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.
A trio of candidates, two Democrats and one Republican, just announced their intentions to challenge sophomore Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) next year. Peasburg School Board member Debbie Wachspress and Bucks County Prothonotary (Court Clerk of Records) Judi Reiss both entered the Democratic primary.
A primary challenger to Rep. Fitzpatrick also emerged. Investor Andrew Meehan, whose father is a former Philadelphia County Republican chairman, made public his intention to run and won’t be easy on Mr. Fitzpatrick. Attacking from the right, Mr. Meehan described the Congressman as a “weak-kneed, fake Republican whose anti-Trump and a Trump-hating RINO.” Rep. Fitzpatrick won a close 51-49% victory last year in a court re-drawn district. He can expect to again be a Democratic target next year.
Speculation coming from central Pennsylvania suggests that state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale will announce his congressional candidacy within or around the July 4th holiday break. Mr. DePasquale is ineligible to seek re-election to his statewide position and will be a formidable opponent for Rep. Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg). The court-mandated 2018 redistricting plan drastically changed this York-Harrisburg anchored seat from a safe Republican CD to a politically marginal district. Mr. Perry was re-elected last November against first-time candidate George Scott (D) with a 51-49% majority, and another close finish against Mr. DePasquale will be projected.
Former Philadelphia suburban Congressman Joe Sestak, who lost the US Senate race to current incumbent Pat Toomey in 2010, came out of nowhere yesterday to announce his presidential candidacy. Mr. Sestak, who served as an Admiral in the US Navy and on President Clinton’s National Security Council before being elected to Congress, is billing himself as Admiral Joe for the presidential campaign. His late start, he says, is due to his daughter’s illness and her overcoming brain cancer for a second time. At this point, with little possibility of qualifying for the debates, he is the longest of shots to become a credible candidate.
Investor John Chrin (R) challenged Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/Scranton) in 2018, and held him to a ten-point victory, 55-45%. Earlier in the year, Mr. Chrin filed an FEC committee for 2020 suggesting that he was gearing up to run again. With other rumors flying that Mr. Chrin is also looking at the 7th Congressional District, the seat that freshman Rep. Susan Wild (D-Allentown) won, individuals close to him say it is highly unlikely that Mr. Chrin will run for any office next year.
Pennsylvania state Rep. Fred Keller (R-Mifflinburg) easily defeated Democrat Marc Friedenberg last night in the battle to succeed resigned-Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport). Mr. Keller’s victory margin was 68-32%, a stronger performance than both President Trump and Rep. Marino enjoyed in their most recent elections in the district. More than 130,000 people voted in the special election, which was a strong number considering the outcome never seemed in doubt. Mr. Keller holding this seat for the GOP means the House party division is now 235 Democrats; 198 Republicans; and 2 vacancies that will both be filled on September 10th (NC-3; NC-9).
Five-term Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler), who won re-election with a competitive 52-47% victory margin over Democrat Ron DiNicola, has drawn at least one new opponent next year. Yesterday, former state Representative candidate Daniel Smith (D) announced that he would challenge Rep. Kelly. No word as yet whether Mr. DiNicola will attempt to seek a re-match.
In the 2018 cycle, Democratic leaders attempted to convince state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (D) to run for Congress, but the latter man wanted to finish his term in office. Now, ineligible to seek re-election in 2020 to his statewide post, Mr. DePasquale may well decide to enter a federal campaign.
Though originally hailing from western Pennsylvania, Mr. DePasquale now lives in Harrisburg in order to complete the duties to which he was elected to perform. The location would allow him to challenge Rep. Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg/York) who just got by first time candidate George Scott (D), 51-49%, last November. It is unclear whether Mr. Scott, a pastor and military veteran, will consider running again. If either man ultimately becomes the 2020 Democratic nominee, the 10th District will become a major national Democratic target.
Investment executive John Chrin (R), who lost to Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/Scranton) 55-45% in November, has filed a 2020 FEC campaign committee. It appears Mr. Chrin is gearing up to run again, but there is speculation that he could hop over to the 7th District where freshman Rep. Susan Wild (D-Allentown) will be defending her seat for the first time. The 7th District is more suited to Mr. Chrin’s political base, but the 8th is more Republican and President Trump will likely carry the latter CD. Either way, it is probable we will see Mr. Chrin returning to the political wars in 2020.
Republican delegates to the special district convention chose a party nominee for the May 21st special election to replace resigned Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) in a marathon seven-hour session on Saturday.
With 14 candidates entered into the nomination process, the delegates voted four times before a winner emerged with majority support. State Rep. Fred Keller (R-Mifflinburg) is the new party nominee defeating fellow state Rep. Jeff Wheeland (R-Williamsport) and the dozen others. He becomes the heavy favorite to succeed Rep. Marino in a central Pennsylvania district that voted 66-30% for President Trump.
Mr. Keller will now face Democratic nominee Marc Friedenberg, a college professor who lost to Rep. Marino in November, 66-34%.
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