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Romney's early victory lap

Published by James O'Toole on .

From the main site:

In what amounted to an early victory lap, Mitt Romney was crossing the Commonwealth on Monday, making primary eve appearances at Consol Energy's South Park research facility and later in the Philadelphia suburbs with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the object of speculation as a potential vice presidential candidate.

The GOP front-runner and presumed nominee was to have been joined by former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge at the Consol stop, but a spokesman for the campaign said the nation's first Homeland Security secretary had to cancel because he was sick.

In a 20 minute speech that reprised his standard stump remarks, Mr. Romney assailed the Obama administration on the economy and depicted the president as an enemy of energy development.

Mocking a recent television interview with Obama strategist David Axelrod, Mr. Romney said the advisor had said, "We've got to get off the economic road were on and take a new direction ... I could not agree more."

Mr. Romney argued that while the president has promoted wind and solar energy, his administration has set up roadblocks to the developments of fossil fuels, such as the coal and natural gas interests developed by his host, Consol.

Mr. Romney has regularly vilified President Obama as an enemy of the coal industry.

Among the other Republican officials showing their support for the presumed nominee at the Consol site were Rep. Tim Murphy, who faces a challenge Tuesday from Evan Feinberg, Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Upper St. Clair, and Rep. Mike Turzai, the state House majority leader.

Anticipating Mr. Romney's appearance Monday morning, Democratic campaign staffers noted that as as governor of Massachusetts, he had embraced rules against coal plant emissions such as those for which he now criticizes the administration.

Mr. Romney's cross-state tour came as Pennsylvania voters were preparing to go to the polls in a primary that lost considerable suspense with the decision by Rick Santorum to suspend his campaign.

Mr. Santorum nonetheless remains on the presidential preference ballot, along with Mr. Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul. That vote, however, amounts to little more than a beauty contest, as the Republican convention delegates are elected directly and are not bound to any candidate.

Voters will also choose nominees Tuesday in other primaries in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware.

Mr. Romney planned to spend Tuesday evening waiting for the votes in New Hampshire, the site of a vacation home and his first victory on the road to the GOP nomination that he has unofficially captured.

Mr. Rubio has been the object of running mate speculation -- for Mr. Romney and for other GOP contenders -- since the beginning of this election cycle.

Mr. Ridge was once considered a potential vice president himself.

In 1996, when former Sen. Bob Dole was the GOP nominee and again, at least for a time, in 2000, Mr. Ridge's name was frequently mentioned as a potential nominee. In the intervening years, however, the rightward drift of national Republicans on social issues has made the choice of someone with his pro-choice record a political impossibility.

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Mustio assailed for anti-Raja ads

Published by Tim McNulty on .

State Rep. Mark Mustio drew a rebuke from county GOP chair Jim Roddey for his racially-tinged ads in the very negative 37th District state Senate race versus fellow Republican D. Raja, and the Post-Gazette's editorial board took the rare move of withdrawing its endorsement of Mustio in the race. "This breach of decency, this appeal to voters' base instincts, shows Mark Mustio to be a seriously flawed candidate who will stoop to racism to get elected. He's not one of us," the PG's editorial said.

The paper's ed board last did that in a state Supreme Court race in November 1995.

Roddey has no power to compel the Mustio and Raja forces to withdraw their ads, especially in the decentralized local GOP infrastructure, but the move had plenty of symbolic power and echo worries many other Republicans have voiced privately the last few weeks. And it's part of a greater battle within the GOP over immigration: is the party going to signal it's against it (targeting even a legal immigrant like Raja), or embrace the American Dream essential to Republican DNA?

The Pittsburgh area's turnaround lately in getting new residents is largely due to the influx of workers from India, and it's time that people from both parties wise up and embrace the trend, writes Pitt economist Chris Briem in a post titled "As with the Irish who came before them":

It really is an issue far beyond this one race.  So even in a region which ranks about as low as you can get, you can still find angst over the most legal immigration flows that exist.  I will admit getting annoyed at people who say they are all for 'legal' immigration, but are just opposed to 'illegal' immigration.  Yet when push comes to shove their rhetoric against legal immigration is unabated.

As low as international immigration is into Pittsburgh, it still is a big part of the turnaround observed in net migration into the Pittsburgh region.  American demographics are pretty simple in a sense these days.  Growth is really only coming from immigration.  If you don't want immigration, that is your perogative, but you should plan on decline.


It really is time for Pittsburgh to stop being afraid of the future.  It is either that or we start to plan on not having a future at all.

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Murphy makes final pitch in AG race

Published by Laura Olson on .

Kicking off the final weekend before Tuesday's primary, there was a tiny crowd to greet Democratic attorney general candidate Patrick Murphy this morning at the United Steelworkers Hall in Bethlehem.

The 15 diehard party members who showed up to the last-minute event were mostly county and local committee members, including the Lehigh and Northampton county chairs and Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan.

But the first person through the doors aside from one or two of the union members hosting the former Bucks County congressman was John Morganelli -- the Democratic nominee in the 2008 attorney general's race

This is the first attorney general contest since 2000 that Morganelli, who is the district attorney in Northampton County, where most of Bethlehem is located, is not seeking election.

Standing atop a set of stairs in the steelworkers' hall (where the brief event was moved from the large auditorum due to the turnout), Morganelli said he believes Murphy is "eminently qualified to be the next attorney general."

"The attorney general sets the policies, sets goals for the office," Morganelli said. "He has an agenda that's going to expand this office, that's going to make this office stronger for average folks and not just be a super-DA for the state as it has been under Republican rule for the last 32 years."

Murphy, who faces former Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane, gave a recap of his view for the office, telling the gathering that he wants to focus on aiding working families, offering more protections for elderly residents, and investigating environmental violations.

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Roddey to Mustio/Raja: stop the ads

Published by Laura Olson on .

Allegheny County GOP chairman Jim Roddey called on both state Rep. Mark Mustio and businessman D. Raja to halt their negative state Senate campaign advertisements, giving them a deadline of 3 p.m. this afternoon for doing so.

Roddey talked to the two campaigns last night and earlier today, he said in an interview today after Mustio's campaign announced it was calling for a "ceasefire" over the race's negative ad war.

"I became very disappointed and very distressed at the way things deteriorated" on both sides, he said, noting that he had received comments about the ads from number of people. "However, the negative ads by Mark Mustio were slanted so that if you had any prejudice against Indian-Americans, it would be inflated."

Roddey added that he does not believe Mustio is racist, but that the tone of the advertisements was "inappropriate" and not a good reflection for the Republican Party. He said he'll be monitoring the campaign ads until Tuesday to see if the campaigns keep their promises to stay positive.

"There's negative ads, and then there's things that are just not in good taste," Roddey said.

The ads from the Mustio camp have focused on Raja's company hiring workers in India, and lawsuits involving ex-workers who broke their contracts. The Raja campaign has aired their own negative pieces as well, criticizing Mustio's vote for the 2005 legislative pay raise (which he later voted to repeal).

The Raja campaign said earlier in the day that they were "overwhelmed by the outpouring of support," but has not yet confirmed whether their negative ads also have been pulled from television stations.

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Amid pressure, Mustio replaces ads

Published by Laura Olson on .

After the weeks of a nasty ad war between state Rep. Mark Mustio and businessman D. Raja in the Republican state Senate race, Mustio announced this morning that he will take down the spots emphasizing Mr. Raja's Indian background.

His full release is after the jump, but Mustio says he decided to nuke the TV ads "after thoughtful consideration," adding that "the campaign for this seat has become imbalanced."

Others say there was pressure on Mustio from remove the ads, which for weeks have targeted the positions that Raja's company has in India and later focused on the lawsuits he filed against employees who left their positions earlier than their contracts allowed.

David Taylor of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, who is a Raja supporter, described the ads this morning as "racist and scurrilous," and as making Mustio "unfit for public office."

Taylor said the state Republican Party should oppose the spots (I have a message out to their spokeswoman), and that the message they contain could hurt the party with Indian-American voters.

Our friends at PoliticsPA had this near-critical comment from U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, whose district includes the Senate seat:

“I have the highest respect for Raja, both his professional accomplishments and his public service. I know he is dedicated to our region,” he told the website.

In other 37th District news, the daily campaign finance reports since April 9 show another $100,000 donation from Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi to Mustio on April 17 (he already had given him $100,000 in two earlier contributions). Mustio also received two $50,000 donations from "Mark Mustio" and "T. Mark Mustio" on April 17.

UPDATE: Mustio's final ad is above. Under the circumstances, it has a notable final line (emphasis ours): "Vote for conservative Republican Mark Mustio. He's one of us, not a politician."