New Voter ID Requirements?

One-on-One with Steve Welch, Republican for US Senate

Steve Welch

Steve Welch

Steve Welch isn’t your typical Washington politician.  The Republican State Committee-endorsed candidate knows what it takes to build a business from the ground up. 

An engineer by degree, Welch started several successful companies in southeastern Pennsylvania and believes too few members of Congress have actually done anything in the private sector.  “They’re career politicians that have run for office after office,” Welch says, “and they just don’t have the frame of reference to understand how their decisions are affecting entrepreneurs and small business owners.” 

Upon a follow-up question, Radio PA learned that Welch supports both term limits and a lifetime ban on Senators and Congressmen serving as lobbyists.  “I think going to Washington should be a privilege to serve, it shouldn’t be the road to riches that it really has become,” he explains.

Republicans are at a 1-million voter disadvantage in the Keystone State, but Welch believes they can grow the party by focusing on the values of a smaller government, personal responsibility and family values. 

Welch was first drawn into politics in the wake of the trillion dollar federal stimulus package of 2009. He even left his job for six weeks in 2010 to work for now-Senator Pat Toomey’s campaign, serving as a surrogate speaker to business groups. 

But Welch says there is misinformation being spread about some time he spent as a registered Democrat in the mid-2000s.  Here’s what he had to say about the issue:WELCH

Radio PA has reached out to all five candidates running for the GOP nomination for US Senate.  We’ll continue to post updates here from all that respond, and run our full interviews on Radio PA Roundtable.

New Voter ID Requirements?

One-on-One with Marc Scaringi, Republican for US Senate

Marc Scaringi

After experiencing both Washington and Harrisburg as a staffer for former Senator Rick Santorum and former Attorney General Mike Fisher, Marc Scaringi returned to the private sector to open his own law firm in suburban Harrisburg. 

“Then came Barack Obama, the financial crisis and the great recession,” Scaringi explains, “and now I feel called and compelled to once again reenter pubic life, go back to Washington DC and stop the Obama/Casey agenda.” 

Scaringi is a would-be citizen legislator, who supports term limits and blames career politicians in both parties for running the economy into the ground.  “This economy has been suffocated to death by borrowing, spending, taxing and regulating,” he says. 

Small business owners are the ones who Scaringi says understand what policies work and don’t work, “because we have to suffer under the ones that don’t work out here in the private sector.” 

The remedy for this economy, Scaringi says, is to cut government down to size.  “When you have a significantly smaller federal government, you’ll have a healthier, more successful more vibrant private sector.”

One of the early entrants into the GOP US Senate race, Scaringi describes himself as a conservative constitutionalist.  He believes that restoring freedom and personal liberty – combined with a free market-based capitalist system – can lift this country out of the economic doldrums.  “We’re going to produce our way out, not borrow and spend our way out.”   

Radio PA has reached out to all five candidates running for the GOP nomination for US Senate.  We’ll continue to post updates here from all that respond, and run our full interviews on Radio PA Roundtable.

New Voter ID Requirements?

One-on-One with Sam Rohrer, Republican for US Senate

Sam Rohrer

Sam Rohrer

Republicans across the state likely remember Sam Rohrer as Tom Corbett’s opponent in the 2010 gubernatorial primary.  Berks County residents know him best as a nine-term State Rep.  Now Rohrer tells us an out-of-control federal government is compelling him to run for US Senate. 

Rohrer believes his voting record in Harrisburg can propel him to victory in the April 24th primary.  His 18-years there are marked by battles for 2nd Amendment rights, pro-life issues, no tax increases and personal freedom.  “I’m the only one who can say that I have fought those issues, and I will fight those issues in Washington.”

Rohrer was also the author of Pennsylvania’s original school choice law – the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program – while serving in the House.  His campaign has picked up the endorsements of two former presidential candidates in recent days: Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann. 

Rohrer’s currently in the midst of something called the “Red Truck Tour,” which is making 100 statewide stops in a red Ford pickup truck. “That is really our symbol of American wherewithal, of an average man, which is what I am,” Rohrer explains, “I’m not a wealthy guy, I’m just an average guy.”  He grew up on a farm in Ohio; his father was a steel worker for 43-years. 

Rohrer is a grassroots campaigner, eager to talk about his conservative credentials.  “People don’t want promises, what they want is someone they can trust.” 

Radio PA has reached out to all five candidates running for the GOP nomination for US Senate.  We’ll continue to post updates here from all that respond, and run our full interviews on Radio PA Roundtable.

Poll: Santorum has Big Lead in Pennsylvania

Fresh off of primary victories in Alabama and Mississippi, a new poll shows former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum virtually running away with the Keystone State.  Today’s Quinnipiac Poll of Pennsylvania Republicans shows Santorum netting 36% support compared to Mitt Romney’s 22%.  In a head-to-head matchup, Santorum clobbers Romney in Pennsylvania 53 – 32%.  “Pennsylvania Republicans are turning to their native son, former Sen. Rick Santorum,” says pollster Tim Malloy.  But it’s in stark contrast to the December Quinnipiac Poll that showed Santorum with mere 9% support in PA. 

On the same day as the release of the Q-Poll, the Romney campaign announced that former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge is throwing his support behind the former Massachusetts governor. 

Pennsylvania’s current Republican governor, however, remains neutral in the race.  “I will certainly be active once we have the nominee at the convention and thereafter,” Gov. Tom Corbett explains.  “What role I play before the primary still remains to be seen.” 

Santorum has named longtime Corbett political adviser Brian Nutt as his Pennsylvania State Campaign Director.  “Do not read anything into that,” Corbett says. 

But Corbett does remind all Pennsylvanians to never underestimate Rick Santorum.  “I think if I polled you all, he has gone much further than anybody sitting on those chairs right there ever anticipated that he would go,” Corbett told reporters who were gathered in the Governor’s Reception Room for a briefing on an upcoming trade mission.

PA Primary Election

Many Choices in New Hampshire Primary

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum may be getting most of the ink in the buildup to next week’s New Hampshire primary, but theirs are just two of the 30-names that will appear on the Granite State’s GOP presidential primary ballot. 

Ballot access is relatively easy in New Hampshire, where citizen candidates like Bear Betzler can find themselves doing much more than participating in democracy.  Betzler, a management consultant from Philadelphia, is the sixth name listed on New Hampshire’s Republican primary ballot.  “My name’s in just as big of letters as Mitt Romney’s,” Betzler tells us.  “The box that you get to cross off is just as big as Rick Santorum’s or anybody else’s.” 

Betzler believes Americans are fed up with partisan bickering in Washington, and he wants to set aside divisive social issues to focus on the nation’s massive debt.  “You don’t run into anyone who says this isn’t a problem.  So we all agree on it, but no one is working on practical solutions.” 

No matter how many votes Betzler tallies on Tuesday, he already views the experience as a success, and points out New Hampshire residents welcome lesser known candidates with open arms. 

Betzler isn’t the only Pennsylvanian taking advantage of the opportunity to have his voice heard on a national stage.  Longtime state Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R-Bucks/Montgomery) will also compete in next Tuesday’s New Hampshire GOP presidential primary.  Greenleaf’s been a state lawmaker since 1977.

Newt Gingrich Surges to Top in Swing State Poll

There’s a new frontrunner in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, at least in the critical swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.  A new Quinnipiac Poll shows Gingrich with a double-digit lead in all three states.  “Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is no longer just the flavor of the month since his boomlet has now stretched from November into December and voting begins in Iowa in less than four weeks,” says pollster Peter Brown. 

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich

While Gingrich rose to political fame as a Georgia Congressman, he is a native of Harrisburg, PA.  Here in the Keystone State, Gingrich leads a head-to-head matchup with Mitt Romney, 50 – 31 percent.  In hypothetical General Election matchups, Romney trails President Obama by three points; Gingrich trails by eight points.  “The fact that both Romney and Gingrich trail the president by three and eight points respectively at this point in the Keystone State could be a good sign for the Republicans given that Obama carried Pennsylvania by double-digits in 2008,” Brown explains. 

Gingrich leads the pack in Pennsylvania with 31% of likely Republican voters’ support, according to today’s Quinnipiac Poll.  In Florida, Gingrich leads with 35% support, and that number tops out at 36% in Ohio.  Since 1960, no one has won the White House without carrying at least two of these three swing states.

Capitol Rotunda Light Fixture

National Popular Vote Proponents Seize on PA Debate

Pennsylvania allocates its Electoral College votes based on a winner-take-all model.  Critics say it disenfranchises the millions of Pennsylvanians who vote for the losing candidate, every four years.  “The integrity and weight of an individual’s vote is something that must be preserved and protected,” says Luke Bernstein, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Tom Corbett. 

Bernstein appeared before the Senate State Government Committee to discuss the Corbett administration’s support of the “Congressional District Method” of allocating electoral votes.  Under this system, a presidential candidate would get one vote for winning each of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts in 2012.  The two remaining electoral votes would be awarded to the winner of the statewide popular vote. 

State Senator Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) told Bernstein his arguments illustrated the imperfections of the Electoral College, but would not correct the problem.  “Frankly if [Governor Corbett] wants to be a part of fixing it, then he probably should join Fred Thompson and others who are here today to talk about a national mass voter participation process,” said Williams, the minority chair of the State Government Committee. 

Williams was alluding to a separate event promoting the National Popular Vote (NPV) initiative.  NPV seeks to ensure that every vote, in every state, is counted equally by awarding electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide.  “They would just be ratifying what the majority of the people in the rest of the nation have done,” says Jim Edgar, the former Governor of Illinois and co-champion of the National Popular Vote initiative. 

“I don’t think America can afford anymore to have the potential divisiveness of a President who’s not elected by the majority of the people,” says the other NPV co-champion, Fred Thompson, a former Tennessee Senator, actor and one-time marginal presidential candidate himself. 

Eight states and the District of Columbia have already passed NPV legislation, which would only take effect if it’s enacted by states representing a majority of the nation’s 538 electoral votes.  With states representing 132 electoral votes on-board, NPV supporters are nearly half-way toward their goal.  In Pennsylvania, NPV legislation has been introduced in both the House (HB 1270) and Senate (SB 1116), but the bills have not seen any action.

Poll: Pennsylvanians Prefer Current Electoral College System

A new Quinnipiac University poll finds that 52% of Pennsylvania voters want to stick with the winner-take-all model, which awards all of Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the state’s popular vote.  40% of respondents favored a newly proposed plan to award Electoral College votes based on the results in each of the state’s congressional district. 

“The overall state view on this – by a margin of 57 – 32 – is that it is politically motivated.  That Republicans are doing this to get a candidate a better foothold in the state,” says Quinnipiac pollster Tim Malloy.  There is a political divide on that particular question as 57% of Republicans say the motivation is fairness in reflecting the views of PA voters.  Only 14% of Democrats agreed. 

However, Malloy was struck by the fact that support for the proposed change is merely a toss-up among GOP voters.  “It came down pretty much 50-50 on whether it’s a good idea to change it or not,” Malloy explained while breaking down Republicans’ responses for reporters. 

Asked whether they think the proposed change would affect Pennsylvania’s importance as a key swing state in presidential elections, 51% said it “will hurt” and 38% said it “won’t affect” the state’s clout. 

Republican Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) is sponsoring the proposed change, which has the support of Governor Tom Corbett.  Public hearings are expected next month.  Either way, Pennsylvania will award 20-Electoral Votes in next year’s presidential race.

Groups Unite Against Electoral Proposal

The halls of the state capitol are filled with talk of a controversial new plan to change presidential elections in Pennsylvania.  Many critics are calling it a distraction from an already busy fall agenda.  Those critics gathered in the capitol rotunda, this week, to voice their displeasure.  “It destroys Pennsylvania’s clout in the presidential selection process, transforming us from one of three or four key battleground states into the relative equivalent of Utah or North Dakota,” says State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery).

Leach is blasting a proposal to award one electoral per congressional district, based on the election results within that district.  That would account for 18 of the state’s 20 electoral votes.  The remaining two would be awarded to the winner of the popular vote in the state.  Pennsylvania’s current model – like 47 other states – awards all of its electoral votes to the candidate who nets the most votes statewide. 

Barry Kauffman

Barry Kauffman of Common Cause PA

A host of reform minded groups joined Sen. Leach to speak out against the plan, including Common Cause Pennsylvania.  “It is bad enough that Pennsylvania is a state where partisan gerrymandering runs wild,” says Common Cause PA executive director Barry Kauffman.  “But, this proposal exacerbates that problem by perpetuating unfair, irrational congressional districts in an attempt to pre-determine who will win the bulk of PA’s electoral votes.” 

Joining Sen. Leach and Kauffman were the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, Democracy Rising PA and Rock the Capital.  They spoke out on the same day that Governor Tom Corbett was reportedly in Washington DC discussing the idea with Republican members of PA’s congressional delegation. 

The proposal is being sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) and backed by Corbett.  House Republican Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) personally supports his plan, but says he doesn’t know what the consensus would be within his caucus.   

Supporters say the goal is to more fairly represent Pennsylvania voters in the Electoral College.  “Instead we hear issues like clout, or money, or number of visits by a presidential candidate,” Sen. Pileggi told reporters this past weekend.   “That’s not the focus of my bill.”

PA Abuzz Over Possible Electoral Changes

The Constitution allows each state the ability to determine how its electors are assigned in presidential elections.  In 2012, Pennsylvania will have 20-electoral votes.  How they are awarded… is now the subject of debate.  Under the current system, all 20 would be awarded to the winner of PA’s popular vote, but some believe there is a better way to do it. 

Dominic Pileggi

State Senator Dominic Pileggi (R-Del.)

State Senate Republican Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) is backing a plan that would divvy up the votes based on election results in each of the state’s 18 congressional districts, plus two votes being awarded to the winner of PA’s popular vote.  “This proposal is designed to more closely align Pennsylvania’s Electoral College vote with the popular vote in the state,” says Pileggi spokesman Erik Arneson. 

Governor Tom Corbett indicated his support for the plan on Radio PA’s monthly Ask the Governor program.  “I think it more closely reflects the vote across the state of Pennsylvania,” Corbett says, “Many people complain about the electoral process and that people are disenfranchised.  This makes the state much more competitive across the entire state.” 

This is the first time such a plan has been offered in Pennsylvania, and Franklin & Marshall College political science professor Terry Madonna believes there would be consequences.  For instance, he believes Pennsylvania’s relevance – in practical terms – would be reduced to 5 – 7 electoral votes.  “That that means that other states, with larger electoral votes, that are competitive, will get far more attention,” Madonna says, adding that this system would not have changed the outcome of any election in modern history, had Pennsylvania been using it. 

Pennsylvania and 47 other states currently follow the winner-take-all model; only Nebraska and Maine follow the model being put forth by the Senate Republican Leader. 

As Democrats have won Pennsylvania in each of the past five presidential elections, many Democrats are calling it a political power grab.  “This is exactly the behavior that is turning the public against politicians,” Pennsylvania Democratic Party chairman Jim Burn said in a statement. 

But Erik Arneson points out that the new system would actually benefit President Barack Obama, if a Republican takes Pennsylvania in 2012, as some pundits predict.  While telling us that it’s about fairness, not politics, Arneson also points out that the plan has been criticized from both sides of the aisle. 

Senator Pileggi is currently circulating a co-sponsorship memo.  The bill should be officially introduced in a few weeks, and they’ve already requested a committee hearing.  After the hearing, Arneson says, they will decide the next course of action.