Analysis moves Pa.’s closely watched governor’s race to ‘Leans Dem’ | Friday Morning Coffee

But ‘leans Democratic’ isn’t ‘safe Democratic’ – the analysis warns, in a reminder of why they call Pa. the Keystone State

June 10, 2022 7:13 am

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Glenn O. Hawbaker will pay more than $20 million in restitution for stealing from workers (Screenshot).

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

With abortion access and voting rights on the line, Pennsylvania Democrats are pinning all their hopes on state Attorney General Josh Shapiro in a gubernatorial contest that’s becoming more consequential by the day.

Shapiro faces Republican Sen. Doug Mastriano, of Franklin County, who romped to victory in last month’s GOP primary, taking just shy of 44 percent of the vote, according to the Department of State.

Mastriano, a culture warrior and election denier who was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, trounced his nearest competition, former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, who took 20 percent of the vote, unofficial returns showed. Shapiro, meanwhile, ran without opposition in the Democratic primary.

So there might be some small measure of comfort for Pennsylvania Democrats, perhaps sweating Mastriano’s outsized performance, in the results of a recent analysis moving the race from “toss-up” to “leans Democrat.”

The ruling comes from the crew of political prognosticators at Crystal Ball, the analysis shop run by University of Virginia political sage Larry J. Sabato, that was posted the day after the May 17 primary.

Establishment Republicans who were worried that Mastriano, who netted the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, was too extreme to win statewidenonetheless have lined up behind the central Pennsylvania firebrand.

“Given Mastriano’s liabilities and Shapiro’s strengths, we think that a move from Toss-up to Leans Democratic is justified. Though it is rare that we’d move such a key race in Democrats’ favor in this type of environment, we think it’s reasonable in this instance,” Coleman wrote.

“According to our sources, the Shapiro campaign isn’t taking anything for granted, nor should he,” Coleman wrote.

But, as Coleman observes, and I reinforce, “leans Democratic does not mean safe Democratic, as the environment may be so good for Republicans that even a fringe candidate like Mastriano could win.”

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz ( photo)

Meanwhile …

The Republican primary recount in Pennsylvania’s nationally watched race for U.S. Senate is a done deal. And Mehmet Oz, the Trump-backed celebrity physician whose residency is still a matter of debate, is the GOP’s standard-bearer for the fall campaign.

Oz faces Lt. Gov. John Fetterman who emerged slightly the worse for wear from the Democratic primary. And with control of the upper chamber on the line, the race remains as competitive as ever.

And that’s a reality reinforced by the recent Crystal Ball analysis, which is  keeping the contest in the ‘toss-up’ column.

“Pennsylvania is the only race that we put in that category that does not feature a first-term Democratic incumbent,” Coleman wrote in his wrap, which, again, was filed before Oz officially locked down the nomination, beating ex-hedge fund CEO David McCormick.

“With either Oz or McCormick as the GOP nominee, we are inclined to keep our rating as-is,” Coleman wrote.

Get your popcorn. And maybe some Dramamine. It’s going to be a wild summer.

A pro-Trump mob breaks through police barriers at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Screenshot from a video published by ProPublica)

Our Stuff.
A widely anticipated hearing Thursday by the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol alleged two groups supporting then-President Donald Trump planned the riot to stop the transfer of presidential power — while Trump tacitly endorsed the insurrection and was indifferent to calls to hang then-Vice President Mike Pence. Story by our Washington Reporter Jacob Fischler.

Members of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee are considering how to help farmers struggling with rising costs for fertilizer, fuel, seeds and chemicals — the unfortunate harvest of the war in Ukraine, strains on the global supply system, inflation and severe weather, Capital-Star Washington Correspondent Allison Winter writes.

The U.S. Senate is set to approve a sweeping bill in the coming days steered by the bipartisan duo of Montana’s Jon Tester and Kansas’ Jerry Moran that would expand health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits overseas — though a few final details linger, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Jennifer Shutt reports.

The Commonwealth Court may have temporarily halted the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s plan to toll nine bridges across the state, but a collection of lawmakers, activists and local government officials rallied at the state Capitol Wednesday to call on Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration to pull the plug on the initiative once and for all. Justin Sweitzer, of our partners at City & State Pa., has the details.

En la Estrella-Capital: Pa. comenzará a citar las casas de recuperación sin licencia esta semana. Y los defensores y familias se reúnen para trabajadores de bienestar infantil.

On our Commentary Page this morning: Opinion regular Fletcher McClellan explains why the Jan. 6 committee’s public hearings won’t reprise Watergate. And why do Republican elected officials fundamentally not care about gun violence? Laura K. Chapin, writing for our sibling site, Colorado Newsline, considers that maddening question.

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, speaking at a Capitol news conference on Thursday, 7/29/21 (C-Span screen capture)

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, asked for a pardon after the Jan. 6 attackU.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said during Thursday’s hearing. The Inquirer has the story.

State Sens. Scott Martin and Ryan Aument, both Lancaster County Republicans, soon will introduce legislation similar to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, the Post-Gazette reports.

USA Today Network explains why former Veep Mike Pence is a central figure in the Jan. 6 investigation.

A former Lancaster County attorney who threatened to kill Democratic U.S. senators will be sentenced Friday, LancasterOnline reports.

The U.S. Supreme Court will allow counties to count mail-in ballots that were submitted on time, but lack a handwritten date, the Associated Press reports (via PennLive).

The Morning Call takes readers on a tour of Allentown’s revitalized waterfront.

Wilkes-Barre’s fire chief says a fireworks bill now before the General Assembly doesn’t go far enough, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

Philadelphia has released the results of an independent report on city’s mishandling of MOVE bombing victims’ remains, WHYY-FM reports.

Abortion bans may prompt uncertainty among people seeking to donate their embryos, reports.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

(Image via @keith_zpix/

What Goes On
The desk is clear. Enjoy the silence.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
4:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh. Admission runs $100 to $1,000.

As of this writing, Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.

Heavy Rotation
We’ll go out this week with a track from singer/songwriter Pete Yorn. Here’s ‘Strange Condition.’

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
The Tampa Bay Lightning won game five of the Eastern Conference playoff final, defeating the New York Rangers 3-1 on Thursday night, and pushing New York to the brink of elimination.

And now you’re up to date.

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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.