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F&M: Wolf still leads big

Published by James O'Toole on .

The good news for Tom Wolf’s opponents is that roughly half of Pennsylvania’s Democrats have yet to make a choice in the race for governor.

But that may be small consolation in a contest in which the York businessman’s money and early advertising have built a big and so far unchallenged lead. In the latest survey from Franklin & Marshall College, Mr. Wolf maintained a daunting advantage over his rivals. At 33 percent, his support was greater than that of the other three candidates combined. His tally dwarfed those of U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, at 7 percent; Treasurer Rob McCord, 6 percent; and former DEP Secretary Katie McGinty, 4 percent.

While, there’s still time for churn in the standings in the weeks before the May 20 primary, his lead, little changed from F&M’s last survey in February, remains formidable. The new numbers came after a few weeks in which McGinty and McCord had launched their own advertising campaigns with no evidence yet that those ads had given them any real traction. Schwartz has yet to begin to advertise. Her slender advantage over McCord and McGinty was within the survey’s margin of error.

Mr. Wolf led in every region of the state. Ms. Schwartz managed to crack double digits only in her home base. She had 11 percent among Philadelphia voters, while Mr. Wolf had 35 percent. IN the surrounding suburbs in the state’s southeast, Mr. Wolf had 30 percent compared to 16 percent for Ms. Schwartz.  Like Schwartz, McCord is from Montgomery County in the Philadelphia suburbs, but his support in the southeast was just 4 percent. His stronger areas were the Northeast and the central part of the state, where he polls 14 percent and 10 percent, respectively, still far behind Wolf.

As the race approaches its home stretch, the candidates remain unknown to many voters.

When the respondents were asked to offer and opinion on whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view of the candidates, “don’t know’’ was the most frequent answer. Commensurate with the trial heat results, Wolf led again in this category. Forty-four percent said they held a favorable view of the York businessman; just 3 percent, an unfavorable view; 11 percent were undecided and 41 percent said they didn’t know enough to offer and opinion. The favorable/ unfavorable rations for the other three were: Schwartz, 25/6; McCord, 16/2; and McGinty, 14/3.

Three out of five voters didn’t know Schwartz; 71 percent said they didn’t know McCord; and 86 percent didn’t know McGinty.

When the poll looked at combined firmer support with those leaning toward a candidate, Mr. Wolf’s lead grew. With leaners, the horse race tally was Wolf, 40 percent; Schwartz, 9 percent; McCord, 6 percent; and McGinty, 6 percent. Among the most reliable primary voters, a smaller group whose results carried a greater margin of error, it was Wolf, 38; McCord, 9; Schw3artz, 6 and McGinty, 2.

The survey, conducted from March 25 through March 31, included interviews with 524 registered Democrats and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.

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Jay Paterno punts

Published by James O'Toole on .

Citing the hurdles posed by a challenge to his nominating petitions, Jay Paterno, the former football coach and son of the late Penn State icon, Joe Paterno, announced yesterday that he is dropping from the campaign for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

Mr. Paterno's petitions had been challenged by another candidate for the s3econd spot on the Democratic ticket, Harrisburg Councilman Brad Koplinski. 

In a statement distributed by his campaign, Mr. Paterno said, "This afternoon I am announcing my intent to withdraw from the Lt. Governor's race. Over the past twenty-four hours in talking with attorneys it has become clear that the ballot challenge could be a long process with potential decisions and appeals carrying beyond Monday's hearing.

"With less than two months remaining before the primary I do not want an ongoing legal back and forth to be a distraction in this race. The outcome of this election is too important for the future of the working families and all the people of this Commonwealth.''

 His withdrawal leaves a Democratic field including Mr. Koplinski, Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith, former U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, state Rep. Brandon Neuman, and state Sen. Mike Stack.

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DeWeese poised to go free

Published by James O'Toole on .

Karen Langley has the story on one more of of our former House Speakers poised to be sprung from the big house:

HARRISBURG — Bill DeWeese, a onetime Pennsylvania House speaker who was found to have used state employees for political purposes, could leave prison as early as today.

After 22 1/2 months, the Greene County Democrat is eligible for parole, though reporting requirements mean his release could be delayed until Sunday, said William Costopoulos, his attorney.

"The indications are there he's going to be getting out sometime this weekend," Mr. Costopoulos said.

DeWeese, 63, was convicted in 2012 on corruptions charges that included theft, conflict of interest and conspiracy. Prosecutors said he compelled legislative workers to campaign, using more than $100,000 of staff time and other state resources for his political benefit.

He was sentenced in April of that year and resigned from the seat he had held since 1976.

 
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Hanger hangs in there

Published by James O'Toole on .

John Hanger, the former DEP secretary, was the first one in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor and one of the first ones out. 

While's he's abandoned his campaign, he announced yesterday that he would continue to be a voice for progressive policies through what he calls the Pennsylvania People's Campaign, an initiative that he said would seek the ouster of Gov. Tom Corbett and the adoption of "policies to combat economic injustice, promote clean and sustainable energy, rebuild quality public education, bring forth a New Birth of Freedom that includes reform of Pennsylvania's unjust and outmoded marijuana laws, and restore integrity in government.''

You can read the full Hanger statement after the jump.

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McCord ad cites opposition to Corbett

Published by James O'Toole on .

Treasurer Rob McCord has another new commercial, transitioning from the personal focus of his first spots to claims about his opposition to Gov. Tom Corbett.  In all of the McCord ads so far, the anti-Corbett theme has been more explicit than in the ads Tom Wolf and Katie McGinty have aired. U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz has yet to launch her first commercials. 

The new McCord spot points to Mr. McCord's opposition to the Corbett administration's abandoned proposal to turn over operation of the state lottery to a foreign gaming firm.  The administration argued that the plan was needed to expand lottery revenues.  Mr. McCord and other critics contended that the move would jeopardize the current system.

Mr. McCord's ad also cites two instances where he has outbid his rivals on policy initiatives popular among Democrats.  The candidates all support an increase in the minimum wage; he advocates a rate of $10.70, higher than any of his primary competitors.  Mr. McCord has called for a 10 percent severence tax on natural gas drillers.  While the details differ, the other Democrats have called for a new severance tax of about 5 percent.