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McCord hits the airwaves

Published by James O'Toole on .

With a little more than two months to go before the May 20 primary, the campaign for governor is heading to a new, likely more competitive phase.  

Treasurer Rob McCord is about to air his first commercials, challenging the command of the airwaves maintained for the last month by York County businessman Tom Wolf.  Katie McGinty was actually the first Democrat to go on television, with a token buy bookending President Obama's State of the Union message, and she has two commercials in rotation now, but the heavy volume of the Wolf commercials has been the dominant tactical story of the Democratic primary so far. 

The McCord ads, first noted by PoliticsPa, are one minute each and combine the candidate's biography with attacks on Gov. Tom Corbett.  Both highlight the fact that the treasurer was raised by a single mother, and went on to study at Harvard University.   One of the commercials boasts that he went on from there to work as an investor creating, by his count, jobs for as many as 2,000 Pennsylvanians. 

One of the spots faults the governor's embrace of natural gas drilling, accusing him of being "a wholly owned subsidiary'' of the industry.  Mr. McCord touts his plan to seek a severance tax on the Marcellus wells to help finance education.  The 10 percent rate he calls for is the highest among the Democratic contenders.  Most of his rivals have proposed a rate of 5 percent for the new levy they all agree is needed.

At another point Mr. McCord notes that as treasurer, he fought the Corbett administration's failed initiative to privatize the operatiions of the state lottery.  The McCord ad contends that that shift would have jeopardized lottery funded aid to seniors.  The administration argued at the time the proposal was still being debated that a private operator would have increased revenue for senior program. 

Asked to comment on the criticism, Billy Pitman, Mr. Corbett's campaign spokesman, responded with a generic assault on the governor's challengers, dismissing them as "tax-and-spend liberal Democrats'' who "want to take more of Pennsylvanians' hard-earned money because they believe they know how to spend it better than the taxpayers do.''

Here's a look at the two spots:

 

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Doyle, Fitz for Critz

Published by James O'Toole on .

 The Mark Critz campaign announced that Rep. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Congressman Mike Doyle, county Treasurer John Weinstein, and State Rep. Jake Wheatley, will formally endorse the former congressman for lieutenant governor Saturday.

He'll showcase their support at a Northside Constables’ Breakfast on Saturday, at 9 a.m. at the Teutonia Mannerchor Building, 647 Main Street.

Mr. Critz is vying for the second spot on the Democratic ticket with Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith, Harrisburg Councilman Brad Koplinski, state Sen. Mike Stack, state Rep. Brandon Neuman, and former football coach Jay Paterno.

That means Fitzgerald and Doyle are lined up behind a Wolf-Critiz ticket.  They led a lare group of local pols endorsing the York businessman for governor last month.

 

 

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CD12 endorsement watch

Published by James O'Toole on .

Erin McClelland has been getting the lion's share of the  Democratic Party and labor endorsements in her contest with John Hugya for the Democratic nomination in the new 12th Congressional District, but Mr. Hugya has picked up a few institutional backers himself. 

He was endorsed this week by two FOP lodges, Sheridan Caton Memorial Lodge No. 98 in Somerset, and Flood City Lodge No. 86.

Ms. McClelland, however, picked up the endorsement of the Cambria County Democratic committee Wednesday night.  She had earlier been the overwhelming pick of the Allegheny County party committee.

The winner will face incumbent Rep. Keith Rothfus in the fall.  Mr. Rothfus is regarded as a heavy favorite to retain a seat that is not yet on the comeptive radars of either party's national congressional committees.

 

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McGinty woos middle class

Published by James O'Toole on .

There seem to be two schools of thought among Tom Wolf's competitors for the Democratic nomination for governor _ well three, if you count former Auditor General Jack Wagner's apparent belief that he can win without running much of a visible campaign at all.

So far, Treasurer Rob McCord and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz have not tried to match the York businessman's tide of television ads, saving their resources in the hope of competing with him on something like an even playing field later in the campaign when voters, presumably, will be paying more attention.

Katie McGinty, however, while behind in fund-raising, has been operating on the assumptiion that she needs to be on television as much as possible now, before Wolf's lead solidifies.  The former environmental secretary is up with another new ad, designed to highhlight her middle class background and proposals aimed at middle class votes. 

[Update: PoliticsPa spotted a Tweet from the ad tracking firm, Smart Media Group, noting that McCord has made his a media buy for ads that will begin airing Friday.]

McGinty's  new spot is running across the state in rotation with another McGinty ad released a few days ago, though not in the expensive Philadelphia media market,

In it, she says:

"I’m Katie McGinty. I’m from a working family, and running for governor to champion those who clock in, work hard, and need a hand. As governor, I’ll deliver middle class college scholarships and restore Tom Corbett’s education cuts by taxing oil and gas companies, so the middle class doesn’t pay more in property taxes. And I’ll raise the minimum wage, including for restaurant workers – helping those working hard get into the middle class.''

She refers to her policy proposals to tax smokeless tobacco and cigars to fund expanded college and technical school aid programs.  Like most of her Democratic colleagues, she would also levy a new severance tax on natural gas with the revenue earmarked to expand state aid to basic education.  Ms. McGinty has also called for an increase in the minimum wage to $9 an hour, indexed to inflation.  The daughter of a restaurant worker would include tipped wage earners, such as waiters and waitresses, in the new minimum wage level.

Here's the new spot:

 

 

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Perry on Politics: Vic and Tuck

Published by James O'Toole on .


                                                       By James M. Perry 

 Hardly anyone seems to have noticed, but it was 50 years ago that Barry Goldwater ran for president, lost disastrously to Lyndon B. Johnson, and changed the face of the Republican Party in ways that endure to this day. 

 It was my first presidential campaign and I, and most of my colleagues, had a ball. Much of the fun in that campaign was supplied by two effervescent little guys, Dick Tuck, the prankster, for the Democrats, and Vic Gold, the manic press guy, for the Republicans.

 Tuck joined the Marines not long after Pearl Harbor and was trained to defuse bombs. He says on his web site he learned how to combine CO2 fire extinguished snow with pure distilled alcohol to freeze a bomb's electric fuse. He also discovered that the alcohol, mixed with orange juice, was palatable. Tuck did some work for Jack Kennedy in 1960. He supposedly coached a little old lady wearing a Nixon button to approach Nixon the day after his first debate with Kennedy and say, "That's all right, son.  Kennedy beat you last night, but don't worry.  You'll get him next time.''

Tuck's next stop was the governor's race in 1962 between California Governor Pat Brown and Richard Nixon, seeking redemption for losing to Jack Kennedy two years earlier.  At one point in that campaign, Tuck put up a big sign in Los Angeles's Chinatown that said, in Chinese, "Welcome Nixon." It also said, "What About the Hughes Loan?" referring to a $205,00 unsecured loan Howard Hughes had provided to Nixon's brother, Donald (in fact, though, it was learned later, it said, "What about the huge loan?") 

 I first encountered Tuck during the Goldwater campaign.  Tuck had smuggled a spy, masquerading as a free-lance magazine writer,  aboard Goldwater's whistle-stop train. Her name was Moira O'Connor, and every morning she slipped copies of  a little newspaper, called "The Whistle Stop," under the doors of compartments occupied by journalists. One of them, Tuck remembers, said, "We are happy to report that the railroad has assured us that fluoride is not being added to the water on this train." Fluoridated water angered conservative Republicans in those days much as Obamacare does today.

  It was all in good fun, but Vic Gold, the deputy press secretary, was infuriated. He arose early, patrolled the sleeping cars, and caught Miss O'Connor in the act. Gold stopped the train  and ejected Miss O'Connor and her undelivered copies of  Tuck's phony newspaper. That night, Miss O'Connor made a triumphant appearance in the hotel barroom where most us were gathered. I think Tuck was there too. We gave Moira a rousing cheer.

 Although he was a dedicated Goldwaterite, we came to be enamored of Vic. Teddy White,  chronicler of presidential elections, said that Gold "carried (the journalists') bags), got them to the trains on time, out-shouted policemen in their behalf, bedded them down and woke them up, and before they knew it, the correspondents, about 95 percent anti-Goldwater by conviction, had been won to a friendship with the diminutive intellectual which spilled over onto his hero."

 I doubt the spilling-over business, but we enjoyed being with Vic Gold, especially when a car broke into a Goldwater motorcade. Gold's reaction would be frenzied. His face would turn deep red, he'd jump up and down, and he'd yell and scream. Of course we egged him on.     

 Dick Tuck and Vic Gold were fun. These guys  today are nasty.

James M. Perry, a prominent, veteran political reporter, is contributing regular observations for 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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