Kilkenny gains endorsement in Democratic primary

The state AFL-CIO has endorsed Sean Kilkenny.

Gaining support: Pennsylvania AFL-CIO has endorsed Sean Kilkenny, a plasterer, in the Democratic primary in the 177th Legislative District. Source: Sean Kilkenny

The state AFL-CIO has endorsed Sean Kilkenny in the Democratic primary in the 177th Legislative District.

Kilkenny, a plasterer, is one of four Democrats running in the May 15 primary.

“I’m overwhelmed by the support I have received over these past few months in my bid for state representative,” he said. “And this endorsement gives me so much pride, since I grew up in a union household and have been a union member my entire working life. Through this united labor front, we will build a coalition of labor organizations and community members to fight back against the assault on working families. We will go on the offensive and push for more jobs with higher wages, better benefits and safe working conditions for everyone in the commonwealth. I will bring my work experience as an international field rep to Harrisburg and hit the ground running from day one. I want to thank the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO’s executive council for having faith in me and showing other union members that seek to run for political office that you have our backs and I will not let you down.”

The other Democrats in the race are community activist Dan Martino, immigration lawyer Joe Hohenstein and law school student Maggie Borski.

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

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U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will be at City Hall’s north apron on Friday, May 4, for a rally in support of John Fetterman’s campaign for lieutenant governor.

The rally is set for 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock, is one of five Democrats running for lieutenant governor. The others are incumbent Mike Stack; Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone; Nina Ahmad, a former Philadelphia deputy mayor; and Raymond Sosa, who has worked in emergency management and response and human rights advocacy.

Gov. Tom Wolf has not made an endorsement.

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Democratic and Republican voters will go to the polls in the May 15 primary to elect committee people.

Two people in each party are elected in each division, and committee people elect ward leaders in the weeks after the primary.

In the Northeast, there are challenges to incumbent Democratic leaders in the 53rd, 55th, 58th. 64th and 66th-B wards.

Among those being challenged is Mike McAleer, who has headed 66-B since 1973. There are 20 divisions in the ward. McAleer said he has filed 25 candidates, including 10 who are unopposed. Twenty-one others have filed, and McAleer blames a couple of fellow Democratic ward leaders for his challenge.

McAleer and Shawn Dillon had a falling out in 2015 when McAleer supported John Sabatina Jr. over Dillon when it was time to nominate a candidate for a special election in the 5th Senatorial District.

“I made the right choice, believe me,” McAleer said.

McAleer and Dillon still do not talk to each other.

McAleer believes Dillon is behind the challenge to his ward and is particularly disappointed at challenges to some of his longest-serving committee people.

“They shouldn’t have to go through this,” McAleer said. “I worry about the people who are loyal to me.”

McAleer believes his opponent for ward leader could be John Cooper, program director at Self Help Movement, an alcohol and drug residential treatment facility. A Self Help resident circulated petitions for committee people in seven divisions. The CEO of Self Help is Bob Dellavella, Democratic leader of the 55th Ward.

McAleer questions whether nonprofit executives such as Cooper and Dellavella should be allowed to be involved in politics.

Dillon and Dellavella dismissed McAleer’s concerns.

Dillon said he is interested in unifying the Northeast to bring more services. He is hoping the elections for committee people and ward leaders increase the number of effective leaders.

“The Northeast will be better off for it,” he said.

Dellavella said he and Cooper are permitted to be active in politics as long as Self Help does not endorse candidates.

Dellavella, who is facing a challenge of his own, said he is not involved in the fight in 66-B. He said there is nothing wrong with an individual challenging an incumbent committee person.

“It’s part of the process,” he said.

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Republicans are criticizing Gov. Tom Wolf for vetoing SB 936, legislation that supporters say would curtail the overprescription of opioids and eliminate payments for unproven, compounded pain creams that can cost thousands of dollars per tube.

The bill passed the Senate last October and the House last month.

Wolf said in a statement that the bill threatens health care for millions of workers who could be injured on the job and protects the bottom line for insurance companies and corporations.

State Sen. Scott Wagner, a Republican candidate for governor who voted for the measure, said, “It’s disheartening to me that when Gov. Wolf was given the chance to choose between protecting the lives of the men and women in Pennsylvania dying everyday from addiction, and his special-interest donors, he chose the coward’s way out. If the governor was really interested in combating the opioid epidemic, he would have stood up to those funding his campaign and signed this bill. And if the governor’s decision to veto this legislation was really based on policy, he needs to immediately return all his contributions to Fairness PA to prove to the people of Pennsylvania that he was not acting on the PAC’s behalf.”

Laura Ellsworth, another Republican candidate for governor, said, “It is a disgrace and a shame that Gov. Wolf, in his own self-interests and certainly not with Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis in mind, vetoed SB 936. This is another instance in which the governor’s lack of leadership is on display — denying a bill that would curb opioid dependence and over-prescribing because it clashes with interest groups who have donated heavily to him.”

Pennsylvania Republican Party chairman Val DiGiorgio said, “The veto of this bill further dirties the hands of a governor that has shown time and again that he will stand up for special-interest donors instead of the welfare of Pennsylvanians. This bill had broad-based support from the medical community, treatment providers and businesses across Pennsylvania and could have gone a long way to fight the opioid crisis. Instead of issuing an executive order on over-prescribing, which lacks the full force and effect of law, the governor should have shown firm leadership by signing this bill.”

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Expect to see more commercials with Scott Wagner and Paul Mango bashing each other in the Republican contest for governor.

At a debate last week, Wagner said he would drop ads that mention Mango if Mango agreed to stop his ads that mention Wagner.

“I’ll run my campaign, senator, you can run your campaign,” Mango replied. “My objective is to ensure that the Republican primary voters of Pennsylvania make an informed choice on May 15 and I will do whatever I have to do to make sure that is the case.”

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Carly Fiorina, a 2016 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, last week endorsed Laura Ellsworth for governor, calling her “an exemplary leader with the skills for the new century.”

“Laura Ellsworth possesses the drive, principles and conservative values to bring Pennsylvania into the forefront of the 21st century economy,” Fiorina said. “She has been continuously discussing issues, from job creation to sensible education funding.”

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Twenty-four Republican county chairs sent a letter of support to Wagner. In the letter, the chairs rip Mango for his “false and disgusting” cartoon attack ad and encourage Wagner to continue to keep his campaign focused on the issues and the people of Pennsylvania.

“You have been talking about how you are going to address crises like property taxes, the opioid epidemic and school safety. You have been talking about how you’re going to make sure Pennsylvanians keep more money in their wallets by getting our fiscal house in order and lowering taxes. And you have been talking about how you are going to create a brighter economic future for our commonwealth by ridding our businesses of burdensome regulations and making sure our children have the skills necessary to meet the needs of the modern workforce,” the letter read, in part.

The chairs said they will be organizing phone banks, putting up yard signs, handing out literature and driving people to the polls.

Philadelphia GOP boss Mike Meehan did not sign the letter.

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The state GOP isn’t pleased with Gov. Wolf’s support of legislation that would create a severance tax on natural gas drilling..

Wolf argues that Pennsylvania is the only gas-producing state in the nation without a severance tax. His proposed severance tax would generate an estimated $248.7 million in the next fiscal year.

Republican Party boss Val DiGiorgio believes the proposal would stifle the economy.

DiGiorgio said, “In another futile attempt to quench his insatiable appetite for cradle-to-grave tax increases, Gov. Tom Wolf has once again chosen his ideology over pragmatism in calling for this economy-stifling natural gas severance tax. Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry is already struggling under Gov. Wolf’s onerous regulations. Now, by pushing for a potentially crippling severance tax, Gov. Wolf seeks to further harm an industry that has significantly lowered Pennsylvania families’ energy bills and has huge potential to create family-sustaining jobs. Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry has generated over $3 billion in regular tax revenue to Pennsylvania since 2008 and nearly $1.5 billion in impact fee money since 2012, which largely goes to local communities in all of Pennsylvania’s counties. We ask Gov. Wolf to put pragmatism over politics and support our natural gas industry.”

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Jeff Bartos, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, has launched a statewide television ad campaign that will run until the primary election on May 15. The 15-second TV spot introduces Pennsylvania voters to the businessman, who describes himself as a conservative outsider who will cut taxes.

“As a successful businessman, job creator and political outsider, Jeff Bartos is uniquely positioned to go to Harrisburg and help Scott Wagner fix what Tom Wolf and his disastrous policies have broken. This ad will continue to drive home Jeff’s outsider message, a message that voters in the commonwealth want to hear,” said Conor McGuinness, campaign manager.

Bartos has the backing of state Sen. Scott Wagner, a Republican candidate for governor. Both are endorsed by the state party.

The other Republican candidates for lieutenant governor are longtime conservative activist Peg Luksik, Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan of Washington and small business owner Kathy Coder.

Vaughn is backed by Paul Mango, who is also running for governor.

Allegheny County lawyer Laura Ellsworth, another candidate for governor, has not made an endorsement.

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Republicans are criticizing U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. for voting against Mike Pompeo’s nomination as Secretary of State.

Casey said he voted against Pompeo because of his prior statements regarding American Muslims and his refusal to rule out torture as an intelligence gathering mechanism,

Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Val DiGiorgio said, “Sen. Bob Casey’s continued obstruction of presidential nominees is troubling enough, but especially when he is putting his allegiance to the Trump resistance movement over our nation’s security by refusing to support a qualified nominee like Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. Across the world, our diplomatic posts remain empty due to obstructionists like Bob Casey doing everything in their power to prohibit President Trump from implementing his foreign policy. As the world awaits American leadership on international relations issues like North Korean denuclearization and the ongoing conflict in Syria, Sen. Casey’s refusal to support Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State shows his priorities are more aligned with national liberal movements than the people of Pennsylvania.”

National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Bob Salera said Casey is sticking to his pattern of appeasing his far-left base instead of doing what’s best for the country. Salera said Casey’s decision proves he will always put the wishes of liberals in Washington over doing what’s best for Pennsylvania and the nation.

“By refusing to stand up to his liberal party bosses — even on issues of national security — Bob Casey proved all his talk of independent leadership is a total fraud,” he said. “If Casey is going to put his loyalty to the extreme left over the security concerns of our nation, he should just save the voters some trouble and start packing up his office now.” ••