Saturday, May 30, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, February 17, 2015, 10:54 AM

As expected, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Kevin Dougherty announced Tuesday he was running for the Democratic nomination for state Supreme Court.

Dougherty, administrative judge of the trial division for the largest county court system in Pennsylvania, released a video that includes endorsement cameos from District Attorney Seth Williams and Alba Martinez, former commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services.

Dougherty, brother of the politically juiced electricians’ union leader John J. Dougherty, has been a Common Please jurist since 2001. He was for nearly a decade the administrative judge of Family Court – where backers say he was tough on juvenile crime but also compassionate in helping turn around the lives of vulnerable youth.

Thomas Fitzgerald @ 10:54 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, February 5, 2015, 5:28 PM
Former Pa. Sen. Rick Santorum speaks to guests at the Iowa Freedom Summit on Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

It happened all the time in early 2012, wherever former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum traveled in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination: “How’s Bella?” people would ask him. Or they’d mention they were praying for the little girl, or press gifts into his hands for her – teddy bears, rosary beads.

Bella, the youngest child of Rick and Karen Santorum, has a rare, genetic condition called Trisomy 18 that is usually fatal at birth. Among other things, children who live with the condition are susceptible to life-threatening infections; Santorum had to leave the trail when Bella, then 3, was hospitalized with pneumonia.

The girl who inspired the senator’s supporters is now 6 years old – defying all expectations - and the star of a newly published book by her parents, “Bella’s Gift."

Thomas Fitzgerald @ 5:28 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, February 4, 2015, 4:40 PM

Mitt Romney’s decision to forgo a third run for president has scrambled the field in the early going of the 2016 Pennsylvania Republican primary, with three contenders bunched together at the top, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has the support of 12 percent of Pennsylvania Republicans polled, to 11 percent for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and 10 percent for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Rick Santorum, who represented the state in the U.S. Senate for 12 years, stood at 8 percent, tied with conservative activist and author Ben Carson, a Baltimore neurosurgeon. No other candidate hits the 8 percent threshold in the poll, which finds 22 percent of Pennsylvania Republicans undecided.

Thomas Fitzgerald @ 4:40 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, February 3, 2015, 11:16 AM
Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Chris Christie. (Getty File Photos)

Hillary Clinton has a strong early grip on Pennsylvania, with an 11-point lead over her closest potential Republican opponent in the state, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, according to Quinnipiac University polls of three swing states released Tuesday.

Clinton was tied with Gov. John Kasich (R) in his home state of Ohio, and also was running even in Florida with that state’s former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, the polls found.

Since 1960, no candidate has won the White House without carrying at least two of the three states.

Thomas Fitzgerald @ 11:16 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 6:11 PM

Now it’s Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s turn.

Walker announced on Tuesday he had formed a federal 527 political committee to boost him in a possible 2016 run for the Republican presidential nomination. The tax-exempt group, Our American Revival, was established Jan. 16.

On Monday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and his backers unveiled a federal political committee called Leadership Matters for America, an official step toward launching a presidential campaign.

Thomas Fitzgerald @ 6:11 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Saturday, January 24, 2015, 10:38 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa - It was late, getting on midnight Friday, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie arrived, purple tie loosened, collar open, a leather garment bag hanging on his shoulder in the lobby of the downtown Marriott here.

Journalists – Christie’s Greek chorus, his foils and his inquisitors – gathered around and he bantered. First he ripped WNYC’s Matt Katz (a former Inky colleague) for remarks he made on NJTV before the governor’s state of the state address recently. “You’re pre-game was terrible,” Christie said. “Pathetic.”

“What are you going to say tomorrow?” somebody said, referring to Saturday’s Iowa Freedom Summit where Christie, a likely candidate in the 2016 presidential campaign, was scheduled to speak.

Thomas Fitzgerald @ 10:38 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, January 19, 2015, 9:26 AM
Gov.-elect Tom Wolf added to his cabinet Saturday. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff)

On the eve of Democrat Tom Wolf’s inauguration as governor, a new Mercyhurst University poll finds most Pennsylvania voters optimistic about his ability to solve the state’s problems, with broad support for his policy agenda.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents to the survey by the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics say they have confidence in Wolf’s leadership ability, and 65 percent express confidence in his ability to solve the problems of the state – a smaller majority, 52 percent, says Wolf will be able to effectively work with the Republicans who control both houses of the legislature.

Fifty-eight percent favor a progressive state income tax, with those who make more money paying at a higher rate; 35 percent are opposed. Wolf advocated the change during his campaign. The income tax rate is currently a flat 3.5 percent for all income groups. Pennsylvania’s constitution has a uniformity clause that mandates sameness in tax levies.

Thomas Fitzgerald @ 9:26 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, January 14, 2015, 5:19 PM

In this political environment, it almost doesn’t seem natural: A Democrat and a Republican working together, as partners. By choice.

Former Pennsylvania Democratic Chairman T.J. Rooney and former Republican Chairman Alan Novak, partisan antagonists in other times, Wednesday announced they were joining together in a new government-relations enterprise.

RooneyNovak Group LLC will help clients navigate divided government in Harrisburg and Washington, the two men said in a news release.

Thomas Fitzgerald @ 5:19 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
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Inquirer staff writer Thomas Fitzgerald blogs about national politics.

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