Last updated on April 9, 2021
📹On @FOX43, Sen. Toomey says he wants PA to adopt Georgia's new election laws. I ask what he says to BPOC who say those policies make it harder to vote? He said it's a "ridiculous argument."
"Are we really supposed to believe African Americans and POC don't drive in America?" pic.twitter.com/npE8Kg7PSH
— Matt Maisel (@Matt_Maisel) April 7, 2021
In an interview with York, Pa.’s WPMT television station, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Lehigh) was asked about the recent Georgia election law and how Black people and other people of color who have opposed that bill said it will make it harder for their communities to vote. Toomey then called that a “ridiculous argument” and then insisted that forms of identifications, like drivers license, are ubiquitous among everyone, including BIPOC people.
“Are we really supposed to believe African Americans and people of color don’t drive in America? That they don’t get drivers’ licenses?” said Toomey to WPMT. “And even if you thought that, which I don’t. I think Black people do drive.”
Americans of all backgrounds do, of course, drive. But there are also millions of Americans who don’t drive, or even have access to a vehicle, and those Americans are disproportionately BIPOC.
According to the most recent Census data, 8.7% of households in America don’t have access to a vehicle. Breakdowns of household data by race are only available from the 2000 Census, but even data from 20 years ago shows that nearly 6 million non-white households in the U.S. had no access to a vehicle, and finds driverless rates among people of color were disproportionately higher than white households.
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party wasted no time going after Toomey over these idiotic comments. Received this e-mail yesterday from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party:
We’re fuming mad. Pat Toomey went on camera today to defend Georgia’s new Jim Crow 2.0 laws and call for similar voter suppression in PA.
Toomey then called the concerns of Black voters in Georgia “ridiculous” because “Black people drive.” It’s the kind of mind-numbingly ignorant retort we’ve come to expect from a Republican Party with no interest in listening or serving.
But here’s the worst part: Whoever the GOP picks to replace Toomey will likely be even more extreme and undemocratic.
The race to win Toomey’s seat is heating up. The Democratic Primary field just got a little more crowded:
Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, launched her bid for U.S. Senate on Monday, touting her experience as a physician and head of the state’s third-largest county — and one of its most Democratic.
Arkoosh, a Democrat from Springfield Township, has led her county’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, elevating her profile in the Philadelphia region over the last year.
“We are just at a critical time in our country,” Arkoosh, 60, said in an interview. “People are wondering how we’re gonna come out of this pandemic, we have some real issues around systemic racism and we’ve got some long-standing issues that need to be tackled like climate change. And as I talk to Pennsylvanians, they want someone who is going to commit to doing the hard work. I’ve been a problem solver all my life.”
Arkoosh was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board in 2015, a year after an unsuccessful run for Congress. She won a full four-year term later that year and again in 2019. She was unanimously elected chair by her fellow commissioners in 2016.
More crowded by the day, the race for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania expanded again on Wednesday as two more potential candidates entered the mix.
Sean Parnell — an Army veteran who pursued a losing bid for Congress last year against U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Mt. Lebanon, and then joined a failed effort in court to invalidate the results — was said to have called a local Republican leader to talk about a run for Senate in 2022.
Sam DeMarco, chair of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday that Mr. Parnell said he’s “99.9% committed to running” — a conversation first reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“I told him that I enthusiastically supported his entering the race,” Mr. DeMarco said. “I think he would be a compelling and formidable candidate.”
Mr. Parnell, a military veteran who fought in the war in Afghanistan and whose Congressional candidacy was backed by former President Donald Trump, lost by a 51% to 49% margin to Mr. Lamb in last November’s election.
He then joined other Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, in asking the courts to toss out mail-in ballots and effectively overturn the results of the 2020 election.
First, it could decide Senate control.
Right now, the Senate is 50-50, but operationally Democratic since Vice President Kamala Harris’ role as Senate president includes the clout of a tie-breaking vote.
Second, it’s an open-seat race, rare in Pennsylvania. We’ve had only three in the last half-century: 1976, after Republican Hugh Scott decided to retire; 1980, after Republican Richard Schweiker announced he wouldn’t seek reelection; and 1991, a special election following the death of Republican John Heinz.
(Purists argue 2010 was an open-seat because incumbent Republican Arlen Specter switched parties and then lost in the Democratic primary. I don’t see it that way. Discuss among yourselves.)
Ours, as of now, is one of five open-seat Senate races nationally. All five are held by Republicans: Alabama, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and here. All but one is seen as likely, leaning or safe for the GOP. That one is Pennsylvania.
Yes, there’s another election day just around the corner. It’s May 18. And, in fact, thanks to no-excuse mail ballots, widespread voting is already open.
In addition to deciding local races, voters this year will elect a slew of new judges to Pennsylvania’s three statewide appellate courts — judges who will no doubt shape important policy in the state for at least the next decade.
These are some of the most powerful positions in state government. But the elections that determine who gets the jobs tend to get little attention from voters. In the last two judicial election years that featured partisan contests, turnout hovered in the low 20% range, compared with more than 70% turnout in 2020’s record-setting election.
“Odd-year elections are not like major presidential, legislative election years,” said Deborah Gross, who heads the nonprofit Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts.
In Pennsylvania, judicial hopefuls run in partisan, statewide elections, as opposed to being selected based on merit by the commission, by the governor and legislature, or being elected in a nonpartisan contest, as in many states. After serving a 10-year term, they run in nonpartisan, yes-or-no retention elections, which they almost never lose.
That initial partisan election means judges must run under the umbrella of a political party, raise money through campaign committees, and collect endorsements from political groups. There are crucial differences from other political races, though. Judicial candidates aren’t allowed to solicit donations directly. They also can’t promise to rule a certain way on any specific issues.
Here’s a guide to the roles and recent histories of the courts, and the candidates who are hoping for a chance to shape them.
If you want to cast a ballot in the commonwealth, you can register online, or by filling out this form and returning it to your county election office. You can also register in person at your county office, at a PennDOT driver’s license center, or at a variety of other state-run offices.
Voters can double-check their voter registration using the state’s online portal.
Voters can apply for mail ballots — by submitting a request online, sending this form to the county election office, or going in person to the county election office to request one — through May 11. Mail ballots must be received at county election offices by 8 p.m. on May 18.
Anyone can register to vote, so long as they will have been a U.S. citizen for at least 30 days before the election, are a resident of Pennsylvania, and are going to be at least 18 on or before Election Day.
Also, meant to pass this along, but received this e-mail from Fair Districts PA:
Time is short for redistricting reform. We’ve been seeing signs that we’re being heard. One is a totally redesigned Pennsylvania Redistricting website, with far more information than in the past. Another is an invitation for citizens to apply to be the fifth member of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. You can see the website and the application here.
Despite those developments, we know the next few months will be critical in ensuring fair maps for PA for the next decade and beyond.
Thank you to all who heeded the call to meet with PA legislators to talk about LACRA, the Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act. Around 90 captains and over 700 constituents have been working hard to set up meetings and explain the bills and why we care so much about this issue. Sixty-one meetings were held in March, yielding 28 cosponsors for House Bill 22 and 7 for Senate Bill 222. New totals: 49 cosponsors in the House; 16 in the Senate.
Another 64 meetings are scheduled for the weeks ahead. There are over 100 more to schedule. Not all legislators agree to meet, so we’ll be asking constituents to call, email, and write letters to the editor.
Our goal in April is to be even more active in asking for fair maps and a fair, transparent process. Today we’re launching April Action, asking all FDPA supporters to consider five actions a week for the next four weeks.
We’re partnering with the League of Women Voters for a People Powered Fair Maps National Day of Action. The official day is April 29, with many local actions that day. There will also be events planned for days surrounding that, including an action on the capital steps in Harrisburg on April 28, while legislators are in session.
Find details to get started on April Actions here.
Thanks for your support of this essential, foundational reform.Maps Matter!
Fair Districts PA
PS: You may have missed the New Republic article on prison gerrymandering on April 1 (here). Two individuals quoted in that article, Robert Saleem Holbrook and Brianna Remster, will be speaking at our Southeast PA End Prison Gerrymandering forum this evening. Senator Sharif Street will also be speaking. Senator Jay Costa will be joining us Saturday.
Here are the links to the four remaining forums:
Let’s get ready to keep Pennsylvania Blue and expand our majority in the U.S. Senate. Click below to donate and get involved with the Democratic Senate candidate of your choice and with these Democratic candidates and organizations:
- John Fetterman
- Val Arkoosh
- Malcolm Kenyatta
- Maria McLaughlin for Supreme Court
- Carolyn Nichols for Supreme Court
- Timika Lane for Superior Court
- Jill Beck for Superior Court
- Bryan Neft for Superior Court
- Deborah Canty for Superior Court
- Sierra Thomas Street for Commonwealth Court
- David Spurgeon for Commonwealth Court
- Amanda Green-Hawkins for Commonwealth Court
- Lori Dumas for Commonwealth Court
- Brian Sims for Lt. Governor
- Pennsylvania Democratic Party
- Fair Districts PA
- Draw the Lines PA
- Committee of Seventy
- Conor Lamb
- Matt Cartwright
- Susan Wild
- Chrissy Houlahan
- Madeleine Dean
- Dwight Evans
- Mike Doyle
- Mary Gay Scanlon
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