September 7, 2012
Pennsylvania Democrats are focused on re-electing President Obama, of course, but some of the most interesting sidebars among the state's delegates, donors and activists at the national convention revolve around hopes of taking out Gov. Corbett in 2014. "We have a real shot," said state chairman Jim Burn, a Pittsburgh lawyer. "This is the most unpopular governor in the United States."
Corbett's approval rating was in the low 30s in recent polls. He supported requiring women to have an ultrasound before getting an abortion, and has slashed spending on social programs and education. "He thinks like a prosecutor in black and white, but as an executive you live in a gray world," Burn said. The chairman added that state party leaders agree it would be wise to unite behind a single candidate in the 2014 gubernatorial primary, to avoid an expensive brawl and conserve resources for the fight against Corbett in a state that historically does not turn out incumbent chief executives. "There are a lot of conversations taking place," Burn said. "We have a responsibility to vet this before the primary. Ideally we don't want a contested primary."
Among the Democrats earning buzz as potential governors: U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz; State Treasurer Rob McCord; Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski; Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro; Mayor Nutter; state Sen. Daylin Leach. Former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, the party nominee for Senate in 2010, has begun hiring a small number of staffers to explore a governor's race, Democratic sources say. Sestak brushed off a question about that in an email exchange with the Inquirer, making a joke - but neither confirmed nor denied the reports. Millionaire businessman Tom Knox, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2007 Democratic primary for Philadelphia mayor, has expressed interested in running for governor. philly.com
Philadelphia was a front-runner to host the Democratic National Convention this year, but Mayor Nutter, concerned about the city's budget troubles, dragged his feet in 2010 and then declined to bid for the event. Nutter is now cautiously optimistic about holding a Democratic convention in Philly in 2016. He dodged when asked on MSNBC Thursday morning to speculate about presidential candidates four years from now. Instead, Nutter offered: "Well, when you want to talk about 2016, you might want to think about Philadelphia, 2016, DNC." Nutter, fresh from the stage after a convention speech Thursday night, said that applications for the next convention won't be submitted until 2014. "At the moment, certainly the potential of hosting the 2016 convention is something that I would be very interested in exploring," Nutter told Clout. "We are much, much too early in the process."
Among Nutter's concerns: the millions of dollars the city would spend on security for an event and the fundraising necessary to be a host city. Nutter said that there were "a number of competing interests" for fundraising dollars. U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the city's Democratic Party, was cheerleader-in-chief two years ago for the convention. The Democratic National Committee was hot for Philly, too. Then-DNC Chairman Tim Kaine pushed back the bidding deadline for a month to give Philadelphia more time, Brady said. Nutter in 2010 told the Daily News that the decision would be easy if the Democratic Party could promise that a convention here "would not cost the city a dime." Ultimately, the city did not bid, and the convention was awarded to Charlotte, N.C. "He thought it was a bad idea to have a big showcase when the city was in trouble financially," Brady said. "They were dealing with the finances of the city. He gave me a commitment that he would go full blast for 2016."
Nutter said that the city was probably better equipped now to handle a convention than it was in 2000, when it hosted the Republican National Convention. "It's certainly something that we can do," he said. "But we don't want to allow our enthusiasm to drive our decision-making." A nonprofit set up to run the 2000 convention raised $66 million, with $39 million coming from taxpayers in and around Philadelphia. A report compiled by the city after the convention said that it delivered an economic impact of $345 million for Philadelphia and the surrounding region. Most of the organizing work for a 2016 convention here would be done on Nutter's watch, but the next mayor would be in charge. Nutter's second term wraps up in early January of that year.
Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, the Republican candidate for state attorney general, slammed his Democratic foe, former Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Kane, for attending the Democratic convention this week. Freed issued a news release saying that Kane "jetted to Charlotte" and "prefers hobnobbing out-of-state with power-brokers." GOP state chairman Rob Gleason issued a news release that claimed Kane's "first priority" was to "jet off to sunny Charlotte to join party kingmakers." Note the disdain Freed and Gleason show for air travel. Maybe if you use phrases like "hobnobbing," a jet still seems like some fancy newfangled contraption? Kane's campaign manager returned fire, noting that Freed is the "handpicked choice of Tom Corbett and the Republican Harrisburg establishment" who faced no primary opponent. Freed skipped his party's convention in Tampa last week to campaign in a dozen Pennsylvania counties. He has motivation to introduce himself to voters. An Inquirer poll last week showed Kane leading Freed 40-29 percent with 31 percent of the voters undecided. Philadelphia Daily News
President Barack Obama is turning to MTV to get young people to tune in for his speech at the Democratic Party's national convention. Obama's campaign is running a television ad Thursday night at the end of the cable channel's annual movie awards show. It will air just minutes before the president is to speak. The ad is titled "Gotta Tune In" and encourages viewers to switch channels and watch the president accept his party's nomination. Obama is scheduled to speak during the 10 o'clock hour in the Eastern time zone. Obama's advantage with young people propelled him to victory in 2008. His campaign is seeking to maintain high levels of support among younger voters, even as they face an uncertain economy and shaky market. Associated Press
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