Monday, April 27, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 1:13 PM

WASHINGTON – Joe Sestak, the Democrat trying to unseat Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), raised about $312,000 in the first three months of 2015, a relatively small amount for a candidate hoping to win what promises to be an expensive statewide race next year.

Sestak’s campaign has declined in recent days to disclose its fund-raising totals, though a public filing obtained by the Inquirer shows the amounts. He had $1.7 million on hand as of the end of March – a month during which he spent most of his time on a largely solitary 422-mile hike across Pennsylvania, where he said he was walking to try to earn voters’ trust.

"We're where we want to be," a Sestak spokeswoman e-mailed.

Jonathan Tamari @ 1:13 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 12:15 PM

WASHINGTON – Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) and five other liberal senators wrote federal regulators Tuesday urging them to block Comcast’s proposed purchase of Time Warner Cable.

Should the deal win approval, “we believe that Comcast-TWC’s unmatched power in the telecommunications industry would lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and poorer quality services for Americans—inhibiting U.S. consumers’ ability to fully benefit from modern technologies and American businesses’ capacity to innovate and compete on a global scale,” wrote Franken and Sens. Bernard Sanders (I., Vt.), Ed Markey (D., Mass.), Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.).

The $45 billion deal between the nation’s first and second largest cable companies is under review from the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice, and word leaked out last week that Justice’s anti-trust lawyers are leaning against the proposal.

Jonathan Tamari @ 12:15 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 10:26 AM

WASHINGTON – Former U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.) will become the president and CEO of a group working to support Medicare Advantage, a Medicare program that has often been targeted for reform.

She will be leading the Better Medicare Alliance, made up of health insurers (like Aetna), hospitals, medical providers, and advocates for Medicare Advantage recipients. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is another member of the alliance, which launched in December.

The position would seem to draw on Schwartz’s deep experience working on health care and knowledge of Congress. Until January she represented a district that includes parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia. She ran for governor but lost in the Democratic primary.

Jonathan Tamari @ 10:26 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, April 20, 2015, 5:19 PM

One of President Obama’s closest confidantes will come to Philadelphia Tuesday to join Mayor Nutter to promote the city’s paid sick leave law, reinforcing how the president has turned to friendly mayors, rather than a hostile Congress, to advance some of his top priorities.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to Obama and one of his closest aides, will hold two events with Nutter to talk up a city law signed in February and effective in May requiring businesses with 10 or more employees to give workers at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

Jarrett’s visit is part of a national tour by her and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez highlighting cities that have taken action on paid sick leave, an issue pushed by the president but with little chance of clearing a Republican-controlled Congress.

Jonathan Tamari @ 5:19 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, April 17, 2015, 3:57 PM
File: Mary Ellen Balchunis visits the polls in Valley Forge with daughter Lauren Harris. (Michael Gressen/For the Daily News)

WASHINGTON – La Salle political science professor Mary Ellen Balchunis will launch a second campaign for Congress Saturday, aiming to take on U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan (R., Pa.) by criticizing the way his Delaware County-based district has been re-drawn.

“This tour represents how gerrymandering negatively impacts the voters’ interests because now rather than the voters choosing the representatives, the representatives are choosing the voters,” Balchunis said in a news release.

The oddly bifurcated district, which includes portions of Berks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster and Montgomery counties, is often cited by independent analysts as a poster-child of partisan redistricting. Balchunis plans to stop at all five counties in the district Saturday. 

Jonathan Tamari @ 3:57 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, April 17, 2015, 12:26 PM

WASHINGTON – Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski launched a run for U.S. Senate Friday, playing up the “story” he has to tell from his years leading Pennsylvania’s third-largest city.

The announcement was made on Facebook and social media, and via a press release e-mailed to reporters.

“I look forward to listening to voters and sharing with them the story of success we’ve had in Allentown in solving real problems for real people," Pawlowski said in his release. "We didn’t wait on others to solve the problems for us. We rolled up our sleeves and made things happen.”

Jonathan Tamari @ 12:26 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, April 16, 2015, 11:48 AM
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawloski will seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate against Joe Sestak.

WASHINGTON – Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski plans to run for Senate, setting up a contested Democratic primary. An announcement is scheduled for Friday.

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.), the Philadelphia Democratic chairman, said Pawlowski has told him he plans to run.

A Pawlowski campaign consultant, Mike Fleck, Thursday that an announcement on Pawlowski's Senate plans is expected Friday. Fleck would not say what the announcement will be, though Pawlowski has been openly weighing entering the Democratic primary.

Jonathan Tamari @ 11:48 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, April 16, 2015, 6:00 AM
Sen. Bob Menendez speaks at a press conference on April 1, 2015, in Newark. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – More than half of New Jersey voters say Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) should give up his office in the wake of an indictment on federal corruption charges, according to a poll out Thursday.

The Quinnipiac University poll found that 52 percent of voters think Menendez should resign, against 39 percent who say he should stay in office -- though Menendez allies say the framing of the question skewed results against him.

The survey also shows steep drops in the way the public sees the senator.

Jonathan Tamari @ 6:00 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
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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