Saturday, February 6, 2016

POSTED: Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 5:05 PM
Katie McGinty and Joe Sestak. (File photos)

WASHINGTON - Joe Sestak has a $1.4 million cash advantage over Katie McGinty as the two Democrats head into the final months of Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate primary, new campaign filings show.

Both candidates have outpaced Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who has struggled to turn his outsider appeal into campaign cash. As of Dec. 31, Fetterman had just $131,672 on hand.

Sestak, a former congressman making his second bid for the Senate seat, raised $373,840 in the final quarter of 2015, his report showed. But he had $2.6 million left, giving him the edge despite McGinty's support from top Democrats in Washington and Pennsylvania.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 1:12 PM
Sen. Marco Rubio enjoys his third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, in which he reaped 23 percent of the vote Monday. (PETE MAROVICH / Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey endorsed Marco Rubio for president Wednesday, choosing sides in a Republican primary that has sharply divided the party establishment from its restive base, and which could have a major impact on Toomey's own re-election bid.

In backing Rubio, Toomey aligned himself with a fellow senator who has vaulted to the front of the pack of the so-called “establishment” Republican candidates.

Toomey said he told Rubio last week he would endorse him, and praised the Florida Senator's national security credentials and broader message.

POSTED: Monday, February 1, 2016, 8:08 PM
State Rep. Scott Petri suddenly dropped out of the race for a Bucks County Congressional seat Monday night and will run for again for the statehouse seat. ((Photo from reppetri.com))

WASHINGTON – State Rep. Scott Petri, until recently considered the Republican favorite in the race for a Bucks County Congressional seat, suddenly dropped out of the contest Monday night and will run for again for the statehouse seat.

Petri announced his decision Monday night at an endorsement screening with the Bucks County Republican party in Northampton Township. It comes less than two weeks after Brian Fitzpatrick – the brother of well-known incumbent Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick – entered the race.

Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent, has never held public office before, but with his brother’s name recognition, electoral success and campaign war chest, he is seen as a formidable candidate. Mike Fitzpatrick, the four-term Republican, is not running, citing a self-imposed term limit pledge.

POSTED: Friday, January 29, 2016, 5:25 PM
Katie McGinty and Joe Sestak. (File photos)

WASHINGTON – The different approaches of the two leading Democrats in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race were on display hundreds of miles apart this week.

On Wednesday, Katie McGinty was invited to Washington for lunch with the Democratic senators whose ranks she hopes to join. Several of them have already endorsed her, and the Democratic Senate leader, Nevada’s Harry Reid, is openly rooting for McGinty to win the three-way primary.

That night, rival Joe Sestak was in Chester County to speak to the county’s Democratic committee. The county party endorsed him overwhelmingly: 154 votes for Sestak, 27 for McGinty and 26 for Braddock Mayor John Fetterman.

POSTED: Thursday, January 28, 2016, 3:37 PM
Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. (Getty)

WASHINGTON – Hillary Clinton’s visit to Philadelphia Wednesday drew fire from rival Bernie Sanders and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

“My opponent is not in Iowa tonight. She is raising money from a Philadelphia investment firm,” Sanders told a crowd in Mason City, Iowa. “Frankly, I'd rather be here with you.”

Thursday morning the contrast between Clinton and Sanders – just days before Iowans caucus to pick their favorites for the presidential contest – was fodder for morning TV.

POSTED: Thursday, January 28, 2016, 2:12 PM
Republican U.S. presidential candidates businessman Donald Trump (L) and Senator Ted Cruz (R) pose together before the start of the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada December 15, 2015. ((REUTERS / David Becker))

WASHINGTON -- Why should Iowa and New Hampshire have all the fun?

Voters there will weigh in on the raucous presidential primaries in the coming days, but that hasn’t stopped the speculation – and potential ramifications -- from reaching Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where insiders and analysts are struggling to make sense of a wild campaign. (We detailed some earlier this week).

Here are seven other takeaways culled from interviews last week with more than a dozen Republican and Democratic operatives and elected officials in both states.

POSTED: Thursday, January 21, 2016, 12:22 PM
U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Bucks)

This post has been updated.

WASHINGTON – Bucks County Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is retiring -- and his brother is now hoping to replace him in Pennsylvania's most competitive congressional district. 

Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI supervisory special agent, is planning to announce his run Thursday afternoon in Doylestown, confirming long-running rumors that he will seek to replace his brother, a Republican who has held the seat for four-terms.

POSTED: Thursday, January 14, 2016, 4:49 PM
Katie McGinty in a campaign video.

WASHINGTON – Democrat Katie McGinty raised nearly $1 million for her Pennsylvania U.S. Senate campaign in the last three months of 2015 – more than any of her Democratic rivals have reported in a single quarter, but less than some political operatives expected, given her substantial backing from party leaders and labor unions.

McGinty spent much of the $980,000 she raised as her campaign ramped up for a three-way Democratic primary in April. She ended 2015 with about $1.2 million on hand, about $300,000 more than she had in her previous report, at the end of September. McGinty, Gov. Wolf’s former chief of staff, has now raised just under $2 million since entering the race last August.

Many were watching to see how McGinty turned support from the likes of former Gov. Rendell, ex-Mayor Nutter and the Democratic women’s group EMILY’S List into campaign cash as she tries to win the primary and prepare for what promises to be an expensive, hard-fought general election campaign against Republican Sen. Pat Toomey – who reportedly had $9.8 million on hand at the end of December.

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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