Gov. Tom Corbett was in the Northeast for a campaign fundraiser last week, and he told supporters that he’ll continue to push for the sale of state liquor stores.
The state House of Representatives last month passed a bill to allow beer distributors and other stores to sell wine and liquor. The change would give consumers more convenience, supporters say, and proceeds from the sale of the state store system would deliver $1 billion to public education.
The bill’s fate in the state Senate is uncertain. Democrats seem unanimously opposed, while a couple of key Republicans are less than enthusiastic.
Public opinion polls indicate Pennsylvanians favor closing the state stores.
“I think it’s important we get out of the business,” Corbett said. “This is what the people of Pennsylvania want.”
The $250-per-person fundraiser took place on March 28 at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5’s new headquarters in the Far Northeast. It was organized by the Philadelphia Future Fund, headed by Tim O’Brien, who recently retired as city bail commissioner.
Among those in attendance were city GOP bosses Vito Canuso and Mike Meehan; former City Councilman Jack Kelly; Councilman David Oh; city elections commissioner Al Schmidt; Municipal Court Judge Fran Shields; Terry Tracy, Republican candidate for city controller; and ward leader Bill Pettigrew.
O’Brien credited Corbett, 63, with having an ambitious first term.
“He stands tall with his agenda,” he said.
Polls show Corbett lagging in popularity, and Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor has indicated some interest in challenging him in the primary in May 2014.
As many as 10 Democrats are also looking at the race.
When Corbett ran for governor in 2010, the side of his campaign bus read, “Less Taxes, More Jobs.”
“That’s exactly what we’re doing,” he said. “Companies want to come to Pennsylvania.”
The governor cited successes such as adding about 111,000 private sector jobs and working with the local and federal governments to keep the Sunoco refinery in South Philadelphia from closing. He’s also excited about growth opportunities at the Port of Philadelphia.
Volvo, meanwhile, is moving its American operations to Shippensburg, and the state has eliminated the inheritance tax on family farms.
Corbett has looked for job and trade opportunities for the state during trips to France, Germany and the Silicon Valley in highly taxed California. He’ll soon depart for Brazil and Chile on a similar mission.
In the upcoming budget negotiations, Corbett hopes to include more money for programs for victims of domestic violence and people with mental and physical disabilities.
The governor also believes his proposed transportation bill will put people to work fixing roads and bridges.
A poll commissioned by EMILY’s List shows U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz with a lead in the Democratic primary for governor.
EMILY’s List provides financial support for pro-choice Democratic women candidates. The group has been a big supporter of Schwartz over the years.
The poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group, showed Schwartz with a narrow lead in a nine-person field.
Schwartz had 18 percent, followed by former congressman Joe Sestak (15 percent), state Treasurer Rob McCord (5 percent), former state Department of Environmental Protection secretary Katie McGinty (5 percent), state Sen. Tim Solobay (3 percent), Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski (3 percent), former state Department of Revenue secretary Tom Wolf (2 percent), state Sen. Mike Stack (1 percent) and former state DEP secretary John Hanger (1 percent).
Max Myers, a pastor, businessman and author from Cumberland County, was not included in the poll. He and Hanger are the only people who have officially declared their candidacies.
The newest name on the list is McGinty, a Rhawnhurst native and St. Hubert High School graduate who was an aide to former U.S. Sen. Al Gore Jr. and served as chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality during the Clinton administration.
Schwartz would enter the race with the biggest campaign treasury. The poll showed her doing especially well among women, minorities, liberals and people living in the Philadelphia media market.
Politico reported last week that Schwartz hired Reesa Kossoff as her political communications director. Kossoff handled press matters for President Obama’s re-election campaign last year in the key state of Ohio.
Assuming Schwartz runs for governor, one likely candidate for her seat is state Rep. Brendan Boyle.
Boyle on Monday announced the hiring of Democratic congressional strategists Nicole D’Ercole and Brian Smoot, who are managing directors of 4C Partners and have backgrounds in raising lots of money.
D’Ercole has ties to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Smoot worked for Priorities USA, the super PAC that assisted President Barack Obama’s re-election.
Michael Williams last week dropped out of the Democratic primary for city controller.
Williams announced his decision on March 28 on his campaign Facebook page. His departure leaves incumbent Alan Butkovitz and challengers Brett Mandel and Mark Zecca in the primary. Terry Tracy is unopposed for the Republican nomination.
In his message, Williams said Butkovitz reached out to him, and their discussion led to him endorsing the incumbent.
Williams had harsh words for Mandel, describing him as “the godfather of AVI,” referring to the city’s Actual Value Initiative to calculate property taxes. He went on to say Mandel lacked clear and constructive ideas and that he was engaging in “baseless sniping” at rival campaigns.
Gary Grisafi is the new Republican ward leader of the 53rd Ward, replacing the retired Len Amodei.
Grisafi has run twice each for state representative and City Council.
The ward has a strong Democratic voter-registration advantage, and Grisafi is looking for volunteers and committee people.
More information is available at http://gop53rdward.homestead.com or on the Gop53rdward page on Facebook.
The deadline to register to vote in the May 21 primary is April 22.
Individuals already registered can also change their party affiliations by that date. Registration forms are available at the Committee of Seventy’s website, seventy.org ••