Government & Politics

Government & Politics news from 90.5 WESA.

Mt. Washington resident and former Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project executive director Erin Molchany defeated Martin Schmotzer in the 22nd Pennsylvania house district Democratic primary for Pennsylvania representative on Tuesday, 52 to 39 percent. The remainder of the vote went to Shawn Lunny, who had been tossed from the ballot by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but not in time for his name to be removed from the voting machines.

Republican Tim Murphy faced his first challenge from within his own party since taking office in 2003. Murphy handily defeated Tea Party-backed opponent Evan Feinberg, winning 63% of the vote. The Congressman thanked supporters at a gathering in Greentree, and said it's now time to move forward.

Mark Mustio failed in his attempt to claim the seat left by good friend State Sen. John Pippy in Tuesday's primary election.

Mustio, aiming for the 37th District Senate seat, fell short, coming in third behind winner D. Raja and grassroots candidate Sue Means. Raja claimed 44% of the vote and Means claimed 31%. That left just 25% for Mustio.

Joe Preston Falls to Ed Gainey

Apr 25, 2012

State Representative Joe Preston has been a member of the Pennsylvania state legislature for nearly three decades, but that will come to an end in December. Preston fell in the 24th Legislative District Democratic Primary Tuesday to one-time employee Ed Gainey by a 66% to 34% margin.

Gainey said he won the race by out-campaigning Preston. "It's hard work, but it is also good work to go door to door and talk to the people," said Gainey, "find out what their concerns are and find out where you can assist them."

Maher Wins GOP Race for Pennsylvania Auditor General

Apr 25, 2012

"A CPA for PA, an auditor for Auditor General," those were the refrains heard time and again at John Maher's campaign headquarters Tuesday night in Bethel Park. As the GOP Auditor General candidate, Maher is already looking toward November, when he will face Democrat and Pittsburgh native Eugene DePasquale. Maher said he'll need to get the word out, explaining that "we'll need about a million Democrats to win."

Veteran Pennsylvania lawmaker Joe Preston will not be serving a 16th term in the House. With 99.5% of precincts reporting, Ed Gainey has defeated Preston 65.8% to 33.9%.

In the special election in legislative district 22, Democrat Martin Schmotzer will succeed Chelsa Wagner who resigned after being elected as Allegheny County Controller. Schmotzer defeated Republican Chris Cratsley in the special election 51.7% to 38.2%.

However, Schmotzer won't serve beyond the 8 months remaining in Wagner's term because Erin Molchany defeated him in the Democratic primary 53.1% to 38.9%.

Maher Wins GOP Nomination for Auditor General

Apr 24, 2012

Nearly two thirds of the precincts have checked in statewide…and in the race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, Kathleen Kane has 54.5% of the vote and Patrick Murphy 45.5%.

The winner will take on David Freed who is unopposed for the GOP nomination.

Also on the GOP ballot, in the race for auditor general, John Maher has captured the Republican nomination with 67.5% of the votes to Frank Pinto's 32.5%. The victor takes on Democrat Eugene DePasquale in the fall.

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.

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