‘We’re not taking any votes for granted,’ Biden team says as Pa. heats up | Tuesday Morning Coffee

September 15, 2020 7:21 am

PHILADELPHIA, PA – MARCH 10: Democratic Presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden addresses the media and a small group of supporters with his wife Dr. Jill Biden during a primary night event on March 10, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Six states – Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Washington, and North Dakota held nominating contests today. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Let’s start off this morning with accepting a couple of things as true.

First, it’s that all roads to the White House run through Pennsylvania. And one of the major highways runs through NEPA.

Don’t believe us? Turn on cable news for more than a nanosecond, and you’ll hear pundits dissecting Pennsylvania politics with such fluency that you could swear they were reared on a diet of Old Forge pizza, Yuengling, and kolache.

Second, it’s that Democrats believe that former Vice President Joe Biden, who hasn’t lived in Pennsylvania since you and I and the world were young, holds the keys to victory in his onetime home state and the 20, winner-take-all Electoral College votes that come with it.

In a campaign memo made public Tuesday — backed up by conversations with senior Biden campaign officials — the Democratic nominee’s team laid out some of the steps it’s taking to help lock up Pennsylvania in November.

Below, you’ll find the Top 3 takeaways from that memo and our conversations.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – MARCH 09: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduces Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign rally at Renaissance High School on March 09, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Michigan will hold its primary election tomorrow. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

1. The Importance of Black Voters:  We learned, for instance, that Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will travel to the Keystone State on Thursday for an event mobilizing Black voters, a constituency that Biden’s campaign has begun to more aggressively court in recent days, The Hilla publication that covers Congress, reported on Monday.

The campaign is particularly focusing its attention on Black men, The Hill reported.

As a voting bloc, Black men had  “become more disillusioned and disaffected with the Democratic Party over the last couple of cycles,” Senior Biden Adviser Symone Sanders said, according to The Hill.

“Black men are concerned about their children, they’re concerned about their economic status, they’re concerned about the next generation in terms of education, in terms of their interaction with police,” U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., a co-chair of the Biden campaign, said according to The Hill.

In Pennsylvania, senior campaign officials said the Biden team was on the air on Black radio stations in Philadelphia, and had launched a new series of ads specifically targeting Black voters in the Keystone State, who didn’t warm up to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – on August 31: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks as members of the press listen during a campaign event at Mill 19 on August 31, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Biden criticized President Trump’s response to protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

2.  Scranton Joe, Scranton Joe and more Scranton Joe: The campaign intends to aggressively contend on Biden’s home turf in northeastern Pennsylvania, where they hope his “plan to create good-paying, union jobs” will resonate with blue-collar voters who “have been directly hurt by President [Donald] Trump’s trade wars and tax policies that helped corporations and the wealthy over working Pennsylvanians,” the Biden team wrote in a campaign memo obtained by the Capital-Star.

“We’re going on offense in places like northeastern Pennsylvania,” a senior Biden adviser told the Capital-Star. “We think his deep roots really allow him to resonate and connect. Joe Biden is someone who has empathy and concern” for working-class voters.

As we noted in this space on Monday, NEPA was key to Trump’s win in 2016. Democrats are looking to Biden to hold Lackawanna County, which went 49.8-46.3 to Hillary Clinton in 2016; and to try to win back Luzerne County, where Trump romped 57.9-38.6 percent over Clinton four years ago.

If there’s a bright side for Biden, it’s that NEPA is a lot more diverse than it once was. The stereotypical coal country voter is being supplanted by a younger, more diverse population. To that end, we’d direct you to this must-read piece by the Capital-Star’s Patrick Abdalla.

(Getty Images)

3. The Outreach Game: To reach all those varied constituencies, the campaign told reporters Monday that it’s upped its outreach efforts with nearly 5 million text and phone calls, among other measures.

“We’re having quality conversations with people who tell us why they’re supporting Joe Biden,” the senior Pennsylvania campaign official said Monday. “Trump is on defense … and we will continue to make inroads with people who are tired of Trump’s broken promises.”

To further sway voters, the campaign said in its memo that its “organizing meetings in every region of the state to bring together friends and neighbors to share their personal stories about why they’re supporting Joe Biden.

“We have a really robust organizing program that are activated communities across the commonwealth. Seen volunteer engagement increase  more than 350 percent since our convention,” another senior campaign official told the Capital-Star. ” … We’re not taking any votes for granted.”

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

Our Stuff.
A Texas judge ruled this doctor was not an expert. A Pennsylvania Republican lawmaker invited him to testify on trans health care anyway, Stephen Caruso reports.

A federal judge in Pittsburgh has declared Gov. Tom Wolf’s key COVID-19 restrictions unconstitutional; Wolf is planning an appeal, your humble newsletter author can report.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will display Antwon Rose Jr.’s name on their helmets for the whole season, our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper report.

On our Commentary Page this morning, opinion regular Fletcher McClellan says that if you’re thinking about trying to make predictions for 2020, you should probably stop now. And plummeting ticket sales during the pandemic should probably be evidence enough that publicly funded sports stadium for billionaires who really don’t need the help are a terrible idea, occasional contributor Colin McNickle opines.

In other federal court action Monday, a federal appellate court has struck down SEPTA’s ban on political advertising, ruling that it’s been ‘arbitrarily applied,’ the Inquirer reports.
A suburban Pittsburgh school board member used profanity prior to a Zoom meeting on Monday night, the Post-Gazette reports (paywall).
Peaceful protests in Lancaster continued Monday night after police shot and killed a man over the weekend, PennLive reports.
The Morning Call has five big takeaways from Monday’s federal court ruling declaring Gov. Tom Wolf’s shutdown orders unconstitutional.
There will be no public tickets to a CNN town hall in Lackawanna County featuring Joe Biden, the Citizens-Voice reports.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:


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Dog or parrot?

A post shared by Jackie De Tore (@jackiedetore) on

Erie police hope to have body cams in place by Oct. 1GoErie reports.
Three students in the State College schools have COVID-19, school officials have confirmed, according to WPSU-FM.
Joe Biden has endorsed Democrat Eugene DePasquale in the closely watched race for central Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional DistrictPoliticsPA reports.
The pandemic and Trump administration policies have ‘chilled’ international student enrollment at American college and universities, reports.
goes deep on mail-in voting rules in a trio of 2020 battleground states — Pennsylvania among them.

What Goes On.
The House comes in at 1 p.m.
12 p.m., Capitol Steps: Rally for energy jobs.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
Pandemic or no, the fundraising machine grinds mercilessly onward.
7 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Natalie Mihalek
7:15 am.: Breakfast for Rep. Martin Causer
7 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Brad Roae
7:30 a.m.:  Breakfast for Rep. Patty Kim
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Tom Mehaffie
8:30 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Nick Pisciottano
11 a.m.: Reception for Rep. Sue Helm
11 am: Reception for Rep. Josh Kail
11:30 a.m: Reception for Rep. Seth Grove
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Mike Regan
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Peter Schweyer
6 p.m.: Reception for the House Republican Campaign Committee
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’ll part with an absolutely offensive $28,500 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to veteran Harrisburg PR guy and longtime Friend O’ the BlogJeff Jubelier. Congratulations and enjoy the day, sir.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s an old fave from Elvis Costello & the Attractions to get your Tuesday rolling. It’s ‘Everyday I Write the Book.’

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
pulled out a big one over Atlanta on Monday night, winning 14-1. The Os are still nine games out of first place in the AL East. But we’ll take the win.

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.