Politics & Government

We cover politics and government with an eye to providing to voters clear, in-depth, nonpartisan information. 

Bill DeWeese Resigns

Apr 24, 2012

Convicted state Rep. Bill DeWeese has handed in his resignation from Pennsylvania's House of Representatives.

A spokesman for House Speaker Sam Smith says Smith received the letter yesterday and that DeWeese's resignation takes effect at noon Tuesday, less than two hours before he is scheduled to be sentenced on corruption charges. Legislative offices were closed Tuesday for the primary election.

Smith Versus Casey for Senate in the Fall

Apr 24, 2012

Armstrong County Tea Party founder and former coal company owner Tom Smith emerged as the winner from a 5-member field for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

With 99% of precincts counted across the commonwealth, Smith has 39% of the votes compared to Sam Rohrer's 22%, Steven Welch with 21%, David Christian with 11% and Marc Scaringi's 7%.

Smith will face Senator Bob Casey in the November election. Casey defeated Joseph Vodvarka, of Robinson Township, 80% to 20 for the Democratic nomination. Casey is seeking a second 6-year term.

House District 12

Toomey's Take on the Primary and Budget

Apr 23, 2012

Pennsylvania Republicans will cast votes tomorrow to nominate a U.S. Senate candidate. U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) says it is understandable that many voters do not yet know much about the five men running, and admits that he has not encountered many constituents who are aware of the five GOP candidates: David Christian, Sam Rohrer, Marc Scaringi, Tom Smith, and Steve Welch.

"Well, I mean, my wife knows who's running," Toomey said. "I spoke with her before I got in the car today."

Pittsburgh area voters without access to a vehicle to get to their polling place for tomorrow's primary election can get a ride through a local service.

The Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) will have vans running all day to get underprivileged voters to the polls. Tim Stevens, chairman of B-PEP, said there are many reasons to provide the service.

"This is something we do every six months to increase voter participation, voter understanding and the legality of the voting process," Stevens said.

Who’s Running to Face Bob Casey?

Apr 23, 2012

Pennsylvania Republicans will take to the polls Tuesday to choose a U.S. Senate nominee. The five-way GOP primary has flown under the radar this year, generating much less attention than previous campaigns.

Four of the five men running for Senate addressed Philadelphia Tea Party voters with a similar message: the federal government spends too much and taxes too much. They're all opposed to President Obama's policies, particularly the healthcare overhaul.

Latino Group Critical of Plan to Redraw Senate Districts.

Apr 20, 2012

A Latino advocacy group critical of redistricting plans is also making its voice heard on the second round of maps. Latino Lines doesn't have a problem with the preliminary plan for state House districts, as approved by the redistricting panel. The group said it's happy to see the new map includes four majority-Latino districts.

But, the group said the panel's rough plan for Senate districts dilutes the Latino vote by dividing it into two districts.

PAC And Super-PAC Purchases Heat Up Before Election

Apr 20, 2012

Advocacy groups are flooding the airwaves with less than a week to go before the Pennsylvania primary.

In the contested Democratic primary of the 17th congressional district, environmentalists are criticizing incumbent Tim Holden for his votes on energy legislation and calling them out of sync with the party.

Democratic voters will have two choices for Pennsylvania Attorney General when they go to the polls Tuesday in the primary election.

Patrick Murphy, 38, is running against Kathleen Kane in the primary election Tuesday, April 24 with the winner hoping to become the first elected Democratic state attorney general.

Auditor General Candidate Profile: John Maher

Apr 19, 2012

Two candidates are seeking the GOP nomination for Pennsylvania Auditor General in Tuesday's primary election.

State Representative John Maher (R-Allegheny) claims he's the more qualified candidate, in part because he authored the state's Right-to-Know law, which expanded the public's ability to access government documents.

Maher feels that being a CPA is imperative for the office.

Auditor General Candidate Profile: Frank Pinto

Apr 19, 2012

Frank Pinto is one of two candidates running for the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania Auditor General in Tuesday's primary election. The 67-year-old Pinto feels he is the right choice for the position because of his "51 years of living, teaching, and working" in politics.

Attorney General Candidate Profile: Kathleen Kane

Apr 18, 2012

Two candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania Attorney General in Tuesday's primary election.

Kathleen Kane from Lackawanna County is running against Patrick Murphy to be the Democratic candidate for the office of State Attorney General.

Kane has run her campaign on the idea of removing politics from the office, both now and if she is elected.

Continued Resistance to Voter ID Law

Apr 18, 2012

The controversial voter identification law passed in Pennsylvania will be fully implemented for the Presidential election in the fall, but not without protest.

Senior citizens, low-income individuals and others in need of photo ID gathered outside of downtown Pittsburgh's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) License Center to rally against the law, claiming it will keep particular demographics away from the polls.

State Simplifies Obtaining Voter ID

Apr 18, 2012

When the state Legislature passed the Voter ID Law requiring people to show photo identification when they go to the polls, critics said it could make it more difficult for seniors to cast votes because the elderly often have expired drivers licenses.

The commonwealth's Department of State announced today that people with expired licenses will not have to provide a proof of residence when receiving a voter ID.

Corbett Goes For Romney

Apr 17, 2012

The campaign of GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has the support of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.

Corbett held no public event to announce it, and did not make any public comments on it before the Romney campaign released a statement Tuesday.

Corbett's support is somewhat belated, since the closest challenger to Romney, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, dropped out of the race a week ago. The endorsement from Corbett arrives a week before Pennsylvania's April 24 primary, which Romney is expected to win, particularly with Santorum out of the race.

Romney Visits Bethel Park to Talk Taxes

Apr 17, 2012

A normal day of bridge tables, Zumba classes, and yoga at the Bethel Park Community Center was interrupted on Tuesday with a special guest who brought his own security.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney brought his campaign to a picnic table outside the building, talking politics and taxes with Western Pennsylvanians one week before the state's primary election.

Romney said he wants to lower taxes for the middle class and small businesses as part of his goal to "simplify" the nation's tax system.

Manzo Gets 18-48 Months Plus Restitution in Corruption Probe

Apr 16, 2012

A key prosecution witness in the corruption case against former Democratic leaders in Pennsylvania's House of Representatives has been sentenced by a county judge in Harrisburg to 18 to 48 months in prison.

42-year-old Mike Manzo also was given three years of probation and ordered to pay $73,000 in restitution.

The former chief of staff to one-time House Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese of Greene County testified against his former boss who was later convicted of multiple felonies. DeWeese faces sentencing next week.

United Steelworkers Back President

Apr 13, 2012

With the election season upon us, United Steelworkers (USW) members and union officials gathered in downtown Pittsburgh at the USW headquarters today to reaffirm their support for President Obama and his economic policies.

USW President Leo Gerard said a month after Mr. Obama took office the economy lost 700,000 jobs with the steel industry losing 100,000 in less than eight months.

He said the President deserves credit for turning the economy around.

Attorney General Candidates Differ on Ultrasound Requirement for Abortion

Apr 13, 2012

Legislation that would require women undergoing abortions to first receive ultrasounds has become an issue in the state's attorney general race, despite the fact that the bill is currently stalled in the House.

Santorum’s Decision Could Impact Down-Ticket Races

Apr 11, 2012

With Rick Santorum out of the presidential race, Pennsylvania Republicans have lost the biggest get-out-the-vote rallying cry they had. Now party leaders are wondering what will happen to the other races facing Pennsylvania Republican voters.

"This was the marquee election on the ballot," said Muhlenberg College political science professor Christopher Borick. "For the marginal voter who would be interested in that race and not very interested in anything else, the likelihood that they show up is going to be lower."

Council Hears about Public Transit Cuts

Apr 10, 2012

Political and transit leaders today warned Pittsburgh Council about the dangers of another round of service cuts.

According to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) will be facing a huge service reduction this September due to a $64 million deficit.

Santorum Suspends Campaign

Apr 10, 2012

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum kicked off his presidential campaign in Somerset, Pennsylvania last June and has brought it to an end just a few miles to the east in Gettysburg.

"While this presidential race for us is over for me — and we will suspend our campaign today — we are not done fighting. We will continue to fight," said Santorum.

Municipalities to Challenge Act 13

Apr 10, 2012

A Commonwealth Court judge will hear a request tomorrow by seven Pennsylvania municipalities seeking an immediate injunction against the state's new Marcellus Shale law, Act 13.

South Fayette Township in Allegheny County, Peters, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant and Robinson Townships in Washington County, and Yardley and Nockamixin in Bucks County claim that Act 13 unconstitutionally strips the power of the local governments to control their land and zoning. The land use provisions of the law are to take effect April 14.

Pennsylvania Gearing Up for Primaries

Apr 9, 2012

With Pennsylvania's April 24 primary election drawing near, the commonwealth's top elections official is traveling the state trying to motivate residents to cast ballots, especially younger voters.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 58.5 percent of citizens ages 18 to 24 were registered to vote, and nearly half of them did so in 2008. The younger age group was the only category to show a significant increase in turnout.

Push to End Pennsylvania Property Taxes Gets New Life

Apr 9, 2012

State lawmakers will make another attempt to get rid of property taxes statewide.

A Republican-proposed bill would do away with the real estate taxes by funding school districts through sales and income taxes. The income and sales tax rates would be increased by about one percent each, an arrangement that Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks County.) said is a more fair way to fund schools.

Romney Calls Obama An “Anti-Energy President"

Apr 6, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney blasted President Obama's energy policies during a campaign appearance in Marcellus Shale country.

Speaking at a Wyoming County company that supplies water for natural gas drilling, Romney called Mr. Obama an "anti-energy president." Romney pointed out states have typically taken the lead on regulating hydraulic fracturing.

Presidential Campaigns Pick Up Steam In Pennsylvania

Apr 6, 2012

The presidential candidates are staking their claims on campaign headquarters in Pennsylvania, with the primary less than 20 days away.

Republican front-runner Mitt Romney breezed through Harrisburg to christen his capital city campaign headquarters and visited with a rope line of supporters.

"I understand there's not enough room for everybody to come inside. The roof is going to crush if you come down. So thanks for coming down, so thanks for coming down. Wish you could come inside. You could hear me speak for an hour or two," Romney said.

The Pennsylvania State Senate unanimously approved a bill to help reform the Commonwealth's juvenile justice system. The legislation requires children to have a lawyer present at their hearings. If they do not have one, counsel will be provided for them.

First Step Toward Trimming Pennsylvania Legislature

Apr 5, 2012

State House members have approved a bill that could eventually eliminate 50 seats in their own chamber and 12 seats in the state Senate.

Both Democrats and Republicans voiced opposition to the proposal in a floor debate that stretched on for three days. They say cutting the number of House lawmakers from 203 to 153 will mean constituents have a harder time getting a hold of their representatives.

House Republicans Sue Over Education Funding Law

Apr 4, 2012

Two state House lawmakers are preparing to file a lawsuit against the commonwealth to force a change in education funding. They say the rules behind which districts get a bigger piece of the pie are unfair to areas that have experienced huge population growth.

The lawsuit is centered on a state law that in 1991 made it illegal for any school district to get less state money than it got the year before.

Many of the people eating at Bob's Diner in Carnegie weren't expecting to see a presidential candidate on Wednesday, but several said they were pleasantly surprised to see Rick Santorum there, eating breakfast and chatting with customers.