Wagner-Bartos ticket campaigns at Sweet Lucy’s

The Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor greeted diners last week at Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse.

On the campaign trail: Pictured are (from left) Republican candidate for governor Scott Wagner, party activist Daphne Jenkins and last year’s GOP city controller candidate Mike Tomlinson. Republicans greeted diners last week at Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse, a barbecue restaurant on State Road in Holmesburg. JOHN COLE / TIMES PHOTO

Scott Wagner and Jeff Bartos, the Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, greeted diners last week at Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse, a barbecue restaurant on State Road in Holmesburg.

Wagner and Bartos were joined by longtime Republican ward leaders Mike Cibik and Matt Wolfe, party activist Daphne Jenkins, congressional candidate Bryan Leib and last year’s GOP city controller candidate, Mike Tomlinson.

The Republican ticket will face Gov. Tom Wolf and running mate John Fetterman.

Wagner won a 2014 write-in campaign for a York County-based state Senate seat and recently resigned to focus on the race for governor. Bartos is a businessman from Montgomery County.

Wagner, who owns a recycling plant, said he enjoyed speaking to the June 27 lunchtime crowd at Sweet Lucy’s. Diners included police officers from Philadelphia and Bensalem. He believes 75 percent of Pennsylvanians are blue collar.

“I’m a blue-collar guy,” he said, adding that he can relate better to people than Wolf.

One of his top issues is creating jobs, and he notes the high number of skilled labor positions that are open. To lower the high school dropout rate and encourage young people to pursue skilled labor jobs, he would encourage educators to begin pointing some kids in that direction beginning in elementary school.

Wagner credits President Donald Trump’s tax reform law with putting more money in Americans’ paychecks, and said his job as governor would be to prevent the state from taking that money for more spending.

Pennsylvania does not have a revenue problem, according to Wagner.

“We have a spending and mismanagement problem,” he said. “We have to live within our means.”

••

In a news release last week, Wagner called for Gov. Wolf to reverse his moratorium on the death penalty.

“We cannot endorse a system that prioritizes the lives of school shooters and cop killers over our children and our law enforcement officers, no matter what the cost is for doing so,” Wagner said.

Wagner said District Attorney Larry Krasner “cowardly” allowed the two killers of Philadelphia police officer Robert Wilson III to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty.

“As governor, I will always make sure justice is done and will begin signing death warrants within 48 hours of taking office,” Wagner said.

Carlton Hipps and Ramone Williams last week admitted gunning down Wilson during a robbery attempt in March 2015 at a North Philadelphia GameStop, where Wilson was buying his son a birthday gift.

••

U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, co-chairman of the Blue Collar Caucus, released a statement regarding last week’s Supreme Court decision in Janus vs. AFSCME.

The Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for public employee unions to require collective-bargaining fees from workers who choose not to join the union.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is anti-worker and anti-union,” Boyle said. “It is a victory for those wealthy special interests trying to crush unions. Labor unions have been essential to the growth of the American middle class. Our history proves this. All employees benefit from collective bargaining regardless of their financial contribution to their union, period. Falsely disguised by interest groups as a matter of fairness to free-riding employees, the Court’s decision today will only exacerbate the obstacles faced by workers as pay and benefits become more stagnant.”

Scott Wagner supports the ruling. He issued the following statement praising the Court’s ruling in favor of workers’ rights:

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a huge step forward empowering workers and putting more money in the paychecks of public employees, for them to do what they want with it, not what union bosses want. With this precedent now in place, as governor, I will be able to make the necessary reforms to ensure that more Pennsylvanians can find jobs, they can be compensated fairly for them, and we can make reforms to the public education system we need. If Tom Wolf and the public sector union bosses are really committed to protecting and empowering workers, they should celebrate this decision and the freedom it provides.”

••

Following Justice Anthony Kennedy’s announcement concerning his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court, Sen. Bob Casey Jr. released a statement saying the Senate should consider a new nominee only after the November election.

Casey notes that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland when he was nominated by President Barack Obama in March 2016. McConnell wanted the next president to make the nomination.

“Thus far, the Trump administration has nominated many far-right judges who put the interests of big corporations ahead of justice and fairness for all Americans. If an individual from the list provided to candidate Donald Trump by far-right organizations like the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society is nominated, then I am highly unlikely to support that nominee. Justices who sit on the most important court in the world should not be selected by corporate interests and extreme-right organizations,” Casey said.

“Over and over again, the current Supreme Court majority has only represented the interests of extreme right-wing ideologues and big corporations. In this term, the Supreme Court has issued rulings that would decimate labor unions, deny many Americans their right to vote and allow partisan gerrymandering to continue. This nation deserves a Supreme Court justice who will be guided by the principle of equal justice under the law for all Americans.”

Casey opposed Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch. He voted for Obama nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The GOP responded to Casey’s comments.

Republican Party of Pennsylvania communications director Jason Gottesman said, “The comments made yesterday by career politician Bob Casey are the essence of the obstruction and resistance moderate Pennsylvanians are tired of getting from Democrats in Congress. His premature views on replacing Justice Kennedy prove he is trying his best to show Pennsylvanians the depths he will go to in order to slow the wheels of justice while catering to the liberal left flank of his party.”

National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Bob Salera said, “Voters are watching closely to see if Sen. Casey will continue resisting to appease his liberal special interest friends or if he’ll finally do what’s right and confirm President Trump’s pick to the Supreme Court. Voters saw how Sen. Casey fought tooth-and-nail to obstruct Neil Gorsuch’s nomination just last year, and they won’t be so forgiving if Casey chooses to play the same silly games all over again.”

••

Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Val DiGiorgio called on Sen. Bob Casey Jr. and the state’s Democratic House delegation to denounce California Rep. Maxine Waters.

The congresswoman urged supporters to publicly bully Trump administration officials, saying, “If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. You push back on them. Tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

DiGiorgio said, “What this country needs right now is civility in public discourse, not divisive rhetoric or calls to bully. I call on Pennsylvania Democrats, whether they hold or are seeking office, to denounce these statements. I also call on my fellow Republicans to stick to substance and treat with respect those with whom we disagree. We are all Americans working to make this country a better place. While we can have differences on policy, the kind of language used by Congresswoman Waters is inflammatory and useless in having a constructive discussion on our nation’s most pressing issues.”

••

Put Vets First! political action committee has vetted friends of American veterans since 2012.

During this year’s election cycle, the PAC is honoring strong representatives in federal and state offices who it believes will serve the interests of veterans and keep the pressure on the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve management and administration while also protecting taxpayers’ dollars.

The PAC is honoring Sen. Bob Casey Jr. for calling for accountability at the VA by placing him on its all-star team.

••

The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania selected Jill A. Greene as its new executive director.

Greene has been an active member of the League, focusing her efforts on gerrymandering reform and voting rights. She will be taking over for Suzanne Almeida, who had served since January 2016.

Prior to her work with the League, Greene served as an assistant borough manager and special projects coordinator in Berks County.

“We are thrilled that Jill will be joining the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania team,” said Susan Carty, president of the League of Women Voters of PA. “Jill brings talent, passion and a depth of experience to the League. The League’s voice is more important than ever, and we look forward to the organization continuing to grow under her leadership.” ••