Christiana makes his case in Senate race

State Rep. Jim Christiana will face U.S. Rep. Lou Barlette in the Senate primary.


State Rep. Jim Christiana faces U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta in the Senate primary, and he said Republicans will have a choice of two different visions.

“There will be a clean contrast for voters on May 15,” he said.

Christiana, 34, is in his fifth term serving a Beaver County-based district. When he first ran in 2008 — defeating Democratic Rep. Vince Biancucci — he promised to serve only five two-year terms.

He’s honoring that pledge, and last April announced his candidacy for Senate. Barletta, of Hazleton, Luzerne County, has the backing of the state party and President Donald Trump.

Democrat-turned-Republican Joseph Vodvarka, an Allegheny County businessman, also filed to run, but dropped out last week when it became apparent he did not have enough valid nominating petitions. Christiana challenged the petitions, adding that the state party had no interest in trying to knock off a western Pennsylvania candidate like Vodvarka, who could have taken votes from Christiana.

The winner of the primary will face Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr.

Christiana, who expects to earn his law degree from Widener’s Harrisburg campus in May, was in Philadelphia last week for several events, including a Friday fundraiser hosted for him by state Rep. John Taylor at the Union League. He also attended events sponsored by Business Leaders Organized for Catholic Schools and the Young Republican National Federation.

Christiana, who was a salesman at a Mercedes-Benz dealer before running for office, said there is a need in politics, including the Republican Party, “for some young blood.” He sees no sense of urgency from Barletta or Casey to do anything.

Barletta, he said, is the establishment candidate running on Trump’s coattails and Twitters shoutouts. Casey, he said, simply votes the Democratic party line.

“Bob Casey hasn’t done much in Washington,” he said.

Because of his age and term limit pledge, Christiana believes he’s worked to make things happen.

“I had this sense of urgency to make progress,” he said.

In the House, Christiana sponsored PennWatch, which puts state government spending online. His expenses are on his website.

“I’m going to continue to be a champion for transparency,” he said.

Christiana also teamed with former Democratic Rep. Tony Payton to create the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program, which has helped more than 100,000 kids enrolled in violent and underperforming public schools transfer to a private school or a better public school. He embraced the program even though the Beaver Area School District did not benefit.

Closer to home, he worked with labor and industry to bring a Shell ethane cracker plant to the area, beating out Ohio and West Virginia for the jobs.

“That’s what we need more of in Washington,” he said. “I’ve been doing that for the last 10 years and I’ll be able to do that in the U.S. Senate.”

If elected, he will oppose efforts to take money from the Social Security Trust Fund for discretionary spending, arguing it hurts baby boomers and millennials.

“Washington has let down every generation,” he said.

Christiana said he’d protect Social Security benefits for current recipients and those nearing retirement, but he’d raise the retirement age for younger workers, giving them time to plan for their retirement. His 2-year-old son can be expected to live into his 80s, he said, in explaining why a change needs to be made to guarantee benefits for decades to come.

On other issues, he is pro-life and vowed to oppose any spending plan that gives Planned Parenthood “a dime.”

Pointing out that the state has to pass a balanced budget, he sees federal spending on a trajectory that is unsustainable.

“The way they’re managing budgets in Washington doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.

Christiana wants secure borders, infrastructure investment and more of the federal education budget sent to states. States, he said, should also have flexibility when it comes to transportation funding.

“I will always be an advocate for Washington’s money coming with no strings attached,” he said.


Maggie Borski, a Democratic candidate in the 177th Legislative District, held a fundraiser Friday night at Polonia Hall in Bridesburg.

Borski, a law school student and daughter of former congressman Bob Borski, was recently endorsed by Run for Something, which backs young progressives, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. Her three sisters are teachers, and two are members of the PFT.

Jerry Jordan, president of PFT, said, “Maggie is committed, energetic and intelligent. These attributes will serve her well in Harrisburg as she fights for the people of the 177th. As the sister of two educators in our public schools, Maggie knows the challenges and opportunities our educators and children face each day. I am confident that Maggie will never stop working for the people of her district, and I look forward to having her as a partner in the fight for the future of public education in Philadelphia and across the commonwealth.”

At the fundraiser, Borski thanked her supporters for helping her turn in more nominating petitions than anyone else in the race.

She’s been busy filling out questionnaires and being interviewed by various groups. Looking ahead, she plans to continue knocking on doors and will hold another fundraiser or two.

“Voter contact is a big part of it. Money is important, too. I’m getting a ton of support,” she said.

Borski, who is running to fill the seat of retiring Republican Rep. John Taylor, expects to have enough money for mailings.

“The people in the 177th will see Maggie Borski mail in the coming weeks,” she said.

The other Democratic candidates are Joe Hohenstein, an immigration lawyer who took 45 percent against Taylor in 2016; union plasterer Sean Kilkenny; and community activist Dan Martino. Hohenstein and Kilkenny have already begun their mail campaigns.

The Republican candidate is Patty-Pat Kozlowski, a community activist and former city parks director.


Democrats are criticizing Republicans who want to impeach four state Supreme Court justices.

Republican state Rep. Cris Dush introduced resolutions calling for the impeachment of David Wecht, Debra Todd, Christine Donohue and Kevin Dougherty.

The call for impeachment comes after the Democratic-controlled court threw out the state congressional map, redrawing it to give Democrats better chances to win several seats.

Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jack Hanna said, “The PA GOP’s call to impeach our democratically elected justices is completely unprecedented; impeachment is constitutionally defined and reserved for gross misbehavior in office, not for a decision one party does not like. This extreme reaction shows nothing more than Republicans running scared. They know that Democrats have strong, well-qualified candidates who are ready to take on Republicans in each and every ​congressional district across the commonwealth and that when there is a fair playing field, Democrats win. Republicans previously held onto power not based on their ideas or policies, but instead by rigging congressional districts in their favor. Now that there is a level playing field, this November the GOP will find out just how strongly Pennsylvanians reject their failed ideas.”


The Philly Neighborhood Small Business Council and City Councilman David Oh will sponsor a congressional candidates forum on Monday, April 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Loews Hotel, 12th and Market streets, fourth floor.

Taking part will be candidates from the 2nd, 3rd and 5th congressional districts, which include parts of Philadelphia.

The Northeast is located in the 2nd Congressional District. Democratic Rep. Brendan Boyle faces a primary challenge from Michele Lawrence, a former Wells Fargo area president. The Republican candidate is anti-drug activist David Torres.


The Green Party of Pennsylvania has endorsed Neal Gale for U.S. Senate.

Gale is calling his campaign for the Senate, “One Family, Many Voices.” He has more than 38 years experience in energy efficiency, managing a low-income, energy affordability program. He lives with his wife and daughter in Abington.

“We need someone,” said Gale, “who will stand up in the U.S. Senate to declare a state of emergency regarding our changing climate and the devastating impact it is already having on our communities, our state, around the country and across the globe.”

Consistent with Green Party values, he is staunchly against current wars, believing government resources can be used more wisely.

“Both major political parties in Congress have just supported an alarmingly bloated military budget, which will fund endless proxy wars by the U.S.,” he said, “The Green Party is the only political voice for those who object to taxes being funneled to these wars in our name.”


U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey won a friendly bet with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin last week when the Villanova Wildcats beat the West Virginia Mountaineers in an NCAA men’s basketball Sweet 16 game.

Manchin, a West Virginia graduate, will be giving Toomey pepperoni rolls from Chico Bakery in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Before the game, Toomey said, “I’m afraid my friend from West Virginia is sorely mistaken if he thinks his Mountaineers stand a chance against Jay Wright and the №1 seed Villanova Wildcats. All season long, Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson, and company have dominated their opponents at both ends of the floor — it’s therefore no shock that they won 32 games this season. Unfortunately for Sen. Manchin, I expect this game will be no different.”

Had West Virginia pulled the upset, Toomey would have given Manchin soft pretzels from the Philly Pretzel Factory. ••