Thursday, April 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 5:22 PM
U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach. (Sharon Gekoski-Kimmel, File / Inquirer)

WASHINGTON – In Ukraine for the past several days, U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.) said he has found a country eager for new elections and government reform – but with a “sword hanging over them” in the form of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Putin is not a friend of democracy. Putin does not care about anything other than trying to expand Russia into the old Soviet Union," Gerlach, of Chester County, said Wednesday in a telephone interview from Kiev.

Gerlach, co-chair of the Ukraine caucus in the House, has met with members of the Ukrainian parliament, the country’s acting president and prime minister and civic groups. He said the country’s leaders realize they need to end corruption and that the nation “is very stable.” But Russia looms as a threat to both Ukraine and its neighbors, he said.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 12:20 PM

WASHINGTON – In three local House districts currently held by the GOP, registered Democrats actually outnumber registered Republicans. Two are in South Jersey and the other is in a Bucks County-based district.

Those numbers help explain why Democrats are once again targeting Republican seats in the Philadelphia area, trying to take advantage of some of the country’s most competitive districts and two retirements that will deprive the GOP of the power of incumbency.

But which seats are actually within reach? Voter registration numbers below give one clue.

POSTED: Friday, April 11, 2014, 2:42 PM
Former Eagles linebacker Garry Cobb announced his bid for Congress at the Camden County GOP office in Cherry Hill Monday, March 31, 2014. Cobb is running as a Republican to fill the First District seat vacated by Rep. Rob Andrews (D., N.J.) in February.

WASHINGTON – Things are getting real in a South Jersey House race.

Ex-Eagle Garry Cobb is being called out … for being a former Dallas Cowboy.

The swipe, from fellow Republican Claire Gustafson, came in a press release otherwise focused on some of Cobb’s comments about how he was affected by concussions from his playing days.

POSTED: Thursday, April 10, 2014, 3:54 PM

WASHINGTON – Establishment Republicans really don’t like Steve Lonegan, the combative conservative running for Congress in South Jersey.

Party leaders in Burlington County didn’t want Lonegan in the race this year – arguing that he’s too conservative for the moderate third district, which includes parts of Burlington and Ocean counties. And on Thursday, a sitting GOP lawmaker took aim at Lonegan, who just a year ago was the party’s nominee for Senate.

Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg (R., Burlington) called a new Lonegan TV ad “personally disturbing” and laden with “a code word.” She is the second Republican in the state legislature to get involved in the primary and sharply criticize Lonegan. 

POSTED: Thursday, April 10, 2014, 1:07 PM

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, a South Jersey Republican, was one of just 12 GOP lawmakers to vote against the Republican budget plan Thursday in a vote loaded with political weight.

LoBiondo voted against the budget plan advanced by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the former GOP vice presidential candidate. Other Philadelphia-area Republicans – U.S. Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick, of Bucks County, Jim Gerlach, of Chester County, Pat Meehan, of Delaware County – supported the plan, which passed the House 219-205, without a single Democratic vote. Jon Runyan, of Burlington County, was home recovering from surgery and did not vote, according to an aide.

The bill carries significant political implications for both parties, even though no one expects it to become law. For Republicans, it is a signal of how they would govern if they keep the House and gain control of the Senate this fall. Democrats see the plan, which would sharply cut spending on popular programs in the name of reducing the deficit, as a weight around the necks of Republicans in moderate districts, much like the one LoBiondo represents.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 4:34 PM

WASHINGTON – Sens. Cory Booker (D. N.J.) and Tim Scott (R., S.C.) – who are two of the youngest members of the Senate and its only two African-Americans, but who come from opposite ends of the political spectrum -- introduced a bill together Wednesday aimed at increasing apprenticeships for young people seeking jobs.

Booker, a left-leaning Democrat from Newark, had pledged to bridge political divides when he ran for Senate, and he found his first formal bipartisan partner in Scott, a tea party favorite who joined the Senate in 2012.

Their bill would offer tax credits of up to $1,500 to companies that offer apprenticeship programs.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 12:39 PM

WASHINGTON – Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen conceded that customer service is an area where “we are having issues” but said the cable giant is committed to improving after receiving “a kick in the butt” from critics.

Cohen was responding to a question from Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.), who said that “more than not” customers have contacted him “with concerns about price and customer service.”

“We are laser focused on trying to improve the customer experience,” Cohen said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday morning.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 12:27 PM

WASHINGTON – Comcast faced its toughest questioning yet from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), who said the company had not demonstrated concrete benefits for consumers in its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable.

The deal faces “a high degree of skepticism,” Blumenthal said.

“Where’s the beef? Where’s the 'there' there for consumers?” he asked. “I think the case has yet to be made the consumers will benefit in a really tangible way.”

About this blog

Jonathan Tamari is the Inquirer’s Washington correspondent. He writes about the lawmakers, politics and policy that affect Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Tamari previously covered the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL. Before that he worked in Trenton, reporting on the characters and color of New Jersey state government. He lives in Washington.

Reach Jonathan at jtamari@phillynews.com.

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