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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Kathleen Kane (Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette)Kathleen Kane (Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette)

1) We all know what happens when the general manager of a sports franchise or the athletics director at a university give an embattled coach a public vote of confidence – it almost always means that the coach in question will be history in short order. We don't know if Gov. Tom Wolf used the dreaded "vote of confidence" wording when he said on Tuesday that he didn't expect embattled state Attorney General Kathleen Kane to resign ... but still.

2) We've heard a lot about transparency from Mr. Wolf, both during his campaign against former Gov. Tom Corbett and once his administration took office in January. But in at least one instance – the email retention policy of the state's executive branch – Mr. Wolf's team seems to be content to carry on the policies of its predecessor. The Post-Gazette and several other news outlets have asked the state Supreme Court to take on a case to decide whether the current email retention policy – which states that individual employees can decide for themselves whether messages are transitory or should be retained as important governmental records – should be allowed to stand. Jeffrey Sheridan, spokesman for Mr. Wolf, said attorneys for the administration are working on a response to Tuesday's filing. But in the meantime, it's enough to note that the Wolf administration filed a brief for the case in March that said it would carry on the policy of Mr. Corbett's team.

3) Our next state treasurer? If it all works out with the state Senate's confirmation process, he'll bring experience as a venture capitalist and an adviser to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

4) Hey, look – we have another officially declared Republican presidential candidate. And we'd have to think Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is a more viable candidate than his colleague from Canada Texaseven if he's had to change his mind on a whole bunch of a few things.

5) The Emperor of the state Senate has set his sights on increasing the Republican majority in that body and turning the ideological makeup of his party colleagues sharply to the right.

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Pennsylvania judicial candidates build a (financial) case for their campaigns

Published by Chris Potter on .

Judge David Wecht (Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette)Judge David Wecht (Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette)

 

As we warned you yesterday, campaign finance reports in the statewide judicial races have been trickling into the Department of State yesterday afternoon. Yesterday was the deadline for filing such reports, though they aren't always posted immediately. (Some candidates -- and there are 12 running for state Supreme Court -- send their reports by mail.)

 

Data on the Supreme Court race's likely biggest fundraisers -- Pittsburgh Superior Court Judge David Wecht and Philadelphia Judge John Dougherty -- was not available from the Department of State by day's end. Judge Wecht's campaign did, however, issue a release with his report's cover sheet, showing that he raised another $297,881 on top of $278,632 he had on hand at the end of 2014. Judge Dougherty's campaign has reportedly also released a summary of his fundraising: The $707,932 reported would make him far and away the race's biggest fundraiser so far.

Jefferson County Judge John Foradora's own report hasn't gone live, though his campaign released a cover sheet showing him raking in $391,000 in contributions. As we reported today, that gives the rural-county candidate a bit of swagger, even if the campaign acknowledged today that $100,000 of it was from the candidate himself.

Other candidates whose reports have yet to be posted today include that of Democrat Allegheny County Judge Dwayne Woodruff and two Republicans: sitting Supreme Court Justice Correale Stevens and Montour County District Attorney Rebecca Warren.

Most of the reports that have come in, meanwhile, suggest that this race will feature a lot of money from lawyers, most of it coming in denominations of more than $250, supplemented by some money from unions and other sources, as well as loans and self-financing. Not to mention one sizable contribution from a teddy-bear baron.

Christine Donohue, like Wecht a Superior Court judge from Pittsburgh, started the year with $22,518.61, and added another $184,727 to it through the end of March. Supporters included unions, led by a $5,000 gift from Pittsburgh IBEW Local 5, and some local politicos. The firm of Savinis D'Amico & Kane, which as we reported yesterday backed Wecht with more than $30,000 last year, gave Judge Donohue another $20,000.

Philadelphia-based Superior Court Judge Anne E. Lazarus raised $305,633 in the first three months of the year, adding to $32,726.58 raised in 2014. Some $75,000 of her 2015 total was a loan to herself.

Among Republicans, Homestead-born Superior Court judge Cheryl Allen raised $17,135, though most of that was in the form of a $10,000 loan. Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey, meanwhile, raised $56,540.38 Much of that was a single check of $25,000 from the PA Future Fund, a pro-business political committee.

Adams County President Judge Mike George reaped $546,880.24 -- $500,000 of which came from a single source. On the contribution forms, Gary Lowenthal identifies himself as a "teacher" at Mount St. Mary's College, but before you dust off your CV in hopes of landing a teaching gig, be advised: Mr. Lowenthal apparently made his money through a collectibles business, Boyds Bears and Friends, which he later sold.

Rounding out the field of Republicans, Superior Court judge -- and endorsed Republican -- Judith Olson raised just $1,110 through March 30. $1,000 of that came from Hillman Foundation executive Carl G. Grefenstette.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Joe Sestak (Associated Press photo)Joe Sestak (Associated Press photo)

1) Joe Sestak's recent trek across the state may not have done him much good, a Quinnipiac University poll of swing states – including Pennsylvania – has found. If Mr. Sestak, the former congressman who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2016 U.S. Senate race, matches up against incumbent Pat Toomey, he's not faring well; Mr. Toomey holds a 48-35 percent lead over Mr. Sestak, even though Mr. Toomey has consistently been identified as one of the weaker incumbents running next year. A number that's even worse for Mr. Sestak? Even though he's run for this job before, 61 percent of state voters say they don't know enough about him to form an opinion.

2) Another interesting tidbit from the most recent Quinnipiac release: 88 percent of Pennsylvania voters think marijuana should be legalized for medical uses, and 51 percent say adults should be allowed to possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

3) Now hiring: Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, after Blake Rutherford, Ms. Kane's chief of staff, left his position after just four months. We should also recall that Ms. Kane, who could be charged in a grand jury investigation of grand jury leaks, hasn't been able to hold on to a press secretary either, employing 386 spokespersons since she took office three years ago. If you're applying, keep in mind that your tenure in the office may be short: newspapers across the state are starting to call for Ms. Kane's resignation.

4) Kimberly Kaplan has an uphill battle – or maybe something more like climbing a sheer cliff – in her push to unseat Pittsburgh Councilman Corey O'Connor, but we like seeing new candidates getting involved in the process.

Jason Kipnis tags Neil Walker in a 2013 game. (Associated Press photo)Jason Kipnis tags Neil Walker in a 2013 game. (Associated Press photo)

5) We did pretty well with Friday's sports prediction, so let's go out on a limb – a pretty long one, in fact – and make another: This is the year we'll see a World Series between the Cleveland Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (Associated Press photo)Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (Associated Press photo)

1) Democrats in Harrisburg are calling for new anti-discrimination measures as Indiana struggles with deal with the backlash over its religious freedom law. Our home state has a law guaranteeing religious freedom as well, but it is more comparable to the federal law, in that it is limited to disputes in which the government is directly involved. The Indiana law is "an explicit attempt to make sure that businesses will be able to turn away customers or fire employees without running into limitations," said Tobias Wolff, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

2) The conscience of the state Senate – you probably know him as York County Republican Scott Wagner – is set to float a sweeping liquor privatization bill in his half of the legislature, which has been reluctant to act on measures passed in the house.

3) Now that's he's officially out of a job, Aaron Schock, who resigned from his seat as a Illinois Republican Congressman after it was alleged that he falsified expense reports, has given up pretending to be contrite.

4) The masses converge upon Indianapolis this weekend for the NCAA's Final Four, which means we're going to hear even more about Indiana's religious freedom law and the efforts to change it.

5) Our brackets are a mess, but with one win on Saturday, we would be redeemed. Go Badgers.

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Chelsa staffs up

Published by James O'Toole on .

er chelsaWagnerChelsa Wagner (Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette)

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner has hired Paul McKrell as the campaign manager for her re-election bid.

Mr. McKrell had been working as an analyst in the controller's office. He took a leave from that position on March 17 to join the campaign. Mr. McKrell had been government affairs manager for the city of Pittsburgh in the Ravenstahl administration. He was campaign manager for Luke Ravenstahl's 2009 mayoral campaign. He was not involved in Mr. Ravenstahl's short-lived re-election campaign in 2013, which ended abruptly, just weeks after it began, with the mayor's decision not to seek re-election.

Ms. Wagner faces a challenge from her predecessor, Mark Patrick Flaherty, whose senior campaign team has been in place for weeks. Mr. Flaherty's campaign manager is Abby Nassif Murphy. a veteran campaign aide. Among other assignments, she has handled advance work for President Bill Clinton on his trips to the region. Mike Mikus is a senior strategist for the Flaherty campaign. He worked against Mr. Flaherty four years ago when he quarterbacked county Executive Rich Fitzgerald's election campaign, including his victory over Mr. Flaherty in the Democratic primary for executive. Last year, Mr. Mikus was the campaign manager for Katie McGinty in the Democratic race for governor. After she lost the nomination to Tom Wolf, Mr. Mikus moved over with her to the Fresh Start political action committee that was established by the Wolf campaign.

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