More state GOP lawmakers join Welch bandwagon

Published by Tracie Mauriello on .

Harrisburg lawmakers are lining up to bolster Steve Welch’s campaign for U.S. Senate. The ranks have grown to 25 state reps and eight state senators, plus Gov. Tom Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley.

During a conference call with politics reporters today, Mr. Cawley called the Chester County Republican a strong partner for state lawmakers who are  “striving to … create lasting prosperity.”

Said Mr. Cawley: “I know what it’s like to be a candidate in a hotly contested primary. It ain’t easy. … He’s demonstrated he’s a very strong worker and I know he’s going to bring that same work ethic and tenacity” to Washington.

Also joining the call were state Republican Chairman Rob Gleason; state Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson;  and state Rep. Warren Kampf, R-Chester.

They said the party wants to push Mr. Welch over the finish line as the April 24 primary approaches.

“He’s a candidate who will take pro-growth, pro-business values to Washington, D.C., which we so badly need,” Mr. Scarnati said. “And, he is the candidate who gives us the best chance to beat [Democratic incumbent] Bob Casey in the fall.”

Mr. Welch, who also participated in the call, characterized Mr. Casey as being out of touch with the business community as he supports legislative policies that burden entrepreneurs.

Mr. Welch faces four primary challengers: David Christian of Bucks, Sam Rohrer of Berks, Mark Scaringi of Dauphin and Tom Smith of Armstrong.

Mr. Casey has one challenger in the Democratic primary, Joe Vodvarka of Allegheny County.


Reapportionment, take two?

Published by Laura Olson on .

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission is meeting at 1 p.m. to unveil and vote on another round of preliminary district boundaries.

In case you need a refresher on the reapportionment saga, here's a quick recap:

The commission (made up of each caucus leader and retired judge as chairman) approved maps in December that would have moved four House seats -- two from the Pittsburgh region -- and one Senate seat to areas of the state with more population growth.

That plan, however, was rejected by the state Supreme Court in late January as petition circulation was beginning. They later released an opinion telling lawmakers to redraw the maps so that fewer localities and counties are divided among multiple districts.

Today will be the first public viewing of their new attempt at a map. We'll have more from Karen Langley after those plans are released.


Means, Mustio, Raja spar in Peters

Published by Tim McNulty on .

From Janice Crompton at the main site:

Three Republican candidates with similar opinions but vastly different backgrounds debated in Peters on Tuesday in the race for the 37th state Senate District seat.

State Sen. John Pippy, R-Moon, is not seeking re-election, and the winner of the seat likely will be chosen during the April 24 primary election because no Democrats have filed.

The district includes the Pittsburgh International Airport corridor and parts of the South Hills (Bethel Park, Jefferson Hills, Mt. Lebanon, Pleasant Hills, South Fayette, South Park, Upper St. Clair and Whitehall) in Allegheny County, along with Peters in Washington County.

Sponsored by the Peters Township Republican Committee, the debate was televised and attended by about 50 people. It included D. Raja, 46, a business executive and former Mt. Lebanon commissioner; state Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Moon, 54, an insurance company president who represents the 44th Legislative District; and Sue Means, 60, a nurse from Bethel Park.

Though there were tense moments among them at times during the two-hour debate at the Peters Township Middle School, Mr. Raja and Mr. Mustio didn't touch much on their battle over the airwaves.

In a television ad that has been running since late last month, Mr. Mustio's campaign has accused Mr. Raja of outsourcing jobs to his native India and features an image of Mr. Raja with the Indian flag superimposed in the background.

During his opening statements in the debate, Mr. Raja said he came to America 25 years ago to attend the University of Pittsburgh and founded a successful software company in the spare bedroom of his Scott townhouse.

Today, Mr. Raja said his company is still based in Scott and employs 400 people, with 80 to 100 of those in India, and about 94 percent of the firm's money is spent locally.

Mr. Raja's campaign has an ad slamming Mr. Mustio for voting in favor of the 2005 pay raise and for taking taxpayer-funded per diems and other perks as a legislator.

During the debate, Mr. Mustio said he regretted voting for the pay raise and said he returned the money.

Mrs. Means kept her focus on what she sees as a bloated state government that needs to be kept on a strict spending diet.


Romney stands down

Published by James O'Toole on .

Mitt Romney says he can get the economy going again but don't tell that to the television ad reps across Pennsylvania.  The prospect of a hard-fought primary in the Keystone State warmed the hearts of local stations in line for the bonanza of Romney spending that jumped from state to primary state throughout the nomination battle.  But with Rick Santorum's surprise exit from the GOP field, the Romney forces have pulled their entire Pennsylvania ad buy, according to a Democratic figure who tracks ad buys.  By Tuesday, just before Mr. Santorum announced he had suspended his campaign, the Romney forces had reserved roughly $2.25 million in commercial time on the state's airwaves. 

Feinberg: $80K in cash

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Tim Murphy's GOP challenger Evan Feinberg has just $80,000 to spend less than two weeks before the April 24 primary. (We posted an overview on the race earlier today.)

Feinberg's pre-primary report shows he raised $71.961 since the start of the year, on top of the $40,000 he had on hand previously. The biggest check was $5,000 from anti-union supporters at the American Builders & Contractors and he continued to get funds from the CEO of Heritage Action, Michael Needham.

He looks to be advertising at some point, as his $31,015 in spending included a commercial shoot.

Murphy's report is not yet in but at last count he had more than $1 million in cash. He has already been on air in the race.

UPDATE: The Feinberg ad attacking Murphy on government debt launches Friday: