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PA: Week in Review — About those elections

By   /   November 9, 2012  /   No Comments

By PA Independent Staff

HARRISBURG — Democrats swept all five statewide races, but Republicans were able to claim victory in congressional and state legislative races as the election dominated news in Pennsylvania this week.

President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey were each given a second term by Pennsylvania voters, who also supported Democratic candidates for attorney general, auditor general and treasurer.

Democrats won three state Senate seats, but Republicans still hold the majority in that chamber.  The GOP successfully defended their wide margin in the state House as well.

Kane first woman elected attorney general as Dems sweep PA row offices

Kathleen Kane, a former assistant district attorney from Lackawanna County, will be Pennsylvania’s next attorney general.

Kathleen Kane will be Pennsylvania’s next attorney general

The party is championing the victory, alongside its other wins Tuesday night. Kane is the first woman – and first Democrat – elected to the position.

Kane won the race over GOP opponent David Freed.

“She is going to do remarkable things,” said Jim Burn, chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party to PA Independent. “She will follow the evidence wherever it takes her. Anyone who needs to be held accountable will be held accountable.”

Rob McCord won a second term as Pennsylvania’s treasurer by defeating Republican challenger Diana Irey Vaughn.

Democrats held the post of auditor general as state Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-York, collected 50 percent of the vote.  His Republican opponent, state Rep. John Maher, R-Allegheny, received 46 percent.

Casey celebrates second term, promises to get nation’s fiscal house in order

As U.S. Sen. Bob Casey heads back to Washington, D.C., to serve a second term in the Congress, the state’s senior senator said he’ll be thinking of struggling families in northeast Pennsylvania region, which has the highest unemployment rate in the state.

“We’ve got to make sure that as we begin a new Congress, as we begin to the deal with issues of the economy, of job creation, getting our fiscal house in order, whatever it is, we’ve got to remember those families,” Casey said.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, left, defeated Tom Smith, right, to win a second term in Washington.

According to an AP survey, six in 10 Pennsylvania voters said the economy was the most important issue of the election.

Casey won the race with 53.7 percent of the vote, and 44.6 percent going to Tom Smith, his Republican opponent.

In a statement, Smith said that while he and Casey disagreed on many things, they agreed on one thing – they both believe America’s best days lie ahead.

“My family and I are humbled and grateful for the support of millions of Pennsylvanians,” Smit said. “And though we fell short tonight, we will continue to advocate for the principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility and individual liberty.”

After statewide defeats, GOP looks forward

Republican leaders in Pennsylvania faced a tough night of electoral losses with a brave face and promised that their party would “dust itself off and come back fighting” for the next cycle two years from now.

On a night when Democrats won all five statewide elections and picked up three formerly Republican seats in the state Senate, Gov. Tom Corbett and Rob Gleason, chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, pointed to the fact that the GOP still controls the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the state General Assembly.

“We made a great effort and it was much closer than four years ago, but close is only good in horseshoes,” Gleason said of the presidential race.

If there is a silver lining for the GOP, it is the fact that they added another congressman. Keith Rothfus knocked off U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Pa., in the 12th district to give Republicans 13 of the Keystone State’s 18 congressional seats.

“Thank you for all the hard work you did,” Corbett told supporters at the Hilton Harrisburg hotel. “Starting tomorrow, on to the next cycle.”

Questionable Election Day activities in Philadelphia

Multiple media reports out of Pennsylvania’s largest city on Tuesday raised questions about the legitimacy of the election in Philadelphia, a part of the state that is crucial to President Barack Obama’s re-election.

The Republican Party of Pennsylvania said dozens of credential poll watchers were thrown out of polling places in the City of Brotherly Love on Tuesday morning.

THEY HAVE SPOKEN: Voters in Pennsylvania lined up to have their say Tuesday at the ballot box. (AP photo)

Gleason , said as many as 75 Republican election workers were prohibited from accessing polling places.

The party sought – and received – a court order from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas to seat those inspectors in Philadelphia polling places.

The Committee of Seventy, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that works for free and fair elections, said it was monitoring reports of Republican election watchers being kept out of polling places.

Elsewhere in the city, media reported that one polling place was set up in the same room as a floor-to-ceiling mural depicting Obama and the words “hope” and “change.”

A second court order required election workers at the polling place – a school in the city’s35th ward – to cover the mural with “blank paper or other similar material so that the content of the mural is invisible in its entirety for the duration of the election.”

GOP keeps majority in state House, Senate

Both Democrats and Republicans can claim victory in the results of Tuesday’s General Assembly election.

Democrats won their biggest share of the state Senate in nearly 20 years while Republicans kept their majority in that chamber and successfully defended about a dozen state House seats to keep a wide majority in the lower chamber.

With two House races still too close to call on Wednesday, the Republicans held a 27-23 majority in the state Senate and a 109-92 edge in the state House.

Senate Majority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, said his caucus would use their increased power in state government to push for more investments in education, in the social safety net and for transportation infrastructure funding.

“Today, we stand in a better place than we were in terms of our ability to articulate our message and the message of the people of Pennsylvania,” Costa said.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, said the results meant the GOP control of state government could move forward with their agenda.

“The governor is a Republican, the Senate is still Republican, and we think there is a lot of consensus on moving positive issues forward,” Turzai said.

Post-election, voting issues continue to pop up

The elections are over, but the discussion about voting integrity continues.

House Speaker Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he’s heard stories about 90 percent of precincts reporting 90 percent voter turnout.

A Pennsylvania voting machine made national news after it was filmed switching a vote for President Barack Obama to Gov. Mitt Romney.

Smith called the numbers “questionable,” but would not call them evidence of fraud.

Attempts to verify Smith’s claims were unsuccessful, but the comment alone was enough to anger state Sen. Vince Hughes, D-Philadelphia.

Hughes said he was at a number of polling places on Tuesday and so no fraud. He charged that Republican talk of fraud is an attempt to marginalize Philadelphia residents.

“If they believe there was a corruption of the process, let them go to court and challenge it,” Hughes said. “If they can’t, shut up.”

State officials say they’ve received 495 complaints since creation in October of an online reporting system. Nearly 400 of those complaints came on Election Day.

Turnout statewide was around 5.5 million.

Problems cited included absentee ballots (76 reports), voter registration (69 reports), poll worker violations, voter intimidation (58 reports) and tampering with voting machines (11 reports).

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Eric is a reporter for Watchdog.org and former bureau chief for Pennsylvania Independent. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he enjoys great weather and low taxes while writing about state governments, pensions, labor issues and economic/civil liberty. Previously, he worked for more than three years in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, covering Pennsylvania state politics and occasionally sneaking across the border to Delaware to buy six-packs of beer. He has also lived (in order of desirability) in Brussels, Belgium, Pennsburg, Pa., Fairfield, Conn., and Rochester, N.Y. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and elsewhere. He received a bachelor's degree from Fairfield University in 2009, but he refuses to hang on his wall until his student loans are fully paid off sometime in the mid-2020s. When he steps away from the computer, he enjoys drinking craft beers in classy bars, cheering for an eclectic mix of favorite sports teams (mostly based in Philadelphia) and traveling to new places.

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