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Introducing Missa Eaton, D-Pa3

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Missa Eaton is in Pittsburgh fundraising for her PA3 congressional run and trying to make the case she can knock off freshman Missa EatonU.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler. After redistricting the locus of the seat has shifted slightly south, gobbling up all of growing Butler County, and away from the Democratic stronghold of Erie, the home to congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper, whom Kelly beat in the 2010 midterm wave.

Eaton, a 49-year-old psychology professor from Sharon, was a volunteer for Dahlkemper on both of her campaigns, but she has some differences with the usual conservative brand of Western Pennsylvania Democrat. Unlike PA12's Mark Critz or Larry Maggi, the challenger to Tim Murphy in PA18, she supports abortion rights; is on the record supporting Barack Obama's reelection; and supports the president's health care reform bill. (Dahlkemper was among the last Dems to push the bill over the finish line, which became a major theme in the 2010 campaign.)

The package was necessary to address the mounting costs of treating uninsured patients, she says, which create financial nightmares for hospitals like UMPC-Hamot in Erie and are endangering hospital facilities elsewhere in the state's northwest. (The district represents all of Armstrong, Butler and Mercer counties, and parts of Clarion, Crawford, Erie and Lawrence.)

"We had to do something. It was a good first step," she said in an interview this morning. "Like every bill it had unintended consequences. I don't see this Congress doing anything about it."

Mike KellyWhich brings her to Kelly, a well-known car dealer who courted Tea Party voters and was a vocal Obama critic in his successful 2010 campaign. (Not to mention being an early sparring partner with pre-scandal Anthony Weiner.) She plans (like Democrats nationwide) to criticize his support US Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, saying it would endanger Social Security and Medicaid, and argue he is out of touch with blue-collar voters (he's the 21st richest member of Congress).

"He has made hard to the right votes [that appeal to] a narrow demographic. He's given moderates and independents no reason to vote for him again," she said.

Republican mapmakers remade a 3rd District that not only removed a chunk of Erie but swallowed up all of Kelly's home base in Butler County. (Visiting polls on primary day, Eaton said she met a number of voters who mistakenly thought they could vote in the well-publicized Altmire-Critz race.) That also means the district has solidified its place in the Pittsburgh media market, which is more expensive than the Erie market and all the more reason she has to boost her fundraising to introduce herself to voters.

She is starting a long way back from Kelly. A proven self-funder, he entered April with almost $310,000 in campaign cash to the $16,000 for Eaton. She is resigning her professorship at Penn State Shenango to focus full-time on campaigning, which for now means trips like today's south to Pittsburgh.

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Budget day; Expert looks at Pa12

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Altmire/Critz

Jim O'Toole has more on the giant $25 million Obama campaign ad buy in Pa and other background states.

Jason Altmire did some handicapping of the Pa12 race after his endorsement of Mark Critz over Republican Keith Rothfus yesterday that didn't make it into the story:

Mr. Altmire has run against both Mr. Critz and Mr. Rothfus and said his fellow Democrat can prevail in a socially conservative district that could well vote for Mr. Romney for president but support such Democrats as Mr. Critz or U.S. Sen. Bob Casey. Voters in the newly made 12th District voted 54 percent for John McCain in 2008.

"The winner of this race is going to be the one who can appeal to the people in the middle ... This is going to come down to who wins the people splitting their tickets," he said.

State budget debate starts today with a legislative Republican plan to restore about $500 million in education funding cut by Gov. Tom Corbett (Laura Olson)

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Santorum emails Romney nod

Published by Tim McNulty on .

It makes a weird kind of sense. After not mentioning Mitt Romney when he bowed out of the presidential race, then meeting him in private Friday and not endorsing him, Rick Santorum finally endorsed Romney three days later. By email.

From the AP:

Republican former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum endorsed Mitt Romney, his party's presumptive presidential nominee, in a late-night email to supporters.

Mr. Santorum challenged Mr. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, for the nomination, falling short and leaving the race April 10.

"The primary campaign certainly made it clear that Gov. Romney and I have some differences. But there are many significant areas in which we agree," Mr. Santorum wrote, citing common ground in economic, social and foreign policy.

"Above all else, we both agree that President Obama must be defeated," he said. "The task will not be easy. It will require all hands on deck if our nominee is to be victorious. Gov. Romney will be that nominee and he has my endorsement and support to win this the most critical election of our lifetime."

UPDATE: The Mitt Romney campaign sends this statement from the candidate:

"Senator Santorum ran a spirited race and his commitment to conservatism energized millions of Republicans around the country. The race for the Republican presidential nomination has always been about restoring the promise of America. Senator Santorum and I share an absolute commitment to that goal, just as we share an absolute commitment to reversing the failing policies of the Obama Administration, from its assault on freedom of conscience to its feckless foreign policy. Ann and I extend our sincere gratitude to Karen and Rick for his endorsement, and our continued prayers for the health of their daughter Bella."

UPDATE 2: Explainer on Friday meeting and endorsement from Santorum after the jump:

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Brewster: Mon Valley needs senator

Published by Karen Langley on .

This in from the world of redistricting: As observers know, the new preliminary Senate map keeps the district of Sen. Jim Brewster, D-McKeesport, in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, instead of shipping it east to the Poconos.

When news broke that the Supreme Court had invalidated the plan that would have moved his district, Brewster declared he was "back from the dead" and got to work circulating nominating petitions.

As he told the redistricting commission this afternoon, Brewster thinks the change is very good indeed. He told members the Mon Valley is finally turning an economic corner, and would be helped along by maintaining its voice in the Senate. 

"For decades beginning in the 1980s we've experienced economic dislocation with the downturn of the steel industry," he said. "We are now starting to revive."

The former McKeesport mayor thanked the commission members several times for their service, as well as praising the preliminary decision to maintain his district. (The plan instead sends eastward the district of Sen. Jane Orie, who was convicted in March on 14 criminal counts.) But he acknowledged that the map had yet to receive a final vote.

"Lines on a map designating districts are fungible," he said. "They can be adjusted and changed. What cannot be changed is the character of the underlying communities and people that are served by the districts that are drawn by the commission. The greater Mon Valley is a regional community."

The commission could vote on the maps as soon as May 14.

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Also making up: Altmire & Shea

Published by Tim McNulty on .

We couldn't place every last Democratic official at the Mark Critz/Jason Altmire event today, but in addition to Mike Doyle the list included: Allegheny County exec Rich Fitzgerald; Beaver County commissioners Tony Amadio and Joe Spanik; Allegheny County Democratic committee chair Nancy Mills; Allegheny County sheriff Bill Mullen; Allegheny County controller Chelsa Wagner; county council members Bill Robinson and Barbara Daly Danko; city councilman Patrick Dowd; city controller Michael Lamb; and several organized labor officials including John DeFazio of the Steelworkers (and county council) and Allegheny County Labor Council president Jack Shea.

Shea epitomized labor's anger at Altmire after his vote against Obama's health care reform bill in 2010, going so far as to consider a write-in or independent challenge of Altmire that year. Today, after Altmire's remarks, the pair shook hands. "I said it was a classy thing you did -- a class act," Shea told our Jim O'Toole. "He said, 'Jack, we're friends, we'll stay friends.'"