Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler/Erie) had a more competitive re-election campaign in 2018 than in the past, winning a 51-47% battle against former Erie County Solicitor Ron DiNicola (D). Most observers expected Mr. DiNicola to return for a re-match since Rep. Kelly has been under local public attack for business practices at his auto dealerships, but yesterday the former Democratic nominee indicated that he will not return to active candidate status later this year. Five Democrats have announced for the congressional seat, but none have elective office experience, or are as politically strong as Mr. DiNicola. The Pennsylvania candidate filing deadline is February 18th for the April 28th state primary.
When the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court took jurisdiction over the state’s redistricting process the one Democratic district that became more competitive was Rep. Matt Cartwright’s (D-Moosic/Scranton) re-numbered 8th District. With President Trump scoring a ten-point victory here in 2016, it is clear that Republicans will launch an offensive this year to convert the seat.
Three Republicans had already announced their candidacies and now a fourth has joined. Former Hazelton Mayor Mike Marsicano will run in the new 8th District as a Republican after serving in office as a Democrat and running as the party’s nominee against then-Rep. Lou Barletta (R) in 2016. The Republican primary should produce a competitive general election nominee opposite Rep. Cartwright.
The US Census Bureau officers released their latest population projections in order to measure national population growth for the period between July 1, 2018 and July 1, 2019. The results find the national rate of growth slowing to 0.5%, mostly as a result of decreased immigration. The peak period for the decade came during the July 1, 2014 – July 1, 2015 period when the growth rate registered 0.73%.
With these numbers come the ability to project which states will gain and lose congressional seats in 2020 reapportionment. The national reapportionment will be calculated and announced after the 2020 census is completed. The states will receive their congressional seat quota a year from now, with a release typically coming during the period between Christmas and New Year’s.
If current projections prove correct, Texas looks to gain three seats, Florida two, with Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon each slated to gain one. The losing states look to be Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.
If these projections prove true, California will lose a seat for the first time in history. It’s also realistic that the actual totals could yield a two-seat loss for Illinois or New York, and possibly both. Right now, it appears ten congressional seats will change states, but that number could grow. Usually, the actual numbers tend to differ slightly from the early published projections.
One of the more difficult Senate seats Republicans will have to protect in 2022 lies in Pennsylvania. Now, there is a chance the race may be open. Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) confirmed yesterday that he is considering entering the open Governor’s race in the next election cycle when incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf will be ineligible to seek re-election.
Clearly, Sen. Toomey is the Republicans’ strongest statewide candidate, but for which office he runs may now be open to conjecture.
Though the Pennsylvania delegation is the fifth largest at the Democratic National Convention with 186 first ballot votes, little attention has so far been paid to the Keystone State largely because the electorate here won’t vote until April 28th. Franklin & Marshall College just released one of their Pennsylvania polls, but the sample size is unacceptably small. At just 226 registered Democrats, the respondent cell isn’t big enough to draw a clear conclusion, but their results certainly fall within the expected realm and seem reasonable.
According to F&M, former Vice President Joe Biden leads the pack of candidates with 30%, while Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) trail with 18 and 12%, respectively. No other candidate reaches double digits. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is fourth with 8% support. Though Mr. Biden represented Delaware in the Senate for 36 years, he is a native of Pennsylvania and figures to do well in the state.
At a pro-shale development rally in western Pennsylvania last week, President Trump, from the podium, encouraged Army veteran and author Sean Parnell to run for Congress. Now, Mr. Parnell has obliged in officially announcing his congressional candidacy. A Parnell for Congress campaign would have to defeat consultant Brian Thomsen and businessman Scott Timko in the Republican primary, and then challenge two-term Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) in the general election. The President carried this district in 2016 by one percentage point and will have to win here again to meet his statewide vote goals.
The National Republican Congressional Committee leadership scored a recruitment victory in the Allentown/Bethlehem seat to oppose freshman Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild (D-Allentown). Former Lehigh County Commissioner and corporate CEO Lisa Scheller (R) announced that she will challenge the freshman lawmaker next year. Ms. Scheller was the Committee’s top recruitment prospect.
First, however, she will have to get past former Lehigh County Commissioner Dean Browning, who announced his candidacy quickly after the November general election. The new 7th District, crafted in the court-mandated redistricting plan instituted before the 2018 election, is a politically marginal district that leans slightly Democratic.
Frequent Pennsylvania pollster Susquehanna Polling & Research also released their latest work (9/30-10/6; 307 PA registered voters), which is again a small-sample survey. As expected, former Vice President Joe Biden leads the pack of candidates, but with only a 17% preference factor. No other candidate even reaches double digits. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is second with 9%, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has 8% support, just ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who records 6% support. The small sample size and abnormally high undecided figure leaves much to question about this study.
Saying, “I think more people are interested in me running than I am,” ex-Rep. Lou Barletta, who was the Republican US Senate nominee in 2018, indicates he is not planning to challenge Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/Scranton) in the district that adjoins his previous CD. Republicans are looking for a strong candidate to challenge Rep. Cartwright because he sits in a seat that went strongly for President Trump in 2016. Early this year, 2018 nominee John Chrin, who lost to Cartwright 55-45%, filed a 2020 cycle FEC committee but has since declined to run.
Franklin & Marshall College released their new Keystone State survey (7/29-8/4; 295 likely PA Democratic primary voters from a pool of 627 PA registered voters) for the Democratic presidential primary and finds former Vice President Joe Biden’s advantage being a bit less than expected.
Mr. Biden, born in Pennsylvania and who represented neighboring Delaware for 36 years in the Senate, scores only 28% support here, and is closely followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) 21% preference. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the only other candidate who scores in double-digits, at 12%. California Sen. Kamala Harris posts only 8%, while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg registers a first-choice tabulation of just 6 percent.
The poll’s sample size, however, is very small. Just 295 likely Democratic primary voters are surveyed, making the poll’s error factor very high. Therefore, the results should be discounted, but it is difficult to tell in what direction. The Pennsylvania primary is one of the later ones on the Democratic schedule, April 28, 2020, which could put the state in an interesting position if the race is close at that point. Pennsylvania has 186 first ballot delegate votes.
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