Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prime Time For Kanjo

Saw a promo for CBS Evening News tomorrow night. Paul Kanjorski will be sitting down with Katie Couric to discuss his earmarking scandals. Looked interesting enough for me to tune in.

UPDATE: A Friday morning story from the Times Leader

Funded Abortions

It seems that the Hackett camp is trying to push the topic of taxpayer funded abortions to the front of the issue radar.

At a recent town hall meeting in Williamsport, "Carney was asked if he supports tax-funded abortions either in the U.S. or overseas. 'No,' he said simply."

However, Hackett was quick to dispute that the one-word answer did not properly summarize Carney's voting history. A Hackett news release cites two specific votes:
"On June 21, 2007 Chris Carney voted for a repeal of the Mexico City policy. The
Mexico City policy prevented taxpayer dollars from going to organizations that provide abortions overseas. (Roll Call 534, 6/21/2007) Then Chris Carney voted against a bi-partisan amendment that banned public funding of Planned Parenthood, America’s largest provider of abortions. (Roll Call 684, 7/19/2007) Carney received a 100% rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) in 2007."

Ironically, it appears that Chris Hackett is taking a page out of the Dan Meuser playbook. If you recall the end of the primary, Meuser made the claim that Hackett was trying to distort his record on abortion.

Carney denied that his response to the question was inconsistent with his position on abortion. Campaign manager Vincent Rongione declared, "Chris Hackett’s dishonest twisting of congressman Carney’s record shows how desperate he is to gain any traction in this race."

However, the Carney campaign did not clarify what is incorrect about Hackett's charge. On previous questionnaires, Carney had indicated that he did not personally favor abortions and that organizations who provide abortions should not receive public funding.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Has Kanjo Flipped On Tolling?

Lou Barletta challenged Paul Kanjorski's position on tolling I-80 yesterday. He put out a press release accusing Kanjorski of desperately trying to mislead voters on where he actually stands. The release contained previous statements from Kanjorski which demonstrated his support for tolling or lack of effort to ensure the interstate wasn't tolled.

From the release:
  • Aug. 3, 2007: “I believe that the federal government should respect the decisions made by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” Statement from Paul Kanjorski after the tolls were announced,
  • Nov. 8, 2007: The Peterson-English Amendment to the Transportation Appropriations Bill would have stopped the tolling of Interstate 80. The bill was defeated. Paul Kanjorski had his chance to show his independence. What did he do? Did he demand a meeting with Leadership on this amendment? Did he ask Pennsylvania’s U.S. senators to support the amendment in conference committee? He did nothing. He did not fight for his constituents.
  • Nov. 29, 2007: “Let’s do all the interstates. I think we’ll have to end up tolling 80, 81, 78 and 95.” Bloomsburg Press Enterprise story printed in the Pocono Record.

On Tuesday, Kanjorski submitted a letter of opposition for tolling I-80 to the Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. The letter argued that tolls would burden Pennsylvania businesses and cited an '05 Pennsylvania Department of Transportation study that recommended not tolling the highway.

Raising the tolling issues seems to be a beneficial to Barletta because it shifts the focus away from recent attacks on his Social Security record. However, in order to further pander to Senior Citizens, Kanjorski put out another ad towards the end of last week.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pull That Ad

Lou Barletta is petitioning local television stations to stop airing the DCCC's ad against him.

Barletta claims the ad unfairly mischaracterizes his stance on Social Security by claiming he supports private accounts. In making his case, Barletta stated in his letter that, "Your station has transmitted this false statement over public airwaves."

It is unlikely that an station will pull the ads. For instance, WNEP has promised to continue airing the ad until they receive comment from the DCCC. However, the DCCC has remained firm in its support of the spot and won't fold in the face of a local dust-up.

From the very beginning of the campaign, Barletta has sought to clarify his position on Social Security. The topic was one of his very first press conferences where he came out with very strong and clear statements against private accounts.

This ad spat comes in the face of both Democratic candidates (Carney and Kanjorski) preempting their Republican opposition by launching their own campaign commercials.

Monday, July 28, 2008

"Pennsylvania Values"

Chris Carney unveiled his first advertisement for the general election.

The ad highlights the same themes he used in his successful '06 bid. It seems Carney is banking on a growing negative campaign so the ad looks to reinforce the positive aspects of his candidacy.

The campaign bought $130,000 worth of time on four location stations: WNEP-TV, WOLF-TV, WBRE-TV and WYOU-TV.

The Hackett campaign responded with a press release seeking to clarify the ad by presenting Carney's overall voting record, his ties to Charlie Rangel, and instances of voting against Pennsylvania values.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Time Away

This next week you won't see a lot of new content on Local Values due to vacation time. There may be a couple new posts, but likely days without. Everything should return back to normal on the 28th.

Friday, July 18, 2008

New Update

In a growing acknowledgment that Paul Kanjorski is indeed vulnerable this fall, CQ Politics updated the race from "Safe Democrat" to a weaker incumbency advantage at "Lean Democrat."

It appears CQ was initially reluctant to make the race upgrade:
"CQ Politics initially was hesitant to include Pennsylvania 11 among the ranks of competitive races, though, in part because the NRCC also heavily promoted Barletta’s candidacy against Kanjorski in 2002, when he lost by the substantial margin of 56 percent to 42 percent."
However, it seems the DCCC's ad campaign in the district ("political parties don’t spend money in districts where they expect easy wins") and Barletta's ability to draw district-wide recognition ("
it appears he’ll have the resources to wage a credible campaign") have been the two largest factors behind CQ's decision.

I would also add Kanjorski's willingness to begin airing his own television ads before Independence Day and his reluctance to debate Barletta enhance the perception that Kanjorski is nervous about his reelection chances.


Today's WSJ has an article about Democratic success in out-fundraising Republicans in Senatorial campaigns. Even in some red states, Democrats have been competitive against Republican incumbents.

However, success in the House races hasn't been so uniform. One notable exception is the Pennsylvania's 10th District.

From the article:
"The picture in the House was much more mixed. Some Republican challengers raised more than the Democratic incumbents they are trying to unseat. Peter Olson, a former Capitol Hill staffer, bested Texas Rep. Nick Lampson. Businessman Chris Hackett narrowly raised more than Pennsylvania Rep. Chris Carney -- not including a $250,000 loan to his campaign. Both challengers, however, have far less cash on hand."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Returning The Money Back?

It appears the NRCC talking points have permeated at least one campaign. Chris Hackett was the first candidate to respond to the NRCC campaign by launching his own attack.

Hackett issued a press release today reiterating most of
yesterday's substance, but uniquely invoked Carney's own words against him.

The release states:

In 2006, Carney said, “It is unfortunate that money and trappings of extreme partisan politics have blinded Don Sherwood to the real concerns and needs of the 10th District and of America.” (Carney Press Release, 9/28/06) Chris Carney called on Don Sherwood to return the $14,800 he received from Tom DeLay’s PAC.

Yet, Carney has received far more money from Rangel both directly and indirectly.

From a Carney for Congress post over at his Daily KO's Dairy (just one of several):

"Tom DeLay's dirty money is still filling the pockets of politicians all over the country. Now that we have the Sept. 30th FEC numbers, we know that the money is still festering.

With an arrest warrant on the table, isn't it time to make every single politician give the money back!

If the money isn't given back or donated to a good cause, everyone who keeps the money is just asking for it come election time.

Don Sherwood (R-PA) has not given the almost $15,000 he has received from DeLay back. Tell him to give it back!"

It seems Carney was making quite a bit of hay with the issue in his previous election so we'll see how he responds when faced with a similar situation.

Local Politician Takes Lead On Energy

Rep. John Peterson seems to be taking a big step towards addressing the nation's energy problem.

Peterson has long favored increasing domestic supply by lifting the offshore drilling ban, so he was particularly pleased with Bush's recent decision to lift the moratorium.

On Tuesday, he wasted no time reacting to the news. He joined with Neil Abercromie (D-HI) to form the House's Energy Working Group. The group aims to establish a bipartisan compromise which would increase supply for the current crisis by drilling offshore while at the same time encouraging alternative energy sources as a background for future transitioning.

The group is shooting to have comprehensive legislation produced before the August recess, but preferably in the next week.

The Republicans will not include ANWAR in the proposal as it is seen as too much of a "lightening rod" likely to break apart any potential compromise.

Abercrombie said the group is "evolving" and couldn't announce the member list yet because it might cause some members a political headache, but hopefully it will include other members of the Pennsylvania delegation.

It's great to see Peterson take the lead on this issue. Furthermore, the approach he is using to address this problem is commendable and impressive. In an election year, it could be tempting to play politics with the topic and use it as a bludgeoning object against the opposition. Instead of subjecting this time-sensitive issue to unneeded political scrutiny, he's recognized the importance of working across the aisle to successfully get any offshore drilling program implemented.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

NRCC Targets Kanjo, Carney

The NRCC has selected a handful of Democratic candidates to target. As ammunition, the NRCC is using Charlie Rangel's most recent scandal involving the use of his congressional stature to obtain four rent-stabilized apartments.

The NRCC sent out two sets of E-mails (one to incumbents and one to challengers) encouraging them to return the donations they had received from Charlie Rangel.

Although the NRCC is publicly linking the politicians to Charlie "My constituents are proud I drive a Cadillac" Rangel, it doesn't appear the NRCC is prepared to open the issue up in an full-fledged ad.

From PolitckerPA, "The eight congressional candidates include sitting U.S. Reps. Jason Altmire, Chris Carney, Paul Kanjorski, Patrick Murphy, Allyson Schwartz, Joe Sestak and challengers Dahlkemper and Bob Roggio."

Day Of Reckoning

From RealClearPolitics on the FEC Second Quarter Filings:
  • Pennsylvania 10: In 2006, Chris Carney ran against a scandal-tainted incumbent Republican in a heavily Republican district, winning by a six-point margin. This year, Carney faces an opponent who doesn't carry the same baggage, and who can largely self-fund his own contest. Carney recognizes the threat, and raised a solid $354,000 in a district that has cheap television rates; he's got $1.15 million left over. His opponent, businessman Chris Hackett, made it through a bruising primary and raised $367,000 this entire quarter, to keep $267,000 in the bank. Hackett has already loaned his campaign $740,000, and more could be coming.
  • Pennsylvania 11: Democratic incumbent Paul Kanjorski could be in serious trouble this year. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running their first television advertisements of the year on Kanjorski's behalf, and the twelve-term incumbent has raised $488,000 in the Second Quarter, nearly two-thirds of the money he spent during all of the 2006 cycle. With $2.17 million in the bank, Kanjorski will have plenty of money to take on Republican Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, who raised $333,000 in the last three months and still has $322,000 left. Barletta is being outraised, but his prominence on immigration issues could make up for being outspent.
Some campaign reaction on the campaign filings:
  • Barletta camp: "Mr. Kanjorski’s support is indicative of the kind of congressman he’s been. I’d rather get money from the people, not from powerful Washington lobbyists and big corporations."
  • Kanjorski camp: "We’re letting the numbers speak for themselves. The amount of money one raises is indicative of the support level they have. After you get by all Barletta’s pathetic spin to put a good face on his poor level of support, it’s obvious people are rallying to keep Kanjorski in Congress."
  • Hackett camp: "We’re happy with the quarter. We out-raised the incumbent, and anytime that happens things are going well. We’re confident that come November we’ll have the resources we need to win."
  • Carney camp: "We’re right where we want to be. Between Republicans for Carney and another strong fundraising quarter, we’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by the strong support we are receiving. We’re very excited about the direction our campaign is heading."
Total cash on hand for the candidates through June 30, 2008:
  • Kanjorski: $2,174,387
  • Carney: $1,149,938
  • Barletta: $321,895
  • Hackett: $266,816

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

DCCC Targets Barletta

With its first spot of the general election cycle, the DCCC has purchased time for a Scranton-area ad targeting Lou Barletta.

It sounds as though the ad will hit Barletta as being a candidate voters can't trust because of his previous positions and close ties with President Bush.

Said DCCC spokesman Doug Thornell, "Lou Barletta is trying to mislead voters and we will not allow him to undergo an extreme makeover about his strong support of President Bush’s failed economic policies, tax cuts for the rich, and privatizing Social Security."

Although Kanjorski wasn't on the original list of
31 candidates getting a boost from the DCCC, it appears the DCCC has made a commitment to Kanjorski with the ad that will begin airing today.

You may recall that Kanjorski already
launched his own ad back in June and was the first House Democrat to do so.

Once we get the ad or a transcript, it will be posted.

UPDATE: The Politico has a
more detailed story and describes the tone of the ad better.

“Barletta supported George Bush’s failed economic policies,” the ad says. “Barletta even helped lead Bush’s campaign in Pennsylvania. And both have supported privatizing Social Security, putting our retirement at risk.”

The narrator closes: “Lou Barletta – he may be George Bush’s friend, but he’s no friend of the middle class.”

UPDATE II: An AP story on the ad puts the total cost at $150,000 over the three week period.

Karen Hanretty, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said, "It's pathetic that Kanjorski is such a corrupt and inept politician that the DCCC has to go on the air before Labor Day with a two-week ad buy to try and save his bacon."

Hanretty's statement takes offense to the early timing of the ad likely due to the fact that the the NRCC doesn't have enough funds to start its own ad war this early on. At the end of May, the DCCC had $47 million on hand while the NRCC had only $6.7 million.

Barletta will have a hard time funding his own ads against Kanjorski. Both candidates have produced ads, but the biggest difference was that Kanjorski had enough money to get his on TV while Barletta was left producing an Internet only ad.

The 11th District marks one of the few seats that Republicans can take back this election cycle so their mobilization of resources to the region will likely play a pivotal role in constituents deciding to dump a 20+ year incumbent.

UPDATE III: Transcript from Roll Call:

"George Bush has a friend in Pennsylvania — Lou Barletta. Barletta supported Bush’s failed economic policies, Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent. Barletta [even] helped lead Bush’s campaign in Pennsylvania. And both have supported privatizing Social Security, putting our retirement at risk. Lou Barletta. He may be George Bush’s friend. But he’s no friend of the middle class."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Carney Wants NEPA Nuclear Option

The Daily Item has a story and video on Chris Carney's recent town hall meeting at the Middlecreek Community Center.

Obviously, energy was one of the primary topics of conversation at the meeting so Carney was forced to discuss his plan for decreasing energy prices.

In the video, Carney emphasizes that there are certain things that Northeastern Pennsylvania has to start doing on the energy front (transcribed below):
"We have within the Northeast and center part of Pennsylvania a lot things that we need to do. We have coal that we can start leveraging the good clean coal technologies. We have to do that. We can do nuclear here."

The inclusion of nuclear energy is not something I've seen from either Hackett or Carney in their energy platforms. Most of the time, their discussion of alternative technologies refer to solar or wind power.

Therefore, Carney's proposal to bring a nuclear plant into the district (let alone his support of nuclear energy) was something of a surprise. It'll be interesting how much he expands/clarifies that proposal down the road.

Family Ties

Hats off to the Times Leader for yesterday's story on Paul Kanjorski's PAC, "Citizens For Action."

It turns out that Peter Kanjorski, the nephew who headed Cornerstone Technologies, has been getting paid $2,000 a month consulting fee from the Congressman's PAC.

From the story:

"For the quarter, Peter Kanjorski was paid $6,000. That’s in addition to the $20,000 he received between July 2007 and March. Since he was hired as a consultant, he has been paid $56,461 in fees and expenses."

"Making $5,000 contributions last quarter were the Credit Union Legislative Action Council, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., the Investment Company Institute PAC, the Realtors PAC, Sallie Mae Inc., PAC, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Fund A and the UBS Americas Fund for Better Government. PP&L People for Good Government also contributed $5,000. The only individual donors were the owners of Pocono Raceway, Joseph and Rose Mattioli of Long Pond, who each contributed $5,000."

Notice all the investments from the parties involved with the housing industry. Those come due thanks to Kanjorski's influential position on the House Financial Services Committee which handles housing bailout measures.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Campaign Cash

The Citizen's Voice provided a peak at the FEC filings due this upcoming Tuesday. Some highlights:

  • Carney's campaign committee will report raising more than $360,000, campaign manager Vincent Rongione said, with about $1.15 million in cash on hand. Carney's last FEC report, showing contributions from the first of the year to April 2, listed more than $960,000 in cash on hand and $280,000 raised in that period.

  • Hackett's spokesman Mark Harris said the campaign will report having about $267,000 in cash on hand. The committee raised $618,000 in the quarter, Harris said, but that includes $250,000 Hackett loaned his campaign after April 2 during his heated GOP primary battle with Dan Meuser. Without the loans Hackett raised about $368,000 during this period, which includes $18,700 in contributions his committee received right before the April 22 primary, according to FEC reports.

  • Barletta's campaign committee will report raising more than $330,000, according to a news release, bringing his total cash on hand to $320,000.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Targeted Races

TPM is reporting the list of 31 Congressional races that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is targeting this fall with $34 million worth of ads.

The 11 Democratic incumbents the DCCC is supporting are (seat competitiveness provided by Cook Political Report):
  • Mitchell (AZ-05)--Lean Democratic
  • Mahoney (FL-16)--Lean Democratic
  • Hill (IN-09)--Lean Democratic
  • Yarmuth (KY-03)--Lean Democratic
  • Cazayoux (LA-06)--Toss Up
  • Boyda (KA-2)--Toss Up
  • Shea-Porter (NH-1)--Lean Democratic
  • Altmire (PA-4)--Lean Democratic
  • Lampson (TX-22)--Toss Up
  • Rodriguez (TX-23)--Likely Democratic
  • Kagen (WI-8)--Lean Democratic
All of the incumbents are freshman members of Congress so I'm particularly curious why Chris Carney is not on the list.

Carney is a freshman member of the DCCC's "Frontline '08" Delegation (like 10 of the 11 names above), but that didn't seem to translate into him getting support.

These are all "competitive" seats, but it is clear that some are much more competitive than others. For instance, Carney's seat is rated a "Toss Up" signaling it is particularly competitive. Therefore, it seems rather odd to leave Carney out for Rep. Ciro Rodriguez of Texas who is in a "Likely Democratic" reelection bid and already served in Congress (lost after 2003 redistricting, but won again in 2006).

I'm not quite sure those are the wisest priorities. As the NRCC targets Carney in Pennsylvania and ROMP makes a commitment to Hackett, it's interesting to see the dynamics of Carney's own party and their failure to support him.

Obama Moves In With Carney

A couple of Democratic organizations will be sharing office space at Carney's campaign headquarters.

The Pike County Democrat Committee and the Pike County 4 Obama campaign will unite, after a divisive primary season, by coming together to open a joint office.

The new office will be located in on Harford Street in Milford and serve as campaign headquarters Carney.

I'm sure the central location will assist in producing a unified message between the two campaigns--Obama and Carney. The Democrats are relying on both of them to win, and thus far, Carney hasn't been overly supportive of Obama.

Now The Details

Keystone Politics reported a story on Tuesday night that Chris Hackett's campaign had been handing out flag pins made in China during the Independence Day Parade in Montrose.

It appears the investigation into Hackett's "Flag-gate" has officially concluded and the details have been released.

Today, the Citizen's Voice followed-up on the story with more information on the origin of the pins. An E-mail statement from campaign manager Mark Harris claims: "They weren’t our pins to begin with, but we thought it was a nice thing for folks to have on the Fourth of July, so we passed them out. I don’t think we even noticed where they were made, but obviously we would prefer they be made in America."

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Rep. Paul Kanjorski formally responded to The Hill's story about his disputed transportation earmark by submitting a Letter to the Editor.

Letter reads:

Anyone who has been actively engaged in bringing jobs to his district through federal grants understands that there are inevitably obstacles and occasionally opponents. Your July 9 article “Big earmark headache for Rep. Kanjorski” outlines 15 years of my work to bring 300 jobs into Nanticoke, Pa.; the story includes some truth but also some falsehoods.

It is true that I led the effort to bring Travelers Insurance Co. into Nanticoke, and about 300 people worked there for nearly 10 years. A successor to the Medicare claims processing contract lost the contract with CMS, and the building is now vacant.

I have been working with local elected officials and the leadership of Luzerne County Community College to improve downtown Nanticoke, most recently to transform the Travelers building into a health sciences center for the college. I obtained $5.6 million in the 2005 transportation bill to provide adequate parking in conjunction with the center; these funds are still available and I have been working with the Department of Transportation to make sure those funds are well spent in Nanticoke.

Regarding the other earmarks that were changed in the technical corrections bill, these changes were made at the request of the local elected officials to meet their needs.

It is difficult enough to successfully complete complex projects under the best of circumstances; in the context of a heated campaign season it is even more difficult. It is well known in Nanticoke that the state representative aspires to my seat in Congress, and his observations are taken with an appropriate grain of salt. I hope that readers of The Hill will do the same.

Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA)

Kanjorski identifies "falsehoods" in the Hill's original story, but his letter never explicitly references what was wrong with the story. In fact, the Letter essentially reiterates the original article except Kanjorski takes a shot at Barletta's reaction in the last paragraph.

Of course, the original story could all be part of that right wing conspiracy out to unseat him.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Barletta Heading To NYC

It sounds like Lou Barletta will be heading to New York City for All-Star Weekend.

Tommy Lasorda, the longtime Los Angeles Dodger great, has a long standing relationship with Barletta and will be hosting a fundraiser in NYC to support his campaign.

Campaign manager Vince Galko said, "Tommy Lasorda and the Barletta's have had a long time friendship. Mayor Barletta was excited to learn that Mr. Lasorda wanted to help his campaign. The Mayor still remains die hard Yankee fan but a little help from a Dodger is always welcome. It looks like this event will be a great success."

No word yet from the campaign as to whether A-Rod and Madonna will be in attendance.


I stumbled across this Letter today in the Susquehanna Indepdent:
Carney parade presence offensive to parade goers

The behavior of Chris Carney and his political operatives during the recent July 4th parade in Montrose was obnoxious and reprehensible.

After finishing the route, Carney's operatives proceeded to return to the route of the parade, dog and harass the Republican float with Carney campaign signs, and then march up and down the route with their signs obstructing the view of the parade along the Bartron-Myer Funeral Home/Community Bank area.

Is this really the kind of behavior we want from our elected representatives?

Carney must figure he's in trouble to stoop to such obnoxious tactics. Perhaps it's time to put an end to this Carneyval in November.

At the very least KLR needs to take the politics out of the parade.

We came to enjoy a day with friends and family - not to be harassed by self-serving politicians and their obnoxious operatives.

Russ Wood

I post this hoping that someone (ideally anyone who attended) could put this letter in some more context. Maybe provide some additional details?

At Least One Debate

It seems there's a bit of a dust-up between the Hackett and Carney campaigns over Hackett's proposed debate schedule.

The Carney campaign asserted that discussions were already underway to schedule debates between the two when the Hackett campaign sent out a press release decrying Carney to be a debate dodger.

One particular issue appears to be whether a deadline was missed on Monday. Mark Harris claimed the Hackett campaign was supposed to have definitive word on Monday, but were never contacted. Carney campaign manager Vincent Raggione went so far as to call the Monday deadline a flat-out "lie."

The Carney campaign did confirm that one debate had been scheduled--a WVIA debate on October 28th.

UPDATE: Congressman Carney responds, "He (Hackett) is flat out not telling the truth. We have maintained contact and conversations about debates several times. He is just trying to throw as much mud as possible and hope something sticks...Just because (Mr. Hackett) wants to debate doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to debate eight times. We have one scheduled and we’ll see from there. If he’s out there saying that I’m afraid to debate, that is absolutely untrue."

I'm just curious how big of an issue the 8 debates are to the Hackett camp. It seems one of the sticking points between the two sides is the quantity of debates they have as Hackett seems to be taking an all or nothing approach.


Former Congressman Joe McDade of PA's 10th District was found incompetent to stand trial in Florida on accusations of exposing himself near a public pool last year.

After a mental evaluation, doctors found that the medication
McDade was on for his Parkinson's disease made him unable to remember the incident. Furthermore, the medication McDade was taking has known side effects of causing inappropriate sexual behavior.

McDade, who held the seat for over thirty years, will be reevaluated for trial at the end of November to see if any circumstances have changed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

DoT Denies Kanjorski Earmark

The Department of Transportation is refusing to follow through on a $5.6 million earmark by Paul Kanjorski.

The original earmark was in the 2005 Transportation Bill and authorized a parking garage to be constructed onto the Kanjorski Center--built in Naticoke in 1993 which is currently empty.

However, the Hill reports that the earmark does not meet federal standards. Federal funds are allowed for parking garages "only if they are connected to other public transportation facilities outside a business area with a population of 50,000 or more, or if it serves high-occupancy vehicles (HOVs) and public mass transportation passengers."

Kanjorski acknowledged the earmark encountered problems, but suggested the problem could be resolved. Other Kanjorski transportation earmarks have encountered similar problems and were re-written to conform to federal regulations.

Kanjorski issued a statement asserting: “It became clear from discussions that I had between local officials and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officials that some clarifying language was necessary for a few of the projects that I requested funding for in order to meet the local needs."

Debating In The Fall

Today, Chris Hackett challenged Chris Carney to a series of eight debates over the coming months.

After experiencing some frustration in trying to schedule the debates, Hackett declared, “I know the congressman is busy, but I would think he’d be able to find a little time to debate the critical issues facing our country before the people of our district. We’ve been looking for Chris Carney for weeks to talk about debates, but he doesn’t seem interested. Hopefully, he will hear enough from voters that he’ll change his mind and agree to debates. We have major differences on key issues, and the voters deserve a full hearing of them.”

It seems the proposed debates are structured similar to what Lou Barletta challenged Paul Kanjorski with.

The eight debates would be broken down into two subsections. Three televised (WNEP, WVIA, and WBRE/WYOU) debates in a traditional 30 to 60 second answer format and five more specialized debates focused on individual issues (energy; tax and spending; the economy and jobs; Social Security, Medicare and Health Care; and National Security and immigration).

If Carney agrees to the debates, it will be particularly interesting how he attacks the forum focused on National Security and immigration. The event would likely center on Iraq (which isn't a particularly strong issue for Republicans), but it could score some unlikely points for Hackett because it would allow him to detail some of the changes in Chris Carney since his election in 2006.

Back in 2006 when he first debated Don Sherwood, Carney attacked Sherwood on the issue of Iraq, and it was one area where Carney could distance himself from the incumbent. At their first debate in October, Carney criticized Congress for throwing money around with no end in sight. Furthermore, Carney argued that Congress should not be a “legislative arm” of the Executive Branch and rubber stamp everything that deals with the war.

Two years later, Carney appears to have adopted more of the Sherwood view on the war in that he's voted to fund the war the same way Sherwood voted to fund the war and supported the executive's authority on Iraq. His website proclaims he's proud of his vote for funding the war with no preconditions ("I am proud to say I voted in favor H.R. 2764, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008. This bill provided $70 billion for our men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan").

As fiscally conservative as Carney originally seemed in 2006 with war funding, he has also voted to support stuffing other non-emergency measures into the war supplemental bill. The most recent package totaled $162 billion and included the additions of a deficit financed extension of unemployment benefits and the creation of a whole new entitlement program. As Brian Riedl from the Heritage Foundation stated, "Once again, Congress and President Bush have turned legislation intended to fund American troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan into a Christmas tree for domestic spending. Because the troop funding bill (H.R. 2642, now Public Law 110-252) was an 'emergency' bill—and therefore exempt from budget constraints—lawmakers added nearly $100 billion in domestic spending without offsetting the cost by a single dollar."

If for nothing else, Carney should accept the debate framework so he can reconcile his statements in 2006 with his actions during the last two-years of elected office.

Green Carney

PennEnvironment, an environmental advocacy group based out of Philadelphia, released its congressional scorecard on environmental issues.

Chris Carney was one of five Pennsylvania politicians to receive a perfect score of 100%. The other politicians included Rep. Joe Sestak (D-7th), Rep. Pat Murphy (D-8th), Jason Altmire (D-4th) and Senator Bob Casey.

The average score in the state was 66 percent and the nationwide average was 58 percent.

Joe Sestak's Republican opponent, Craig Williams, said PennEnvironment's report highlighted the environmental extremism in Sestak's voting record. Williams said, "His support for extreme environmental policies has resulted in higher gas and food prices by locking our domestic energy resources away from us. As a result of these policies, we allow other countries to control our energy and, therefore, our economy."

Mark Harris of Chris Hackett's campaign has echoed a similar sentiment against Carney. Last month Harris said, "Chris Carney has a choice. He can support three commonsense solutions that will increase domestic energy or he can stand with the radical special interests in his own party against the citizens of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. So far he’s shown that he cares more about politics than relief at the pump."

Monday, July 7, 2008

Blue America PAC Challenges Carney...Again

The Blue America PAC is gearing up for another ad campaign against Chris Carney due to his support of FISA legislation.

From the Politico

"Blue America PAC’s Howie Klein, who runs the blog “Down With Tyranny,” said his online readers chose to target Carney because he signed a letter with 20 other Blue Dog Democrats urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to support the FISA legislation. Klein said, making matters worse, Carney’s office refused to reach out to the netroots to explain his support for the legislation.

After initially supporting Carney in 2006, Blue America PAC abandon Carney because of the FISA issue and launched a district-wide ad against him. However, the original TV ad referenced Comcast and Comcast refused to air the ad. The new ad will strip the inclusion of Comcast and is scheduled to re-air for a week throughout the district.

The group will be also be advertising in the Washington Post tomorrow.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Race Update

The Cook Political Report recently updated their Congressional race ratings. Included in the updates were 4 House seats in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania's 10th District was one of those which was revised. Rep. Chris Carney's seat was updated from "Lean Democrat" to a "Toss Up."

The other revisions included Rep. Phil English's (R-3rd) seat going from "Likely Republican" to "Lean Republican," Rep. John Peterson's (R-5th) seat going from "Solid Republican" to "Likely Republican," and Rep. Charlie Dent's (R-15th) seat going from "Solid Republican" to "Likely Republican."

Their most recent House Chart can be viewed

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Contributions To Kanjorski

The Wall Street Journal is reporting today in a front page story called the "Housing Industry Ramps Up Political Donations" that Rep. Paul Kanjorski is a big recipient of campaign donations from the housing industry.

The article details how most of the money is being directed to committee members who are guiding work on the housing rescue package. Because Kanjorski sits on the House Financial Services Committee and is influential, the housing industry has targeted Kanjorski.

From the Journal:

When the National Association of Home Builders wasn't getting what it wanted in the housing bill, it shut off the campaign-cash spigot.

The group's chief executive, Jerry Howard, said it withdrew contributions until Congress included measures it wanted, including a credit for first-time home buyers. The group's members made 300 visits to lawmakers and 1,200 phone calls demanding action, and the group's board voted to resume contributions when the measure began to take a shape more to its liking.

The housing industry is particularly active this election cycle. During the 2006 Election cycle, the housing industry contributed $57 million in campaign contributions up to this point in the year. By contrast, $95 million has already been donated for this year.

Some of the biggest donors in the housing industry include Countrywide Financial. Based on data from the
Center for Responsive Politics, Paul Kanjorski received the largest donation to members in the House--$10,000--from Countrywide Financial. Rep. Tom Feeney from Florida was the next closest on the list with $6,000 in donations. Feeney also serves on the House Financial Services Committee.

Kanjorski has been a big supporter of pro-active measures to stabilize the housing market. On his website, he
declares, "Paul understands the complexities of the current turmoil in the mortgage marketplace and has been intimately involved in Congressional efforts to stabilize the housing market."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Hackett On Energy

An article in today's Sun Gazette details Chris Hackett's energy proposals.

From the article, it seems Hackett is proposing four substantive policy initiatives. I will call them Hackett's "4 E's of Energy":

1) Expand America's domestic oil supply ("I am for expanding our domestic capabilities and harvesting those sources as much as possible");
2) Encourage alternative energy solutions (including wind and solar);
3) Explore additional economically driven resources like natural gas ("That is going to be a tremendous revenue for residents"); and
4) Eliminate the federal gas tax.

These are consistent with his 5th Principle to "Get America Off Foreign Oil." Hackett directly contrasted Rep. Chris Carney (who has stood in the way of immediate energy solutions) with Rep. John Peterson (who has encouraged such measures).

Hackett did address his personal investments and stated they did not pose a conflict of interest. Hackett said: "I am not beholden to anyone. I have said publicly that oil companies should pay royalties. I'm also a free-enterprise guy."

The article portrays Hackett as being in favor of a complete elimination of the federal gas tax which is much different than the gas tax holiday we've previously heard about. Recognizing that the Highway Trust Fund is only an accounting mechanism, I'm still curious what Hackett proposes for the lost federal revenue. I'm assuming he's suggesting that future funding will simply come out of the General Fund. Maybe he'll clarify this at a later date.

Happy Fourth of July!

Hope everyone has a happy and safe Fourth.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Pre-Holiday Endorsement

Chris Hackett picked up the endorsement of the prominent business group The Business-Industry Political Action Committee.

The CEO of the Business-Industry PAC cited Hackett's ownership of a temporary staffing company as an asset because it allows Hackett to "bring a keen awareness of business concerns to Congress."

Now For Some Video

We've previously discussed "Republicans for Carney," but yesterday Chris Carney uploaded a video of the supporters to accompany their testimonials and provide an added emphasis.

Two points of discussion from the video:

First, it will be interesting to see how long Carney keeps up this "Republicans for Carney" charade. At the end of the video, an E-mail address is made available for supporters to submit their own testimonials. It appears Carney wants to continue adding names to his enumerated conversion list over on his campaign's web page.

Second, from the clips provided in the video, Carney used the event to discuss his commitment to bipartisanship. Near the end of the video, Carney proclaims: "Folks, we don't improve this country until we end the partisanship that has plagued us for so many years."

It was a nice gesture, but that message rings rather hallow given what his campaign has displayed thus far. He's bitterly attacked Hackett on a personal level, claimed Hackett is a "hypocrite" on taxes, claimed Hackett is only interested in energy solutions because of his personal investments, attempted to politicize Hackett's 10 Principles by suggesting they are meant to "scare seniors", and implied that Hackett had no personal understanding of what morals are. All this comes less than three months into the campaign with only more intense attacks likely to come later this year.

As growing national attention continues to follow the race in the 10th District, it would be a great gesture if Carney began to finally embrace his own rhetoric of moving beyond bitter partisanship and personal attacks, and instead concentrated on the substantive issues at hand.

Office Space

It appears the state and federal GOP are going to get even more acquainted with Chris Hackett over the coming months. In what campaign manager Mark Harris called a sensible move, state party officials have subleased Hackett's office space.

From the
Times Leader:
"...Pennsylvania Victory, a state organization operating on federal party funds, signed an agreement with congressional candidate Chris Hackett on Wednesday to sublease 936 square feet of the 1,183-square-foot office space.

Hackett’s campaign has rented the space at Dallas Shopping Center since October at a rate of $650 per month. PA Victory will pay up to 90 percent of that total beginning this month. A Hackett staffer will still be housed in the office and Hackett will continue to rent an office at the Twin Stacks office facility just north on Route 415."

More offices will also be opening throughout the district as the fall election grows closer.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Kanjo On The Radio

Paul Kanjorski called in to the Steve Corbett show on WILK this afternoon. A couple issues were covered, but one of the more interesting topics Kanjorski discussed was his relationship with Barack Obama. After being directly questioned by Corbett, Kanjorski confirmed that he has publicly endorsed Barack Obama for President and suggested that he will cast a vote in support of Obama at the convention in Denver assuming there are no drastic changes between now and then. Corbett also asked whether Kanjorski would campaign with Obama. Kanjorski responded that not only would he campaign with Obama, but Obama would likely be in the district within the next month.

Corbett couldn't get too many questions in with Kanjorski so there was no further word on whether he will accept Barletta's challenge for eleven debates. It's been one week since Barletta proposed the framework and Kanjorski initially appeared reluctant to participate in all eleven.

UPDATE: Click here to listen to the interview.

In Its Entirety

Freedom's Watch Radio Ad which will be running in Pennsylvania's 10th District:

Since last year, gas prices are up 75 percent. Everything from bread and milk to airline tickets -- even diapers -- costs more. Families and businesses are struggling. More and more Americans are losing jobs.

So what is Congressman Chris Carney doing about it? Chris Carney voted five times against environmentally safe domestic energy production, voted against American energy independence. We have enough untapped oil in the U.S. to fuel 25 million homes and 60 million cars for the next 60 years. Producing our own oil would help lower costs and create more American jobs.

But Chris Carney stands in the way while we cut back on gas and groceries, family outings, and summer vacations.

Call Chris Carney at 570-585-9988 and tell him to support H.R.3089 -- for more American energy, more American jobs and lower gas prices.

Paid for by Freedom's Watch.

Lobbying Around DC

After yesterday's ROMP endorsement for Chris Hackett, Chris Carney received the support of Arlen Specter's former chief-of-staff David Urban. It seems that Urban grew to admire Carney as he has got to know him.

These two endorsements will also force Carney and Hackett to compete directly across the street from one another on July 16. The two will both be in D.C. Hackett will be at the ROMP fundraiser while Urban and his lobbying firm American Continental host a $1,000 a plate breakfast fundraiser for Carney.

It has been suggested that Chris Carney is a "Capitol Hill opportunist" so his relationship with this lobbyist raised some immediate question. While Urban denied any professional interest, one issue beneath the surface is just how interested Urban is in Carney because he's a "bipartisan" or rather if his sudden support of Carney stemmed from Chris Hackett's interest in eliminating earmarks?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Chris Hackett received a nod of support and financial assistance from Republican Whip Roy Blunt. Blunt announced eight beneficiaries who will be receiving aid from the GOP's ROMP (Regain Our Majority Program). Hackett was one of the Republicans named as well as Phil English of Pennsylvania.

Not only does ROMP give Hackett some needed aid, but reaffirms the party's overall commitment to helping Hackett compete in the fall.

The National Republican Congressional Committee plans to hold a fund raiser on July 16 to assist those newly added Republicans. The upcoming event will be the second event (out of a total of four). From The Hill: "Four ROMP events usually occur each cycle. The first two raise funds for the most endangered incumbents, while the third is meant to allow members and fundraisers to go on the offensive. The fourth tends to be a final push to raise money for members in desperate need of campaign cash."

Freedom's Watch

The Times-Tribune has a follow-up story on yesterday's post regarding the ads aimed at Carney and Kanjorski.

It has not been disclosed how many times or on what stations the ads will run, but Paul Kanjorski and Chris Carney both fired back by targeting the origin of the ads.

Kanjorski spokesman called Freedom's Watch an "extremist group" associated with Lou Barletta while Carney spokewoman Rebecca Gale said the "ads are typical of the attacks the Democrat has come to expect from political allies of his Republican opponent, Chris Hackett."