In first ad, Dem DePasquale wants you to go where everybody knows his name | Tuesday Morning Coffee

August 11, 2020 7:07 am

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Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Democratic 10th Congressional District candidate Eugene DePasquale is on the air with his first campaign ad, a biographical spot called “Restaurant,” that punches up his blue-collar roots as the son of a Pittsburgh bar owner.

“I grew up in a bar. My family was working class,” DePasquale says in the 30-second spot filmed inside a bar that should be plenty familiar to thirsty central Pennsylvanians — the Sturges Speakeasy on Forster Street in Harrisburg, across the street from the Capitol.

“When I wasn’t bussing tables, I umpired Little League games and worked as a janitor to pay for college,” he continues, wiping down the bar and pouring suds. “I learned a lot of life lessons from the people in my neighborhood.”

DePasquale told the Capital-Star that his family owned a bar in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood.

It was initially called Allie’s, before it changed its name to the Panther Hollow Inn in 1981. As the name suggests, the bar sat between the campuses of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. It has since closed, his campaign said.

The spot will start airing today in the greater Harrisburg media market, which includes all three counties in the district: Cumberland, Dauphin and York counties, and run through Election Day.

DePasquale’s campaign would only say it was “investing six figures a week,” on the spot, which will air on broadcast and cable outlets in the district, as well as online.

Congressman Scott Perry, R-10th District, answers a question at a Hummelstown public meeting with constituents on July 30th, 2019. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

While it doesn’t say it out loud, or mention his name, the ad feels like a deliberate attempt to neutralize some of the working class cred claimed by GOP incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Perry. While overwhelmingly suburban, the district also takes in some of the more rural and blue-collar precincts of Cumberland and York counties.

In a 2018 interview with PennLivePerry said he grew up the son of a single mother (who eventually remarried); had no relationship to speak of with his birth father, and grew up in a house without electricity or indoor plumbing. In fact, “for a period of several years, Perry has [2018] told campaign audiences, the family lived using a generator for power, taking their water from a pump, and making full use of an outhouse on the property,” PennLive reported.

DePasquale’s spokesperson, Kunal Atit, said the ad was not a “juxtaposition” with Perry’s hardscrabble background.

“This is an introduction to voters in the district who don’t know who Eugene is,” Attit said.

Internal polling by DePasquale’s campaign, made available to the National Journal, showed that after two decades in public life, about two-thirds of voters in the district (63 percent) knew who he was, with a 32-17 percent positive rating.

DePasquale, of York County, served in the state House before winning election as auditor general eight years ago. He’s serving out the constitutional maximum of two terms as the state’s top fiscal watchdog.

The race is one of the most closely watched House contests in the country. Last week, Roll Call rated Perry, also a former state House member from York County, as the 7th most endangered incumbent in the chamber. The Roll Call summary notes that while “Perry has stepped up his fundraising in recent quarters … DePasquale has nearly matched him in cash on hand.”

The June internal polling that DePasquale’s campaign shared with the National Journal showed the race within the margin of error, with Perry leading 50-47 percent, with a 4-point margin.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
Speaking of Eugene DePasquale, a conservative watchdog group has filed a campaign finance complaint challenging his campaign spending, Stephen Caruso reports.

The state has awarded $96 million in first round of COVID-19 relief grants to small businesses, Cassie Miller reports.

With classes starting soon, the Wolf administration on Monday issued new guidance for school districts to transition between online and in-person instruction.

From our partners at the Philadelphia Gay Newsthese are the faces and names of the two-dozen trans people who have been murdered in the United States this year.

On our Commentary Page this morning, opinion regular Bruce Ledewitz says New York’s AG going after the NRA for fraud and self-dealing is one thing, but seeking its dissolution is a bad look. And Mansfield University political scientist Jonathan Rothermel says the pandemic has increased civic engagement — which is a good thing.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden would like to win Pennsylvania in 2020 (Capital-Star file)

Groups supporting Joe Biden have spent twice as much on TV in Pennsylvania as groups supporting President Donald Trump, the Inquirer reports.
Staff at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have voted to authorize a strike, the Tribune-Review reports.
The Big 10 is expected to make a formal announcement today on the fate of the fall seasonPennLive reports.
Republicans have ramped up efforts to monitor voting in Pennsylvania, the Associated Press reports (via the Morning Call).
The Hanover Area Schools in Luzerne County have shut down all athletic activities for the next two weeks after someone in the athletic department tested positive for COVID-19, the Citizens-Voice reports.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

Delaware has offered homeowners and renters $40M in emergency COVID-19 aid, WHYY-FM reports.
State and federal authorities are investigating swastikas painted on a Jewish temple in Harrisburg, the PA Post reports.
President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that he might deliver his RNC acceptance speech in Gettysburg, PoliticsPA reports.
Businesses are calling for immunization against lawsuits. No one’s talking about consumer safety, reports.
Talking Points Memo updates on the latest in Joe Biden’s Veep search.

What Goes On.
11:30 a.m., Ryan Office Building: Reps. Jesse Topper and Mike Reese drop a bill that would let parents send their kids back to school for an extra year to make up for any missing schooling because of the pandemic.
2 p.m., G50 Irvis: House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on COVID-19 testing.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
8 a.m.:
 Breakfast for Sen. Scott Hutchinson, R-Venango
5 p.m.: Reception for Pa. Auditor General candidate Tim DeFoor
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’ll be out a relatively inoffensive $1,500 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to our old friend, Amy Worden, now a journalism professor at Dickinson College, who celebrates today. Congratulations and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
Ask yourself, really ask yourself: Are we human? Or are we dancer?

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
faces Boston in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference playoff round tonight.

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.