Election 2014

This Week in PA Politics 11/17

Nov 17, 2014

Governor-elect Wolf hires McGinty as his Chief Of Staff. Former Democratic candidate for governor Katie McGinty is joining the team of Governor-elect Tom Wolf as his chief of staff, 90.5 WESA’s Liz Reid reports. McGinty, who worked under former Governor Ed Rendell as head of the Department of Environmental Protection, brings a wealth of experience to the position, most recently as the head of Tom Wolf’s PAC, Fresh Start PA.

State Senate Republicans have a new majority leader for the first time in eight years.

Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) will lead the 30-member caucus for the next two-year legislative session along with Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati of Jefferson County, who was re-elected to his post Wednesday.

Corman ousted Senator Dominic Pileggi (R-CHester), who had been criticized for not advancing conservative policies, and who many say has clashed with Scarnati.

A Republican is Coming to Pittsburgh

Nov 12, 2014

Pittsburgh is as Democratic a city as they come.

The last time the city elected a Republican mayor Franklin Delano Roosevelt was entering his first term as president.

But with redistricting, Democratic State Senator Jim Ferlo, who represents the 38th district, and Republican state Senator Randy Vulakovich, who represents the 40th district, now live within same legislative boundaries. That newly drawn 38th district includes a small portion of Pittsburgh but heavily favors a Republican candidate.

The state House and Senate could return to session next year with new faces leading the Republican majority and Democratic minority caucuses. Leadership elections scheduled Wednesday could change the direction of each chamber for the next two-year session.

Mary Wilson / 90.5 WESA

Governor-elect Tom Wolf is imposing an ethics code on the people tasked with shaping his administration.

The code of ethical conduct is a relatively recent pre-requisite for gubernatorial transition teams. Governor Corbett had his 400-person team pledge a similar oath. Franklin & Marshall College pollster Terry Madonna said it's a sign of the times.

This Week in PA Politics 11/10

Nov 10, 2014

The Results from Tuesday’s General Election

Unofficial statewide tallies show Tuesday’s voter turnout dipped compared to the last gubernatorial election in 2010. Still, Democrat Tom Wolf was able to beat Republican Gov. Tom Corbett with a 10-point margin by piling up votes in the state’s urban centers.

Both candidates lost their home counties, but for Wolf, winning the populous Allegheny County more than made up for losing his home turf in York County.

American Council on Education / Flickr

Is there a connection between yesterday's national elections and globalization?

We'll pose that question to Dr. Michael Mandelbaum, professor of American Foreign Policy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

He comes to Pittsburgh on Monday November 10 to hold a public policy discussion on the future of the global economy, for the World Affairs Council.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The political ads are gone, the polls have closed and the votes have been tabulated. We'll get analysis of yesterday's gubernatorial race from John Baer, political columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. And WESA Senior News Editor Mark Nootbaar joins us with a wrap-up of local races.

Live Tweets from this segment

When incoming Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack takes office in January, he says he might try to hold onto his seat in the state Senate, according to a report in PoliticsPA.   

But a local political science professor said Stack wouldn’t be permitted to keep both jobs under the Pennsylvania Constitution.

“According to the constitution, if you’re a senator or a representative, you can’t have any other office that draws a salary,” said Kristin Kanthak, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone will hold onto his seat in Pennsylvania’s 39th District for another two years, defeating Democratic challenger Lisa Stout-Bashioum by a 20 point margin.

The two-term incumbent has been trying to find ways to reduce school-levied property taxes since he took office in 2011.

“My number one priority has always been property tax reform,” Saccone said. “Unfortunately, that’s not the priority of the rest of the state, so we’ve got a lot of convincing to do to get tax relief to the taxpayers. It’s killing them.”

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Even after the governor’s race had been called for Tom Wolf by several major networks, Gov. Tom Corbett’s wife, Susan, addressed supporters, assuring them the night was young, and her husband would come back to win.

That didn’t happen – and shortly before 10 p.m. Tom Corbett addressed a crowd gathered at a downtown Pittsburgh hotel to concede the race.

“The privilege of serving as your governor for the last four years is quite an honor, it’s the honor of a lifetime,” Corbett said.

Republican Patrick Stefano has won the 32nd District Senate seat in southwestern Pennsylvania over Democrat Deberah Kula.

The 32nd District encompasses Somerset and Fayette counties, as well as a section of Westmoreland County. Democrats have held this seat for 67 years, but Patrick Stefano will interrupt that legacy. Stefano is a business owner and it was his first time running for office.

He said he will prioritize three big issues.

Republican Mike Kelly will represent Pennsylvania’s third congressional district for a third two-year term after defeating Democratic challenger Dan LaVallee with about 60 percent of the vote.

Kelly, a Butler resident, spoke with LaVallee following the returns, and said both were happy to have run clean campaigns.

“I think that what we’re both very pleased with is the fact that we kept it above the belt,” he said. “We didn’t throw dirt on each other. We didn’t do a lot of things that you see on some other campaigns.”

Democratic incumbent Adam Ravenstahl has defeated Republican challenger Tom Fodi in the 20th House District race with 61 percent of the vote. This is the 29-year-old Summer Hill representative’s third consecutive two-year term.

Fodi, 31, said he ran for the seat with increasing disappointment in the party politics of the commonwealth.

Although Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District leans Democratic, voters delivered another two-year term to Republican Rep. Keith Rothfus Tuesday with 59 percent of the vote.

Supporters, family and friends gathered at a victory party at Rochester Inn Hardwood Grill in Westview. Though this election was starkly different from 2012’s, constituents appeared just as passionate. Bill Strait from Wexford said he supported Rothfus because Strait is fearful for the future of the country.

State Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny) has won his seventh consecutive two-year term in the Pennsylvania House, defeating independent Mark Brentley by an 86 percent to 13 percent margin.

Wheatley says that he will focus on three things this term: education, jobs and redeveloping neighborhoods.

Wolf Ousts Corbett In Pennsylvania Governor's Race

Nov 4, 2014
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Democrat Tom Wolf was elected Pennsylvania governor Tuesday after the businessman and first-time candidate spent $10 million of his own money on an early TV ad campaign that endeared him to voters and helped send unpopular Gov. Tom Corbett to a historic defeat.

When he takes office in January, Wolf will likely face a Republican-controlled Legislature and a yawning budget deficit as he tries to make good on a promise to dramatically increase the state government's share of public school costs.

He said he's ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work.

Live Midterm Election Coverage and Essential Pittsburgh Special

Nov 4, 2014
Vox Efx / Flickr

It is election day! Tonight at 8pm 90.5 WESA will air live coverage of the 2014 Midterm Elections. 

Paul Guggenheimer and Mark Nootbaar offer live in-studio analysis, guest interviews and updates on local and state-wide races.

Guest commentators include outgoing State Rep. Erin Molchany of the South Hills, Republican At-Large County Council Member Heather Heidelbaugh, former County Commissioner, PA State Sen., and State Rep. Mike Dawida will join Paul in breaking down the numbers.

At 10 p.m. we will team up with NPR for its national election coverage while offering updates from the 90.5 WESA newsroom on local and state-wide races from our reporters in the field.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

The polls have opened in Pennsylvania's history-making race for governor.

Voters are deciding between Democrat Tom Wolf and Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in an election that will settle who will govern the state for the next four years after a campaign that smashed the state's spending record.

This Week in PA Politics 11/3

Nov 3, 2014

McCaffery steps down amidst lewd email scandal. In what has been described as Seamus McCaffery’s “retirement,” the state Supreme Court Justice effectively stepped down from his position without fighting his case, 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson reports. McCaffery claimed that the state chief justice was “out to get him” earlier last month. As McCaffery leaves, questions still remain about inter-court social dynamics.  

What to Know About Tuesday's General Election

Nov 3, 2014

Nov. 4 is Election Day. Here's a brief overview of what you need to know.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The Democratic candidate for governor in Pennsylvania launched his political campaign with a television ad blitz and has never trailed in the polls in the race against incumbent Republican Tom Corbett.

Tom Wolf has been knocked as a tax-and-spend liberal with ill-defined policy plans, but the biggest question is how he’ll work with a Legislature likely to remain in GOP control. The York County businessman points to his experience serving his community in the midstate as his credentials.

Call it a “prebuttal” — a chance for the state GOP to respond to President Barack Obama’s visit to Pennsylvania before it happens.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf is scheduled to appear with Obama in Philadelphia at a rally on Sunday, and Republicans are treating it as an opportunity to make some of the president’s low poll numbers stick to Wolf.

Most polls show Wolf has a wide lead over Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, but indicate the president is far less popular.  

Two Well-Known Names Battle in Pittsburgh House Race

Oct 31, 2014

In his campaign to unseat incumbent Rep. Jake Wheatley (D- Allegheny), Mark Brentley, Sr. is touting his lifelong history as a resident and activist in the 19th House district.

The problem, however, is that Wheatley has held the 19th district seat for 12 years — so he does not suffer from a lack experience working in the district that covers much of the North Side, Hill District, East End and Beltzhoover .

And he isn’t lacking on local support, either.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

90.5 WESA will have live election night returns and analysis starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

From 8-10 p.m., Essential Pittsburgh will be live in studio with guests outgoing state Rep. Erin Molchany of the South Hills, Republican At-Large County Council Member Heather Heidelbaugh, and former county commissioner and state legislator Mike Dawida will join host Paul Guggenheimer in breaking down the numbers.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

From the very beginning of the 2014 campaign, Gov. Tom Corbett was fighting an uphill battle. His approval ratings were low, polls consistently showed him running far behind potential Democratic candidates, and the controversy over fracking and school funding were grabbing headlines on a weekly basis. 

Corbett staked his first campaign on fiscal discipline and a no-tax pledge. He had a GOP-controlled Legislature but faltered on most of his major policy priorities. 

Mary Wilson / WITF

A new Franklin & Marshall poll shows Gov. Tom Corbett has made gains in his race for re-election, but Democratic hopeful Tom Wolf maintains a double-digit lead among registered and likely voters surveyed.

The York County cabinet magnate is 13 points ahead of Corbett among self-reported likely voter respondents. It's a narrowing lead, and it reflects the work Corbett has done to appeal to his base. 63 percent of surveyed Republicans say Corbett deserves re-election, up from 39 percent in August.

AP Photo / Keith Srakocic

Former President Bill Clinton came to Pittsburgh on Monday to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf.

Clinton addressed several hundred Wolf supporters at a South Side union hall as the first-time candidate tries to knock off Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. Those in attendance also heard from other politicians including U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) , U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA-14) and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Clinton lauded Wolf, saying he finds it unbelievable that there isn’t a severance tax on natural gas in Pennsylvania. 

This Week in PA Politics 10/27

Oct 27, 2014
Wally Gobetz / Flickr Creative Commons

Animal rights bill fails to move out of state House: A bill that banned the practice of consuming cats and dogs in private received unanimous support in the state House back in December of 2013. Once it was sent to the Senate for approval, however, a pigeon-shooting amendment was added, causing the bill to languish in committee when it was sent back to the House, 90.5 WESA’s Mary Wilson reports.

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