Team Sturla

Sorry, gerrymandering does not explain how the House Democrats lost 8 seats when the top of the ticket won by 10 points.

Add up all the excuses you think are valid and it still doesn’t get you to an 8-seat loss.

Time to give Mike Sturla a try as the chief cat herder.

The man is a good communicator (and blogger!), a good policy thinker, and he understands the thing it took the Dermocrats way way too long to figure out in the Corbett era – that the out-of-power party’s primary role is a messaging shop whose main task is making legislative Republicans look bad and create strong contrasts perceptible to voters.

By definition, an 8-seat loss under these conditions means they failed to do that. Sending the same incompetent practitioners back in to do an even harder job would be totally nuts.

Posted in Elections, State House

Lehigh Tea People: Browne and Mensch Have Some ‘Splaining to Do

Members of the local party are upset with Sens. Browne and Mensch for voting against an amendment proposed by Senator Wagner. Wagner’s amendment was in support of “paycheck protection” legislation, which would curtail the ability of labor unions to collect membership dues.

This news comes amidst a battle over leadership of the Senate GOP caucus.

The Senators are both part of the effort, led by Sen. Jake Corman, to replace Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi and the current GOP leadership.

Nick Field gives the context that Pat Browne is trying to become Appropriations chair, and Mensch wants to be the Caucus chairman. If they got those jobs, that would be objectively good for the Lehigh Valley’s prospects for punching above its weight in the mad scramble for state resources, but that’s not what the Tea People think!

And good for them. Ideological priors are important for a political party, more important arguably than grubbing for RACP money. But that’s the whole point about Republicans right? The reason you don’t vote to give these dudes any power is that their party’s big animating principles on balance just fail to translate into anything positive that would make regular people’s lives better. They had a chance to pass liquor privatization, which was a rare case of Republicans offering some decent goodies in line with the public interest, but they failed. They didn’t even campaign on it.


Posted in Elections, State House, State Senate

What Shall Jim Cawley Do Now?

Continue his excellent work as a top lobbyist and spokesperson for Pennsylvania’s filthiest extractive industries without skipping a beat, probably.

Posted in Elections, Governor

Tea Party Garbageman: GOP House Leadership Cost Corbett the Election

Quite true: by passing all of his legislative priorities!

Thus do we find [Senator Scott] Wagner, who was elected to his first term a week ago today, telling WPHT-AM host Chris Stigall that lapses by the House GOP leadership helped contribute to Gov. Tom Corbett’s defeat to Democrat Tom Wolf.

“I think that House leadership had something to do with Corbett’s defeat. If Tom Corbett was a product, he was launched in a way that I wouldn’t have launched a product,” he told the station on Monday.

(via John Micek)

Posted in Elections, Governor, State House

PA School Funding “Formula” Systematically Shortchanges Non-White Students

Equal funding per pupil: we don’t have it!

David Mosenkis analyzed the distribution of Pennsylvania’s state education funding, and found a clear statistical relationship between higher percentages of non-white students in a school and lower school funding. Racist, racist, racist.

Dale Mezzacappa explains the details:

Mosenkis followed a simple statistical construct by using a linear formula showing how much a district should get per student based on its poverty rate. His graph shows a “best-fit regression line” through the points. The 50 percent of the districts that fall above the line get more than expected, while the other half that fall below the line get less than expected.

Then he colored the districts yellow or brown based on whether they fell above or below the median in terms of non-White vs. White students. His numbers show that half the state’s 500 districts are 92 percent White or more. The yellow dots are districts that are at least 92 percent White and the brown dots are districts below 92 percent.

Tom Wolf was elected with a clear mandate to correct this disgusting state of affairs. This exciting new lawsuit should help him get it done.

Posted in Miscellany

#PAGov: Tom Wolf Must Keep His Promise and Do Real Medicaid Expansion

We asked Wolf on Twitter, and he answered in the affirmative: “Yes, as #PAgov I’ll do real Medicaid expansion.” 

As health law professor Rob Field says, Wolf can’t exactly just snap his fingers, but he absolutely does have the power and the mandate to accept the real Medicaid expansion without a vote from the Republican legislature. This is one of the first things he should do in office, after introducing an early voting bill.

Antoinette Kraus of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, a consumer advocacy group that strongly supports a traditional expansion, says Wolf has the administrative authority to reverse Corbett’s plan once he’s in power. Transitioning from the private plans over to traditional Medicaid wouldn’t be too complicated she says.

“A lot of the structure that we are seeing is similar to a [traditional] medicaid expansion,” she said. “I think where the problems arise is that we’re drastically changing benefits for our current medicaid recipients.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have yet to give final approval to those benefits changes to current enrollees, according to Kraus, even as the state has sent out notices. She says reversing those changes, if they were to take effect as planned in January, is possible but would be more complicated, technically.

(via Elana Gordon)

Posted in Elections, Governor

Map: PA’s 108 Uncontested House Races

Chris Briem:

Of the 203 General Assembly seats, 108 of them were uncontested on Tuesday. Literally only one candidate.

Posted in Elections, State House

Election Day Recap, or, When Will the Bad News Stop Coming?

The national midterm results are so horribly bleak that I’m having a bit of psychological pain looking beyond the Pennsylvania news this morning.

But even within Pennsylvania, the Wolf win doesn’t even sugarcoat things enough, because Republicans actually added 3 state Senate seats and 8 House seats to their majorities.

Candidates who should have won easily in a race where the top of the ticket won by 10 points lost instead. John Kane, Josh Maxwell, Tim Solobay, Mark Aurand – what the hell!

I blame a few things.

Gerrymandering…I guess so. Republicans got to draw the state legislature maps, and that certainly made things more difficult.

But these are such low-dollar, unpredictable races, and wild deviations between the underlying partisan composition of these districts and actual election results are so common that this too-convenient excuse rings hollow to me.

I’m more inclined to blame the older white suburban men who were the important swing voters in the legislative races, and split their tickets between Wolf and legislative Republicans. I know guys like this, you know guys like this, and they’re the fucking worst.

Sorry, there’s nothing virtuous about ticket-splitting. It comes from a confused and immature misunderstanding of how legislative politics works, but these guys see it as a mark of chin-stroking, high-minded discernment. It’s disgusting.

The reality is that you can’t vote for two people who fundamentally disagree with each other on the level of values, and then expect them to govern well together. There’s no evidence from anywhere that actually works. It’s a fantasy completely untethered to reality. You’ve set things up for endless unproductive bickering, not compromise or moderation, because you’ve sent both sides a message that they have The True Support of the People.

The other thing to blame is the state Democratic party leadership. Really guys? 10-point margin – which none of the political consultants or campaign managers I talked to before Election Day imagined was possible – and you couldn’t get any pick-ups in either chamber?

I call bullshit. This proves we badly need a leadership change, and it’s gotta be new blood – we need to put people in charge who have up-to-date political organizing skills, know their way around data-driven campaigning, and can actually raise some goddamn money.

Heads have gotta roll.


Posted in Miscellany

Election Day Thread

Turnout in South Philly seems to be higher than expected for a midterm. What’re you seeing in your area?

Posted in Miscellany

Don’t Carve Philly Out of Uber Legalization

We got pretty close to legalizing Uber X and Lyft-type ride-sharing services this session, but the clock ran out and the fight has been pushed into next year.

That’s why it’s so important now that we kill this stupid idea of carving Philadelphia out of the statewide regulations.

If you live in or around Philly, sign This Old City’s petition to tell state lawmakers this is a voting issue for you, and you’re for kicking them out of office if they leave Philly behind in the 20th century while the rest of the state gets a taxi service upgrade.

Posted in Economy, Elections, Governor, Issues, State House, State Senate, Transportation