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Archive: October, 2012

POSTED: Sunday, October 14, 2012, 3:33 PM

President Obama and local members of the U.S. Senate and House praised Arlen Specter today as a fighter who worked across party lines to help Pennsylvania and the country. Below are some of the statements released following Specter's death:

President Obama:
Arlen Specter was always a fighter.  From his days stamping out corruption as a prosecutor in Philadelphia to his three decades of service in the Senate, Arlen was fiercely independent – never putting party or ideology ahead of the people he was chosen to serve.  He brought that same toughness and determination to his personal struggles, using his own story to inspire others.  When he announced that his cancer had returned in 2005, Arlen said, "I have beaten a brain tumor, bypass heart surgery and many tough political opponents and I'm going to beat this, too."  Arlen fought that battle for seven more years with the same resolve he used to fight for stem-cell research funding, veterans health, and countless other issues that will continue to change lives for years to come.  Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Joan and the rest of the Specter family. 

Mitt Romney:
Arlen Specter was a longtime public servant who participated in some of the most consequential and historic debates of our time. His fight against cancer served as an inspiration to others battling this deadly disease. Ann and I hold his family in our thoughts and prayers today.

POSTED: Friday, October 12, 2012, 12:59 PM

If you ask just about any Congressional candidate this year what they are most focused on in this election, they’ll all give you the same answer: jobs and the economy. Anyone who says anything else should be immediately disqualified for a lack of political brainpower.

So candidates from both parties agree: jobs are good. We like jobs. I’ve yet to hear anyone say they oppose jobs. Of course, if anyone had an easy answer for how Congress can do that, it would have been done by now, so while everyone would really love to see some more hiring, policy prescriptions are pretty much boilerplate for both Rs and Ds: cut regulations, encourage job training, bring jobs back from abroad. Specifics are few and far between.

Where the parties have a much more clearly, concretely defined difference, and where local Democrats have tried to make a stand, are on women’s issues. There is a sharp distinction here: incumbent House Republicans have voted to strip funding from Planned Parenthood and restrict federal funding for abortion. Several GOP House members backed a bill that initially included the controversial term “forcible rape” to describe an exception to abortion limits. Democrats in the area say they would take the exact opposite approach.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 5:56 PM

National Democrats have canceled $1.1 million of television ads that were supposed to help local House challengers in the stretch run of their campaigns.

Pulling the ads for Oct. 25-29 gives a strong indication that the races are not shaping up as closely as Democrats had hoped, and that they feel better off putting their resources elsewhere. Republicans also canceled their ads -- in response, the GOP said -- showing that both sides feel they are better off putting their money into other campaigns.

Democrats have listed four suburban Republican Congressmen here as top targets – Pennsylvania’s Mike Fitzpatrick, Jim Gerlach and Pat Meehan and South Jersey’s Jon Runyan.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 5:21 PM

Democratic Congressional candidate Manan Trivedi, running to unseat Republican Jim Gerlach in a race just outside Philly, had his best fund-raising performance yet last quarter, a showing that he says proves he is building momentum heading into the final weeks of the campaign.

Trivedi raised $433,000 in the quarter than ended Oct. 1, he told me Wednesday, giving him around $1.1 million for the election cycle. The average House candidate raised $574,402 in 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“We’re really happy with that and it shows serious momentum for us,” Trivedi said Tuesday afternoon. “I’m so honored to have the support of a people-powered campaign.”

POSTED: Tuesday, October 9, 2012, 4:27 PM

After Congressman Rob Andrews used campaign money to pay for a $30,000 trip to Scotland with his family, a little-known panel of Washington watchdogs added some key details.

It turned out that Andrews, a veteran South Jersey Democrat, had relied on his wife’s ethics advice for the OK to spend campaign cash on the lavish trip, even though she was one of the family members who would get to stay in the five-star Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh.

The questionable arrangement for advice was revealed by the Office of Congressional Ethics, a review board led by independent citizens, and led to this follow up story in the Inquirer. The OCE investigates potential ethics violations in Congress and produces detailed reports laying out possible problems.

POSTED: Monday, October 8, 2012, 5:24 PM

When you’re running for office and facing damaging political attacks, there is a widely-accepted method for fighting back: quickly rebut the criticism and move on. Don’t dawdle, don’t let it linger and don’t keep fighting the same fight and bringing the topic back to the forefront. Re-raising the issue risks highlighting the very attacks you were trying to tamp down in the first place.

“You have to rebut it but you can’t spend all your time arguing about it. You have to rebut it quickly, you have to knock it down very hard with factual backup and at the end of it say, ‘that’s it,’” former GOP press officer Carl Golden told me recently. Golden, who worked with Jersey Govs. Tom Kean and Christie Whitman, said, "To allow to dominate … is a real mistake.”

So I was surprised late Sunday night when an e-mail arrived from Democrat Kathy Boockvar’s campaign touting a Monday press conference to criticize her opponent, Republican Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, for an issue that is about 10 days old. Democrats wanted another shot at Fitzpatrick over GOP attacks trying to link Boockvar to convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. The initial accusations came out Sept. 27 and stirred coverage for a few days, but by now had seemed to fade into the background of the tightest race in our region. (And which I looked at in depth in today’s Inquirer). Why would Boockvar bring them back into the spotlight?

POSTED: Friday, October 5, 2012, 12:33 PM

The Eagles play the Steelers Sunday, and for most of Pennsylvania, the decision about who to root for isn’t so much a decision as it is a fundamental act of identity.

When you’re a Senator who represents the entire state, though, and would love votes from both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and their rabid fan-bases, well, loyalty might be a little more complicated.

The teams represent the two biggest cities in the state, and they each have fan followings that are intense, proud, sensitive to slights and probably include a fair number of people more apt to remember who a politician roots for than, say, how he feels about U.S. foreign aid. Both cities wrap so much of themselves in their NFL teams.

POSTED: Thursday, October 4, 2012, 2:44 PM

U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R., N.J.) has a 10 point lead on Democratic challenger Shelley Adler in their campaign for a South Jersey House seat, according to a Stockton Polling Institute survey of likely voters.

Runyan is up 49-39 in Jersey's third district, which includes parts of Burlington and Ocean counties. National Democrats have made the seat one of their prime targets, but the poll, released Wednesday afternoon, indicates that Adler has a lot of ground to make up in the four-and-a-half weeks before Election Day.

“With 12 percent of voters undecided, candidate Adler still has an opportunity to close the lead on Runyan, though Runyan is clearly in a better position,” said Daniel J. Douglas, director of Stockton's the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy.

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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