Progressive billionaire Tom Steyer’s super PAC is on the ground in #PA12 | Wednesday Morning Coffee

April 17, 2019 7:13 am

Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers,

NextGen America, the youth-vote oriented super PAC run by liberal billionaire Tom Steyer is on the ground and working in the May 21 special election for Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District.

Steyer, more astute readers will recall, is the nightmare fairy tale that Republican parents tell their kids to get them to go to bed at night. And you might know him from his nearly omnipresent television ads calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

Anyway … back to the Keystone State and what Steyer’s doing here, and why.

Larissa Sweitzer, the group’s Pennsylvania state director, tells your favorite political newsletter that Next Gen volunteers are working on getting students at Penn State University registered to vote and familiarized with the absentee ballot process ahead of the face-off between Republican Fred Keller and Democrat Marc Friedenberg (who just happens to be on the Penn State faculty).

“We want to make sure that the students have an opportunity to vote,” she said this week.

But wait, you say, isn’t the 12th District, where ex-U.S. Rep. Tom Marino romped to a fifth term last November (over Friedenberg, no less) before his abrupt resignation earlier this year, like, a billion-to-one Republican?

Well, yes, you’d be right about that.

But NextGen isn’t only focused on the #PA12 special. It already has one eye on 2020, where a massive youth voter registration push in 2018 helped flip some key congressional seats in the Philly ‘burbs. That includes the 6th Congressional District, where NextGen is holding a town hall tonight on the campus West Chester University with freshman U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan.

According to NextGen data, turnout among voters aged 18-35 increased from 20 percent in 2014 to 40 percent in 2018. And nearly six in 10 voters targeted as part of NextGen’s multi-million dollar push in 2018 turned out to vote. That cut across racial lines: Turnout among black and Latinx voters targeted by NextGen was 21 percentage points higher than those who were not.

That still may not translate into a win for Friedenberg in the special election. But as Sweitzer reminded us this week, that early organizing paid dividends in 2018. And with Pennsylvania back in play for 2020, and the youth vote mobilized, it could make an impact next year, as well.

Our Stuff.
Elizabeth Hardison
 has everything you want to know — and probably some stuff you don’t — about the water pollutants known as PFAS, and what the state and federal governments are (and aren’t) doing about it.
Stephen Caruso hit a rally on gerrymandering reform, which remains a hot topic this legislative session, especially when you frame it as a real-life game of “Risk.”
And we have a look at a series of Antwon Rose-inspired police reforms that Democrats in the state House rolled out on Tuesday.

On the Opinion side of the house, we’re proud to announce the debut of Latinx Voices, a new, recurring column dedicated to elevating the voices of Pennsylvania’s Latinx residents. We get things rolling today with a piece from Josefina Sanchez, who, with her husband, immigrated to the United States from Mexico 20 years ago. They’re still waiting for their little slice of the American Dream – and she argues that a higher minimum wage would go a long way toward getting them there. Veteran political sages Terry Madonna and Michael Young, meanwhile, mourn the ongoing death of civility in our politics and offer their prescription to save it.

Philly’s new tax assessments are out. The Inquirer explains how you can calculate your bill.
PennLive runs down the ranks of Pennsylvania’s millionaires — some don’t live where you think they might.
The Post-Gazette has its own look at that police reform legislation.
President Donald Trump called Bethlehem ‘thriving’ in a Tweet that casts some shade onBernie Sanders, The Morning Call reports.

What Happens on Twitter (No Longer Believing in Life After Love Edition)

BillyPenn explains why Philly hosting the MLB All-Star Game was announced seven years early.
Keystone Crossroads takes a closer look at Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to boost teacher pay.
Air pollution problems from the steel industry have resulted in a pair of lawsuitsStateImpact Pennsylvania reports.
The Pa. Office of Open Records has ordered Lancaster District Attorney Craig Stedman to give LancasterOnline the records for his leased SUV.
Denver’s ‘innovative’ public-private partnership on housing will serve just three reports.
Politico attempts to explain Pennsylvania to the rest of the world. Yep, it’s campaign season.
It finally happened: President Trump referred to Fox News as ‘We,’ Roll Call reports.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:

What Goes On.
The House gavels in for its final session day of the week at 11 a.m.
8:30 a.m., 60 East Wing: State lawmakers, the Pa. Treasury and the AARP on the need foran auto-IRA style retirement security savings program for working Pennsylvanians.” We have no idea what that means. So we put it in quotes.
11 a.m., Capitol Steps and/or the Main Rotunda: People’s Budget Lobby Day for better wages and schools.
11 a.m., Media Center: Rep. Tony DeLuca, one of DeLuca’s garishly fabulous suits, and also Auditor General Eugene DePasquale on matters affecting the Penn Hills school district.
11:30 a.m., Main Rotunda: House Republicans on victims’ rights bills

Gov. Tom Wolf heads to Marietta, Lancaster County, for his 1,347th RestorePA event of the last two weeks.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
7:30 a.m.:
 Breakfast for Rep. Jim Struzzi
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Lee James
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Sen. Tom Killion
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out an entirely improbable $8,150 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to longtime Friend O’ the Blog, and Harrisburg PR dude, Dave La Torre, of Harrisburg, who celebrates today. Congratulations and enjoy the day, sir.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a live version of “Inbetween Days” by The Cure that just kind of makes us irrationally happy.

Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Oof … what a night. The New York Islanders sent the Penguins packing. And Columbus … Columbus … swept the Lightning, who could have made it all the way to the finals.

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.