Exclusive: Downplaying bleed in the west, Wolf donor memo pumps up the ‘burbs for 2020 | Thursday Morning Coffee

Gov. Tom Wolf (Commonwealth Media Services photo)

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

As we’ve noted previously, Tuesday night was a pretty good night to be a Democrat in most parts of Pennsylvania. The Philly ‘burbs went blue and Dems captured the Delaware County courthouse for the first time since the Civil War. Dems similarly had a pretty good night in the Lehigh Valley, despite some … erm … eccentric voting machine issues.

The same could not be said of western Pennsylvania, however, where Republicans ran up the score in former Democratic labor strongholds in Greene and Washington counties, solidifying a trend that’s been in place for several election cycles. And despite gains in central Pennsylvania, the sprawling exurb of Cumberland County remained squarely in GOP hands.

So it’s not surprising to see Democrats trying to spin the entirety of Tuesday’s results to their advantage, as is the case in a memo to party stakeholders and loyalists obtained exclusively by the Capital-Star.

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The memo, penned by Jeff Sheridan, who served two tours with Gov. Tom Wolf, first as spokesman in 2014, and then as campaign manager in 2018, trumpets Democratic gains under Wolf and the “historic” wins the Philadelphia suburbs on Tuesday night:

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“All of Governor Wolf’s efforts, working with partners across the state, over the last several years have set up Pennsylvania Democrats to make even more gains at the state Capitol in 2020,” Sheridan writes.

It’s not entirely incorrect. Democrats benefited from a good 2018 cycle, closing the GOP edge in the state Senate and the state House. Wolf deserves a lot of, but not all of, the credit.

Hardworking candidates in both chambers, such as Sen. Katie Muth, D-Montgomery, and Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, had as much to do with (if not more) their respective victories than whatever favorable topography Wolf helped to create.

Ditto for the Dem Congressional candidates who benefited from a good map, but nonetheless worked to narrow a 13-5 GOP majority to 9-9 by the time the votes were counted on Election night. And based on Tuesday’s results, there’s a strong argument that Dems are, indeed, set to make further gains in the presidential cycle, when Pennsylvania will once again play a determinative role.

Perhaps predictably, the email ends with a fund-raising solicitation.

“But Governor Wolf cannot do it alone – he needs your help!” Sheridan finishes emphatically. ” Help support Wolf PAC so Governor Wolf can continue working with his partners and make important investments in down-ballot races across the Commonwealth.”

Brace yourselves, there’s going to be a lot of these between now and next November.

WikiMedia Commons

Our Stuff.
There never was a man like Gene … Stephen Caruso chats with Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks, who won a seat on the Bucks County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night. As one of the last suburban moderates left standing, he’ll leave behind a hole that a shrinking delegation of collar county Republicans will struggle to fill.

Speaking of the suburbs, here’s our analysis of the voter realignment that played such a huge role in Democratic victories in the southeast — and what that says about 2020 here, and elsewhere.

Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender runs down the extensive committee role that Pa. U.S House members, of both parties, will play in the unfolding impeachment action against President Donald Trump.

From our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune, we have a pair of stories. First up, an affordable housing project in Philly’s Hunting Park neighborhood nabbed $700K in state assistance on Wednesday. And, keeping our #PennForward project rolling, the Trib’s John N. Mitchell has the story on how Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council agreed on some anti-gun violence cash.

On our Commentary Page, Philly attorney Daniel Miller argues that the age of Trump should spur a renaissance of civics education in our schools. And a New York Institute of Technology scholar writes that
many states now require anti-bullying training that includes a focus on LGBTQ students – but risks remain.

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Elsewhere.
A $3 million loan program is looking to jumpstart development in North PhiladelphiaPhillyMag reports.
Pittsburgh City Paper has its Election Night post-mortem, including how Allegheny County DA Steve Zappala dominated the ‘burbs.
Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and state Republican leaders disagree over how widespread voting issues were on Tuesday nightPennLive reports.
Lehigh Valley election officials say they’ll take additional steps to ensure voter privacy in 2020, the Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:

Elections officials in Philly are also vowing to correct any voting hiccups ahead of 2020, WHYY-FM reports.
A new Bucknell University poll shows mixed results on whether to pay college athletes, WITF-FM reports.
Despite big Democratic wins in the southeast, four southwestern Pa. counties went red on election night, PoliticsPA reports.
Stateline.org 
looks at efforts to recruit foodies and (ugh) ‘hipnecks’ as new hunters, Stateline.org reports.
Politico explains how the impeachment transcripts portray ‘a damaging, consistent’ narrative for President Donald Trump.

What Goes On.
So this is pretty cool. At 11 a.m., in the Main Rotunda, a group called ‘Joy to the ‘Burg,’ will sell a benefit record to help the homeless. ‘Do They Know it’s Shipoke?’ doesn’t really roll off the tongue, so we’ll be looking forward to this one. At 2 p.m., a group called the ‘Liberty Justice Center,’ rolls out a new lawsuit during an event in the East Wing rotunda.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf 
holds a 1:30 p.m. newser in the Reception Room to encourage Pennsylvanians to get health insurance.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
5:30 p.m.: 
Reception for Rep. Brett Miller
6 p.m.: 
Reception for House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a mind-bending $27,500. And, yes, Cutler blows the bell curve with a $25K maximum ask for his event at Butcher and the Rye in Pittsburgh.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from Courtney Barnett, it’s ‘Elevator Operator.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
St. Louis 
beat Edmonton 5-2 on Wednesday night to notch their fifth straight win.

And now you’re up to date. 

An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.