Wednesday, May 27, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, May 26, 2015, 8:41 AM
Voting booths await. (Emily Babay/Staff)

If it's the year before a presidential race, it's another year for Pennsylvania to try to become more relevant in the selection of presidential candidates.
Just don't count on it happening.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports another effort is brewing to move the state's 2016 presidential primary up from April to March in order to make us more of a national player, bring the state more political attention (and campaign spending) and generally boost our political profile.
State Rep. Keith Greiner, R-Lancaster County, is sponsoring a measure to move the primary from the fourth Tuesday in April to the third week in March.
This would put Pa. on the same day as other big states -- Florida, Illinois, Missouri -- currently scheduled to hold primaries March 15.
"Super Tuesday" next year is March 1 with seven state primaries and two caucuses.
(You can see the currently-scheduled full primary slate here.)
The argument for an earlier primary here isn't new but it's never gotten much support. In 2008, by accident, the state got attention despite it's later primary because the fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton dragged out longer than most (Hillary, you'll recall, won Pa. back then.)
Why don't we move our primary up? Same reason we don't do anything politically progressive -- inconvenient to our politicians.
Both party heads tell the Post-Gazette (as they have every time the issue comes up) that pushing forward would require others running for other offices -- read especially incumbents -- to get out and get their nominating petitions signed in the dead of winter, even pushing back into December.
GOP chairman Rob Gleason tells the P-G, "I've always kind of resisted that." Democratic Party chief Jim Burn says, "I see no reason to change throws everything out of whack."
So, you know, get ready to have your say in picking the next president next April 26 -- right after more than half the state have their say.

John Baer @ 8:41 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, May 21, 2015, 8:50 AM
Philadelphia democratic mayoral candidate and former city councilman Jim Kenney Election Night Event celebration, Tuesday, May 19, 2015. ( Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer )

In the aftermath of yet another low, low voter turnout election -- the lowest of the last four open-seat primary races for mayor and, according to the Inky, even lower in the burbs -- a few things beyond general disinterest strike me.

KANE, KANE, KANE: with the state's political and legal community fixated on what happens when to the case of Kathleen Kane, the Montco electorate just might have given the issue a little push.

That's because Montco DA Risa Vetri Ferman, a Republican who cross-filled for county judge, won her party's nomination for one of three open spots on the county bench but did not win the Democratic nomination.

John Baer, Daily News Political Columnist @ 8:50 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 8:40 AM
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum fields questions from Bruce Rastetter at the Iowa Ag Summit on March 7, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event allows the invited speakers, many of whom are potential 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls, to outline their views on agricultural issue. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a/k/a he would be president (again), today picked up The Washington Post's highest, um, political honor: four Pinocchio's, for what The Post designates as "whoppers."

The notice comes in response to Santorum's latest version of his role in U.S. sanctions against Iran which he spelled out in a speech in Iowa over the weekend.

Santorum said,“Twelve years ago I introduced a bill on Iran to put sanctions in place. You know those crushing sanctions that brought Iran to the table? I was the author that put those sanctions in law twelve years ago. And I was opposed by none other than Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the process.”

John Baer @ 8:40 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, May 18, 2015, 9:08 AM
State Rep. Louise Williams Bishop

This is too good to let pass, and might just be the best political quote of the month.

I know the national bar is high, what with Jeb Bush's multiple answers on the invasion of Iraq, and Rick Santorum explaining to George Will how he almost (and shoulda) won the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

But from a Pennsylvania perspective, my vote for quote goes to Philly Assistant District Attorney Mark Gilson.

John Baer @ 9:08 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, May 15, 2015, 8:25 AM
John Patrick Stanton, an antiabortion activist who died Jan. 31 at age 86, attending a St. Patrick's Day parade in 2008.

Just in case you think Republicans learned the lesson about not pushing stuff that annoys lots of women and tends to create or widen gender gaps in elections, you should know about state House Resolution 82.

It honors John Patrick Stanton, of Jenkintown, as a “humanitarian, activist and founder of the prolife movement in this Commonwealth.”

Stanton died in January 2014 at the age of 86.

John Baer @ 8:25 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 9:06 AM

Like school kids on a mini-merry-go-round, Republican lawmakers in Harrisburg are yet again playing with public pensions.

Senate Republicans are hoping to vote as soon as Wednesday on yet another plan to cut pension costs, this time by putting all new state employees and public-school teachers into a 401(k)-type pension and making current employees and teachers pay more for pension benefits.

No question public pensions are out of control, costing taxpayers an additional $1 billion this year, but the proposed fix  now underway in the Capitol smacks more of partisan politics than a genuine effort at solution.

John Baer @ 9:06 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, May 8, 2015, 8:46 AM

And the cost to taxpayers for seemingly unending investigations of Pennsylvania public officials just goes on and on.

Now comes a report from Harrisburg TV's ABC27 that more than a quarter-million dollars in tax money has been spent on legal cases involving embattled state Attorney General Kathleen Kane and disgraced former state Treasurer Rob McCord.

You can see the report here.

John Baer @ 8:46 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, May 6, 2015, 8:28 AM

You know how Republican state legislative leaders continue to argue that the costs of public pensions represent the state's biggest fiscal problem, and Democratic Gov. Wolf continues to say that's really not the case?

Well, the GOP just might get a bump for their argument with the publication Wednesday by the Harrisburg Patriot-News of a looong list of the fattest pension hauls in the state.

The list is titled "Set for Life."

John Baer @ 8:28 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
Also on
letter icon Newsletter