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2 empty Senate seats without Pippy

Published by Laura Olson on .

As we noted in the wee hours of Sunday morning, state Sen. John Pippy vacated his legislative seat just before the clock struck midnight.

His announcement comes after the veteran Republican lawmaker and National Guardsman had already declared he would not run for re-election. That led to a nasty GOP primary, and the pending replacement of the Democratic candidate in the 37th Senatorial District contest.

Pippy didn't explain in his late-night statement why he's now leaving mid-session (though when the Senate returns to Harrisburg on September 24, they likely will only remain in session for three weeks or so before resuming fall campaigning).

An Associated Press article says he's taking a private-sector position, but that he won't reveal what it is until next Monday. 

Pippy's departure means there's two state Senate vacancies for the moment, and both seats previously held by Allegheny County Republicans. That leaves four of the county's six senators in place -- all Democrats. 

While geography can be deceiving when describing legislative representation, the red portion of the map above shows the senator-less section of Allegheny -- unless state Rep. Randy Vulakovich is successful in the August 7 special election to fill former Sen. Jane Orie's 40th District seat.

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Post budget vote, Pippy resigns

Published by Laura Olson on .

Amid the midnight press releases lauding the governor signing his $27.66 billion budget in law with minutes to spare was another noting an early resignation.

Republican state Sen. John Pippy of Moon, who did not file for re-election this year, officially resigned from his seat at 11:59 p.m.

He couldn't be located after this evening's late-night action, but another GOP senator said Pippy received a job offer that prompted his early departure.

His exit creates a second open seat in the state Senate. Former Republican Sen. Jane Orie of McCandless resigned in May, prior to her sentencing on 14 criminal counts.

The full release is below:

Harrisburg – State Sen. John Pippy (R-37) formally resigned from the Pennsylvania Senate, effective Saturday at 11:59 p.m.

The senator announced in January that he would not be seeking another term in office.

Senator Pippy wrote the following in his letter to Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley: “The last nine years in the Senate have been the most meaningful experience I have had in my professional career. My Republican and Democrat colleagues in the Senate have become lifetime friends and I am humbled to have had the honor to work in this ornate Capitol and especially this chamber.”

The senator added: “I would be remiss if I did not mention the hundreds, if not thousands, of outstanding relationships that I have been fortunate to forge with the residents of the 37th Senatorial District. The support I received on a daily basis from my constituents has been both meaningful and lasting.”

“The Senate of Pennsylvania is a special place. I am a deeply thankful for being a small part of it,” he concluded.

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AFP runs new anti ACA ads in Pa

Published by Tim McNulty on .

The giant outside spending group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity, is launching a nearly $1 million ad buy in Pennsylvania targeting Obamacare. Specifically they're criticizing the Supreme Court's understanding of the individual mandate as a tax (which GOP consultants began hitting yesterday), as part of an overall battleground state ad buy of $9 million attacking Obama's signature law.

The group says it is buying $932,000 worth of airtime in the state.

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Parks drops Pippy seat bid; Smith eyed

Published by Tim McNulty on .

The Democratic nominee for outgoing John Pippy's state Senate seat southwest of Pittsburgh is dropping out of the race, likely making way for state Rep. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, to run.

If Democratic committee members from Allegheny and Washington counties agree on nominating Smith, it will set up an intriguing race between him and Republican businessman D. Raja, also of Mt. Lebanon. Raja beat state Rep. Mark Mustio in a brutal primary election in April after losing the Allegheny County executive race to Rich Fitzgerald last fall.

Smith, an attorney who won his first House election in 2006, could not be immediately reached.

The current nominee for the 37th District seat, Greg Parks, filed papers with state elections officials today withdrawing from the race. "I will closely follow the nomination process to fill the Democratic slot in this race, and will offer my full support as Chair of the Pleasant Hills Democratic Committee to whoever is nominated -- beating Raja must be the highest priority for the person who succeeds me," he said in a statement.

Parks had to run a write-in campaign to get on the ballot. Pippy, of Upper St. Clair, surprisingly announced he would not run again in January, after the first round of new state legislative maps were issued.

Raja's forces will likely criticize the move as a backroom deal perpetrated by Democratic officials, and ask why Smith did not run for the seat in the spring.

The full statement from Parks, via the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, is below:

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Critz hits Rothfus/Boehner on Chinese currency

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Today the Mark Critz campaign is dinging GOP opponent Keith Rothfus for a fundraiser with House Speaker John Boehner on Saturday, and specifically Boehner's blocking of a bill punishing China for undervaluing its currency.

There was bipartisan support for the bill in the Senate late last year (where it was approved 63-35) but Boehner has said it could "risk a trade war." Critz has been a vocal backer of the bill, saying it will help cut the trade deficit with China and spur job creation:

"Keith Rothfus is proud to have been endorsed by the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, which are wealthy special interest groups that have said it is good for China to manipulate its currency, even though it gives the Chinese an unfair advantage over American companies and has cost western Pennsylvania tens of thousands of jobs," Critz spokesman Mike Mikus said. "He is on the record supporting unfair trade deals that ship jobs overseas, so it is not surprising that he would campaign with the man who is single handedly responsible for allowing China to game the system at the behest of multi-national corporations and at expense of the American worker."

What the Democrat's statement doesn't mention, though, is that President Obama has been wary of the legislation too.

Full Critz statement after the jump: