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Monday, May 17, 2010

Specter in Wilkes Barre today!

Please join Senator Arlen Specter
on his Pre-Election State Tour
Our Northeastern PA stop will be at the Airport Holiday Inn Express
Monday May 17th, 1:45pm
Come send Senator Specter off on the Road to Victory!
Who: Our Candidate, Senator Arlen Specter
What: Pre-Election State Tour
Where: Holiday Inn Express - Same exit as the Airport off of Rt. 81
30 Concorde Drive
Pittston, PA 18641
Please direct any questions or rsvps to or 570-871-4591

Sestak's Sleazy Campaign Tactics Exposed

A recent Sestak TV ad has used a video clip of Senator Specter which uses a phrase taken out of context -- a phrase that sticks out and "has a different meaning in its full context" according to an investigative report by Scranton's WNEP-TV.

In the new Specter ad Gov. Ed Rendell states, "When Arlen crossed party lines to vote for the Recovery Act it was one of the most courageous votes ever. Joe Sestak's TV ad playing a fragment of what Arlen said is the worst type of politics."

The text of the new ad is below and the radio spot is attached; WNEP-TV's investigative report and the radio spot can be accessed at

Specter Campaign Radio Spot:“INVESTIGATE”


“My change in party will enable me to be re-elected.”


BOHMAN: The phrase that sticks out has a different meaning in its full context.


[Clip of Specter]

"My change in party will enable me to be re-
elected and I've heard that again and again and on the street: 'Senator we're glad you'll be able to stay in the Senate and help the state and the nation.'"


Rendell: When Arlen crossed party lines to vote for the Recovery Act it was one of the most courageous votes ever. Joe Sestak's TV ad playing a fragment of what Arlen said is the worst type of politics.


I’m Arlen Specter and I approved this ad.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bipartisan support for Lackawanna College

From The Pike County Press:

If all goes according to plan, Lackawanna College will be opening the door to a 16,000 square foot addition to its operations in the Hawley Silk Mill in October, thanks in part to $1.5 million recently procured for renovation of the building by state Senators Lisa Baker and Bob Mellow, as well as $100,000 obtained by U.S. Senator Arlen Specter for science lab equipment.

Nice to see PA Senator Baker (R), PA Senator Mellow (D) as well as US Senator Arlen Specter (D) all in agreement about an issue.

April 22: Earth Day!

This message was posted on Senator Specter's Facebook page:

This 40th Earth Day is an important milestone. The environmental movement that rose to national prominence in 1970 has resulted in cleaner air and water for all Americans and has saved millions of lives.

Today is also the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Week, which I am proud to say started in Philadelphia in 1970. Environmental regulation has come a long way since that time, when, as District Attorney of Philadelphia, I had to resort to an 1860 law to bring a public nuisance suit against a contractor who was spraying asbestos at a construction site, endangering workers and passers-by.

This year is also the 40th anniversary of the historic Clean Air Act and of the founding of the EPA. The Clean Air act is a vital tool in combating air pollution and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The air in Pennsylvania is cleaner than it was 40 years ago, but it could be cleaner still. I have long supported clean coal technology, and my decisive vote for the stimulus package has been a major boon to Pennsylvania’s wind, solar, and hydropower industries.

I look forward to continuing my work to clean the Commonwealth’s air, to protect its water resources, to maintaining its leadership in renewable energy, and to passing legislation to control greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.

-Senator Specter

Pike County Sample Ballots availible

You can review the sample ballots now:

  1. Start with the Pike County homepage (
  2. Click the "elections" link on the right side of the page, in the "County Departments" section.
  3. You should have all the sample ballots for Pike County listed on the screen. Select the voting district (for instance: "Porter Township") from the correct column (Democrat or Republican) and see how the ballot will look!
Please take a look at this before you go to the polls on Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What you see is less than what you got?

The National Review Online finds what looks like a newspaper headline in Sestak's new ad to be a letter to the editor by a Sestak supporter. Jim Geraghty writes:

(Sestak's ad is) "...mostly a standard-issue biographical ad, with a bit of Top Gun–style footage of a younger Sestak on an aircraft carrier."

But the ad features a newspaper headline, "Sestak Works Hard to Create New Jobs." For an aspiring senator in this economic environment, that's about as good a headline as you can wish for, and I wondered which newspaper wrote that.

It turns out it's the headline on a letter to the editor in the Delaware County Daily Times; the letter writer shares the name of the chief attorney in the Philadelphia office of the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

FactCheck on the biggest Health Care Law whoppers

From FactCheck:

We’ve seldom seen a piece of legislation so widely misrepresented, and misunderstood, as the new health care law. We stopped counting the number of articles and items we turned out on the subject after the total reached 100.

Some of that is understandable. The debate went on for more than a year, while the different House and Senate bills changed their shape constantly. The final law was the product of an awkward two-step legislative dance that first enacted the Senate’s version, then quickly amended it with a reconciliation "fix." No wonder people are confused.

And even now the misrepresentations continue. The new law is no longer a moving target, but some opponents persist in making false or exaggerated claims about it. Our inboxes are filled with messages asking about assertions that the new law:

  • Requires patients to be implanted with microchips. (No, it doesn’t.)
  • Cuts benefits for military families and retirees. (No. The TRICARE program isn’t affected.)
  • Exempts Muslims from the requirement to obtain coverage. (Not specifically. It does have a religious exemption, but that is intended for Old Order Amish.)
  • Allows insurance companies to continue denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions. (Insurance companies have agreed not to exploit a loophole that might have allowed this.)
  • Will require 16,500 armed IRS agents to enforce. (No. Criminal penalties are waived.)
  • Gives President Obama a Nazi-like "private army." (No. It provides a reserve corps of doctors and other health workers for emergencies.)
  • "Exempts" House and Senate members. (No. Their coverage may not be as good as before, in fact.)
  • Covers erectile-dysfunction drugs for sex offenders. (Just as it was before the new law, those no longer in jail can buy any insurance plan they choose.)
  • Provides federal funding for abortions. (Not directly. But neither side in the abortion debate is happy with the law.)

For details on these claims about the new law, please read our Analysis section.

I am sure none of this will satisfy those believing in conspiracies of the "Fact" that Obama is out to get them. This is another example of the need to "Read Widely". Listen to some right wing radio, read a liberal newspaper, watch Jon Stewart and Fox News. Look up source material on and Do your job as a citizen and educate yourself on the issues before you repeat some rumor.

Get the facts, and then help others find the facts too. We will all be better for it!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The New Health Insurance Reform Law: What It Does For You This Year

Starting immediately and throughout the coming year, our families, small businesses, seniors, and young Americans will begin to feel the real and positive impact of health insurance reform. The following interactive graphic will show you the benefits of the new law that begin within the first year.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Two more adds out for Specter

Two new ads:

"Working People"


From the Specter2010 YouTube channel.

Sestak gets challenger kicked off Primary ballot


UPDATED: Sestak knocks Vod Varka off ballot

By Alex Roarty
PoliticsPA Staff Writer

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Joe Vod Varka on Tuesday was kicked off the May 18 primary ballot after a petition challenge from fellow Democrat Joe Sestak, a move that could help the former Navy admiral defeat incumbent Arlen Specter but also leave him vulnerable to criticism over the hardball tactic.

A Commonwealth Court judge ruled that Vod Varka’s petition contained fewer than the 2,000 valid-signature threshold necessary for ballot placement, meaning a write-in campaign is his only option left.

Vod Varka’s campaign had been almost completely off the radar until he unexpectedly filed enough signatures, at the time at least, to be placed on the ballot. The Western Pennsylvania native’s platform consisted mostly of conservative ideas, such as lowering government spending and ending gun control laws, and he had drawn support from some “Tea Party” groups.

Although he was unlikely to receive more than a tiny slice of the total votes cast, Vod Varka’s removal from the ballot could help Sestak win a greater share of voters bent on voting out Specter.

But Sestak might also have opened himself up to criticism because his own campaign against Specter was built on the premise that Democratic voters deserved a choice in the primary. The Specter campaign had already called Sestak’s challenge “a vivid example of old style back-room politics as usual.”

UPDATE: Sestak attorney Manly Parks defended the petition challenge, saying the minimum-signature law was in place to make sure candidates who appeared on the ballot had sufficient support.

“We certainly believe it’s entirely appropriate and fair that every candidate demonstrate that they reach that threshold,” he told PoliticsPA. “Otherwise, you’re just creating exceptions for people not to have to comply with the elction code.”

Still, the Specter campaign criticized Sestak for Vod Varka’s removal and once again took aim at his staffers’ salaries, which has been one of the incumbent’s favorite issues this campaign.

“The people, specifically Democratic Primary voters, should have decided whether Mr. Vodvarka was worthy of support, not Joe Sestak and the court system,” said Specter camapign manager Chris Nicholas in a statement. “And Cong. Sestak was happy to pay big bucks to his lawyers to knock a regular guy like Joe Vodvarka off the ballot, but he’s not willing to pay the minimum wage to his own campaign employees.”

First ad is out in the PA Senate Primary

See the ad on YouTube.

From this morning's Morning Call:

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter ended an advertising standstill with his Democratic primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, with a television ad featuring four former Bethlehem Steel workers.

Specter premiered the first TV ad of the 2010 Senate race on his campaign's Web site late Tuesday night. It's expected to be telecast in select media markets today.

The ad shows four men sitting around a table reminiscing about their steelworking days. When the plant shut down, they no longer qualified for their pension plans. Specter, they say, won back the pensions for 100 steelworkers.

''If Arlen Specter could do this for us, imagine what he can do for the rest of the downtrodden and mistreated workers in Pennsylvania,'' Joe Long, a fourth-generation steelworker, says in the spot.

This first commercial of the campaign is an effort by Specter to remind voters what he has done for the state in his 30 years in office. Sestak, of Delaware County, will need to show what Specter hasn't done.

When asked, Sestak said he was having final meetings about his ads this week. The launch of Specter's ad will probably force Sestak to react quickly.

At the start of the year, Sestak had $5 million on hand that could buy him significant radio and TV airtime as he aims to raise his visibility.

Sestak has trailed Specter by about 20 points in most public opinion polls but is still largely unknown to many Pennsylvanians. A poll released Tuesday by Rasmussen Reports put Sestak just two points behind Specter, a possible indicator of how close this race could get as the May 18 primary nears.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A little humor on April 1st

As Alex Roarty writes in PoliticsPA:

The state Democratic Party issued a press release Wednesday afternoon claiming Toomey’s effort to win a seat in the U.S. Senate is actually just an effort to sell his book, “The Road to Prosperity,” which was released last year and includes in detail the candidate’s economic philosophy.

The release, which was clearly tongue-in-cheek, cited a video from his campaign that showed a stack of the books standing on his office bookshelf.

I watched Toomey video, it was funny to see all the fresh copies of his book stacked in the background. (I wonder how much he contributed to his own sales numbers.) What was disturbing was the tag line of his message:
"...and we'll take back our government."
Take it back from who?

I've always viewed the government as the will of the people. We are our government. That does not mean that I love everything our government does, It it does mean that I have a responsibility to make it the best government possible.

Participate in the primary this May 18. Get out there and vote for the best candidate.

Do your part in making sure our government reflects the citizenry.

As I love to say:
Learn, Educate, Vote.
We get the government we deserve.

If you are not registered to vote, do it NOW.
April 19 Last day to REGISTER

May 11 Last day to apply for an absentee ballot

May 14 Last day for BOE to receive absentee ballots ...

May 18, 2010 PRIMARY DAY!!! GO VOTE!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Immediate effects of the Health Care Bill

Steny Hoyer has listed the immediate benefits of the health care bill and the ones that will pahse in in 2010. When you hear folks incorrectly say that the benefits will not be had for years, you can refer to this page and get the facts:




Effective Upon Enactment
(Immediately Eligible For These Benefits)

Small Business Tax Credits

Small Businesses

Provides tax credits to small businesses to make employee coverage more affordable. Tax credits of up to 35% of premiums will be immediately available to firms that choose to offer coverage. (Beginning in 2014, the small business tax credits will cover 50 percent of premiums.)

Closing Medicare Part D “Donut Hole”


Provides a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the “donut hole” in 2010. (Beginning in 2011, institutes a 50% discount on brand‐name drugs in the donut hole; also completely closes the donut hole by 2020.)

Effective 90 Days After Enactment

Immediate Help For The Uninsured Until Exchange Is Available


Provides immediate access to insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre‐existing condition – through a temporary high‐risk pool.

Effective 6 Months After Enactment

No Discrimination Against Children With Pre‐Existing Conditions

Young Americans

Prohibits health plans from denying coverage to children with pre‐existing conditions. (Beginning in 2014, this prohibition would apply to all persons.)

Extends Coverage For Young People Up To 26th Birthday Through Parents’ Insurance

Young Americans

Requires health plans to allow young people up to their 26th birthday to remain on their parents’ insurance policy, at the parents’ choice.

Ends Rescissions


Bans health plans from dropping people from coverage when they get sick.

Bans Lifetime Limits On Coverage


Prohibits health plans from placing lifetime caps on coverage.

Bans Restrictive Annual Limits On Coverage


Tightly restricts new plans’ use of annual limits to ensure access to needed care. These tight restrictions will be defined by HHS. (Beginning in 2014, the use of any annual limits would be prohibited for all plans.)

Effective Beginning January 1, 2011

Free Preventive Care Under Medicare


Eliminates co‐payments for preventive services and exempts preventive services from deductibles under the Medicare program.

Ensuring Value For Premium Payments


Requires plans in the individual and small group market to spend 80 percent of premium dollars on medical services, and plans in the large group market to spend 85%. Insurers that do not meet these thresholds must provide rebates to policyholders.

Senator Specter on the Health Care Bill

I generally do not pass along emails verbatim, but this one from Senator Specter is an exception:

At long last, health care reform is law.

I was proud to stand with President Obama in the White House today as he signed into law comprehensive health insurance reform, a bill for which I provided the key 60th vote in the U.S. Senate. I will continue to stand with the President to move the final components of reform swiftly through the Senate.

But the fight over health care reform is not yet over. Republicans are already working to repeal the bill -- like my far-right opponent Pat Toomey.

Mr. Toomey wants to allow insurance companies to continue to deny coverage based on pre-existing condiditons. Mr. Toomey wants to keep the Medicare donut hole. Mr. Toomey wants to rescind health care coverage for the 32 million Americans who will beneift from today's bill.

Mr. Toomey's assault on our new health care law would also strike down a part of the bill I authored that's very dear to me -- the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN). CAN is a new project that vastly expands the promise of turning medical research into cures and better treatment for people suffering from chronic diseases.

I am very proud of today's historic accomplishment, and I am equally determined to protect it. I am resolved to prevent far-right Pat Toomey and his allies from repealing the progress our country made today.

In order to do so, I will need your help. Your contribution of $25, $35, $50, $100, $250 or more will help me fight the anti-health care attacks that Mr. Toomey and his supporters are sure to launch against me.

Please help me protect today's victory.

Arlen Specter
U.S. Senator

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PA Dem Chair Chastises Sestak

Pennsylvania Democratic Chairman Rooney has asked Joe Sestak to:
  • comply with minimum wage laws for his campaign employees
  • address his attendance record on the House floor (the worst in the Pennsylvania delegation.)
In his letter to Sestak, Chairman Rooney also seems to hint that Joe should step aside:
"If you were to be successful in your primary campaign, you would be leading the Democratic ticket in this fall’s critical elections for state and local office. It is inconceivable to me that our standard bearer wouldn’t be paying his workers the minimum wage. Particularly at a time of deep recession, we can’t hand an issue like this to the Republicans or have the candidate leading our ticket being investigated for such violations.

Despite his far right background and terrible voting record on issues important to working families, Mr. Toomey will run a vigorous campaign for U.S. Senate in the fall. The recent Quinnipiac Poll has Mr. Toomey leading you 39 to 36 while Sen. Specter would defeat him 49 to 42.

The many House votes you’ve missed in the past year, so many that you now have the worst attendance record in our Congressional delegation, has also caused great anxiety among many Democrats and our allies.

It’s clear that while Senator Specter’s campaign has progressed and made significant progress – witness his winning our endorsement by a 77-23% vote -your campaign has not moved forward, as recent polls have demonstrated. Sen. Specter leads you by a decisive 53 to 29 margin in the Quinnipiac Poll."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Where does the Stimulus money go?

Here is an example of stimulus money spending (ARRA funds) that anyone who crosses the river between Matamoras, PA and Port Jervis, NY will see in action starting Monday March 29, 2010. The construction will continue for the next few months:

PennDOT Engineering District 4 recently announced the start of a bridge rehabilitation project in Pike County financed with federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

PennDOT awarded a $2,638,000 contract to Minichi, Inc. of Dupont, Luzerne County, for rehabilitation to the Route 6 Bridge over the Delaware River in Matamoras Borough, Pike County. Work includes repairs to the steel structure, beams and expansion joints as well as painting to prevent further deterioration.

The bridge will be closed in one direction and a new traffic pattern will be implemented on Monday, March 29. One lane of traffic will be maintained on the bridge to carry westbound traffic from New York into Pennsylvania. Traffic traveling from Pennsylvania into New York will be detoured on to Interstate 84 eastbound to Exit 1 across the Delaware River.

Within the six-county region of northeastern Pennsylvania, PennDOT will invest $72 million of federal economic recovery funds on 23 transportation projects, which include road and bridge improvements and curb ramp replacements.

To learn more about how the federal economic stimulus will benefit Pennsylvania, visit

If you want more information on where American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, also known as the stimulus funds, are being invested in Pike County there is a county specific website. There are similar construction projects supported by ARRA funds in Pike County. The school districts of Delaware Valley and Wallenpaupack received several million dollars that was funneled through the State of PA.

Here is how some of the rest money is being spent in Pike County:

How Pike County Benefits:

People Helped

Explanation of Benefits

Tax Relief 18,686 Taxpaying individuals and households – all but high earners qualify for taxpayer relief
Unemployment Compensation


Jobless adults will receive a boost in Unemployment Compensation
Health Insurance
for Unemployed
2,100 Unemployed persons qualify for more help purchasing health insurance


Low income children and adults will continue to have access to health care through Medical Assistance
Children's Health


Children and teenagers will continue to receive their health care through Pennsylvania’s CHIP and Cover All Kids.
Food Assistance


Hungry children and adults will receive more help through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps)

Many times we hear complaints about how ARRA was not fiscally conservative. Spending money is not always wasteful, especially in a recession. I believe investing in the future while helping those hit hardest by the economic downturn was fiscally responsible. It is easier to understand what Senator Specter's YES vote for ARRA did for Pike County after you do just a little research and see the numbers.

Challenge: Decide what should not have been funded from the list on the Pike County page. What should not have been done at all? What should have been funded more locally?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DNC begins to Talk Toomey

The DNC released an ad:

Pat Toomey: "He Doesn't Support Us"

Message: Toomey can be a tough guy for normal folks to like.

Question: Would you bet against Joe Paterno?

Answer: Neither would I. has an article titled:

"How Arlen Specter solved his Sestak problem: Arlen Specter was supposed to be vulnerable in Pennsylvania's Democratic primary. But it hasn't played out that way"

Why has Specter beat the odds? Specter has long made it a habit to visit each of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania each year:

"He has for years and years and years and years been the hardest-working man in Pennsylvania," said Philadelphia-based Democratic consultant Dan Fee.

"Have you ever been to some of these counties? I bet he's met every person in some of these counties, because there's just not a lot of people."
It will be a tough season, but I would not be against any man with that kind of work ethic. Would you?

Sestak challenges Vodvarka's petition

Chris Nicholas(Campaign Manager, Citizens for Arlen Specter)released the following statement this morning:

Subject: Specter campaign statement on Sestak's Challenge to Vodvarka's petition signatures

Earlier today in Commonwealth Court Democratic Senate candidate Cong. Joe Sestak challenged the validity of fellow Democratic Senate candidate Joseph Vodvarka's petition signatures.

"It‘s a Democratic Party, and in that Democratic Party, we should be enticing people to come into the process...” -Joe Sestak
(Main Line Media News 10/20/2009

Below is a statement from Specter campaign manager Christopher Nicholas:

"Cong. Sestak has spent months saying that his was a new type of campaign, dedicated to changing Washington, D.C. and the Senate. But challenging Mr. Vodvarka's petition signatures is a vivid example of old style back-room politics as usual.

And Cong. Sestak is happy to pay big bucks to lawyers to knock a regular guy like Joe Vodvarka off the ballot, but he's not willing to pay the minimum wage to his own campaign staff.

Once again Cong. Sestak's actions contradict his words.

Let's remember that Cong. Sestak is the same guy who was relieved of command in the Navy for the way he treated the folks who worked for him. Nothing's changed with this guy."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Delaware Township Fire Department

Delaware Township Volunteer Fire Company will receive $37,962 in a federal grant for operations, training and vehicle acquisition.

From the Pike County Press:
The funding was announced Friday by U.S. Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey. The grants are administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Toomey Ticker

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party has started a "Toomey Ticker" counting up the time that Pat Toomey has remained silent about the jobs bill that would help get more Americans back to work. The elapsed time is over two weeks at the time I post this.

Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey hasn't yet taken a position on the jobs bill that passed the Senate a couple weeks ago, even though the bill has exactly the kind of tax relief and help for small business that Pat Toomey has demanded.

At a candidates forum this month in Philadelphia, Toomey indicated the federal government should cut taxes for businesses to try to create jobs. Toomey wanted to see tax cuts for employers rather than stimulus money to create jobs:

"We should instead look at ways of cutting taxes including payroll taxes for workers and the matching employer share," Toomey said at the forum. "You know if we did that every worker gets an immediate take home pay raise and every employer finds it less expensive to hire the next worker. I think that's a lot better than just growing government."
The jobs bill that Toomey refuses to talk about contains:
  • tax credits to businesses that hire new workers
  • temporary relief from the 6.25 percent share of the payroll (Social Security) tax employers must pay
These are exactly the incentives to create jobs Toomey said he supports. Toomey has yet to even comment on the bill. What's the problem?

Commenting on the slowness to pass the jobs bill, Arlen Specter said:
"With our economy still struggling to return to prosperity, unemployment fluctuating around 9.7 percent our government cannot stand idly by and let families and businesses who are in need suffer."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

There are limits to frugality, unless you are Sestak

From The Morning Call:

Sestak pays his staff the least in Pennsylvania's Congressional delagation:

"He asks aides to work six days a week, 12-plus hours a day. Staff salaries are among the lowest on Capitol Hill, according to congressional records. No one in Pennsylvania's 19-member congressional delegation had a smaller payroll than Sestak in the 18-month period that ended June 30, records show, while only two members had larger staffs."

What does he do with the savings? Sounds like publicly financed campaigning to me:

"The money Sestak saves on staff salaries is in part devoted to constituent mailings and brochures highlighting his positions on issues. Sestak last year spent more on mail than anyone in the delegation."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sestak Loses Campaign Staffers

In this piece the latest defections in Sestak's campaign staff are discussed.
"At least four staffers with significant political portfolios have left Congressman Joe Sestak’s (D-7) Senate campaign in recent weeks, potentially leaving the Democratic challenger at an organizational deficit just three months before the primary, has learned."
Perhaps some insiders see the futility of Sestak's campaign after the overwhelming affirmation of the State Committee last week. Apparently, they are also tired of being underpaid so that Joe can look like he has more cash available:
"even those who have left on good terms cite the low salaries as a key reason."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Early Polls: good incentive to get working!

There is a widely referenced Franklin & Marshall College (F&MC) Poll (not a poll of college Students, but the former Keystone Poll) That casts a gloomy outlook for Senator Specter.

Read it for yourself, and read an article in the Pike County Press that paints an even rosier picture for Republican challenger, Pat Toomey. As a comment to that article, I wrote:
"Certain polls may be biased, but the written analysis is always biased. This one is particularly troubling. When asked about Toomey approximately 3/4 of respondents “Don’t Know” Toomey or are “Undecided” about Toomey. The poll preference is a reflection of anti-incumbent sentiment, not pro-Toomey excitement."

"It is long way from February to November, but my guess is the more that Toomey is known, the more his “unfavorable” numbers will climb."

There is also a criticism of the poll's small numbers and differentiation of "likely voters" and "registered voters" at this point in an election by FiveThirtyEight.

This is what I learn from the poll:
  1. Incumbents have an uphill battle this year.
  2. There is a motivated Republican base that will support anyone with an (R) after their name. (Remember, Specter was endorsed by those left-wing-nuts George W Bush, Rick Santorum, and even Pat Toomey(!) last time around.)
I'd encourage everyone to look at the candidates and what they will do in the Senate, and the consequences of electing one of these guys. If Pennsylvanians do that, I am sure that Pat Toomey's numbers will not look so rosy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Senator Specter's vote for the Recovery Act

Stephen R. Reed, the former mayor of Harrisburg, writes about the Recovery Act:

...the vote of Specter, who put the needs of the commonwealth and the country above party ideology... ...might well have saved the nation from a 1929 Depression.
Full article:

Recovery Act spurs positive change in nation and Harrisburg

By Patriot-News Op-Ed

January 19, 2010, 7:03AM

A year ago, the nation was on the verge of economic collapse.

Local communities statewide faced the threat of home foreclosures, job cuts, retirement fund losses and a decline in consumer confidence. Local tax revenues were down at the time demand for social services and government relief was climbing.

Today, we live amid new hope that the worst effects of the recession are behind us. There are increasing signs that Congress and the Obama administration were right to intervene in the economy on a massive scale and that Sen. Arlen Specter was right to break party ranks and cast the deciding vote in favor of the administration’s stimulus package.

His vote cost him the support of the Republican Party, but it earned high marks for political courage. “Party,” as John Kennedy used to say, “sometimes asks too much.”

The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is putting people back to work, restoring roads and bridges, promoting green technology, fighting homelessness, hiring more police and firemen and strengthening education.

It is above all a catalyst for change. Change in the way we generate and use energy.

Change in our treatment of the environment. Change in our approach to mass transit and train travel. Change in our approach to homelessness and crime prevention, Change in our treatment of ex-offenders. Change — as in the transformation of urban life.

In Harrisburg and Dauphin County, the stimulus has meant millions of dollars for street resurfacing and bridge repairs; childhood nutrition; work-study jobs for college students; teachers and teacher aides; low-income housing; more police; homeless prevention; defense projects; HIN1 research grants; job training and health care.

Sample grants in our area include $2.1 million for street repaving; $1.7 million for police; $773,000 for clean energy; $7.2 million to restore abandoned neighborhoods; $200,000 for mass transit; $364,000 for clean energy; $245,000 for crime prevention; $278,000 for a “second chance” for ex-offenders; $3.4 million for the Cumberland-Dauphin-Harrisburg Transit Authority to purchase new buses (including five hybrids); $7 million for school lunches; $114,000 for work-study jobs at Harrisburg Community College; $855,478 to renovate homes for resale to low- and moderate-income homebuyers; and $3.7 million to hire teachers to improve failing schools.

America’s aging electrical grid is at risk of catastrophic failure. PPL Electric Utilities Corp. will spend a “smart grid” stimulus grant of $19 million to revamp its distribution system for Harrisburg’s 60,000 customers. The new technology, employing “smart meters,” will allow the company to operate its power lines more efficiently at a savings to customers of $1.5 million a year. “It has the potential to reshape the way we think about, use and deliver electricity,” says David DeCampli, president of PPL.

To deal with mounting joblessness, the Act extended unemployment benefits through December 2009. Congress then added another 14 weeks. Sens. Specter and Casey helped secure an extra six weeks on top of that for Pennsylvania with its 8.5 percent unemployment rate.

All told, Pennsylvania expects to receive more than $16 billion from the Recovery Act. About $10 billion will flow through state agencies and departments for education, projects such as infrastructure improvements and alternative energy and support services such as Medicaid. Another $6 billion in direct tax relief and other direct assistance will go to residents, local governments, businesses and other entities.

None of this would have happened without the vote of Specter, who put the needs of the commonwealth and the country above party ideology. His action might well have saved the nation from a 1929 Depression.

Stephen R. Reed served 28 years as Mayor of Harrisburg.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Campaign Update

This just in from Chris Nicholas, Senator Specter's Campaign Manager:

The Senator’s campaign has had a terrific week, buttressed by endorsements and strong crowds at his events. Local, state and national Democrats continue to endorse Senator Specter, joined recently by the Philadelphia Building Trades Council and the Scranton Federation of Teachers.

Last Monday in Scranton more than 120 local Democrats came out to join Senator Specter for breakfast. The Senator talked about investments in health care in northeastern Pennsylvania, progress of the Scranton-NYC rail line, and jobs that the economic recovery bill has created and saved in the region. Watch Senator Casey's comments about Senator Specter.

(Just a week earlier, our primary opponent Cong. Joe Sestak hosted a Scranton event that drew just 10 people.)

Wednesday the Philadelphia Building Trades Council, comprised of 42 unions with 77,000 members, unanimously endorsed Senator’s the first major endorsement by organized labor in the Democratic Senate primary.

At a packed union hall in northeast Philadelphia, the Inquirer reported:
Union leaders cited Specter's crucial vote for the federal stimulus last year, and repeated support for increases in the minimum wage and to retain the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires federal construction projects to pay union rates.
Recognizing his work for public education in Pennsylvania, the Scranton Federation of Teachers also announced their endorsement of Senator Specter.
“We are proud to stand with Sen. Specter because he has stood with us to improve public education in Pennsylvania,” said Rosemary Boland, President of the Scranton Federation of Teachers. “We are excited to endorse his re-election.”
Over the weekend Senator Specter spoke before a receptive crowd at a meeting of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). As the Morning Call reported:
The education association, which gave Specter two standing ovations during his dinnertime speech, has endorsed the incumbent senator in most election cycles…
Cong. Sestak, plagued by small crowds at many of his local events, continued to fumble – giving new and conflicting excuses for skipping 127 votes in Congress. Those 127 missed votes have earned him the worst attendance record among his fellow Pennsylvania Representatives. In an Erie Times-News story a Sestak spokesman said Sestak's 127 skipped votes were unimportant!

No wonder political publications around the state continue to question Sestak's ability to run a serious statewide campaign. The most recent round of stories detail that Sestak has yet to even hire a campaign manager a mere 16 weeks from the primary. Sestak signaled that he’s in no rush to hire a manager.

…his campaign model is not scalable to the statewide level,” said one Democratic insider familiar with Sestak’s previous campaigns.

Finally, Senator Specter announced last week that more than 300 Democratic leaders have now joined his Statewide Advisory Committee. These local, county, state and federal elected officials and party leaders have endorsed Senator Specter’s campaign and have provided a big boost to our efforts.

See the new Advisory Committee Members here. You can view the entire Advisory Committee here.

Senator Specter is building support as he travels across Pennsylvania. Make sure that you receive an invitation when the Senator is in your area. Click here or the “Become a Member” link below to sign up with your ZIP code so you can receive updates on Senator Specter's next visit to your area.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A profile of U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter

From Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer: A profile of U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter

Some excerpts:

Never an easy political race:
Specter has served in the Senate longer than anyone in Pennsylvania history, a milestone that would have seemed laughable when he was losing races for district attorney of Philadelphia, mayor, governor, and U.S. Senate. In 1980, he butted his head against the wall again and eked out a win by 2 percentage points. His secret weapon: visiting every wide spot in the road in all 67 counties, pushing, pushing, pushing.
Each issue on its own merits:
In this politically polarized time, Specter does not have a set of core ideological principles to rule his actions, friends say. He consumes facts, analyzes an issue, then makes a call and moves on. His philosophy boils down to: Do good. Government sometimes needs to step in to help people help themselves.
 His ideological core?
At heart, he is an advocate, reflecting his training as a lawyer and early career as a prosecutor. He reveres the Constitution and sees his function as making sure that things are done the right way, the fair way, that the system works. He can come off as pedantic, but process is important to him; it guards rights.
 What drives him:
"He knows how the system works," said lawyer Stephen J. Harmelin, a friend of four decades. Specter thinks "he can make more of a difference than any of the people running against him."
A former assistant says:
"Arlen will not tolerate anything less than excellence," said Arthur Makadon, the chairman of Ballard Spahr L.L.P., who was Specter's first assistant D.A. in the early 1970s. "I don't find it bad to demand excellence. . . . I learned more in the time I worked for Arlen than I learned in the rest of my life."
 Bottom line:
"I feel good, and I've got a lot more to do," he says. "I'm very anxious to keep going."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Important Dates leading up to the 2010 Primary

February 16      First day to circulate petitions

March 9            Last day to file petition

April 19            Last day to REGISTER

May 11             Last day to apply for an absentee ballot

May 14             Last day for BOE to receive absentee ballots ...

May 18, 2010   PRIMARY DAY!!!  GO VOTE!