Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio smiles during his  announcement he is running for the Republican nomination, at a rally at the Freedom Tower, Monday, April 13, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)Florida Sen. Marco Rubio smiles during his announcement he is running for the Republican nomination, at a rally at the Freedom Tower, Monday, April 13, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

1) Here is your official Early Returns Presidential Campaign Welcome to Sen. Marco Rubio, the third Republican to officially declare his intentions. Unlike his other two campaign counterparts -- Rand Paul, who can't seem to make it through an interview without storming out of the room, and Ted Cruz, whose entire purpose may be to steer the GOP side of the campaign to the rightMr. Rubio might be a legitimate candidate.

2) Hillary Clinton is keeping herself in the news with small-time appearances, as she cruises around Iowa in her Scooby van. And because she's largely keeping us media folks at arm's length, she hasn't really had to deal with the question of "What's up with Bill de Blasio?" The New York mayor and the manager of Ms. Clinton's United State Senate campaign, said he's not ready to endorse his former boss. But while NYC tabloids are freaking out, it appears that this may not be the huge deal it was earlier this week.

3) No matter what you think of Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner accepting cost-of-living pay increases – Mark Patrick Flaherty, Ms. Wagner's opponent for the post's Democratic nomination, is trying to make a campaign issue about it, while Ms. Wagner says the raises are a gender-equity issue – you shouldn't be pleased by stats collected at that show Pennsylvania is at the bottom of the barrel in the United States when it comes to gender-based pay disparity.

4) If Tonya Stack, wife of Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, doesn't like you, she apparently won't hesitate to make her feelings clear.

 Carol Pascuzzi, cheesemonger at Penn Mac since 1984, weighs a piece of cheese for a customer. (Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette) Carol Pascuzzi, cheesemonger at Penn Mac since 1984, weighs a piece of cheese for a customer. (Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette)

5) Goodbye, Dearheart. We'll miss you.


Perry on Politics: Clinton's motivation should be clear

Published by Mike Pound on .

 then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton waves as the arrives at Lusaka International Airport in Lusaka, Zambia, in 2011. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)Then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton waves as the arrives at Lusaka International Airport in Lusaka, Zambia, in 2011. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

By James M. Perry

So it's official. Hillary Rodham Clinton is running for president.

And both Dan Balz in the Washington Post and Amy Chozick in the New York Times, among others, want to know why she's running.

That question strikes me as faintly sexist. Why shouldn't she run for president? Why are Jeb Bush and Rand Paul and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and all the rest running for president? Has anyone seriously asked them about that?

Why do people run for president? Sometimes it's for a very good reason. George Washington ran for President to create a working Federal government. Abraham Lincoln ran to save the Union and free the slaves. Franklin D. Roosevelt ran to end the disastrous Great Depression. Ronald Reagan ran to cut the blooming size of the Federal government.

Surely, though, people run for president because they have powerful egos and think they would do a good job in the White House. They just don't think they should admit that.

I'm certain that Ms. Clinton has a powerful ego and wants to be the country's first female president. But she also seems eminently qualified to seek the presidency. She lived side by side with Bill Clinton, her husband, for eight years in the White House. She was at his side when he was governor of Arkansas. She turned up in New York and won a seat in the U.S. Senate. She narrowly lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama and then served in his administration as his secretary of State.

No one can match her resume.

The question – why are you running? – was an easy one for Washington, Lincoln, and the others (though I'm not sure anyone had the temerity to pose it). They were faced with an overarching problem and everyone knew it. We face a myriad of problems today – terrorism, income inequality, climate change – so answering the question becomes more complicated.

Ms. Clinton, in her videotaped announcement, said she's running to fight for everyday families so "they can get ahead and stay ahead" (as hers surely has). But, Amy Chozick insists in the Times, "Long before any ballots are cast, however, she faces enormous pressure to explain, in compelling terms, why she wants the job and is best suited to hold it."

It seems to me that all the other candidates face "enormous pressure" to do the same.

Roger Mudd famously asked Ted Kennedy why he wanted to run for president against Jimmy Carter in 1980. We all knew the answer to that, or thought we did. Mr. Kennedy believed Carter was a loser and it was time to replace him with a winning Kennedy. But he couldn't say that, and so his answer was muddled. It cost him dearly.

There's nothing muddled about Hillary Clinton. She's smart and ambitious and there's no reason she shouldn't run for president. We need to stop asking her why and start asking what she would do in the White House.

James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.


Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Attorney General Kathleen Kane (John Heller/Post-Gazette)

1) James Barker, a top aide to state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, was, um, reorganized, according to Ms. Kane's spokeswoman, and the fact that he lost his job this week definitely had nothing to do with the fact that he testified against Kane in the grand jury investigation of grand jury leaks.

2) And speaking of Ms. Kane's spokeswoman Carolyn Myers: she quit this week, meaning that job is open for the 387th time since Ms. Kane took office. At this point, qualifications include speaking in nearly complete sentences.

3) Chelsa Wagner's idea to funnel a late payment of car-rental taxes towards restoring Port Authority bus routes is drawing criticism from – surprise! – Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who says restricting the $2.1 million windfall would be a mistake when the authority has other needs; the authority also wonders about the wisdom of using a one-time payment to restore long-term bus routes.

4) A survey of political insiders by Politico shows something we've suspected – don't underestimate Marco Rubio as a Republican presidential candidate. The U.S. senator from Florida is conservative enough to satisfy most on the right, but he also has avoided being viewed as an extremist, like declared candidates Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

5) Get the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Machine warmed up – Hillary Clinton is expected to formally announce her presidential candidacy this weekend.


Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Kathleen Kane (Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette)Kathleen Kane (Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette)

1) We all know what happens when the general manager of a sports franchise or the athletics director at a university give an embattled coach a public vote of confidence – it almost always means that the coach in question will be history in short order. We don't know if Gov. Tom Wolf used the dreaded "vote of confidence" wording when he said on Tuesday that he didn't expect embattled state Attorney General Kathleen Kane to resign ... but still.

2) We've heard a lot about transparency from Mr. Wolf, both during his campaign against former Gov. Tom Corbett and once his administration took office in January. But in at least one instance – the email retention policy of the state's executive branch – Mr. Wolf's team seems to be content to carry on the policies of its predecessor. The Post-Gazette and several other news outlets have asked the state Supreme Court to take on a case to decide whether the current email retention policy – which states that individual employees can decide for themselves whether messages are transitory or should be retained as important governmental records – should be allowed to stand. Jeffrey Sheridan, spokesman for Mr. Wolf, said attorneys for the administration are working on a response to Tuesday's filing. But in the meantime, it's enough to note that the Wolf administration filed a brief for the case in March that said it would carry on the policy of Mr. Corbett's team.

3) Our next state treasurer? If it all works out with the state Senate's confirmation process, he'll bring experience as a venture capitalist and an adviser to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

4) Hey, look – we have another officially declared Republican presidential candidate. And we'd have to think Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is a more viable candidate than his colleague from Canada Texaseven if he's had to change his mind on a whole bunch of a few things.

5) The Emperor of the state Senate has set his sights on increasing the Republican majority in that body and turning the ideological makeup of his party colleagues sharply to the right.


Pennsylvania judicial candidates build a (financial) case for their campaigns

Published by Chris Potter on .

Judge David Wecht (Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette)Judge David Wecht (Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette)


As we warned you yesterday, campaign finance reports in the statewide judicial races have been trickling into the Department of State yesterday afternoon. Yesterday was the deadline for filing such reports, though they aren't always posted immediately. (Some candidates -- and there are 12 running for state Supreme Court -- send their reports by mail.)


Data on the Supreme Court race's likely biggest fundraisers -- Pittsburgh Superior Court Judge David Wecht and Philadelphia Judge John Dougherty -- was not available from the Department of State by day's end. Judge Wecht's campaign did, however, issue a release with his report's cover sheet, showing that he raised another $297,881 on top of $278,632 he had on hand at the end of 2014. Judge Dougherty's campaign has reportedly also released a summary of his fundraising: The $707,932 reported would make him far and away the race's biggest fundraiser so far.

Jefferson County Judge John Foradora's own report hasn't gone live, though his campaign released a cover sheet showing him raking in $391,000 in contributions. As we reported today, that gives the rural-county candidate a bit of swagger, even if the campaign acknowledged today that $100,000 of it was from the candidate himself.

Other candidates whose reports have yet to be posted today include that of Democrat Allegheny County Judge Dwayne Woodruff and two Republicans: sitting Supreme Court Justice Correale Stevens and Montour County District Attorney Rebecca Warren.

Most of the reports that have come in, meanwhile, suggest that this race will feature a lot of money from lawyers, most of it coming in denominations of more than $250, supplemented by some money from unions and other sources, as well as loans and self-financing. Not to mention one sizable contribution from a teddy-bear baron.

Christine Donohue, like Wecht a Superior Court judge from Pittsburgh, started the year with $22,518.61, and added another $184,727 to it through the end of March. Supporters included unions, led by a $5,000 gift from Pittsburgh IBEW Local 5, and some local politicos. The firm of Savinis D'Amico & Kane, which as we reported yesterday backed Wecht with more than $30,000 last year, gave Judge Donohue another $20,000.

Philadelphia-based Superior Court Judge Anne E. Lazarus raised $305,633 in the first three months of the year, adding to $32,726.58 raised in 2014. Some $75,000 of her 2015 total was a loan to herself.

Among Republicans, Homestead-born Superior Court judge Cheryl Allen raised $17,135, though most of that was in the form of a $10,000 loan. Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey, meanwhile, raised $56,540.38 Much of that was a single check of $25,000 from the PA Future Fund, a pro-business political committee.

Adams County President Judge Mike George reaped $546,880.24 -- $500,000 of which came from a single source. On the contribution forms, Gary Lowenthal identifies himself as a "teacher" at Mount St. Mary's College, but before you dust off your CV in hopes of landing a teaching gig, be advised: Mr. Lowenthal apparently made his money through a collectibles business, Boyds Bears and Friends, which he later sold.

Rounding out the field of Republicans, Superior Court judge -- and endorsed Republican -- Judith Olson raised just $1,110 through March 30. $1,000 of that came from Hillman Foundation executive Carl G. Grefenstette.