Thursday, August 16, 2018

Spotted Lanternfly

The Pennsylvania Agriculture Dept. is asking people within the commonwealth to watch for spotted lanternflies and report sightings.  This invasive insect is damaging trees.  Here are two websites for more information and pictures to help with identification.

PA Dept of Agriculture

Penn State Extension 

Monday, August 13, 2018

New Names on the Ballot

The PA Democratic Party sent this out today:

PENNSYLVANIA -- The Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, after receiving a recommendation from the relevant county democratic committees, voted this week to nominate candidates to fill vacancies on the ballot following the May Primary.

The new Democratic candidates are:
  • HD-82 (Franklin, Juniata, and Mifflin counties): Robert Cunningham
  • HD-153 (Montgomery County): Ben Sanchez
  • HD-175 (Philadelphia County): Mary Isaccson
  • HD-187 (Berks and Lehigh counties): Michael Blichar Jr.
Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Patton Mills issued the following statement:

“For too long, Republicans in Harrisburg have been pushing policies that hurt Pennsylvanians. That’s why we need more Democrats in Harrisburg who will fight for the values we hold dear. Robert, Ben, Mary, and Michael will stand up for access to health care, workers rights, and well-funded education for all Pennsylvanians. These candidates will be the champions the people of Pennsylvania deserve.”

Executive Director of the Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee, Nathan Davidson, released the following statement:

“Democrats are running in 180 out of the 203 districts in the State House in 2018, the highest number in a generation. We are thrilled to see these four candidates join our class this year because not only do they showcase the diversity of our state, but because they are running to represent the people of Pennsylvania not the special interests who call the shots in Harrisburg.”


HD-82 (Franklin, Juniata, and Mifflin counties): Robert Cunningham

Robert Cunningham was born and raised in Mifflin County. He’s a graduate of Indian Valley High School, Cabrini University, and the Imperial College in London. He has worked for the YMCA in several areas of Pennsylvania in various capacities, including running a portion of its Annual Giving Campaign. He is a passionate, driven leader, who is running to help Pennsylvania families achieve their very best.

HD-153 (Montgomery County): Ben Sanchez

Ben Sanchez is a lifelong resident of the 153rd Legislative District. He is a graduate of Abington Senior High School, Villanova University and Temple Law. He’s an experienced attorney, a certified public accountant, and an adjunct professor of law at Drexel University. He is also a board member of Jefferson Health and the Inter-Faith Housing Alliance of Montgomery County. He is a proud husband and father to two young daughters.

HD-175 (Philadelphia County): Mary Isaccson

Mary Isaacson will be a fighter to fairly fund Philadelphia’s schools, protect the environment, and reform the redistricting process. She will be a vocal advocate for the LGBT community and a fighter for women’s rights, equal pay, and a safe work environment. Mary was Chief of Staff to Representative Mike O’Brien for twelve years and a member of Democratic State Committee for eight years. Mary and her husband, Chris, live in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, have been married for 18 years, and have two children.

HD-187 (Berks and Lehigh counties): Michael Blichar Jr.

Michael Blichar Jr. is running to help make an effective government that works and to put its focus back on the people of the 187th House District. He is an advocate for LGBT rights as a member of the community, civil rights, voter rights, and education. He serves on the Kutztown Borough Planning Commission, the Berks County Democratic Party, and is a leader with the It’s On Us Campaign. Michael was born in Lehigh County, is a graduate from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, and is a current resident of Kutztown.

# # #

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Katie Muth on "Two Broads Talking Politics" podcast

I just discovered a new podcast, Two Broads Talking Politics.  They have been interviewing some PA candidates in the last few months.  One of them was Katie Muth, who appeared on the June 25th, 2018 episode (episode 87).  Danielle Friel Otten was the other guest.  Each interview took about 20 minutes.  To post these notes in a more timely fashion I am doing one at a time.  Katie Muth was the first guest so this post is the notes from that segment.

As always, this is not intended to be a verbatim transcript.  These are just notes, and any errors are my own and should not, in any way, be attributed to the candidate.  I encourage everyone to listen to the podcast for themselves.

Hi, I’m Gary from Youngstown, Ohio and you are listening to Two Broads Talking Politics, two Midwestern moms talking about politics and activism with expert guests.

Hi everyone this is Kelly and today I’m here with Katie Muth who is running for PA state senate in district 44.  Can you tell us who you are and why you decided to run?

I grew up in Western PA, outside the suburbs of Pittsburgh. My mom’s family was from there. My dad’s family is from Latrobe nearby.  I grew up with humble means but I had great parents so we didn’t know any better.   Unfortunately, I lost my mom when I was 11.  She had a brain aneurysm so my brother and I were raised by a single dad.  One of the reasons I wanted to run is that most of the public resources that allowed my dad to raise us on a single income, like social security benefits, public schools, public libraries. We couldn’t afford cable tv so the public library was where we went for a reward.  I used planned parenthood.  My grandmom used Meals on Wheels and many of these public programs that help people get by or get to the next level are on the shopping block at the federal or state level.   I went to Penn State on student loans and Pell grants, as did my brother.  Penn State is a great school and my dad couldn’t afford it on a single income.  I got a degree in athletic training and sports medicine, as did my husband and that opened my eyes to gender barriers.  It is hard for a woman to get a job get a job with a high profile team or a job with health benefits.  My husband works in the same field and makes twice what I do.  I was the first female athletic training student to get an internship with the NFL and it wasn’t that long ago; this helped me realize the inequity.  Higher level sports operative like government, on power and money.  I worked on the Hilary Clinton campaign as a Fellow.  After the election I waited anxiously to see what would happen.  It came to this moment that you can’t wait for someone to save you.  It’s you.  I started an Indivisible group, which is doing a great job and still meets monthly.  I stepped up to run after meeting Art Haywood.  Met some great folks.  I realized you don’t have to be a lawyer; I have a masters degree in sports training.  My experience with health care.  Kids I knew in public schools, couldn’t afford to get knee replacements or even tennis shoes.  That’s why things are the way they are -- we have a government that it is a pay to play system.  To know that you come in to this, you come in to this as hard working middle class candidates, without a lot of money.  Pay to play.

Your opponent is the incumbent first elected in 2002 and has been in office a long time.  It looks like in recent cycles he’s won by large margins.  In primary you were running unopposed but you had nearly the same number of votes as the incumbent.

It is interesting, I had 123 fewer total votes than the incumbent.  The district is the most gerrymandered senate district in the state.  I have parts of three counties.  In Berks Count I only had three municipalities.  I only knocked on doors there one weekend.  After the primary we looked at the votes.  Everywhere we knocked on doors we had higher vote totals.  We pulled this together knowing we were coming after incumbents, that had been elected mostly in tea party years.  In 2010 and 2014 the Dem vote totals don’t look so hot.  In 2017 the district woke up and Democrats were elected in local seats, some of which had never elected Democrats before, row offices, my town of Royersford elected its first female mayor.  My Indivisible group had a lot of these candidates in our group.  We got out and knocked on doors and really got out the vote and now the district looks purple.  We called out a lot of these incumbents that just sit back and collect a paycheck.  I hope I am voted out if I don’t have anything to show for being in office; if you’ve been in office that long you should make a real impact.  Now we’re on our 4th weekend of persuasion campaigning.  People want this new energy and view government as ineffective.  It’s a movement not a one cycle thing.  I’m proud of this.  Of course it is going to be hard.  I’m 34 and short and small and people look at you and say “that’s so sweet, you’re running for office.”  It took a long time for everyone to take you seriously.  I’ve been doing this for a year, but people know who you are and it’s a people powered campaign.  I’m proud of all the people working to help get me and others elected.

Looks like you have a large number of strong endorsements.  What kinds of endorsements and what that means

I’ve been really lucky to earn this support, very grateful to have these endorsements.  Named a champion by Bold Progressives.  II went to candidate training last year.  Got a lot of advice.  When they named me a champion and went back this year.  Reinforced what I thought, run a people-powered campaign.  Endorsed by Planned Parenthood’s PAC, Run for Something, Equality PA [blogger’s note – this is not the entire list].   Sister District projects, groups in Calif and Hawaii have written postcards, made phone calls.  Amazing, people bring handwritten post cards to the polls.  Endorsed by PA NOW, and RepresentPAC, which contributes to women candidates, and I’m humbled that that support.  As a newbie people think you don’t have what it takes but they see these endorsements and get respect.  Especially Planned parenthood as I’ve relied on their resources.  My opponent has some labor support; the GOP has the majority in the House and Senate.  Labor unions are held hostage to avoid retaliation when a Democrat runs against a Republican incumbent.  One of only two candidates not endorsed by state AFL-CIO.  I don’t look at it as a setback but a different path to victory.

PA used to be a blue state until 2016 but has had rep majority in state house and senate for awhile.  You mentioned gerrymandered.  What’s going in PA.  Recent case on congressional seats.  What’s going on in with state level?

Did have some success in congressional lines, thanks to a Democratic state supreme court.  People think it is fixed but not on state level.  We are very gerrymandered, not a fair process.  Majority party has control.  Census in 2020.  Many legislation pieces have come through this session, SB 22 was a bipartisan effort with the help of the Fair District group, worked on this bill for over a year.  And so 72 hours before the bill was to be voted on the majority party hijacked the bill and gutted it, so it now had no independent commission to draw district boundaries but now had lines for geographic boundaries for electing statewide judges.  It was a retaliation for the state supreme court ruling.  Saw great bill go to garbage.  I would like to say we’re in a good place but one thing I’ve learned is that when you’re dealing with people who don’t care about doing the right thing you can’t negotiate with them.  If people are willing to rig the system so they always win it’s very difficult to have any collaborate effort.  I feel bad for all the people who worked on this for a very long time.  Their voices weren’t heard nor were the rest of Pennsylvanians.  This is a blatant example of what we are dealing with in Harrisburg.  That’s unacceptable.  November has to be a success.  We are being represented by people who don’t care.  That’s dangerous.

Anything else we should now?

I’m one of many amazing candidates this cycle running people powered campaigns, trying to get the money out of politics, get rid of pay to play.  I think that we’re making a statement here.  We stepped up to run knowing there would be intense scrutiny.  We’re here to make change happen.  If everyone puts in their time and talents and treasure we can win.  Everyone that listed can hopefully persuade one more person to get involved or give a dollar or vote.  It’s such a different slate of candidates.  If we keep working hard we can make this happen.  We have small donations from 48 states, none from N or S Dakota.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Jared Solomon's Office Gets NYT Mention

The New York Times included a photo of a volunteer in Jared Solomon's office and his chief of staff.  See "Leaving New York to Find the American Dream in Philadelphia," by Matt Katz (7/20/2018).  The article focuses on immigrants.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Katie Muth for State Senate

Katie Muth is the Democratic candidate in the 44th State Senate District.  The district includes parts of Montgomery and Berks Counties.  There is a map of it on her website.  Like many first time candidates in 2018 she decided to become involved after the 2016 presidential election.  ‘We elected a sexual predator to our presidency and that was really hard for me as a victim of rape,’ she said. ‘It really infuriated me that we were willing to overlook this.  That was the final straw for me.” (Shuey).  She was involved in starting the Indivisible Mid-Montco group and is the current chair.

Muth works as an athletic trainer at a local university and is also a part-time instructor in anatomy and kinesiology.  She graduated from Penn State and then went out of state for a graduate degree in her field.  Her training included an internship with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  She and her husband live in Royersford.  After running unopposed in the Democratic primary she will face Republican incumbent John Rafferty in November.

According to her website her priorities are:  property tax relief, quality and affordable healthcare for all, rejuvenating our public school system, balanced government, security, and progress. 


Burns, Alexander and Alan Blinder.  “Long dominant in statehouse, Republicans brace for energized Dems,” The State (Columbia, SC) 4 February 2018

Devlin, Eric.  “Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale spars with Planned Parenthood advocaes.  Delaware County Daily Times 7 Sept 2017

Shuey, Karen.  “Berks voters have a chance to put more women in state, congressional seats.”  Reading Eagle 28 May 2018

Tumulty, Karen.  “Women running for office have to run uphill.”  Patriot-News (Harrisburg) 22 May 2018

Personal note for anyone researching this candidate, there are a number of Katie Muths in the area and it takes some effort to disambiguate them.  One is in a similar line of work, so it can be very confusing.  It would be easy to quickly google the name and cut and paste statements found online but accuracy requires more attention to detail.  While this is a short post it took several hours to compile.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Me and Paul Begala

I've noted in a few recent book reviews that they are aimed at a different audience, that there has been a generational shift in how political memoirs are written.  Well, turns out, it isn't just me.  Paul Begala reviewed Beck Dory-Stein's new book in the New York Times last week ("A White House Memoir That's Equal Parts C-Span and 'Sex and the City'," July 10, 2018).  Here's a quote:

Nowhere in George F. Kennan’s “Memoirs” does he recount how many times he drunkenly shagged someone named Jennifer. But that was then, this is now. Apparently T.M.I. now stands for Totes More Intimacy.

and another later on:

As a middle-aged man who’s still married to the woman he met when he was 19, I am likely not the target audience for this book. 

While I find this reassuring, since it leaves me comforted to be in such well-known company, it does add to a sense of thinking the world has passed me by.

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Question for Townhalls

So, here's a question to ask elected officials (at all levels) or candidates at public forums:

If the American intelligence community and the leader of Russia disagree on something, who will you believe and support?

That's a pretty basic question, and one with an expected, basic answer.  Today the President of the United States got it wrong.  Attentive voters should ask all candidates that question from now on.  It's important to know the answer.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Beach Reads IV: Archimedes Principle

Archimedes Principle by Jack English

Not many writers can create an engrossing thriller out of a story about an insurance company but Mr. English manages to do it well.  He throws in some science and law as well, just for fun, and a lot of auditing, which is much more suspenseful than you might think.  (Legal) pharmaceuticals also play a role.  The main action takes place in South Jersey and Philadelphia, and a further excursion out west to a mine.  There is also a cross-country road trip.  So, there is local interest and some semi-exotic locales for color.

The characters are realistic enough to be believable and fanciful enough to pull off the story.  The interactions among them keep the plot moving.  The villains are villain-y enough but not too villain-y, just the right amount of villainy.    Mr. English also strikes the right tone with his female characters – they are complex, realistic people without wearing an obvious “I’m a strong female character!” sign.  I would enjoy sitting down and talking with them and they are multi-dimensional enough to have a real conversation with.  The main character is saddled with the name Buckley Mills Forrester but still manages to keep the book on track.  While none of the characters is a detective by occupation it is something of a mystery story,

I like the action scenes too.  Unlike a lot of thrillers this one doesn’t have a lot of unnecessary violence.  If you read a story like this in the newspaper you would think it was fascinating, but still believable.  The book likewise keeps the reader’s attention and things like accounting and auditing rules, usually relegating to comic relief and parody, move the plot along.

I wasn’t sure I would enjoy this book but I did, and may read some of Mr. English’s other works as well.  This book, like most of his others, is only available as a Kindle title, not as a physical book, but reading it on my phone on the train was easy to do.

Beach Reads III: West Winging It

Like Alyssa Mastromonaco’s book, this is a White House memoir from a young staffer in the Obama administration and is clearly intended for a young audience.  Cunnane worked in the Obama press office from 2010 to 2016.  He writes about his experiences there, for example, his role in having Obama on an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.  If you have seen that video reading the planning that went into it, and the behind the scenes comments are really interesting.  His stories about learning the ropes in the various offices he worked in, and how communications staff interacted with the press are equally interesting.  Cunnane was also a writer on the television show “Designated Survivor,” which I watched regularly.

This is not so much a policy memoir as a look inside the often frantic, always in motion world inside the White House, and a good view of the current (or recent past) interplay between the press office and the press.  The balancing act of staying on good terms with the press and maintaining boundaries is tricky, indeed.  His descriptions of the physical layout of the office were also very illuminating.  Bo Obama (the former president’s photogenic dog) makes a cameo and office design plays an important role in it.  Some of the names of Cunnane’s colleagues are recognizable, others not so much (especially the ones whose last names are not provided).  We often see the big moments of a presidency on tv but seldom have a chance to see how those moments came together.  There are always many people in offices or open floor seating who put heart and soul into making those big moments happen.  It is refreshing to read about that aspect of politics and public service.

There are a few jarring notes, which are perhaps a result of generational changes in humor.  On page 185 he writes about Obama relaxing on overnight flights on Air Force One, wearing “Athletic zip-up sweatshirt (okay), unusually tight sweatpants (not okay), and, of course, sandals with white socks (really not okay).”  With all of Pete Souza’s photos of Obama I’m not sure we need that word picture.  I do not know if a comment on p. 119 is youthful humor or a reference to a MeToo moment; he writes about the difference between flying with the press on Air Force One and flying with the overflow press on a charter.  “My biggest worry on those [charter] flights was the hands-y middle-aged stewardesses who were a tad too attentive.”  The idea that a young staffer cannot fly on a press plane from one event to another without being molested is distressing indeed.

At some point in the future someone could read all of the Obama staffer books and put together, like a jigsaw puzzle, a rough image of how all the people and offices intersected and get several different views of the same event or strategy.  Anyone wishing to do that should hang on to a copy of this book as I’m sure it will be a linchpin in any such effort.  

Cunnane is from a political family and his mother currently holds elective office in Pennsylvania.  He discusses his family interest in politics and it is clear he grew up in a very loving and supportive household.  This is an interesting book for anyone in politics but especially for those interested in political communications.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Beach Reads II: Why They Stay

If you plan on watching A Very English Scandal this summer and are wondering who Jeremy Thorpe is and why you should care, a chapter in this book will provide an outline of the story.  That is one of the nine scandals outlined in this book.  I’m about halfway through and, having read a fair amount about some of the cases in this book, the ones I am familiar with are represented well, even if briefly.  Entire books have been written about some, if not all, of the examples presented, but looking at them in a group allows for some comparison.  She has devised a White Queen scale and compares each spouse in the book by a rating based on the scale.  I think this will confuse some readers, especially if they have no idea who Elizabeth Woodville was.  On the other hand, if, like me, you know very well who Elizabeth Woodville was, it is equally perplexing.   The widow Grey (nee Woodville) managed to do quite well by her family after her marriage (I had Richard III’s picture in my locker in high school and have never been a particularly big fan of Liz, or, for that matter, her husband.  Those Woodvilles, ugh.)

Back to Michaud’s book, it is an excellent introduction to a number of political sex scandals and the spouses that stayed.  While most of the couples are American there are chapters that take place in other countries, such as the UK and Israel.

Beach Reads I: The Blackbird Sisters

This mystery series features three sisters from the Main Line with colonial ancestors.  The family wealth has been frittered away and they have all taken different paths toward adjusting to working (or not) for a living.  One has inherited the family farm in Bucks County and writes the society column for a local newspaper.  All of which is to say that there is a lot of local flavor in these books, as well as murder, fashion, siblings, and assorted other goings on.  The author, Nancy Martin, lives in Pittsburgh.  I haven’t read all the books in this series yet but what I have read is well-done and interesting 

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Community Theatre Week

Who knew?!  It's Community Theatre Week in Pennsylvania this week.  State Rep. Perry Warren (D-31, Bucks) was the lead sponsor of a resolution (HR 916) to recognize June 3-9, 2018 as Community Theatre Week. Today Warren introduced and reconized representatives from the Newtown Arts Company and ActorsNET in Morrisville.

Two quotes that accompanies the press release:

“Community theatre organizations bring the arts to life for audiences of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds,” said Warren, D-Bucks. “The passionate individuals who make up these organizations introduce us to new worlds and help us understand the human experience.”

“We appreciate the efforts of everyone, from the actors on stage to the behind-the-scenes crew, who put together community programs that educate and enrich our lives. I’m pleased to be able to shine a spotlight on their work,” Warren said.
There were several other Philly area representatives among the bipartisan group of co-sponsors, among them:  Murt, Daley, DiGirolomo, and Raab.

I agree with the House on this -- community theatre groups are an important part of our social fabric.  A vital artistic ecosystem has a lot of levels.  I went to see "Three Tall Woman" in New York last weekend, but I also go to see plays at People's Light, the Arden, local productions, and high school performances.  It is a wonderful way to support the efforts of our friends and neighbors to tell our cultural stories.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Philly's First Real Estate Week

from the inbox:

Philadelphia based company, Better Than Success, kicks-off Philly Real Estate Week (PREW), a citywide, week-long celebration honoring real estate planning, development, investing and wealth building throughout the City of Philadelphia. Beginning Monday, June 4th, the week will be filled with dozens of educational, entertaining, celebratory and networking events, seminars, panel discussions, boot camps, real estate tours, and more. For more information on PREW, please visit or follow us on Instagram @PhillyRealEstateWeek

WHEN:                 Monday, June 4 – Friday, June 8

WHERE:               Monday- Urban Planning Day
11:30AM - 1PM (International House, 3717 Chestnut St, Philadelphia)
The Plan for Philadelphia Presented by the Philadelphia Planning Committee
5:30PM - 8PM (Golf and Social, 1080 N. Delaware Ave, Philadelphia)                                      
Opening Celebration (The Geography of Beer)

Tuesday- Home Ownership Day
12PM - 2PM (Chamber of Commerce in the Bellevue, 200 S Broad Street #700)
5 Steps to Buying Your Dream Home in Philly (Panel Discussion)
7PM - 9PM (IBX Live, 1919 Market Street, 2nd Floor, Philadelphia)
Homebuyer Informational Bazaar

Wednesday- Beginners Residential & Commercial Investing Day
12PM - 2PM (City Hall, Conversation Hall)
Women in Real Estate Panel & Speed Dating Networking Event
6:00PM - 8:00PM (Better Than Success Studios, 2930 Jasper St #103, Philadelphia)
Real Estate Mastermind Feat. Ken Weinstein

Thursday- Advanced Residential & Commercial Investing Day
12PM - 2PM (City Hall, Mayor’s Reception)
The Legalities of Real Estate: Learn to use the law to help build your real estate portfolio
6PM - 9PM (Independence Seaport Museum, 211 South Christopher Columbus)
Philly Wealth Builders Summit (Networking & Happy Hour)

Friday- Real Estate Sales Strategy Day
9AM - 4PM (International House, 3717 Chestnut St, Philadelphia)
2nd Annual Wholesalers & Realtors Bootcamp

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

New PA-04 District Draws Good Candidates (Goodman and Daley)

The ink is barely dry on the new PA Congressional district map and the newly drawn PA-04, most of Montgomery County and a small piece of Berks County, is drawing good Democratic candidates.  Unless Congressman Brendan Boyle (representing the current 13th district, part of Philadelphia and part of Montco) decides to run in the 4th, this new district wouldn't have an incumbent. 

Two people have announced their candidacies:

Shira Goodman (, currently the executive director of CeaseFirePA.  Here is a short bio from her press release:

Shira Goodman is a life-long resident of Montgomery County, growing up in Abington and graduating from Abington High School. After attending college at the University of Michigan and law school at Yale, Shira returned to Montgomery County and is now raising her sons with her husband Alan Woronoff. Their eldest, Jason, is a senior at Upper Dublin High School and Brandon is a freshman. Alan is a radiologist working at Abington Hospital, Jefferson Health System. The Goodman family have been longtime members of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, and Shira's family is now also actively involved with Temple Sinai in Dresher. Shira is currently the Executive Director of CeaseFirePA, Pennsylvania's largest gun violence prevention organization. 

Mary Jo Daley,  currently serving as a PA State Representative.  Her state rep campaign site is  Here is a short bio from her press release:

Rep. Mary Jo Daley was first elected to represent Montgomery County’s 148th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2012. She was first elected to the Narberth Borough Council in 1992 where she went on to serve 10 years as council president. She lives with her husband Bob Winkelman in Narberth and her daughter, stepdaughter and grandchildren live across southeastern Pennsylvania.
It is likely that other Democrats will also file as candidates, and since the county has also been represented by Republicans, perhaps there will be a real race, with good candidates on both sides. 

Let the games begin!

Monday, February 19, 2018

J R Rowan in 184th State House Race

from the inbox:

South Philly native Jonathan “JR” Rowan today announced his candidacy for the 184th state house district following the retirement of Representative Bill Keller.

“Representative Keller has been a reliable advocate for South Philadelphia neighborhoods for 25 years,” said Rowan. “Our communities would not have grown and thrived without his leadership in Harrisburg and I thank Representative Keller for his public service.”

JR is a lifelong resident of South Philadelphia and has served our community for 20 years in the district offices of two state senators. He has also been involved locally as a coach at EOM Athletic Association, youth sports organizer, board member of Victims Witness Services of South Philadelphia, honorary board member of the South Philadelphia Civic Association, and Democratic Executive Committee Representative.

“South Philly needs a fighter with deep ties to the community to fill this seat and hit the ground running,” Rowan continued. “I understand our neighborhoods, and I have decades of experience working to deliver services for South Philly students, working families, and seniors.”

Rowan will have more details on his campaign and platform in the coming weeks, along with a more formal press event to discuss his candidacy.

Leon Angelichio Runs in 53 State House Race

from the inbox:

Leon Angelichio, Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania State Representative in the 53rd Legislative District, is inspired by the energy and support he is already seeing among his family, friends, and supporters. “People are fired up this year – I’ve never seen anything like it. We already have more volunteers than we had 2 years ago, and we have several upcoming fundraisers and meet-and-greets. I look forward to meeting many new people in the district!”

Angelichio is running on a platform that includes responsible, sustainable budgeting, as well as supporting education as the foundation of our future workforce, allowing women to make their own health care choices, and protecting the environment. “Did you know that only half of our fishing streams are actually fishable? That’s shameful, and it’s one of the many things I want to address in Harrisburg.”

Leon is proud to be a blue-collar candidate. “I’m one of the guys who take showers after work, not before work. I believe people are looking for someone who understands what it’s like to work hard, get your hands dirty, and make an honest living.” He has been an HVAC Licensed Master Technician for 24 years and an owner of Angie Mechanical for 8 years.

Angelichio is currently serving his second term on Lansdale Borough Council and is a member of the Administration & Finance Committee and the Public Works Committee. He is active in the Democratic Party, and is married with 2 children.

Refer to the campaign website at for additional information. The 53rd Legislative District includes Lansdale Borough, Hatfield Township and Borough, Franconia Township, Souderton Borough, Telford Borough (Montgomery County portion only), and Salford Township.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Book Review: Mayor, by Michael Nutter

Book Review:  Mayor:  The Best Job in Politics, by Michael A. Nutter.  (Philadelphia, PA:  University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018)

This is a really nice book.  It’s easy to read and interesting enough to keep the reader’s attention.  Nutter’s personality, wonky and sincere, comes through.  He dedicates the book to “the incredible citizens of Philadelphia who cared about me and gave me a chance to lead our great city, …” and his teachers, his council staff, and mayoral administration.

Like most autobiographies he starts off with his childhood.  He gives a quick overview of Philadelphia culture, the middle class city neighborhood he grew up in, and the importance of which city high school you attend.  He had intended to be a doctor but changed course after not doing well in Chemistry 101.  And, yes, he discusses his work as a DJ, which actually allowed him to meet a lot of politically connected people.  He talks frankly about his growing interest in politics and his introduction to running for office (and losing) and working within the system as it is.  His description of Philadelphia political players and the campaigns he worked on (John C Anderson), and other political influences (Marian Tasco and Bill Gray) is interesting and informative.  Patience is a virtue when in office and Nutter discusses the issues he was concerned about as a city councilman, and the years it could take to pass legislation, as well as the relationships needed to get the requisite votes.  Nutter can get way out into the weeds in these sections but it is still interesting.

From there he writes about his city council and mayoral campaigns (with a bow to the commercial with his daughter).  The second part of the books is devoted to his years as mayor.  In the introduction he describes being mayor as lonely, but also as a position that allows you to “accomplish tangible things” (kindle loc 90).  In a discussion of politics he says:  “My attitude was that if you do your job, more times than not, you’ll get reelected.  But if you get to the point where you think your job is keeping your job, rather than thinking your job is to do your job, then that’s a sad place to be.” (p. 44)

One of my favorite quotes on campaigning is “When you watch a campaign, it is a window into the soul of how that candidate will govern.” (p. 61).  He governed with similar values.  He writes of having the Chief Integrity Officer’s office right next to his (p. 78)

The recession overshadowed his term as mayor.  He writes often about trying to be as transparent as possible with the people of Philadelphia.  Many of the things he wanted to do were sacrificed just to keep the city afloat.  However, he notes “we were one of the only big cities in American to have our bond rating upgraded” (p. 105) during difficult fiscal times.

He discusses not only his successes but his failures (the idea to close libraries, for example) and how proud he was to have been sued by the NRA.  He writes about spending time with the families of fallen police officers, and his speech chiding parents who don’t take care of their children.  He writes about snowstorms and earthquakes, the Occupy movement, helping people keep their homes when their neighborhoods gentrified, and the potential sale of PGW.

So there are lengthy discussions of policy, a little gossip about John Street, and a great overview of how the city works (or doesn’t).

I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. 

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Eagles Mural

On the train home tonight I was chatting with the woman sitting next to me.  She showed me a photo on her phone of a painting with an eagle carrying a football player.  The woman wasn't sure if the eagle was carrying a Philadelphia player to victory or carrying off a Patriots player.  I pulled up my phone and checked my Jane mail.  Low and behold there was an email about the same mural.  Turns out the eagle is carrying off Tom Brady. 

The mural was painted by artists at the Meg Seligman studio.  It is currently located at the studio, 829 Bainbridge St.  The studio is raising funds to create a larger mural.  If you want to see what it looks like now and what it could look like check out:

It was nice talking with my seatmate.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Paul Perry Writes About Campaigning

Paul Perry, one time candidate for Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district, has written an essay describing his experience campaigning.  Read "What it's like to be rolodexed," in The Intercept (1/31//2018) .

Monday, January 29, 2018

More PA Women Running for Office

A note from our friends at the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics

Observers around the country have noted an uptick in the number of women running for political office, and some areas of Pennsylvania appear to be no exception to this trend. Data collected by the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics (PCWP) at Chatham University indicate that women ran for and won more Southeast Pennsylvania municipal offices in 2017 than in 2015.
In 2015, PCWP tallies revealed that less than a quarter of candidates (24.7 percent) in Southeastern Pennsylvania were women—Philadelphia (38.5 percent), Bucks (28 percent), Delaware (22 percent), Montgomery (21.5 percent), and Chester (26 percent). In the same area in 2017, 39.5 percent of candidates were women. 
Preliminary results of data collected from the November election indicate that across Southeast Pennsylvania approximately 41.5 percent of the winners in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties were women. In Philadelphia, where only a few races were on the ballot, women represented 62 percent of those who won their races (8 women). Many more offices were contested in the collar counties; in Bucks County 45 percent of winners were women (142 women), while women represented 42 percent of the winners in Delaware (139 women) and Montgomery (167 women) Counties. Chester County’s tally was somewhat lower, with 35 percent (96 women) female winners. The 2015 and 2017 results are based, in each county, on candidates and results available in those respective election cycles.
“In the past, we’ve usually seen women make up a little more than a third of candidates and, on average, about half of those in contested races win,” said PCWP Executive Director, Dr. Dana Brown. “This year, women won at about the same rates, but there were definitely more women on the ballot in Southeastern Pennsylvania than in 2015.”
According to Brown, the PCWP has found that the increase in women’s candidacies has not been widespread across the Commonwealth. In Allegheny and Dauphin Counties for instance, women represented only about 35 percent of both candidates and winners. “We really had been expecting to see the number of women’s candidacies, and therefore victories, increase in 2017 since we are having more and more women showing interest in learning more about what it takes to run for office,” Brown added.

Interview with Elizabeth Moro

Elizabeth Moro is a Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district. The Republican incumbent recently announced that he won't run for re-election so this race has become a lot more interesting. Ms. Moro's campaign got in touch about an interview. This blog used to do a few interviews most years and they were popular posts, so we'll try it again and see how it goes.

Ms. Moro's campaign website is .  My thanks to the campaign for their outreach and patience with my process.

In In the past you raised money for Republican women candidates in Delaware, and now running as Democratic woman. What issues are universal for women candidates?

On January 20th, I joined with countless women across the country to demand equal treatment and speak out against sexual harassment. The pernicious culture that seeks to relegate females to second-class citizenship hurts women everywhere, regardless of their political affiliation. The gender pay gap, the absence of laws that guarantee a woman paid parental leave, and the fight against domestic violence are universal issues for women. Less than 15% of the engineering workforce is female, and young girls often lack access to training in STEM fields. I believe that a woman’s place is wherever she wants it to be, and I will promote this mantra in Congress.

Early in your career you worked at a non-profit institute that looked at global issues. Tell us what you learned from this experience.

My experience only buttressed my longstanding commitment to the preservation of our planet. One of the central tenets of my campaign platform is environmental protection, and when examining global issues, none can deny the destructive effects of man made climate change. When the icecaps melt, and Decorah, Iowa becomes a seaside getaway, it will be too late. Luckily, we have a unique opportunity to combat and reverse these harmful trends. I support a renewed commitment to the Paris Climate Accord and a prompt transition to renewable energy. We are witnessing astounding job growth in the clean energy sector. Instead of focusing on bringing back coal, let’s train workers for the economy of the future.

On twitter you call for campaign finance reform. If you could design the perfect legislation on this, what would it look like?

The Citizens United decision has effectively transformed our democracy into a plutocracy. Candidates indebted to a wealthy donor class are completely divorced from the issues that matter most to working families. Assaults on organized labor, public education, and Medicare expansion can flourish in a system where candidates are beholden to the highest bidder.

I support the Move To Amend organization’s proposed Constitutional Amendment which states, “The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.” The Amendment also limits contribution amounts and rejects the misconception that limiting political spending is an unconstitutional suppression of free speech.

Regarding the opioid epidemic, you call for education and better health care. In an ideal world what practical steps can Congress take to address this and other substance abuse issues?

The United States has roughly five percent of the world’s population, but around twenty-two percent of its prison population. The “War on Drugs” has been a colossal policy disaster, offering little more than the warehousing of nonviolent low-grade drug offenders. The growth of the prison industrial complex has done nothing to address the core issues surrounding drug addiction. In order to aggressively combat the opioid epidemic, treatment programs must be adequately funded, especially those that use medication-assisted treatment. Drug courts that prioritize treatment over incarceration are essential, and pharmaceutical behemoths and their drug dealers in white lab coats must be held accountable for their role and face more stringent penalties.

On your campaign website you say you have lived a life of public service. Readily available information shows this to be primarily related to school, scouts, and church activities, and work with local conservation / environmental organizations. How does this prepare you for elected office as opposed to the traditional political path of being elected at the local level and then working up to federal office (like Congress)?

I unequivocally believe that there is an assault on the foundational principles that hold our democracy up. A country that espoused equal opportunity and upward mobility has adopted a country club mindset where only the powerful and well connected have a voice. While I have never been an elected official, a myriad of other experiences prepare me to lead in Congress. My efforts as a conservationist pitted me against powerful corporate interests, and I helped lead a successful effort to prevent the superfluous development of a critical green space. When I was a single mother working while raising a family, I lived the challenges facing so many in my district. Republicans in Congress consistently support trade deals and policies that hurt working families. I couldn’t sit on the sidelines and watch this happen. I am running a grassroots campaign focused on governmental accountability and transparency. As a strong female candidate, I am ready to step into Congress tomorrow and lead.

What are the “low hanging fruit” issues that you think Democrats and Republicans can work together to accomplish in Congress?

There are a plethora of issues that should have a bipartisan consensus. Medicare expansion, environmental protection, and eschewing corporate welfare in favor of Main Street America seem like common sense positions. I have a history of bringing people together and finding common ground. The American people are tired of gridlock, ad hominem attacks, and a culture of divisiveness. While I will never betray my fundamental ideals or the people who elected me, I am willing to work with representatives who want real results for their constituents, not just an increase in Twitter followers.

You say you went to college on Pell grant and loans. What can be done to make college more affordable?

As a college education is becoming more and more essential, it is also becoming less and less affordable. I fundamentally oppose for-profit education that seeks to take advantage of students’ dreams and saddle them with insurmountable debt. Any student that attends a public university or community college should graduate debt free. I am also an avid proponent of alternative options for students including bolstering union apprenticeship programs and providing grants and subsidies for two-year colleges and technical schools. Unions built America’s once vibrant middle class, and I support our labor unions without prevarication.

What question didn’t I ask that you would like to answer?

“Why is it of paramount importance to finally address the egregious partisan gerrymandering in the United States?”

Voters should pick their representatives, not the other way around. Fair districts encourage public involvement and foster an enhanced sense of community. Districts that weave in and out of multiple counties are a direct affront to the spirit of representative democracy. I applaud the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for its recent decision ruling the districts “clearly, plainly, and palpably” unconstitutional. It's far past time for Pennsylvania to send a delegation to the House of Representatives that represents Pennsylvanians.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Jonathan Tamari and Chris Cillizza

Yesterday CNN's Chris Cillizza spoke with the Inquirer's Jonathan Lai.  Today he writes about the Inquirer's Jonathan Tamari's interview with Rep. Pat Meehan.  The column is called "Oh, Pat Meehan.  No, no, no, no."  There is also a snippet of Tamari's interview on CNN. 

Interesting read.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Jonathan Lai and Chris Cillizza

My favorite national political columnist, Chris Cillizza, moved this year from the Washington Post to CNN (no longer the Fix, now the Po!nt). 

Today he talked with the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jonathan Lai about the potential new congressional district map in Pennsylvania.

You can read it here:

The discuss the how the case got to the PA Supreme Court, what might happen going forward, who would draw a new map and how it may or may not be approved.  And why whatever map is used in 2018 will need to be redrawn in three years anyway.

It's worth the time to read.