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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Democratic presidential hopeful and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participates in a small business roundtable discussion with members of the small business community at Capital City Fruit on April 15, 2015 in Norwalk, Iowa. (Getty Images)Democratic presidential hopeful and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participates in a small business roundtable discussion with members of the small business community at Capital City Fruit on April 15, 2015 in Norwalk, Iowa. (Getty Images)

1) Our colleague Kim Lyons asks a question that we can already safely answer, because pundits are already characterizing Hillary Clinton as "shrill" or "pushy," while similar traits in her male counterparts are referred to as "leadership." Ms. Clinton is aware of this, too – her early campaign meetings with small groups of voters are designed to present a softer image, something we'd never expect from Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush.

2) The Tea Party may not be over, but we think we just heard last call.

3) It wasn't all that long ago that it looked like Harrisburg would get a bill to regulate ride-sharing in Pennsylvania adopted without too much trouble. But now the state Senate is faced with two competing bills, one written by Democratic Sen. Wayne Fontana and another backed by Republican Sen. Camera Bartolotta. The bill sponsored by Ms. Bartolotta was written by lobbyists for the Uber ride-sharing service, who are pushing to have Mr. Fontana's bill killed.

4) Gov. Tom Wolf has ended an assets test, enacted by his predecessor Tom Corbett, for food stamps recipients. It's a change that actually won't make much of a different for recipients, but it will cut off a mountain of paperwork for Department of Human Services employees.

5) If Trevor Noah doesn't work out as the next host of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, we know of another guy who could be ready to take the job in January 2017.

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Casey's ready for Hillary

Published by James O'Toole on .

Bob CaseyU.S. Sen. Bob Casey

Sen. Bob Casey alerted his supporters Friday that he's lined up behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's newly oficial bid for the Democratic nomination for president. In an email blast, he stated that from the time they served together in teh Senate, he's know her as "a strong advocate for the middle class.''

Eight years ago, Mr. Casey went in a different direction and offered a surprise endorsment of then Sen. Barack Obama before heading out with the future president on a bus trip across the state. That was the year that the accident of the campaign calendar made Pennsylvania the center of American politics for six weeks with no other major contests to distract the attention of the candiates or the national media. Mr. Casey's backing wasn't enough to deliver the state's delegates to Mr. Obama, who was clobbered here by a resurgent Clinton campaign.  After he secured the nomination, however, he went on to win the state's electoral votes in a landslide.

In contrast to his 2008 decision, Mr. Casey's new endorsement was hardly surprising, given Mrs. Clinton's overwhelming lead in the early Democratic race. Nonetheless, it could be seen as a tacit rebuff to his onetime Scranton neighbor, Vice President Joe Biden, who has not ruled out the possibility of jumping into the race.

 

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MPF up with first television ads

Published by James O'Toole on .

Mark Patrick Flaherty is up with the first ad of the county controller's race. It's a mainly positive spot, extollinging his record as the former controller, and spotlighting the fact that he declined to take a pay raise during his eight years in office.

If you've been following the race -- Show of hands? Anyone? -- you know that that's a reference to his campaign's regular criticism of the incumbent, Chelsa Wagner, for accepting the cost-of-living increases provided by law, which boosted her salary from the $66,000 paid to Mr. Flaherty to the $96,580 rate which Ms. Wagner is paid along with other county row officers. The new ad doesn't mention Ms. Wagner by name but state that Mr. Flaherty conducted "more audits for less pay than the current controller.''

According to the Flaherty campaign, the spot began airing on brodacast and cable television Friday. Ms. Wagner has yet to launch her own television advertising. According to Mike Mikus, a strategist for Mr. Flaherty, the challenger's campaign will remiain on the airwaves from now until the May 18 primary, when Democratic voters will choose their nominee for the office. The broadcast station portion of the initial buy totals just under $60,000.

Here's a look at the MPF message:

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Toomey: No on Lynch

Published by James O'Toole on .

President Barack Obama listens at right as US Attorney Loretta Lynch speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, where the president announced he would nominate Lynch to replace Attorney General Eric Holder. (Associated Press photo)

Sen. Pat Toomey voted against Thursday's confirmation of Attorney General Loretta Lynch. While he praised her background and overall qualifications, the Republican said her defense of President Barack Obama's controversial executive order on immigration made her unacceptable choice. He maintained her position, like ther president's, was at odds with the Constitution.

Sen. Bob Casey joined all of his Democratic colleagues in voting for confirmation.

In a statement that offered a potential preview of the debate in next year's Senate race, his former and would-be future opponent, retired Admiral Joe Sestak, denounced the Republican's vote, contending that spotlighted an "obstructionist'' record that belies the first-term senator's claim to be a figure who works across party lines. Whether or not Mr. Sestak will be able to repeat that criticism on next year's campaign trail is unclear. He has at least one rival for the 2016 Democratic Senate nomination -- Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski -- and other Democratic contenders may be waiting in the wings.  

Mr. Toomey's statment explaining his vote can be found after the jump, along with a critique from the Sestak campaign.

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Pots and Kettles

Published by James O'Toole on .

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner, left, and challenger Mark Patrick Flaherty speak April 16, 2015, during their appearances in front of the Post-Gazette's editorial board. (Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette)Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner, left, and challenger Mark Patrick Flaherty speak April 16, 2015, during their appearances in front of the Post-Gazette's editorial board. (Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette)

County Controller Chelsa Wagner has maintained that county Executive Rich Fitzgerald has mixed public business with politics -- charges that her fellow Democrat has repeatedly denied.

Now, her challenger's campaign is charging that the controller is the one exploiting her office for political interests, in utilizing a recent controller's office employee as her campaign manager. In a press release, Mike Mikus, a campaign consultant for Mark Patrick Flaherty, questioned the fact that Paul McKrell has taken a leave of absence from the controller's payroll to work for his boss' re-election.

"Did Chelsa use taxpayer funds to warehouse her campaign manager in her official office, so that he would be available to manage her re-election campaign,'' Mr. Mikus said in a press release."If he was a valued employee of the controller's office, why would Controller Wagner have him take a leave of absence when he has been on the job for a short period of time?''

Mr. Flaherty and Ms. Wagner are vying for the Democratic nomination for controller. A spokesman for the incumbent dismissed the Mikus statement.

"This is really a desperate attempt to deflect attention from the fact that Mark Patrick Flaherty is receiving bags of cash from the county executive he is expected to audit,'' said Brad Korinski,  a spokesman for the Wagner campaign, referring to the fact that Mr. Flaherty is supported by Mr. Fitzgerald. "McKrell worked for her for 6 months ... he was certainly not warehoused,'' he continued.

Mr. McKrell has said he expects to return to the controller's staff after the campaign. Of course, whether or not he's successful in his current role will determine how long that employment opportunity continues to be available.

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