PA GOP wants Kenney to apologize for Trump claim

Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Val DiGiorgio does not think the mayor should have blamed the president for a racially charged incident at a Queen Village playground.

Times file photo

Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Val DiGiorgio is calling for an apology from Mayor Jim Kenney for blaming President Donald Trump for an incident at a Queen Village playground.

Kenney fired off a statement last Thursday after a black doll was found hanging from a telephone wire at Weccacoe Playground, at 4th and Catharine streets. A black burial ground is beneath the playground.

Kenney said he was “sickened” by what he called a “despicable act.”

“It demonstrates how far this country has fallen when people are inspired by the hateful rhetoric of our president,” the mayor said.

DiGiorgio noted that, when the full facts were revealed, the incident was a prank played by two boys, one black and one white, and did not have any racially motivated intent.

“Mayor Kenney owes the president an apology. In fact, he owes the citizens of Pennsylvania an apology,” DiGiorgio said. “Subscribing to the ‘never let the facts get in the way of politics’ theory, Kenney blamed the president for a racially insensitive teenage prank without regard for the truth. It is this kind of pre-judgment that causes such divisiveness in our political discourse today. Yet again, Mayor Kenney has abused his role as the mayor of one of America’s leading cities.

“He put petty, partisan politics above leadership and civic duty. I’m deeply disappointed that he would rush to judgment and stoop this low to try to score cheap political points at the expense of the president and his supporters, be they Republicans, Democrats or independents. Therefore, I call on Mayor Kenney to apologize for his remarks in the name of civil discourse and political reconciliation.”

Kenney wasn’t the only official to speak before the facts were known. Rue Landau, executive director of the city Commission on Human Relations, issued a statement condemning the “heinous hate crime” targeting the black community.

Even Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, offered his thoughts, saying the boys “bravely” came forward. Jordan criticized Trump, even after all the facts were known. He said Trump was racist for saying U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters had a “low IQ,” calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” and telling illegal immigrants to “get the hell out” during a rally in Wilkes-Barre for Lou Barletta, the Republican candidate for Senate.

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Bob Salera, deputy communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, praised Trump for tax cuts, low unemployment and high GDP growth and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta for his support of the coal industry.

Salera faulted Sen. Bob Casey Jr. for voting against Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and the tax cut bill.

“Pennsylvanians deserve a leader like Lou Barletta, who will put them first, not a partisan obstructionist like Bob Casey,” Salera said.

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The Fraternal Order of Police Pennsylvania State Lodge last week unanimously endorsed Gov. Tom Wolf for re-election.

The membership voted to defer endorsing a U.S. Senate candidate.

“Gov. Wolf has been an active supporter of our law enforcement community, the officers and their families,” said Les Neri, state lodge president. “We are proud to endorse the governor for a second term.”

Neri, the president since 2008, was recently re-elected to another two-year term.

Wolf, a Democrat, faces Republican Scott Wagner, Libertarian Ken Krawchuk and the Green Party’s Paul Glover.

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Meanwhile, the Associated Builders & Contractors Pennsylvania endorsed Wagner.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Associated Builders & Contractors. We need a leader who will lower taxes on employers, eliminate burdensome regulations, reduce permit wait times and bring a customer-service mindset to Harrisburg. As governor, I will continue my efforts to protect the paychecks of hardworking Pennsylvanians and make the commonwealth a place where anyone can start, grow and build something,” Wagner said. ••