Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
There’s no doubt that it’s been a very long — and very weird — six days since Democrat Joe Biden won Pennsylvania and its 20 Electoral College votes, making him the projected winner of the White House and the president-elect of the United States.
Since then, President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has filed a blizzard of lawsuits, including one seeking to block the certification of election results, that are entirely devoid of evidence. Trump himself has unloaded a barrage of falsehoods and misinformation on his Twitter feed – none of which will be repeated here. And Pennsylvania’s congressional Republicans, as we noted the other day, have fallen dutifully in line.
So it only makes sense that Trump is moving to his next line of defense, Republican-controlled state Legislatures, including battleground Pennsylvania, where the Electoral College will meet in December to vote on a slate of electors.
Last Saturday, newly re-elected state Sen. Mike Regan, R-York, seemed to give the game away during a massive pro-Trump rally behind the Capitol. There, he told a largely mask-less and very angry crowd that “I’ve been told, in no uncertain terms by the state party, by our leadership, that they are coordinating with the Trump campaign.”
In a video posted to Twitter, Regan continues, saying that “so far, Pennsylvania has done everything the Trump campaign has asked them to do. So we are working hard to make sure that this fair and free. Look, no one wants a president that is disregarded by 50 percent of the population. It is so important that we have every legal vote counted.”
Which is nonsense on its face, but it did not prevent the MAGA faithful from eating it up.
House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, says that he has not spoken with Trump’s re-election campaign, the Capital-Star’s Stephen Caruso reported Tuesday. Still, House Republicans have asserted that they’ve been deluged with calls about alleged improprieties.
This is where we’ll press pause to note that, so far, no credible evidence of fraud has been found anywhere. Even U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., a frequent Trump loyalist, has said that Trump’s assertions of “large-scale fraud and theft of the election are just not substantiated,” Business Insider and other publications reported last week.
Meanwhile, as our colleagues at Spotlight PA reported last week, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, claimed during a Fox News interview that the Wolf administration was trying to “tip the scales in favor of Joe Biden,” even as he conceded that he doesn’t “have any evidence of misdoing.”
Corman had previously pushed back against a blockbuster story in The Atlantic in September, suggesting that GOP-controlled legislatures might install their own slate of electors, undoing the will of voters.
As Caruso reported, that’s illegal under current law. Though it’s fair to note laws can be changed, whether the Legislature would try something that transparently brazen is another matter entirely.
But just in case whether legislative Republicans wondered whether Trump was paying attention to goings-on in Harrisburg, there was this tweet on Tuesday afternoon from the president:
Trump was referring to biennial reorganization votes in the House and Senate, where the four, partisan caucuses pick their leaders for the upcoming legislative session.
House Republicans picked their new leaders on Tuesday. With the fate of House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, sill up in the air, House Democrats put off their vote (late Tuesday night Dermody conceded to his Republican opponent).
As Caruso reported, House Republicans agreed that Trump was tweeting in their general direction, but the tweet was not discussed during internal leadership deliberations.
Also on Tuesday, House Speaker Bryan Cutler put veteran Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, in charge of a wide-ranging review of state election law. That action came as a cadre of House Republicans held a reality-beggaring press conference, where they called for a legislative-led audit of the election results to determine whether the election was “fairly and lawfully conducted,”
State Rep. Dawn Keefer, R-York, who’s behind the push, similarly admitted she had no direct evidence of fraud, PennLive reported. Which begs the question of why she’s wasting the taxpayers’ time when there’s a budget to finish.
Wanda Murren, a spokeswoman for the Department of State, which oversees elections in Pennsylvania, told PennLive that the election was “free, fair and secure.”
“Millions of Pennsylvanians followed the rules allowed by the [U.S. Supreme Court] and each voter, regardless of political party, must have their voice heard,” Murren told PennLive. “Allegations of fraud and illegal activity have been repeatedly debunked and dismissed by the courts. Those attacks against the core values of Americans are intended to undermine our democracy, and we must reject them.”
With his refusal to concede, and to allow President-elect Joe Biden the resources he need to pursue his transition, Trump is taking still another sledgehammer to our Democratic norms. Pennsylvania Republicans, who so often wrap themselves in the cloak of the Constitution, are abetting that effort. And it’s shameful.
The birthplace of American democracy deserves far, far better.
Stephen Caruso has more on the House Republicans drinking deeply of the Trumpian Kool Aid.
Cassie Miller updates on the latest on the U.S. Census and the U.S. Supreme Court fight over the Trump administration’s push to have undocumented immigrants excluded from congressional reapportionment.
Democratic state Treasurer Joe Torsella has conceded to Republican challenger Stacy Garrity, Miller further reports. The win means that Republicans have captured two of the three elected row offices.
Pennsylvania charted its highest, one-day total of COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, at 4,361 cases, according to new state Health Department data. Thus far, 9,086 of your friends, neighbors, colleagues and family have lost their lives to the disease in Pennsylvania.
Our Hearken Election SOS Fellow Kenny Cooper explains how young voters helped get Joe Biden over the goal line in Pennsylvania.
Our partners at the Central Voice explain how Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ community centers, which are linchpins of their communities, are adapting their services for the pandemic era.
On our Commentary Page this morning, experts at Boston University and DePaul University, explain how conservatives, who formulated the ideas behind the Affordable Care Act, came to hate it. Frequent correspondent Charles D. Allen, a retired Army colonel, explains what it’s like to be a veteran in 2020. And a Capital-Star Veterans Day tradition continues as we rerun WWI trench poet Wilfred Owen’s classic ‘Dulce et Decorum Est.’
Joe Biden cleaved off enough of Pennsylvania’s white working class voters to propel him to the win, the Inquirer reports.
There’s been a huge spike in concealed-carry permit applications in Allegheny County, the Post-Gazette reports.
If you missed the whole Dean Browning/Dan Purdy ‘I’m a Black gay guy’ viral tweet blow-up on Tuesday, the Morning Call, bless them, does their level best to explain it to you.
Pennsylvania received 10,000 late-arriving ballots after Election Day, PennLive reports.
The Citizens-Voice updates on the latest on COVID-19 cases in Luzerne County.
Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:
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With COVID cases on the rise, Philadelphia has canceled its plan to return students to the classroom this month, WHYY-FM reports.
Republican state lawmakers are flouting mask rules as COVID cases surge, WITF-FM reports.
Manufacturing is seeing a rally as tourism and the energy industry lag during the pandemic, Stateline.org reports.
President-elect Joe Biden’s transition sees the Trump White House’s ballot fight as a ‘comedy of errors,’ Politico reports.
You Say It’s Your Birthday Department.
Best wishes go out this morning to Capital-Star Washington Reporter Laura Olson, and to Candy Woodall, of the USA TODAY Capitol Bureau, both of whom celebrate today. Congratulations and enjoy the day.
Here’s some new music from emerging BritPop act, Working Men’s Club, for your Wednesday. It’s ‘Valleys.’ There are some elements of New Order, Franz Ferdinand, and some other classic acts mixed in there, with a new sheen.
Wednesday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link.
Now ex-FA Chairman Greg Clarke said some thunderously dumb and dangerous stuff about race and gender during an appearance before Parliament. It speaks to a bigger problem in the English game, the Guardian reports. It also cost him his job.
And now you’re up to date.