Pa. Dems shake the money tree ahead of Feb. 7 special elections | Wednesday Morning Coffee

With control of the House on the line, Democrats warn of the consequences of a GOP majority

By: - February 1, 2023 7:08 am
Pennsylvania Capitol Building. May 24, 2022. Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg for the Capital-Star).

How can you tell when it’s nearly Election Day? The tone of the fundraising gets way more insistent.

And when control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is on the line?

Much, much more insistent.

With less than a week to go before western Pennsylvania voters head to the polls in a trio of special elections for the state House, Democrats were shaking the money tree among supporters, warning of dire consequences in the case of even a single Republican win.

“While we have a Democratic ally in the governor’s mansion – right now, Republicans hold control of the Senate,” Pennsylvania Democrats wrote in a fundraising blast that went out on Monday. “If Democrats lose even one of the special elections, Republicans will keep their majority in the House and will have free reign to push their radical anti-democracy, anti-choice agenda.”

A caveat: Democrats are heavily tipped in the Feb. 7 races for the 32nd34th, and 35th House Districts in greater Pittsburgh. But politics is still an unpredictable business where anything can — and most likely will — happen.

The seats, all held by Democrats, opened up with the death of one lawmaker, long-serving Rep. Anthony DeLuca, and the resignations of Reps. Austin Davis and Summer Lee, who respectively are now serving as lieutenant governor and in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Democrats held a slender 102-101 majority right after the November 2022 elections. The vacancies gave the advantage back to Republicans, and the two sides have been sparring over control of the 203-member chamber ever since.

(Pa. Democratic Party photo)
(Pa. Democratic Party photo)

Clicking on the image above brings recipients to a donation page maintained by the fundraising platform ActBlue. Supporters can give as little as $5 or as much as $500, or designate an amount of their choice. They’re also given the option of making a one-time contribution, or opting into recurring donations.

“We need to act fast!” the email breathlessly intoned. “Will you chip in what you are able to help win these seats and protect Pennsylvania from more of the same dangerous policies the GOP has been pushing for years?”

(Getty Images)

Lest you think Democrats are outliers in this practice, the resuscitated White House campaign of former President Donald Trump regularly blasts out such emails to followers in terms far more hysterical.

Trump campaign email sent out on Monday darkly warned of the influence of progressive mega-donor George Soros, who “will pour MILLIONS in dark money into this race.”

The only bulwark, according to Trump? That would be “hardworking patriots like you, Friend, have always been the backbone of our great country AND our MAGA movement.”

Clicking on a link brings recipients to a similar donation page where they’re given the option of setting an amount for their contribution, and deciding whether they want to make it one-time or recurring.

In the past, Trump has faced criticism for using pre-checked boxes that steered supporters into making millions of dollars in recurring donations.

But some things don’t change, including Trump’s unsubtle claims that the campaign of President Joe Biden, who is widely expected to run for re-election next year, will try to “rig” the race in his favor.

Biden shuns voters and tries to rig and buy his way into power,” an email that Trump’s campaign sent to supporters on Sunday asserted without evidence. “Our campaign puts the people of our country first.”

You can expect the pace of the fundraising — and the tone of the emails — to only escalate as we get deeper into campaign season.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.