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Tea Party revvs up in Cranberry

Published by Tim McNulty on .

A Tea Party Express tour starts in surburban Pittsburgh today before hitting about 20 other stops throughout the midwest and Texas.

UPDATE: GOP U.S. Senate candidate Tom Smith will also be speaking

The "Restoring The American Dream" tour kicks off in Cranberry at 11:30 a.m. Details below from Pittsburgh Tea Party leader Patti Weaver:

DATE: Friday, April 27, 2012
TIME: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
LOCATION: North Boundary Park
1171 North Boundary Road
Cranberry Township, PA 16066
EMCEE: Rose Tennent, Co-host, "America's Morning Show"
SINGERS:   Lloyd Marcus, singer, songwriter, writer
Diana Nagy, singer, songwriter
COMEDIAN: Jim Labriola, from "Home Improvement"
SPEAKERS: Amy Kremer, Chairman, Tea Party Express
Mike Holler, Constitutional expert of The Constitution Made Easy
Howard Kaloogian, Chairman, Our Country Deserves Better PAC 
Dale McCoy, Pittsburgh's "Dale the Electrician"

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The crawling, creeping lie of Critz/Altmire

Published by Tim McNulty on .

"It's kinda like . . . it's kinda like a mass. It keeps getting bigger and bigger."

Somebody has to stop this argument that Blue Dog Democrat Jason Altmire lost to Mark Critz on Tuesday because Critz is more liberal. We've seen that said three times in the past couple days (starting at the National Review: "Liberals Unseat Moderate Democrats in Pa Primary"), and while that's a neat way of wrapping a bow around the Altmire and Tim Holden losses, it's not true.

Republicans (as previewed today) have every right to make the case this fall that Critz is too far left for the district, pointing to his deep ties to labor and votes siding with the Obama administration (including one against repeal of Obamacare). But 51% of the 12th District's Democratic voters didn't line up behind Critz on Tuesday because he's liberal. He won because of bad turnout in Allegheny County, great turnout in Cambria and the hard GOTV work of his campaign and organized labor. On the issues he and Altmire were very much alike, and in fact Altmire pushed to show that Critz was too conservative. (How many liberals voted against Dodd-Frank, Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal or funding for Planned Parenthood?)

Before mob hysteria sweeps the city and the nation, it's time to throw this look at the race into a deep freeze.

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Ravenstahl's counterargument

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Luke Ravenstahl

There's been some talk here and elsewhere about the city House wins Tuesday by Erin Molchany and Ed Gainey being bad news for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's reelection chances next year, and good news for Bill Peduto and other Pittsburgh progressives.

Here's a counterargument from somebody inside the campaign of another member of the city's House caucus, Adam Ravenstahl:

I just wanted to send some highlights about our race since some out there are saying the Gainey and Molchany win is proof that the 'progressives' can win. I think Gainey's win makes the mayor stronger because even though Luke stayed out of that race, Ed is close with the Ravenstahl administration.

Even with Mark [Purcell] sending 3 negative mailers, a robocall from Franco Harris, and a 'positive' fold out mailer about eliminating the property tax, our campaign stayed completely positive and sent less mail than Purcell and Adam won with 56% of the vote.

We knocked on thousands of doors and ran a volunteer based grassroots campaign. While I think we political 'pundits' like to oversimplify results and what it means to certain factions of the political establishment there are some things I take away from the race.

The good news for the mayor is that Adam won with 63% of the vote in the Northside and 60% of the city vote overall.

The good news for us is that we won West View and Reserve Township. Adam's message crosses city borders and that is good as we move forward with the redistricting process.

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Union SuperPAC targets Pa

Published by Tim McNulty on .

An AFL-CIO SuperPAC targeting Pennsylvania and four other swing states this presidential year is rolling out a unique way for spending its money: the harder volunteers work, the more say they will have in what issues and candidates the PAC supports.

The organized labor umbrella group unveiled the PAC last month, pitching it as a way to try to counterbalance the conservative SuperPACs that have spread like wildfire since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. The ruling allowed individuals, corporations and unions to give unlimited amounts to PACs that can make independent expenditures on campaign. It also allowed unions to reach out to nonunion workers for the first time.

The so-called Workers' Voice PAC cannot hope to match conservative fundraising -- who had a 20:1 edge over union spending in 2010 -- so it has to find other ways to be effective. Thus, the new spending money announced today at Huffington Post:

Participants who undertake campaign activities -- phone banking, neighborhood canvassing, field program volunteering and others -- will be rewarded the equivalent of super PAC currency. That currency, in turn, can be used to direct which candidates and issues Workers' Voice supports and how they support them, be it through online advertising, voter registration, Get Out The Vote operations or other mechanisms.

"We are kind of jumping off a cliff and opening ourselves up to democracy. We are going to empower people and empower workers in a way that's not been done before," said Workers' Voice spokesman Eddie Vale. "There may be a congressional race that isn't much on people's radar in D.C. But if there are a hundred activists in that congressional district who get their asses out of bed every morning and make phone calls and knock on doors, we feel they have earned the right to put [our] resources there."

Besides Pennsylvania, the PAC is setting up shop in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Nevada. The AFL-CIO represents 57 unions covering 12 million workers.

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Clinton's winning streak continues

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Our post-mortem on the Altmire-Critz race today notes the grassroots efforts made early on in Cambria County as well as the 35,000 calls the United Steelworkers made Monday and Tuesday reminding Critz partisans to hit the polls. The late phone pitches included robocalls from Critz endorser Bill Clinton: the campaign ran them twice, starting after the end of the Penguins game Sunday.

With Tuesday's results, the WashPost's Fix blog says Clinton (who also supported Dem AG winner Kathleen Kane) is "the best surrogate in the country." And we'll likely be hearing more from him:

“Bill Clinton isn’t just a bright shiny object for the primary, he’s a gold star in the general as well,” said Democratic strategist Jef Pollock. “President Clinton can be very effective and remains popular with a broad range of voters who will be key swing groups come November.”

(At the opposite end of the spectrum is Ed Rendell, who supported Kane's opponent Patrick Murphy, and Tim Holden.)