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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Carly Fiorina (Reuters), Ben Carson (Associated Press), Mike Huckabee (Reuters)Carly Fiorina (Reuters), Ben Carson (Associated Press), Mike Huckabee (Reuters)

1) If we include an announcement to come from Arkansas later today, three more Republicans have announced they are running for their party's nomination for vice president. Sure, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said they have their eyes on the big prize, but we're going to go ahead and say their chances of winning the GOP presidential nomination are miniscule. And while Arkansas governor/presidential candidate/Fox News pundit/presidential candidate again Mike Huckabee has won a handful of states here and there in previous Republican primaries, his base isn't big enough to do much beyond stealing votes from Ted Cruz. However, each of the newly minted candidates could help satisfy a specific demand when the eventual nominee begins looking for a running mate. Our early favorite? That would be Mrs. Fiorina, who is already showing a propensity for poking at Hillary Clinton.

2) When Mr. Cruz announced his candidacy, we noted that the folks who run his campaign hadn't done such a hot job of locking down potential domain names, leaving their candidate vulnerable to parody sites. It now appears that this may be more of a Republican problem than a Ted Cruz problem. Mrs. Fiorina's campaign site can be found at carlyforpresident.com, but calling up carlyfiorina.org will take you to a site that points out that Mrs. Fiorina was responsible for 30,000 layoffs while she ran HP. C'mon, Republicans – it's 2015, and you guys should know how this works by now.

3) Color us light blue, according to Politico. The site released its first electoral map for the 2016 presidential election, and it counts Pennsylvania as leaning Democratic, an assessment that doesn't seem as shocking when one considers that we haven't voted Republican in a presidential race since 1988. Our neighbors? Also unsurprising: West Virginia is a safe R; New York, New Jersey and Maryland are all safe Ds and Ohio, of course, is a tossup.

4) Mrs. Clinton will go back to Washington to publicly answer questions from a Congressional committee — controlled by Republicans, of course -- about Benghazi and the email system she used as secretary of state. We suspect that we won't learn much new about either issue, but watching how the Democratic candidate handles the questions will be an interesting early campaign test.

5) In just two weeks, Pennsylvania's municipal primary election will be upon us, and that's plenty of time to track down information about the races we'll see on the ballot. Naturally, the Post-Gazette is here to help, whether you want to peruse our preview stories about the election's important races – like, say, the one for Pittsburgh controller – at our election coverage page or if you want to see who's been endorsed by the PG's editorial board.

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Perry on Politics: History suggests a short run for Sanders

Published by James M. Perry on .

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Associated Press photo)U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Associated Press photo)

Bernie Sanders, the 75-year-old junior senator from Vermont, liked to say not long ago that he was a "democratic socialist." Now that he's running for the Democratic presidential nomination, he prefers to be called an independent.

"I'm not to be underestimated," he told the Associated Press.

There's hardly any chance he would edge Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination, but in the first few hours of his campaign he raised more than a million dollars. He's a tough, wily old bird and voters in Vermont flock to the polls to vote for him. He's almost sure to cause a rumpus.

It's the old socialist tag that might haunt him. Socialist candidates have never caught fire in the United States the way they have sometime prospered in Europe. Sanders reminds me a little of the late Michael Foot, leader of Great Britain's Labor Party when "comrades" waved red flags and swore fealty to Clause IV in the 1918 Labor Party constitution. The party, it read, intended "to secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service."

Mr. Foot, with his straggly, wind-swept white hair, really believed that. Margaret Thatcher, his opponent in 1983, surely didn't, and her Conservative Party won the election easily. (Labor, under Tony Blair, rewrote Clause IV, and moved the party towards the center of the political spectrum. A general election will be held Thursday, with an uncertain outcome.)

The Socialist Party in the United States was formed in 1901. It did at one time have two members in Congress and a scattering of mayors around the country.

The party's most successful presidential candidate was Eugene V. Debs. He ran five times, winning 6 percent of the vote in 1912, a high-water mark for the party. It wasn't socialist talk such as supporting "common ownership" of almost everything that doomed the party, it was the party's stand against going to war. American socialists were pacifists.

On June 18, 1918, during World War 1, Mr. Debs made a speech in Canton, Ohio, in which he urged Americans to resist the military draft. Americans, including President Wilson, were furious and two weeks after the speech Mr. Debs was arrested and charged with sedition. No witnesses were called at his trial, though Mr. Debs gave a stirring speech (he would have made a fine evangelical preacher but for the fact he was an agnostic).

Heywood Broun, a widely read columnist with liberal convictions, said "that old man with the burning eyes actually believes that there can be such a thing as the brotherhood of man. And that's not the funniest part of it. As long as he's around, I believe it myself."

Mr. Debs was sentenced, unfairly, to ten years in prison. He ran for president in 1920 while serving time in a federal prison in Atlanta. He polled almost 920,000 votes.

There might be a touch of Mr. Debs in Mr. Sanders, for he, too, has a distaste for going to war. He voted against using force in Iraq in 1991 and 1992, when he was a member of the House, and opposed the invasion in 2003.

Basically, though, he's a liberal Democrat, and in his opening campaign remarks he stuck pretty closely to the liberal Democratic playbook. "What we have seen," he said, "is that while the average person is working longer hours for lower wages, we have seen a huge increase in income and wealth inequality, which is now reaching obscene levels."

It's unlikely he would like to be reminded that the last socialist candidate for president, an obscure farmer from Maryland with Quaker roots in Pennsylvania named Darlington Hoopes, tallied 2,044 votes in 1956.

James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. 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.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., joined by, from left, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., left, Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 29, 2015,  to speak out against the Republican backed budget that they say will hurt American middle class families. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., joined by, from left, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., left, Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 29, 2015, to speak out against the Republican backed budget that they say will hurt American middle class families. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

1) U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders probably won't mount much of a challenge to Hillary Clinton's campaign for the Democratic nomination for president, but we suspect the Vermonter will be hugely annoying to Ms. Clinton as he pokes at her from the left.

2) Speaking of things that annoy the Clintons: Potential donors – and others – are now asking questions about the Clinton Foundation and the influence that money has on Ms. Clinton. In the meantime, the author of "Clinton Cash," a book that purports to document Clinton Foundation operations, says he's hired full-time security after receiving death threats, which is a terrifically juicy thing to bring up in interviews when you've got a book to sell.

3) We had to double-check to see if this was initially published in The Onion, but apparently Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is actually concerned that upcoming Special Forces maneuvers are a façade for a federal takeover of his home state, including the confiscation of guns from Texans. It is interesting that Mr. Abbott has that many concerns about a federal presence in his home state; we'd bet that the 350,000 federal employees and retirees who live there might feel differently.

4) Good news: There are ads in the city controller's campaign. Bad news: They're both really ... polite.

Incumbent Michael Lamb calls himself a proven watchdog and takes credit for making the city's financial info available online – an unquestionably good thing that should have been done a decade ago – without mentioning his opponent.

City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak does take a gentle swipe at Mr. Lamb, though, posting headlines that imply a connection between the incumbent and the conviction of former police chief Nate Harper. But that's a mild claim at a time when we'd expect things to start heating up. Maybe Chelsa Wagner and Mark Patrick Flaherty can step up instead?

johnny-manziel-cleveland-browns-quarterback-jerseyAdd another name to the list.

5) It's NFL Draft weekend, and here's what we're looking for in tonight's first round: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers should offer to pay Jameis Winston in crab legs, the Steelers, with typically Steeleresque efficiency, will probably add a defensive back ... and my Browns will once again figure out a way to ruin the career of a promising young quarterback. Enjoy the draft, everyone.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Joe Capley-Alfano, center, and his husband Frank Capley-Alfano, who've been together 15 years and married seven, hold an American flag in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, April 28, 2015. (Cliff Owen/Associated Press)Joe Capley-Alfano, center, and his husband Frank Capley-Alfano, who've been together 15 years and married seven, hold an American flag in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, April 28, 2015. (Cliff Owen/Associated Press)

1) The arguments are over, and now we wait on the U.S. Supreme Court – by which we probably mean Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court's swing vote in politically polarizing cases – to reach a conclusion on same sex-marriage.

2) President Obama took time out of a Rose Garden news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to lay out a half-dozen thoughts about race, prompted by this week's riots in Baltimore. These were not quick, off-the-cuff remarks from the president, who didn't want to paint with the broad brush that the cable news networks wielded on Tuesday. Mr. Obama instead seemed to set the table for a continued discussion of race, poverty and inequality.

3) The investigation of Kathleen Kane has been expanded by Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman to include whether the state attorney general was in contempt of court when she fired aide James Barker. Mr. Barker said he was fired for saying Ms. Kane disclosed grand jury testimony to reporters; Ms. Kane maintains Mr. Barker was let go as part of a reorganization of her office.

4) The National Rifle Association is going to have to wait for a bit before it can sue Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Lancaster over its gun ordinances, a Commonwealth Court judge ruled on Tuesday.

5) A day after filing court documents to force UPMC and Highmark to submit their myriad disputes to binding arbitration, the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf set a September deadline for resolution of the disputes, to give consumers an idea of how they can proceed as the 2015 health insurance open enrollment window opens.

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Wolf marks 100 days with Twitter town hall

Published by Mike Pound on .

Gov. Wolf continues to put the social in social media; he's holding a Twitter-based town hall meeting at 5:30 p.m. tonight to commemorate his first 100 days in office. You'll find him at @GovernorTomWolf.

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