Democrats Joe Hohenstein and Mike Doyle discussed gun laws, minimum wage and legalizing marijuana during a forum on Saturday.
Democrats Mike Doyle and Joe Hohenstein had the only say at Saturday’s forum at Community College of Philadelphia’s Northeast campus, as their Republican opponents did not attend.
Radio personality Loraine Ballard Morrill moderated the forum. The candidates gave opening statements and summations and answered questions from Morrill and the audience.
Among the sponsors were the Committee of Seventy and numerous immigration groups.
Doyle is challenging Rep. Martina White, who had a prior commitment.
Hohenstein faces Patty-Pat Kozlowski, who planned to attend before going to a hospital emergency room that morning. She recently spent five days in Jefferson Torresdale Hospital after a dog bit her in her hand and wrist. The wound reopened on Friday after she helped clean up a homeless encampment in Port Richmond.
Hohenstein noted that the dog bite took place on Oct. 1, and Kozlowski has made public appearances since then.
An immigration lawyer, Hohenstein knocked Kozlowski for a campaign mailer stating he has a “record of defending accused terrorists.”
Hohenstein noted that one of his primary opponents, Sean Kilkenny, tried the same “trick” and had money and campaign signs, like Kozlowski.
“And we won,” he said.
Before the forum, Hohenstein joined Gov. Tom Wolf at a rally at 32BJ SEIU headquarters.
Others backing Hohenstein include the Planned Parenthood political action committee, teachers unions, environmental groups and CeaseFire PA.
Hohenstein is for an assault weapons ban, background checks and a ban on weapons for people who commit domestic abuse. He contends the NRA is more about corporate profits than individual liberty.
“We’re not coming for your guns,” Hohenstein said he wants legal gun owners to know.
Hohenstein also expressed support for more school funding and promised to publicly release the receipts for his per diems..
Both candidates criticized a bill introduced by White that would allow those injured by illegal immigrants to sue sanctuary cities and municipalities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials.
“It is solely presented for political posturing,” Hohenstein said.
Doyle called the bill “racist” and “xenophobic.”
Hohenstein and Doyle both want Gov. Wolf to order the closing of a Berks County Immigration and Customs Enforcement family residential facility for families seeking asylum or awaiting deportation
“These are human beings,” Doyle said..
Both candidates support the legalization of marijuana.
“Alcohol is a much deadlier drug,” Doyle said.
The candidates both want the hourly minimum wage increased from $7.25 to $15.
“Most employers can afford it,” Hohenstein said.
A higher minimum wage is on the wish list of the AFL-CIO, which has endorsed Hohenstein.
“My opponent didn’t even bother to fill out the AFL-CIO’s questionnaire,” he said.
The Democrats oppose the death penalty, with Doyle calling it “terrible.” Hohenstein said the death penalty is not a deterrent and believes it violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
“We do not demand an eye for an eye,” he said.
The candidates differed on safe injection sites.
Hohenstein said Mayor Jim Kenney has an “ambitious” plan to cure the opioid epidemic, but he opposes injection sites because the city has not adequately sought community input.
Doyle, who is in recovery, repeatedly said he favored “overdose prevention sites” until pressed by Morrill to say if that means he favors injection sites.
“They’re basically the same thing,” Doyle said.
Doyle has the backing of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Moms Demand Action and Planned Parenthood PAC, and he is worried about the future of legal abortion.
“We’re taking women’s rights backward,” he said.
Doyle called the policy of cash bail “terrible,” adding that it keeps poor people in jail.
“It’s really just a way to revive slavery,” he said.
On other issues, Doyle favors higher taxes on corporations, more maternity leave time for men and women and an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative boundaries.
Toward the end of the forum, the candidates were asked what they’d like to ask or say to their opponents.
Hohenstein recalled Kozlowski leaving a phone message at the district office of state Rep. Mike O’Brien, calling him a “fat bastard” for endorsing Hohenstein and criticizing her decision to run as a Republican. Kozlowski felt let down by O’Brien, whom she considered a friend. O’Brien died a few days after the controversy.
“I would ask for a true apology to the family of Mike O’Brien,” Hohenstein said.
Doyle would ask White if she supported Scott Wagner, whom he considers a foe of unions, in the race for governor. Assuming she would vote for her fellow Republican, Doyle would ask White to apologize to the union leaders who have endorsed her.
Kozlowski last week picked up the endorsement of Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 19.
The Sheet Metal Workers were perhaps the biggest backer of Sean Kilkenny in the Democratic primary.
Earlier in the campaign, Kozlowski was endorsed by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, International Association of Fire Fighters and Paramedics Local 22, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 21, International Brotherhood of Teamsters — Joint Council 53, Steamfitters Local 420, Transit Workers Local 234, Elevators Constructors Local 5, KML Brotherhood of Carpenters, Laborers District Council, Roofers Local 30 and Operating Engineers Local 542.
Doyle continued his tour of retirement communities last week, bringing two fellow members of Ferko String Band to entertain the seniors.
The candidate and other musicians visited Paul’s Run, playing in its lobby and Liberty Grille for a lunchtime crowd. They played Mummers favorites such as When Irish Eyes are Smiling, You’re a Grand Old Flag and Take Me Out to the Ball Game.
Doyle plans to perform at a handful of senior housing facilities that have polling places on Election Day.
Scott Wagner, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, last week issued the following statement regarding the failure of the state to act on passing legislation containing the recommendations of a grand jury’s report on pedophile priests in the Catholic Church:
“Throughout my campaign, I’ve continuously stressed that special interests have boxed the people of Pennsylvania out of having a voice in their own government, and last night’s failure by the Senate to act on behalf of the victims of sexual abuse was no different. It’s troubling that the Senate adjourned last night without passing these reforms. But what is even more troubling is how Gov. Wolf continues to stand idly by while he fails to secure justice for these victims time and time again.
“In 2016, I fought for these same reforms on the floor of the Senate while Gov. Wolf issued statements from afar. Last night, we saw another do-nothing statement from the governor. When will the governor realize that being ‘committed’ to something means acting on it? If I were governor, I would call a special session every day until the grand jury’s recommendations were passed by both chambers, and Gov. Wolf should do the same.”
A Politico/AARP poll shows Wolf leading, 48 percent to 36 percent.
The Wagner for Governor campaign this week began a statewide television ad blitz that will continue until Election Day.
The first three spots of the new ad campaign show Wagner’s commitment to lowering taxes and health care costs.
“Outspending us 7–1 has done little for Tom Wolf, given that more than 50 percent of Pennsylvanians still won’t vote to give him a second term,” said campaign manager Jason High. “On the other hand, we have conserved our resources to be able to make significant television buys down the stretch, when most voters are paying attention. As these ads make it clear to the people of Pennsylvania that Scott Wagner is the only candidate in this race who will lower taxes and health care costs, we’re confident he will be elected on Nov. 6.”
The Wagner for Governor campaign will spend more than $750,000 on television ads this week.
The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for the upcoming general election is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30.
Absentee ballots must be returned by 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2 (Nov. 5 for military and overseas voters).
Applications can be found at votespa.com ••