NextGen America funder Tom Steyer (Flickr Commons)
Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Reminding us that there is possibly no force on earth more powerful than a rich dude possessed with belief in his cause — and plenty of time on his hands — we give you progressive billionaire Tom Steyer.
The Californian first made a splash in Pennsylvania in 2016, putting his super PAC, NextGen America, behind a multi-million dollar push tor register young voters and get them to the polls. In 2017, roughly 30 minutes, it seemed, after President Donald Trump took office, Steyer was running television ads calling for Trump’s impeachment.
Last year, Steyer returned to Pennsylvania with another (successful) push to register young voters during the midterm elections. And this year, activists were on the ground in the overwhelmingly Republican 12th Congressional District (of all places), again registering young voters — but also laying important groundwork for 2020.
Now, with Washington in the grip of full impeachment fever in the wake of the Mueller Report, and Congressional Democrats riven over whether to begin an impeachment inquiry against Trump, Steyer is back, this time with a petition drive aimed at getting Capitol Hill Dems to finish the job he started two years ago.
And Pennsylvania, once again, is Ground Zero in that push.
Steyer’s group, Need to Impeach, announced this week that, since posting its online petition in 2017, it’s collected 310,000 signatures from Pennsylvanians who support Steyer’s call for impeachment.
A spokeswoman for the group, Victoria Vinali, told us this week that the group saw a spike in signatures after the Mueller Report’s release in April, breaking 8 million signatures nationwide.
In the weeks since the report’s release, Steyer’s group has been targeting Democratic districts across the nation, particularly those represented by members of the House and Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees. They’ve done that through both digital (which you may have seen) and TV ads (which you’ve definitely seen), Vinali told us.
In Pennsylvania, that means freshman Reps. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District, and Madeleine Dean, D-4th District, who both serve on the Judiciary Committee, and who would be among the House managers of a potential impeachment inquiry, have been part of that targeted effort.
To date, Steyer’s group has collected 20,160 signatures in Scanlon’s Delaware County-based seat, and 22,280 signatures in Dean’s Montgomery County-based district.
This week, both Scanlon and Dean came out in favor of opening an impeachment inquiry, making them the second and third members of Pennsylvania’s Democratic delegation (after U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-3rd District, who’s been on that bus for a while).
Here’s how the signature count looks across the rest of Pennsylvania, according to data provided by Steyer’s organization:
PA1: U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R): 19,670
PA2: U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D): 18,700
PA3: U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D): 27,290
PA4: U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean (D): 22,280
PA5: U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D): 20,160
PA6: U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D): 21,160
PA7: U.S. Rep. Susan Wild (D): 20,480
PA8: U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D): 18,010
PA9: U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser (R): 12,220
PA10: U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R): 18,360
PA11: U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R): 13,970
PA12: Ex-U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R): 10,920
PA13: U.S. Rep. John Joyce (R): 10,850
PA14: U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R): 13,090
PA15: U.S. Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R): 9,910
PA16: U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R): 14,710
PA17: U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D): 17,890
PA18: U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D): 20,800
Now, take a closer look at those numbers. The concentration of signatures isn’t particularly surprising in the seats that represent Philly’s inner ring suburbs (PA1-6). Nor are they especially surprising in Cartwright’s 8th District or Doyle’s 18th District seats.
But a closer look reveals more people have signed the petition in Perry’s central Pennsylvania-based 10th District seat than they did in Cartwright’s northeastern Pennsylvania district. There’s also an appreciable number in Smucker’s Lancaster County-based seat. And the strong showing in Lamb’s 17th District seat also sends a clear signal.
Those signature numbers are reflective of both the changing demographic and registration pictures in all three of those seats. We’ve known for a while now that central Pennsylvania has grown bluer since 2016. And a stronger challenger in Perry’s seat could well have made the difference in 2018.
The numbers in Lamb’s seat reinforces the Democratic resurgence in Pittsburgh’s North Hills, echoed by legislative wins that saw two Democratic women, Lindsey Williams and Pam Iovino, both sent to the state Senate.
As we noted earlier this week, there’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that Trump’s victory in 2016 was an aberration (driven by a constellation of one-time factors), not transformational, and that the state’s natural political balance is now reasserting itself.
Perhaps understandably, Steyer was crowing about the ground his group has gained since 2017. It’s a reminder that money and persistence pays off. All told, Steyer has spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million on his impeachment campaign, according to published reports.
“We’ve seen leaders like [U.S. Reps] David Cicilline [of Rhode Island] and [Scanlon] show that they’re ready to step up and fulfill their duty to the Constitution by beginning an impeachment inquiry,” Steyer said in a statement provided to The Capital-Star. “Donald Trump continues to flout the rule of law and show blatant disregard for democratic accountability on a daily basis, but this week, the American people are seeing real leadership in Congress. Now, it’s up to [U.S. House Speaker Nancy]Pelosi and top Democrats to follow their lead and defend our democracy.”
Game on, it would seem.
Stephen Caruso spent some quality time with state Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, who was at Harrisburg’s Broad Street Market on Thursday to argue her case for a $15/hr. minimum wage.
Elizabeth Hardison has voter turnout numbers in the 33rd and 41st Senate Districts, where voters cast their ballots Tuesday during a pair of special election contests.
On our Commentary Page, a pharmacy professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh says it’s time to mandate asthma screenings for Pa. school kids. And a scholar at Knox College suggests that the biggest thing ailing our politics is a lack of humility.
A Scheduling Note: There will be no Morning Coffee newsletter on Monday, May 27, 2019. We’re off for the Memorial Dayholiday. We’ll return to standard business on Tuesday, May 28. Enjoy the long weekend with your families and friends. Remember to take a moment to remember and pay tribute to those whose bravery and sacrifice gave us this holiday in the first place.
The Inquirer explains how, for less than $300, powerful people can take away your right to free speech.
Republican members of Congress are asking Gov. Tom Wolf to give them a hand on the Mexican border, PennLive reports.
Pittsburgh is still losing population, but it’s not as bad as it used to be, The Post-Gazette reports.
As it seeks to reduce a $21 million deficit, the Allentown school district is looking at job cuts and a $3.5 million tax hike, The Morning Call reports.
Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:
The Inquirer is looking at buyouts to reduce its newsroom staff, WHYY-FM reports.
A factory in Snyder county sent texts to 900+ displaced workers thanking them for their service, the PA Post reports.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will appear at event in Delaware County with U.S. Reps. Madeleine Dean and Mary Gay Scanlon as calls for impeachment grow, PoliticsPA reports.
Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.
You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to our former PennLive colleague, Mark Pynes, who’s celebrating today.
Here’s the new one from U.K. rapper, Stormzy, it’s “Vossi Bop.” See if you’re not dancing around your office by the time this one ends. We dare you.
Friday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
Baltimore dropped another one to New York, losing 6-5 on Thursday. Ugh.
And now you’re up to date.
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