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Archive: October, 2012

POSTED: Thursday, October 18, 2012, 9:02 AM

Hazleton freshman state Rep. Tarah Toohil is speaking out after an anonymous video was posted to YouTube that includes still photos of her from her youth in apparently compromising positions.

The 33-year old Republican facing reelection Nov. 6 put out her own YouTube message responding to a video titled "Pizza Party" that shows a younger Toohil in a series of photos with what looks like a bag of marijuana, a bong and Toohil close to kissing another woman.

The video starts by asking whether Toohil believes in "traditional Republicans values," and ends saying "Pennsylvania Republicans deserve Representatives who share thier (sic) values!"

POSTED: Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 8:57 AM

Well into Tuesday night's town hall debate, after exchanges on tax plans, gas prices, unemployment and more, the key question of campaign 2012 got asked and answered.

It came about an hour in. It was simple and straighforward. One of the "undecided" voters selected by Gallup, an African-American man, stood and asked this:

"Mr. President, I voted for you in 2008. What have you done or accomplished to earn my vote in 2012? I’m not that optimistic as I was...most things I need for everyday living are very expensive."

POSTED: Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 8:42 AM

It's not unusual for incumbent pols to lay low during election years, relying on largely apathic or discouraged voters and their own name ID to help them stay in office.

Well, that strategy doesn't seem to be working in the case of incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr.

Recent polls show the man with Pennsylvania's most bankable political name could be in trouble. And while some of those polls are viewed a tad suspect, new data released Tuesday by respected Quinnipiac polling has Casey holding only a slim (48-45) three-point lead over Western Pennsylvania coal king Tom Smith.

POSTED: Monday, October 15, 2012, 8:42 AM

Throughout his decades in the Senate -- we tend to forget the number of elections he lost: DA, Mayor, Senator, Governor, President -- many in politics often wondered how someone who routinely angered people at all points on the political spectrum managed to keep winning reelection.

Here's just one story that helps explain.

Seeking his first reelection in 1986, Arlen shows up at Pittsburgh's old Three Rivers Stadium to attend a reception in the Allegheny Club hosted by the team-owning Rooney family before a Steelers game.

POSTED: Friday, October 12, 2012, 8:56 AM

Okay, this might not be fair but as my first real mentor in journalism told me many, many years ago, "the Constitution guarantees us a free press, not a fair press."

So watching the VP debate Thursday night, my mind flashed on an image of Paul Ryan as a kid and came up with Eddie Munster, the precocious 9- or 10-year on the 1960's TV show "The Munsters."

Turns out I wasn't the first to see a resemblence. back in August posted this item.

POSTED: Thursday, October 11, 2012, 8:49 AM

If you've noticed an uptick in productivity from our stellar state Legislature maybe it's because nearly half of its 253 members are collecting cash for "working" on weekends.

(Actually, if you've noticed an uptick in productivity from our stellar Legislature get yourself to an eye doctor or a therapist because you're either seeing things or halucinating. But I digress.)

A new report by the online news service says 123 lawmakers took home a total of more than $102,000 in tax-free per diem payments last year on top of their annual salaries and generous benefits.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 8:48 AM

Conflicting press releases from Democrats and Republicans (a real rarity there, eh?) suggest that Mitt Romney's campaign is either folding in Pennsylvania or getting ready to double-down.

Tuesday morning, the state GOP issued a statement, "Romney Seizes Momentum in PA," that cites new polling numbers showing President Obama with a slim 3-point lead and points to a National Journal piece asking if Pennsylvania is "the newest battleground state."

Within an hour of that statement, Pennsylvania Democrats issued a statement, "Romney closing shop in PA," that cites reports that some of the Republican contender's forces are being moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio.

POSTED: Tuesday, October 9, 2012, 8:29 AM

Finally, the long, ugly slog of a presidential campaign marked by anger and caterwauling on both sides of the political spectrum, has a pinch of humor.

The Obama campaign on Tuesday released a new TV ad, "Big Bird," making fun of Romney's comment in the first debate that he'd cut funding for PBS even though he loves Big Bird.

The ad, which you can see here, starts with a list of high-finance felons including Bernie Madoff and Enron's Ken Lay; a narrator calls them "gluttons of greed."

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
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