was a student at Marquette University, a Jesuit school in Milwaukee. He became a student senator and led an investigation of some of his colleagues. He called for their impeachment, and some of them resigned. He ran for student government president in 1988 and lost, by 300 votes. He dropped out of Marquette in 1990 and never returned to earn his diploma.

That same year, when he was just 22, he sought a seat in the state's lower house, and lost to a Democrat in the general election. He has not lost a competitive race since then. Three years later, he won a seat in the Assembly from his new home in Wauwatosa, a Milwaukee suburb. He became Milwaukee's county executive in 2002 and governor in 2010.

He had been governor barely six weeks when -- living up to his promise to conservative backers that he would go "big and bold" -- he proposed legislation that became known as Act 10. "I'm just trying to balance the budget," he said. What he really was trying to do was wreck the unions by limiting their collective bargaining powers. Union leaders and members and their supporters were outraged. They poured into the stately old state capitol in Madison day after day. When Act 10 came up in the Senate, Democratic leaders were absent, having skedaddled to neighboring states, denying the Republicans a quorum.

Conservative talk radio shows, a powerful force in Wisconsin, had been gleefully covering the fight -- now it went national. After Act 10 passed (the Democrats eventually came home) and became law, Mr. Walker's angry opponents sought his recall. Walker turned to his right-wing backers, including the ubiquitous Koch brothers and a local moneybags named Mike Grebe. They raised an astonishing $37 million dollars from more than 300,000 donors and blitzed the state with TV and radio ads and mailers and flyers. He picked up 53 percent of the vote to become the first governor in history to survive a recall election.

"More than any of his potential rivals for the White House, Mr. Walker is a product of a loose network of conservative donors , think tanks and talk radio hosts who have spent years preparing the road for a politician who could successfully present their arguments for small government to a broader constituency," a lengthy investigative piece in the New York Times declared.

The Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation, part of that constituency, met at the Kennedy Center in Washington the other day, with columnist George Will, a board member, warming up the crowd. The consensus was that the country needs "big and bold" leadership and that Scott Walker might be just the man to deliver it. "We believe that through that collaboration (with other like-minded foundations and donors) we can help change the world," Mike Grebe said.

James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Sen. Patricia Vance sits with State Police Commissioner nominee Marcus Brown before introducing him to the Pennsylvania Senate Law and Justice committee at the start of his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 in Harrisburg. (James Robinson/PennLive.com)Sen. Patricia Vance sits with State Police Commissioner nominee Marcus Brown before introducing him to the Pennsylvania Senate Law and Justice committee at the start of his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 in Harrisburg. (James Robinson/PennLive.com)

1) Before the Senate could get started on a potentially embarrassing confirmation vote, Gov. Tom Wolf withdrew the nomination of Marcus Brown to serve as commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. Whaddaya bet that the next nominee makes his or her first public appearance in a suit?

2) House Republicans: Don't worry – we can still move forward on medical marijuana. How? We're not sure yet.

3) As Kathleen Kane can attest, accusations that you've illegally revealed grand jury testimony can cause all kinds of problems. The New York Times reports that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been accused of doing just that.

4) Sure, we're months away from the first presidential primary votes of any consequence, but the folks running Hillary Clinton's campaign should probably take notice of this: their candidate narrowly defeated Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in a straw poll held in Wisconsin over the weekend. Ms. Clinton took 49 percent of the vote at the Wisconsin Democratic Party's convention; Mr. Sanders took 41 percent.

5) Two years ago, the General Assembly approved tavern gambling, in hopes of filling in gaps in the state budget. It didn't work. This year, the General Assembly is considering the addition of online gambling to fill in gaps in the state budget. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to how this will turn out?

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Perry on Politics: Is Rick Perry one Texan too many?

Published by James M. Perry on .

Republican presidential candidate and former Texas Governor Rick Perry (2ndL) formally announces his candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination for president at an event in Addison, Texas, June 4, 2015. (Mike Stone/Reuters)Republican presidential candidate and former Texas Governor Rick Perry (2ndL) formally announces his candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination for president at an event in Addison, Texas, June 4, 2015. (Mike Stone/Reuters)

For anyone who may wonder, I wish to state for the record that I am not related -- biologically, spiritually, or anything else -- to former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas.

Mr. Perry, the longest-serving governor (14 years) in Texas history, told a crowd of well-wishers assembled in sweltering heat in an airplane hangar near Dallas Thursday that he was running for the Republican presidential nomination again in 2016, despite his disastrous performance running for the nomination in 2012.

"Oops," he said, memorably in one of the debates, when he was unable to remember the third federal agency he would eliminate if elected president (it was Energy).

Mr. Perry seems ready to move beyond his "oops" campaign to a new, fresher one in which he will emphasize his role in creating a robust Texas economy and his record as a captain in the Air Force for three years (1974-1977). Parked in the hangar Thursday was a giant, four-propeller C-130 transport plane, the same kind he flew in rescue missions in Mali, Mauretania, Chad, and Guatemala.

Americans have been flocking to Texas ever since they discovered that air conditioning made the state livable. When these people got there, they discovered there were jobs in hydrocarbons (oil and gas). Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times, estimated that fracking, the controversial extraction procedure, accounts for about "a third of the difference between (job) growth in Texas and growth in the rest of the country." Now, with oil prices around the world in steep decline, fracking rigs in Texas and elsewhere are shutting down.

That bad news doesn't seem to have reached the ex-governor. "We are just a few good decisions away from unleashing economic growth, and reviving the American dream," he said Thursday. "It can be done," he added, "because it has been done -- in Texas."

"The question of every candidate will be this," he said, "when have you led? Leadership is not a speech on the Senate floor. It's not what you say. It's what you have done. And we will not find the kind of leadership needed to revitalize the country by looking to the political class in Washington."

He could have given the same speech in 2012, but that campaign never recovered from the oops performance. His supporters point out that he was having painful back problems in 2012, and that he is completely recovered now. A reader of one of the newspaper stories about his announcement noted that Jack Kennedy had even more painful back problems and still managed to run a masterful campaign in 1960.

One of Perry's problems might be that he's just too much a Texan. He's big, rugged, loud, and boisterous. It's no surprise he's an Aggie, a graduate of Texas A&M, where he was a member of the cadet corps and one of five "yell" leaders, big-time cheerleaders where cheering at athletic events is serious business.

An even bigger problem might be that another Texas Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz, is also seeking the nomination. So is Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, who grew up in Texas and whose brother and father still live there. Perry might finish behind both of them.

James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Kathleen KaneKathleen Kane

1) A plurality of Pennsylvanians responding to a Robert Morris University poll say state embattled state Attorney General Kathleen Kane should step down from her position, but a bigger portion of those polled say they don't know enough about the controversies dogging Ms. Kane. Of those with an opinion, 33.5 percent said Ms. Kane should resign because of the controversies, which include the possibility that she could face charges over leaks of grand jury information to the Philadelphia Inquirer, while 17 percent said she should stay in office.

2) The folks at RMU's Polling Institute didn't stop there, though; they also found that former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak enjoys a lead – albeit a narrow one – in a potential 2016 Senate race with Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey. About 34 percent of Pennsylvanians responding to the poll favored Mr. Sestak, a Democrat, while 28 percent chose Mr. Toomey, who narrowly beat Mr. Sestak for the Senate seat in 2010. And as was the case with the poll covering Ms. Kane's troubles, most of those polled said they were undecided.

3) ABC27 in Harrisburg has a piece on King Matt Baker I, the Republican state representative who, firm in the knowledge that he knows better than people in 23 other states that have responsible medical marijuana laws on the books, has singlehandedly derailed similar legislation in Pennsylvania.

4) We've mentioned just one of these three notable gaffes by Republican presidential candidates – you'll recall the one by Rick "Mr. Science" Santorum we mentioned yesterday – but NPR correctly points out that the Republican party could still have a real problem managing the perception of where its people stand on potentially divisive social issues.

5) There is a lesson for others here as well, particularly when we're talking about the public debut of Caitlyn Jenner. That she did so on the cover of Vanity Fair means there is bound to be discussion, but that shouldn't be license to make crass jokesor to refer to anyone as a freak. We should be well past the point where gender transition is a political issue – or an issue of any other kind. What it should be at this point is a simple human matter. It's a long, trying process to begin with, and that degree of difficulty is multiplied when others feel they have the right to weigh in on the process or the results. Those who pursue it do so to find the most honest versions of themselves. And even if gender transition is something some don't understand or support, those who pursue it deserve the same decency we all do.

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