Here’s the latest news out of Pennsylvania:

The TV ad is no-holds-barred.

It bluntly attacks a decision of the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Supreme Court. And on Saturday, the state Bar Association said the spot went too far.

The ad says the Democratic contender, Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin, “chose to void the guilty plea of a drunk driver who admitted to killing a pregnant woman and her unborn child.”

What the ad doesn’t say is that McLaughlin hadn’t declared the defendant not guilty or thrown out the case. She had merely joined another judge in saying the man’s defense lawyer had bungled his job and that the defendant should be retried.

The ad surfaced last week as the race for an open seat on the state Supreme Court took a negative turn in the late stages of the Nov. 2 election. Until then, both Republican Kevin Brobson and McLaughlin, a Democrat, had focused their advertising on positive, if tame, messages about their qualifications. That changed when Brobson, president judge of the statewide Commonwealth Court, launched his Oct. 18 attack ad.

On Saturday, the Bar Association said the ad crossed the line, violating standards of accuracy and integrity in campaign advertising that both campaigns agreed to follow as part of the bar’s candidate evaluation process.

In its letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Inquirer, the bar’s Judicial Campaign Advertising Committee said it had directed Brobson’s campaign to “immediately withdraw” the ad. Alternatively, the Brobson campaign can issue a news release clarifying “those portions of the advertisement that the JCAC has found to be in violation of its Guidelines.”

Specifically, the letter says the ad violates the bar’s guidance that campaigns should “refrain from making statements that might be subject to misinterpretation or distortion” and “should not omit or obscure information necessary to prevent misinterpretation.”

Here’s the current state of this race:

Spending in the race for an open seat on Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court has blown past $5 million, according to new campaign finance reports, with less than two weeks left until Election Day.

Reports filed with the state Friday show that most of it, or roughly $3 million, has been spent to help Republican Kevin Brobson, including spending by third-party groups in the race. That compared with about $2 million to help Democrat Maria McLaughlin through last Monday.

The reports are out as attack ads are hitting the airwaves on both sides.

Brobson's largest donor, by far, is a group that receives millions from suburban Philadelphia billionaire Jeffrey Yass, whose favored issue is boosting public school alternatives, like charter schools, and has become perhaps the largest donor to Republicans in Pennsylvania. It has spent more than $1.7 million to help Brobson.

The state Republican Party also has spent more than $500,000 to help Brobson, while a number of business associations also have contributed money to Brobson.

For McLaughlin, labor unions have contributed more than $900,000, while the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association's political action committee has given almost that same amount. The state Democratic Party has kicked in about $300,000, according to the reports.

The amount spent goes well beyond the last race in Pennsylvania for an open high court seat, in 2017, but remains short of the top spenders in 2015′s contest for three open seats.

The election is Nov. 2. The amount spent on the contest before then could easily exceed $6 million, with the campaigns reporting more than $1 million combined in unspent money and new contributions.

Brobson and McLaughlin are running for a vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Thomas Saylor. The high court is currently in Democratic hands, 5-2, so the race will not change the partisan majority.

Here’s an update on the two big races happening next year in Pennsylvania. First, the U.S. Senate race:

Sean Parnell may have the backing of former President Donald Trump, but the Pennsylvania Republican also has significant personal baggage that is raising concerns about the GOP's ability to hold one of the most competitive Senate seats in the country next year.
A rival Republican candidate has revealed details about Parnell's ongoing and messy divorce and custody cases, part of an increasingly ugly GOP primary in the Keystone State that is giving Republicans in both Washington and Pennsylvania pause. While it is unclear what Parnell's estranged wife had alleged about him, documents showed she was granted two protective orders against him, though they were later expunged. But the news coverage in local papers of the revelations are prompting party leaders to privately question Trump's choice to succeed retiring Sen. Pat Toomey in one of Democrats' top-targeted seats.
As the 2022 midterm primaries approach, Trump is using the sway of his endorsement to reshape the party in his image, backing challengers to Republican incumbents who cross him or rewarding the most loyal candidates with his blessing. But questions around some of his chosen candidates — both their alleged pasts and their ability to clear the field in primaries — suggest there may be limits to the Trump effect.
And Parnell isn't the only Trump-backed candidate facing scrutiny about his troubled past, with Senate candidate Herschel Walker of Georgia also having to address questions about his alleged past behavior.
The Republican establishment, meanwhile, is raising concerns that the party apparatus is too willing to accept Trump's chosen candidates, particularly when those candidates risk damaging the GOP's ability to win key races to building majorities in Congress.
CNN has learned that multiple GOP senators and donors are asking Florida Sen. Rick Scott, the powerful chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, about why his political consultants are also working with Parnell in the primary, according to three Republicans with knowledge of those conversations. The consultants in question hail from OnMessage, a campaign strategy firm who count Scott and Parnell among their many Republican clients.
And now, at least one additional credible Republican is considering entering the already crowded primary, three Republican sources familiar with the field tell CNN, because of concern about Parnell.
“His failure to coalesce party officials or party activists behind him is not a good sign. That should have happened already,” said one Pennsylvania-based Republican operative who is unaligned in the Senate race. “Parnell has not locked up the race.”
Asked about the conversations between the concerned Republicans and Scott, Chris Hartline, a spokesman for the NRSC said the committee does not get involved in primaries.
“The voters of Pennsylvania get to choose their nominee,” said Hartline.

Second, the Governor’s race:

Running for statewide elected office in Pennsylvania is as expensive as it is exhausting. Would-be candidates commonly seek money pledges from major backers before jumping into a race.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano is doing that for the 2022 Republican primary for governor. He’s waiting on a financial sign. From God.

The Franklin County senator and his wife, Rebecca “Rebbie” Mastriano, spoke last week at Time Ministries Church in Bedford County.

It was a standard event for Mastriano, pushing debunked claims about 2020 voter fraud, complaining about public safety measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, and repeatedly mocking fellow Republicans for not measuring up.

You know, church talk.

Mastriano and his wife said they are praying about a campaign, according to a recording of the event obtained by Clout. She told the crowd the couple have “a monetary fleece out there,” meaning a prayer “that only God” can answer.

The couple have done this before. They issued a fleece before he entered politics in 2019. God kept them waiting until the day before their deadline, she said.

“Sometimes He does wait until the last minute,” she said.

While they wait, Mastriano showed no hesitation in attacking the primary competition. He mocked former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta of Hazleton, who released a poll this month showing him as the early favorite for the Republican nomination.

“That was a rigged poll,” said Mastriano, offering as proof his own poll showing himself as “the top guy in Pennsylvania.”

Mastriano’s most frequent target was Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, a Centre County Republican who might make a play for governor. Corman in August pulled Mastriano from his most public platform, a push for a partisan review of the 2020 election results.

“Maybe you should draw a line in the sand with Democrats, not someone in your own party,” Mastriano said of Corman. “You do reap what you sow. I don’t know that he’s going to last very long.”

Corman and Barletta declined to comment. Mastriano did not respond to Clout’s hails.


Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters announced they will be endorsing Josh Shapiro for Governor. Shapiro currently serves as the Pennsylvania Attorney General.

“Josh Shapiro has proven himself to be a champion for working families and has earned the support of workers,” said Bill Hamilton, President of the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters. “Josh stands with the Teamsters and we’re proud to stand with him as the next Governor of the Keystone State.”

During his two terms as Attorney General, Josh Shapiro has made protecting Pennsylvania workers his top priority. He created the first-ever Fair Labor Section of the Office of Attorney General to combat wage theft, tip stealing, misclassification and similar unlawful actions in the workplace. Shapiro also prosecuted the largest prevailing wage criminal case on record — in Pennsylvania or in the United States – and successfully secured restitution for the Central Pennsylvania Teamsters Retirement Income Plan in a case against Citibank after they were found to have committed fraud.

Democracy and Health are on the ballot this year (Pennsylvania Supreme Court Elections) and next year and we need to get ready to keep Pennsylvania Blue. Let’s help Shapiro give him an early momentum boost. Click below to donate and get involved with Shapiro and his fellow Pennsylvania Democrats campaigns and organizations:


Josh Shapiro for Governor

U.S. Senate

Conor Lamb

John Fetterman

Val Arkoosh

Malcolm Kenyatta

Pennsylvania Courts

Maria McLaughlin for Supreme Court

Timika Lane for Superior Court

David Spurgeon for Commonwealth Court

Lori Dumas for Commonwealth Court

Maraleen Shields for Court of Common Pleas Judge

Lt. Governor

Brian Sims for Lt. Governor


Ed Gainey for Pittsburgh Mayor

District Attorney

Larry Krasner for Philadelphia District Attorney

Pennsylvania Organizations

Pennsylvania Democratic Party

Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee

Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Campaign Committee

Fair Districts PA

Draw the Lines PA

Committee of Seventy


Chris DeLuzio for Congress

Eugene DePasquale for Congress

Jerry Dickinson for Congress

Matt Cartwright

Susan Wild

Chrissy Houlahan

Madeleine Dean

Dwight Evans

Mike Doyle

Mary Gay Scanlon

  • October 25, 2021