New poll: Majority of Pa. voters want Toomey to keep an open mind on impeachment | Friday Morning Coffee

El senador estadounidense Pat Toomey, Republicano de Pensilvania, habla sobre los esfuerzos para combatir el tráfico de fentanilo durante un evento en York, Pa., El 21/03/19 (foto de Capital-Star por John L. Micek)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., may want to hasten President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to a hasty conclusion, but voters in a key 2020 battleground state have other ideas.

Nearly two-thirds of Keystone State respondents (62 percent) to a survey by progressive-leaning Public Policy Polling say they want the Senate to conduct a “full trial, including hearing all of the evidence and calling witnesses to testify on both sides,” compared to 35 percent who say the majority-GOP chamber should quickly consider the case, and then dismiss the two impeachment articles brought by the majority-Democrat U.S. House.

More than half of respondents to the telephone poll said they want Pennsylvania’s Republican United States senator, Pat Toomey, of Lehigh County, to keep an open mind, compared to 42 percent who say they want Toomey to vote against removing Trump from office.

President Donald Trump (Capital-Star file)

Trump, who has cast the impeachment investigation as a “hoax,” carried Pennsylvania by 44,000 votes in 2016. Republicans and Democrats are fighting hard to carry Pennsylvania, a state rich in electoral college votes, in 2020.

The touch-tone poll of 754 voters, conducted from Jan. 14 to Jan. 15, is the first barometer of public opinion of the impeachment drama now consuming Capitol Hill. The poll was commissioned by Defend American Democracy, a progressive veterans group that has called on Congress to “put country over politics.” 

Three-quarters of voters (76 percent) said they’d heard “a lot” about the impeachment, and narrow majorities believe that Trump is guilty of the two charges brought against him: Abuse of power (51-48 percent) and obstruction of Congress (52-45 percent).

The survey finds low approvals for both Trump (43-53 percent, approve) and Toomey (25-51, approve) heading into the thick of primary season. Toomey, who was re-elected in 2016, will not face home state voters again until 2022. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) say they want Toomey to support hearing from witnesses.

In a Jan. 16 statement, Toomey said he wanted the Senate to “conduct a fair trial consistent with past precedent. We will allow House managers to make their case, the President’s lawyers to make their defense, and senators to pose questions. At the conclusion of these presentations, the Senate can then decide what, if any, further steps are necessary.”

In an email, Beth Melena, a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania Democrats, said that if Toomey doesn’t get behind calling witnesses, “he is proving that he has no intention of keeping the oath he took to ‘do impartial justice, according to the Constitution and laws.’

Forty-eight percent of the poll’s respondents identified as Democrat, compared to 38 percent who said they were Republicans. Fourteen percent of respondents said they were independents.

Our Stuff.
This one is the granddaddy of all legislative retirements: Confirming days of speculation, Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Alleghenysays he’s not running for re-election in 2020. The retirement is seen largely as a preface to a 2022 bid for governor. And Turzai has not ruled out leaving before his term is up at year’s end. Stephen Caruso has the story.

Associate Editor Cassie Miller runs down the impact that the 2020 Census will have on legislative redistricting. She also sat in on a conference call with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, who shared his views on impeachment thus far.

Former state Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, D-Philadelphia, faces up to three years in jail after pleading guilty Thursday to stealing more than $500,000 from a nonprofit she once ran.

State Rep. Matt Gabler, D-Clearfield, has announced he’s not running for re-election, adding his name to a growing list of lawmakers hopping on the retirement bus. Caruso has the details there.

From our partners at the Pittsburgh Current: U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle’s D-18th District, primary challenger, Jerry Dickinson, is taking aim at Doyle’s long-running support for the Hyde amendment.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has warned the Mummers to stop wearing blackface — or risk getting canceled, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report. And City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart has called for a faster, less expensive way to fight gun violence in the city.

On our Commentary Page, opinion regular Mark O’Keefe says the cost of a trio of special elections in the Pa. House in March is anything but special for the taxpayers.

Love Park in Philadelphia (Photo via Flickr Commons)

Elsewhere.
The new, progressive members of Philadelphia City Council are making their presence felt, the Inquirer reports.
Residents in West Mifflin, Allegheny County, are voicing their concerns over a police altercation with a young girl on a school bus, the Post-Gazette reports.
PennLive speculates on a post-Turzai universe in the state Capitol.
The Morning Call looks at one way that officials in Northampton County are trying to avoid repeating the fiasco of the 2019 elections.

Residents in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood are banding together to support a minimum wage hikeWHYY-FM reports.
The PA Post says charter and school reform allies are losing a major ally with House Speaker Mike Turzai’s departure.
U.S. Reps. Conor Lamb, D-17th District, and Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th District, are headed to Iowa to campaign for Joe Biden, PoliticsPA reports.
Stateline.org looks at a ‘last-minute’ push by red states for an advantage in the U.S. Census.
Roll Call has a press gallery eye’s view of the impeachment proceedings — and how senators are filling the time.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf heads to Pittsburgh for a 10:30 a.m. event, where he’ll talk about advancing innovation in his 2020-21 budget plan.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s new music from Britpop outfit Inhaler, it’s ‘We Have to Move On.’

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
It’s All-Star 
weekend and the NHL has announced the participants in this year’s skills competition.

And now you’re up to date.