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Corbett lands in Rome

Published by James O'Toole on .

 

Gov. Corbett, we're guessing, was fighting off jet lag Monday after he arrived in Rome at about 3 a.m. local time in anticipation of a Wednesday audience with Pope Francis.

According to a dispatch from Philadelphia's ABC affiliate:

"Governor Tom Corbett and Mayor Michael Nutter arrived in Rome on Monday ahead of a meeting with Pope Francis in anticipation for the World Meeting of Families conference to be held in Philadelphia in 2015.

"They, along with Archbishop Charles Chaput arrived around 3 a.m. Philadelphia time Monday. The group will be in Rome until March 27 to work with Vatican officials on the event.

"The group went on a morning sightseeing tour of Rome, and then will also going to try and persuade Pope Francis to attend. A meeting when the 3 men from Pennsylvania will talk with Pope Francis is scheduled for Wednesday.''

 

 

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Wolf opens Pgh HQ

Published by James O'Toole on .

In one sense, Tom Wolf was in an unenviable spot.  The low-key but front-running candidate had to speak had to speak Sunday following a rousing, oratorical introduction from state Rep. Ed Gainey.   

"I could listen to Ed Gainey speak all day,'' Mr. Wolf said as he opened a more conversational pitch to the crowd of more than 100 standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the Highland Avenue storefront that will serve as his Pittsburgh campaign office.  Some of the political A-listers who showed up at his big endorsement press conference at the Courthouse a few weeks ago were not there _ no Rich Fitzgerald; no Bill Peduto _ but in addition to Gainey, the event attracted state Sen. Matt Smith, state Rep. Bill Kortz and former state Rep. Dave Levdansky.

 Supervising the early evening event was Eric Hagarty, Mr. Wolf's new deputy campaign manager for western Pennsylvania.  The venue was familiar to Hagarty.  He spent countless hours there last year when it was the headquarters of the Peduto mayoralty campaign in which Mr. Hagarty played a key fund-raising role. 

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538: GOP Senate likely in '14

Published by James O'Toole on .

Nate Silver, over at his relaunched 538 site, sees the odds shifting in the Republican direction in the battle for control of the Senate.

Silver's take, in part:

"We think the Republicans are now slight favorites to win at least six seats and capture the chamber. The Democrats’ position has deteriorated somewhat since last summer, with President Obama’s approval ratings down to 42 or 43 percent from an average of about 45 percent before. Furthermore, as compared with 2010 or 2012, the GOP has done a better job of recruiting credible candidates, with some exceptions.

"As always, we encourage you to read this analysis with some caution. Republicans have great opportunities in a number of states, but only in West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana and Arkansas do we rate the races as clearly leaning their way. Republicans will also have to win at least two toss-up races, perhaps in Alaska, North Carolina or Michigan, or to convert states such as New Hampshire into that category. And they’ll have to avoid taking losses of their own in Georgia and Kentucky, where the fundamentals favor them but recent polls show extremely competitive races.

That's in accord with the early projections of a variety of other analysts.  The nonpartisan Cook Political Report summarizes the lansdscape:

"The current Senate line-up is 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans, and two independents that caucus with Democrats.  There are 36 Senate races on the ballot in 2014.  To win the majority, Republicans would have to score a net gain of six seats.  Democrats are defending 21 of these seats, including six in states that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won easily in 2012, and two more that are in swing states.  By contrast, Republicans will defend 15 seats, only one of which is in a state that President Obama carried in 2012.  Republicans have also successfully expanded the playing field of vulnerable Democratic-held seats, increasing their chances of winning the majority.  Republicans are on track to pick up between four and six seats; it is more likely than not that the number will be at the higher end of – and may exceed – that range.''

Cook's Jennifer Duffy had a more detailed look at the races in play last week but it's behind a pay wall now.

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McCord on education

Published by James O'Toole on .

State Treasurer Rob McCord fleshed out an ambitious education funding proposal Monday, one that would be supported by the 10 percent tax on natural gas drilling that he called for earlier in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Mr. McCord's $1.3 plan would boost funding for pre-K clases and full-day kindergarten by $220 million, bringing it to a total of $300 million, and revamp the formula for the distribution of basic education funding among the state's school districts to promote equity for less affluent districts.  The plan also calls for a new formula to mete out special education funding among the districts.

It would also impose a variety of steps to ease the buden of charter school funding for public school districts.  He would increase state funding to compensate school districts for the costs of charter school funding.

The five Democratic candidates vying to challenge Gov. Tom Corbett are in broad agreement on the need to increase education funding and to scrutinize the way the districts must deal with charter school reimbursements. Mr. McCord has a little more money to play with in its proposal because the severance or drilling tax rate he calls for is about twice that of his rivals.

The McCord campaign's outline of his education package can be found here.

 

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Dems sidestep on Kane

Published by James O'Toole on .

Four of the five Democratic candidates for governor, including newcomer Jack Wagner, met in Philadelphia Sunday for a forum that touched on, among other issues, the back and forth over Attorney General Kathleen Kane's controversial decision to drop a sting investigation that had uncovered apparent evidence improper gifts to a list of Democratic politicans.  The Daily News' Chris Brennan reports that the candidates were treading carefully on questions about the investigation and their fellow Democrat.

Tom Wolf, the early front-runner, skipped the event in favor of an appearance in Pittsburgh

 

 

 

 

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