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Reposted from The Rick Smith Show by S Kitchen

On yesterday's program, Steven Singer, 8th grade school teacher from western Pennsylvania and member of the Badass Teachers Association, joined Rick to talk about how Pennsylvania Republicans are attacking teachers during Teachers Appreciation Week and what he did when his students came into class talking about Baltimore and Freddie Gray.  

Singer had to options.  Ignore what the students were talking about or ditch the lesson plan and give them a lesson in social justice.  He picked the latter of the two.  You can listen to Steven's interview HERE.

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Reposted from Scout Finch by poopdogcomedy
Tap water near a fracking disposal site
Yummy!
Mmmm, mmmm! Nothing like a nice, cold glass of chemicals to wet your whistle:
An analysis of drinking water sampled from three homes in Bradford County, Pa., revealed traces of a compound commonly found in Marcellus Shale drilling fluids, according to a study published on Monday.

The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, addresses a longstanding question about potential risks to underground drinking water from the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The authors suggested a chain of events by which the drilling chemical ended up in a homeowner’s water supply.

How did it get there?
Toxic fluids used in drilling and hydraulic fracturing likely escaped an unlined borehole and migrated thousands of feet into a residential drinking-water supply in Pennsylvania, according to a study published Monday.
Why this study is a big deal:
"This is the first documented and published demonstration of toxic compounds escaping from uncased boreholes in shale gas wells and moving long distances" into drinking water, said Susan Brantley, one of the study's authors.
I mean, who could've ever guessed that injecting 280 billion barrels of toxic fracking wastewater into the U.S. each year might eventually threaten our water supply?

As you might expect, those in the business of fracking wastewater disposal say it is no biggie:

The industry has long maintained that because fracking occurs thousands of feet below drinking-water aquifers, the drilling chemicals that are injected to break up rocks and release the gas trapped there pose no risk. In this study, the researchers note that the contamination may have stemmed from a lack of integrity in the drill wells and not from the actual fracking process far below. The industry criticized the new study, saying that it provided no proof that the chemical came from a nearby well.
"No proof" sounds a lot like the defense deployed by cigarette companies for decades.

What how fracking and fracking wastewater disposal has changed one Pennsylvania community just 250 miles east of Bradford County (warning, disturbing images):

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Reposted from weinenkel by poopdogcomedy
World's End State Park, Sullivan County.
Over the last decade, Pennsylvania has emerged as a powerhouse when it comes to drilling and pumping and making money off of natural gas—in short, fracking.
Both oil and natural gas production had been in decline in the U.S. for decades before hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques allowed companies to plumb deep shale formations that had previously been unreachable. Since then, natural gas production has increased by 20 percent, and it is expected to more than double in areas like Pennsylvania and Ohio over the next ten years. Similarly, oil production, which had been on the decline in the U.S. since the 1980s, shot up by nearly 50 percent between 2008 and 2013.

Those shale booms — in Appalachia, North Dakota, and elsewhere — now have pipeline builders playing catch-up. Today, more than 1.5 million miles of natural gas pipeline pass beneath city streets, highways, parkland, and waterways — and more than 100,000 miles of that was added just between 2002 and 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Oil pipelines are booming, too, with 25,000 miles added to a 190,000-mile network in the last decade.

Pennsylvania has billion dollar pipeline projects in the works as we speak. With so much money it is not surprising that amnesia has settled in about the ecological fate of some of Pennsylvania's own inhabitants—trout.
The colorful fish, which need cold, clean, water to survive, were devastated in Pennsylvania during the coal boom of the early 20th century. For decades, old mines leached acidic poisons into thousands of streams. After many years of work and millions of dollars spent on stream rehabilitation, trout have returned to some of these waters.
Another pipeline is proposed for completion in 2017—the penneast pipeline. The company says it will deliver one billion cubic feet of gas per day! A total of 4.7 million homes will be heated! A total of 12,000 jobs supported! But, unlike the obvious safety hazards being a focal point of protests, there are other environmental issues posed by pipeline construction.
Like erosion, sedimentation is as old as rock and rain, as serious as a flash flood, and it can get far worse after workers dig holes, scrape roads, topple forests and change natural waterways to make way for pipelines. Sedimentation can kill a trout stream by making the water dirty, shallow and warm, biologists say. And the effects can trickle down to people’s taps. The PennEast pipeline will cut across steep mountains veined with brooks and creeks, the likes of which feed municipal water supplies used by 8 million Pennsylvanians — almost 60 percent of the state.
When you consider the magnitude of oil and gas violations in Pennsylvania over the past decade, the standard statements from pipeline proponents can make one look askance. And while things like legions and tumors growing on fish in Pennsylvania have not yet been directly attributed to potential water contamination—water contamination is indeed happening in Pennsylvania.

There are numerous issues at play, both with water contamination and ecological contamination, in the actions and infrastructure of the natural gas industry. The money is too good right now, but how good is it really and who is it good for, exactly?

Tens of millions of dollars have been invested in Pennsylvania over several decades to clean waterways that were polluted by coal mining in the 19th and 20th centuries. Success stories include Kettle Creek, which pours into the Susquehanna River in the north-central part of the state; the Lackawanna River in the northeast; and dozens of other streams that again support healthy populations of rainbow, brown and native brook trout. The benefits have rippled up through the ecosystem in the form of income for the state from hunting and fishing licenses and cleaner water for farms and homes.
That's a lot of investment in the state that will potentially go to waste in order to make the private sector more wealthy.
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Reposted from pdc by poopdogcomedy
This is ridiculous:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is preventing one of his own judicial nominees from moving forward, for reasons nobody seems to understand.

Toomey has long supported Luis Restrepo, who President Barack Obama nominated in November to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. When Restrepo was nominated to be a district court judge in 2013, Toomey ushered him through the process, hailing his record as a magistrate judge and his volunteer work in the community. He boasted about Restrepo being one of three Latino federal judges he helped to confirm, and when Obama tapped him to be a circuit court judge last year, Toomey called him a "superb" choice.

But Toomey is now blocking Restrepo's nomination by not submitting his so-called "blue slip" to the Judiciary Committee, which gives the chairman a green light to move forward with a nominee. The committee won't take up a nominee until both home-state senators turn in their blue slips. Pennsylvania's other senator, Bob Casey (D), turned his in a while ago. - Huffington Post, 5/5/15

Why would Toomey do this? Sorry, he just doesn't have the time to answer that question:
"No, I'm not. Well, let me explain how that works to you. But I've got to run for this lunch," he said, walking away quickly. "But I support his confirmation."
Now there is a legit reason why this is becoming a judicial emergency:
In the nearly six months that he's been waiting for a hearing, the vacancy he would fill has become a "judicial emergency." That means the number of cases per panel of judges on that court exceeds 700, or is between 500 and 700 for more than 18 months. The more overloaded those judges get, the more delays there are in justice being carried out.
Sounds like someone is afraid to piss off his conservative base because he faces re-election next year. Well it's this type of shit that makes Toomey appear vulnerable and more focused about next year's election than doing his job. While PA Democrats figure out who their nominee should be, I for one back Joe Sestak's (D. PA) comeback bid. Click here to donate and get involved with his campaign:
Congressman Joe Sestak stands with his daughter Alex (left) and wife susan (right, behind) as he gives his concession speach after losing to Pat Toomey on Tuesday, October 2, 2010 at the Radnor Hotel.  //ed note: ROB KANDEL / THE MORNING CALL  ***** Headline:  2010 THE YEAR IN REVIEW ** From a quadruple homicide in Northampton to the defeat of Pennsylvania's longest-serving senator, 2010 will go down as a year of heartache, anxiety and political change (12/26/10) *****
http://joesestak.com/
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Reposted from ruby red shoes by ruby red shoes

The group "Save Our Allegheny Ridges" (SOAR) meets in the pilots' lounge at the Mifflin County Airport.

I heard about the group when I attended a regional glider competition, just to watch them take off -- the competition itself is a week-long event with nothing much to see since the competitors are up in the sky and miles away, racing down the ridges to loop around and catch the wind back up to where they started. They have to return each day by sunset: that or ditch their gliders in a farmer's field and pay for damages. You can't land a glider in the dark.

I have a friend who's into gliding and invited me to come check it out. He's an older local hippie and Vietnam vet who's been fixing airplanes since Hanoi. A techy now for an international set of the flying elite, he's been flown to Europe numerous times to fix private jets, and is ground-crew and airstrip head master during the regular, regional gliding competitions. This place offers world class soaring. If you know what you're doing up there, you can catch updrafts and "cloud streets" from Central Pennsylvania to Knoxville and back in a single day without ever touching the ground.

The best conditions for soaring are in the spring and fall, when the migratory birds also take advantage of the Flyway in the wind that drops you off and picks you up in Tennessee. Glider pilots all have fond memories and fishing trip type stories of the raptors and waterfowl and other migrants they see joining them as they soar the Alleghenys. These guys do their annual bird count from the air.

I'd bet that all glider pilots are Airforce veterans. It takes a lot of skill and training to "read the airways" enough to get around up there without a motor. Gliding is expensive, too: $100,000 gets you started soaring on the cheap. Glider pilots are well-heeled Airforce veterans. And although soaring is relatively benign, having almost no carbon footprint at all, it’s a high risk or "extreme" sport. It has its fatalities from time to time.

The pilots' lounge at the airport is like a clubhouse. This is Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, you understand. It isn't posh; it’s more like VFW meets local Amish carpenters. It’s clean and it serves its purpose. There's a large kitchen and plenty of more or less comfortable places to stretch out and sleep. There's an office, and a conference room with a nice big table, where SOAR meetings are held. It looks like a retired colonel's idea of "no frills;" more like a barracks than a lounge.

About a dozen SOAR members meet in the conference room, a mix of upper-income Airforce veterans and your average local Sierra Club types. SOAR's activities so far have been centered on penning letters to the editor of the Lewistown Sentinel. They also take local hiking groups up onto the ridges now and then, to look at areas that are either threatened by or already developed for wind power. They keep an eye on things. They evaluate sites, talk to landowners in the planned path of and adjacent to and downhill from wind power installations, and seek cooperation from the companies building the turbines. SOAR would like to stop wind development permanently in our neck of the Allegheny ridges. But where wind power already exists in the Flyway or can't be stopped, they want to see it meet ideal specifications related to protection of wildlife and the local landscape.

The group and its issues are about as NIMBY as it gets. Many of us are against fossil fuels: oil, coal, natural gas. Nuclear power? No thank you. There are those against the stupidity of design and land-use  in deciding to construct gigantic solar monocultural fields when there are so many new, ingenious ways to keep solar small and decentralized. Burning wood contributes to deforestation and fills the air with smoke. Now we’re against wind power too? We have to use something, right? Who decides these things?

A better question is, who decided NIMBY was so bad? Turns out, the term “NIMBY" was created by corporate propagandists, because it "chills community activism by debasing residents, as if they wanted all the benefits of our industrial society, but none of the costs. It also begs the question, 'In whose backyard, then, should it go?'.”

Several months after the evacuation of Love Canal, corporate flacks created a new phrase - NIMBY - an acronym for "Not In My Backyard."  First appearing in the Christian Science Monitor in November, 1980, it was identified as a phase "used in the trade" of chemical companies.
SOAR and its issues are NIMBY, alright; but it has to be. The Allegheny Flyway is like no other place in the world. If local people won't work hard to protect the Flyway in our own backyard, no one else will.
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Reposted from S Kitchen by S Kitchen
 

The following was crossposted from the Raging Chicken Press.   There are more links and audio of Vereb comparing union workers to Baltimore Rioters on the original page.

Last week was a banner week for Pennsylvania Republcians when it came to itchy twitter fingers and making extremely stupid statements on the Baltimore Rebellion.  State Representative Stephen Bloom got the ball rolling by blaming the situation on President Obama.  State Representative Mike Vereb retweeted a meme of President Obama taking a selfie in front of a burning CVS, which was not picked up by the media, and then later in the week, Vereb went on the Dom Giordano radio show and compared union workers to rioters in the city.  Then Congressman Mike Kelly made some pretty flippant remarks about the levels of poverty experienced in Baltimore.  On Sunday morning, Keystone Progress blasted out an email that quoted the Congressman saying “This is turning into anarchy and you have people doing things that are absolutely horrible and then saying, ‘oh it was just because I wasn’t given a chance,’ oh my God, give me a break…” on another conservative talk radio show.

Over the past few months, I have posted some of the dumber things that State Representative Mike Vereb has released on twitter.  Vereb is a former police officer from suburban Philadelphia and a corporate security guard for Comcast, and according to his legislative website, he was a sponsor of the unconstitutional bill that attacked Mumia Abu Jamal’s right to speak out from prison.  Then a couple of weeks ago, State Representative Dom Costa – another former police officer – stated that he and Vereb are spearheading legislation that would make it a crime to taunt a cop in public because of emotional reasons.

Since I am blocked from Representative Vereb’s personal Facebook page, an astute reader of the Raging Chicken Press forwarded me Representative Vereb’s cover photo that he has been using since December, and man oh man, it is this photo a dozy.  While “typing leik dis,” Vereb has posted photos that some can describe as anti-protester, possibly racially charged and definitely pro-cop.  The representative called President Obama the “emperor of the United States” after the president’s immigration executive order, called for the arrest of Ferguson demonstrators outside of an Eagles game for inciting a riot that never happened,  posted photos on Facebook of getting a police escort through Center City Philadelphia while Ferguson solidarity demonstrations were going on, and claiming “Blue Power” while attending a Penn State Football game at Yankee Stadium after the non-indictment of the cops who chocked Eric Garner to death.

On the Represntative’s Facebook account, he has a cover photo from the pro-police blog The Police Wife Life that is titled STOP BLAMING THE POLICE!  The photo reads:

Facts:

Less than a million officers in the US, 313.9 million residents in the US.  Only 245 police per 100,000 residents.

12 million arrests per year.  34,000 arrests per day.  400 fatal police shootings per year.  Less than 1% who encounter police die.  99.9% who encounter police….LIVE!

Every 58 hours an officer dies on duty.  Over 58,000 officers assaulted each year.  Only 245 officers per each 100,000 persons.  760,000 officers for 319.9 million people.

Police kill less than one percent of those they encounter and the vast majority are justified.

Right, no wonder why Representative Vereb think’s it’s a great idea to make taunting a police officer some sort of felony in Pennsylvania.  I mean taunting a police dog is a class three felony, so what will taunting a cop be?  According to the photo Vereb has on display and, most likely his whole entire attitude toward Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Kimani Gray and other young black men killed at the hands of police officers, the vast majority of police related killings are justified so they’re just dead and shit out of luck?

But let’s save the best part of the photo for last…

And for those who like to throw the race-card 91 percent of blacks are killed BY MEMBERS OF THEIR OWN RACE.  ALMOST 500 MORE WHITES DIE EACH YEAR THAN BLACKS.  [Emphasis not my own]
For our readers purposes, the blogger makes it known that she is married to an African American cop.  Putting that aside let’s talk about some of these claims.

First off.  No one really knows how many “justifiable” homicides there are at the hands of police officers each year.  That “400” figure comes from police departments self reporting police related killings because there is no federal requirements or database that keeps track.  The number can be as much as three times the original claim.  One website, Killed by Police tracks “corporate news reports of people killed by nonmilitary law enforcement officers, whether in the line of duty or not, and regardless of reason or method,” and the “inclusion implies neither wrongdoing nor justification on the part of the person killed or the officer involved. The post merely documents the occurrence of a death.”  According to the website, there have already been 392 police related killings in 2015, in 2014 there were at least 1,101 incidents and in 2013 (from May 1 to the end of year) there were 770 police related killings.

The second point is this racially charged trope of “black on black” crime.  As mentioned above, the photo claims that 91 percent of murders within the African American community are “black on black” murders, and the same can be said about the white community.  Last November, the Washington Post fact checked Rudy Giuliani after he made an appearance on Meet the Press and claimed that 93 percent of murders within the black community are black on black crime.  According to the FBI, murders in the white and black communities are intraracial and rarely cross racial boundaries.  The FBI Uniform Crime Report shows that 90 percent of murders in the black community are intraracial, and in the white community, that number is 83 percent.

The Washington Post goes tackles most of the other claims that the photo in question raises.  For instance, the photo claims that less than 1 percent of all police encounters are fatal and justified.  Probulica discovered that black men were 21 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than their white counterparts.

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Reposted from S Kitchen by S Kitchen

No, really folks.  A Pennsylvania Republican, Mike Vereb, went on a conservative radio show based out of Philadelphia and compared unions to Baltimore Rioters.  

Of course there's some back story to this.  For the past 3 years, Pennsylvania's ALEC style think-tank, The Commonwealth Foundation, has been pursuing laws that would make it illegal for union workers to follow bosses around town and protest outside of their place of residence.  Laws that allow unions to commit these acts of free-speech date back to the 1930's and conservatives want to change that.

Last year, a group of Philadelphia Ironworkers, the president included, were charged and convicted of arson and intimidation, and the right-wing used this high profile incident to push really hard pass the legislation while Governor Corbett was still in office - and failed.

The GOP has renewed their efforts in curbing these not so subtle acts of direct action and have already passed a bill out of the Senate.  While on the radio show, Vereb was asked about this law and said the following:

They inflate their rats or they do whatever they do.  But destructing property in Baltimore style tactics is just not something any of us want and I think that legislation will ultimately be sent to the governor.
You can read the full report and listen to the radio conversation HERE:
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Reposted from MichaelMorrillPA by ruby red shoes

Read the Full Report Here

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Today, a new report unveiled at City Hall, showed how the controversial Susquehanna International Group (SIG) is leveraging direct ties to the Koch Brothers, Scott Walker, and right-wing groups to try to influence the Philadelphia mayoral race.

The explosive report, High-Frequency Hucksters: Right Wing Financial Traders from The Suburbs Bet Big On The Philadelphia Mayoral Race, developed by Keystone Progress in conjunction with Hedge Clippers, highlights how Susquehanna International Group (SIG) is trying to bankroll Anthony Williams’s mayoral campaign and inject right-wing causes into the upcoming Democratic primary, including restricting minority voting rights, tax policies that favor the rich, and the privatization of public schools.

"Anthony Hardy Williams has a disturbing pattern of flirting with the far right," said Keystone Progress Executive Director Michael Morrill. "He is a long-time supporter of vouchers, charters schools and other right wing schemes to weaken public schools.  Keystone Progress uncovered that Williams has, in the past, used taxpayer dollars to attend events held by the ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council as a state legislator, while aggressively denying his connection to the organization.  This is how he operates."  

After spending more than $6 million on Williams’ failed bid for Governor, Susquehanna International Group (SIG) now want to make him mayor. The partners of the firm—Joel Greenberg, Jeff Yass, and Arthur Dantchik–are willing to spend big to advance a right-wing agenda that benefits the one percent at the expense of regular Philadelphians, the report reveals.

The report’s examination of political donations by Greenberg, Yass, and Dantchik shows millions spent on Republican interests and thousands spent to elect Scott Walker, the Republican Wisconsin Governor who is reportedly running for President with support from the Koch brothers.

Here is the right-wing money trail the SIG partners have left in their wake:

$4.6 million to the Cato Institute and Institute for Justice-- two DC groups that lobby for tax policies that favor the rich and undercut investment in local communities.

$2 million to the pro-privatization group Students First, founded by right-wing Amway heiress and conservative bankroller Betsy DeVos, sister of Erik Prince, the founder of the mercenary outfit formerly known as Blackwater.

$30,000 spent on the election efforts of Scott Walker, the Wisconsin Governor who rolled back union rights in that state. More funds have also flowed to Walker from groups like the American Federation of Children, another beneficiary of SIG money.

$20,000 to FreedomWorks, a group that helped lead the fight for “Voter ID” laws used to disenfranchise minority voters.

Substantial financial backing of the “tax credit for school scholarships” scheme that the Philadelphia Inquirer said cost Pennsylvania $127 million, “despite minimal oversight, regulatory loopholes and little evidence of its effectiveness.”

The report also scrutinizes the record of Anthony Williams, and it explains why SIG is investing so heavily in Williams’ mayoral bid:

In conjunction with the Corbett administration and Republicans, Williams was co-sponsor of the bill that created generous tax credits for businesses who contributed to private school scholarships, draining dollars for public schools.

Williams was the sponsor of a bill that would circumvent local district’s control over charter schools.

Williams supported legislation that would weaken teacher rights.

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Reposted from S Kitchen by S Kitchen

Teamsters President James Hoffa was in Hershey this week for the annual Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters.  At the conference, Hoffa was interviewed by Rick Smith, host of the Rick Smith Show, and at the beginning of the interview, Hoffa called "bullshit" on President Obama's TPP strategy.

Here's the portion of the interview:

Rick Smith:  I gotta talk about this trade agreement.  In the opening we had President Obama saying "You can trust me.  I am not going to sign these trade agreements."  Yet he signed KORUS, Panama, Columbia and now this?

James Hoffa: Well, everybody in Washington is talking about this.  I mean this is the biggest issue right now.  They call it TPP - Trans Pacific Partnership, and I always call it NAFTA on steroids.  This thing is huge.  It covers the entire Pacific, and there's an idea here.  Obama's got this idea that we're going to surround China.  Well that's bullshit.  You're not going to do that.

Hoffa then goes on to raise questions about the deals secrecy and why it is not being released to the public.  You can listen to the rest interview here.
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Reposted from pdc by poopdogcomedy
Received this e-mail from Joe Sestak's (D. PA) U.S. Senate campaign today:
Sen. Toomey says one thing in Pennsylvania, and then does another with his votes in Washington, D.C. Let's take a look.

On the left, below, we have what Sen. Toomey says in Pennsylvania, from his April 24 newsletter. On the right is what he does when he gets to Washington, D.C.

Click here if you would like to donate and get involved with Sestak's campaign:
Congressman Joe Sestak stands with his daughter Alex (left) and wife susan (right, behind) as he gives his concession speach after losing to Pat Toomey on Tuesday, October 2, 2010 at the Radnor Hotel.  //ed note: ROB KANDEL / THE MORNING CALL  ***** Headline:  2010 THE YEAR IN REVIEW ** From a quadruple homicide in Northampton to the defeat of Pennsylvania's longest-serving senator, 2010 will go down as a year of heartache, anxiety and political change (12/26/10) *****
http://joesestak.com/
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Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by poopdogcomedy
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) speaks with U.S. Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Bill Shuster during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing August 16, 2014. REUTERS/How Hwee Young/Pool (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR42M52
House Transportation Chair Bill Shuster meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang
Republican Rep. Bill Shuster has had a rough couple of years, and things are only getting worse for him. Shuster turned back an underfunded primary challenge from Art Halvorson by an unimpressive 53-35 margin, with Travis Schooley taking the rest. While Shuster's ability to get transportation appropriations for his rural conservative district was once a political asset, Halvorson and Schooley attacked him as an out-of-control spender.

Shuster's image as a corrupt insider was only reinforced after news broke that not only was the divorced congressman dating an airline lobbyist, he used his post as chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to fast-track a bill she favored (Shuster says she never lobbied his office after they started seeing each other). Halvorson has talked about running again, but he's ready to drop out in favor of a stronger candidate.

The Hill's Scott Wong reports that wealthy businessman Tom Smith, who was the Republican nominee against Sen. Bob Casey in 2012, is "seriously thinking about" running. While Smith hasn't said anything publicly about his plans, Halvorson confirms that the two met and says he'd back Smith "100 percent" if he jumps in. Given how poorly Shuster did against Halvorson even before the airline lobbyist story broke, it's a good bet he'll be in real trouble if Smith runs. And while Schooley talked about running again in January, he's instead seeking a post on the Franklin County Board of Commissioners this year.

If Smith gets in and has a clear shot at Shuster, the incumbent is going to need to work very hard to win here. Romney won this seat 63-36, so Team Red shouldn't have any problem holding it regardless of what happens.

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Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by ruby red shoes
Pennsylvania Republican senatorial candidate Pat Toomey (L) shakes hands with Democratic senatorial candidate Congressman Joe Sestak before their debate at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 20, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Shaff
Pat Toomey (on left) and Joe Sestak
Whatever your opinion of him, ex-Rep. Joe Sestak has always been a strong fundraiser, which makes his weak first-quarter haul quite surprising. Sestak pulled in just $312,000, a small sum for a big state like Pennsylvania—especially when many local (and even some national) Democrats have been thirsting to see an alternative challenge him in the primary. (By comparison, in his very first fundraising report during his first run for the House in 2006, Sestak pulled in $427,000.)

So what's going on here? There are a few possible alternatives: 1) The DSCC and Pennsylvania Democrats are trying to dry up his fundraising and succeeding; 2) Sestak, the Honey Badger of Pennsylvania politics, is just campaigning his own way, doesn't give a damn if people are gunning for him, and will raise money when he feels like it; or 3) Sestak is yesterday's news and simply lacks the fundraising firepower he used to have.

The first and last options would spell real trouble for Sestak, but if we're behind door number two, he may yet be able to pour it on. However, the sharks are swarming, and Sestak already has a rival for the nomination, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. Pawlowski's no one's idea of an instant threat, but Sestak just flashed a sign of real weakness, whether he intended to or not.

He does still have $1.7 million banked, but that doesn't look impressive compared to GOP Sen. Pat Toomey's $7.2 million war chest. That gap might be enough of an inducement for a stronger candidate, like Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, to enter the race after all. Sestak's going to have to turn things around if he doesn't want to see that happen.

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