WEATHER: Philadelphia: cloudy, high of 62; Harrisburg: mostly cloudy, high of 61; Pittsburgh: cloudy, high of 52.

NEW THIS MORNING:

* Pennsylvania Democrats are in striking distance of taking control of the state House, strategists in both parties say, as President Donald Trump’s unpopularity in the suburbs threatens down-ballot Republicans, and Democrats pummel GOP incumbents on the airwaves. Democratic candidates and outside groups are outspending Republicans by a margin of more than three to one across the most competitive battleground districts, according to data from the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics. Democrats need a net gain of nine seats to win a majority. Republicans currently hold a 110-93 advantage, Spotlight PA reports.

* Pennsylvania reported 1,407 new cases of COVID-19 in the state on Monday. With case counts exceeding 1,000 every day for the last 21 days, the current fall surge is starting to outpace the initial wave of infections in the spring. State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said in the past week there have been three days of more than 2,000 cases, including last Friday, the highest daily new case count since the pandemic began, WHYY reports.

* A growing majority of people contracting the coronavirus in Pennsylvania are not answering basic questions that would help case investigators trace the source of the infections, Pennsylvania health officials said Monday. The rising lack of cooperation with case investigators comes as Pennsylvania’s positivity rate, number of infections and coronavirus-related hospitalizations are on the rise, the AP reports.

* With just eight days to go before Election Day, Trump returned to Pennsylvania on Monday for a trio of rallies that saw him rehashing old grievances about voting by mail; warning of the dangers of a “Biden Depression,” and falsely accusing Gov. Tom Wolf of having “your whole commonwealth shutdown,” the Capital-Star reports.

* In a late gambit to win the state, Trump and his GOP allies have intensified attacks on Joe Biden over fracking, hoping to drive a wedge between the former vice president and the white, working-class voters tied to the state’s booming natural gas industry. That assault is playing out in a barrage of TV ads and conservative and right-wing websites, and is repeated at every Trump rally in the state, the AP reports.

* Fervid partisan sentiment that simmered on social media four years ago has bubbled over into this year’s race for a state House seat in Northeast Philadelphia. The Republican City Committee last week resurfaced 2016 Facebook posts from Democratic nominee Mike Doyle, in which he used the n-word and posted a picture of a gravestone covered in anti-Semitic graffiti. The party posted the social media screen-grabs on Facebook and sent them to reporters. In the posts, Doyle was clearly sparring with someone he considered to be racist and anti-Semitic, not advocating for those bigotries himself, the Inquirer reports.

* Spotlight PA has an explainer on ballot harvesting.

* A taxpayer revolt in Scranton took what could be a lethal hit Monday when a Commonwealth Court panel ruled that the home rule city isn’t subject to taxing limits the state imposes on non-home rule municipalities. That decision is a hard setback for the taxpayer group, which claims Scrantonites are being overtaxed to the tune of around $10 million annually, PennLive reports.

* Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is drawing up plans to bring six of the universities in its orbit under two umbrellas. PASSHE leaders are considering the move as a way to trim costs, WITF reports.

EDITORIAL PAGES:

* The New Republic has an op-ed by Nikil Saval, the Democratic candidate for the state Senate 1st District seat, who explains how the future of the Democratic Party can be glimpsed in Pennsylvania, and why a new liberal-left coalition could be the key to unlocking America’s rural conservative vote.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: … Teresa Lundy, CEO, TML Communications … Want to wish someone a happy birthday in our newsletter? Email us their name, job title and upcoming birthday to editor@cityandstatepa.com

TODAY’S SKED:

10 a.m. - the Pittsburgh City Council will meet. Council Chambers, City-County Building, Pittsburgh.

1 p.m. - Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney will join Managing Director Tumar Alexander and Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley to provide an update on the City's response to the COVID-19 coronavirus in Philadelphia. These updates will continue to be live-streamed to the public via the Department of Public Health’s Twitter (@PHLPublicHealth) and Facebook accounts, and broadcast on PHLGovTV, Comcast channels 64 and 1164, and Verizon channels 40 and 41.

1 p.m. - the Philadelphia City Council Committee of the Whole will meet. This remote hearing may be viewed on Xfinity Channel 64, Fios Channel 40 or http://phlcouncil.com/watch-city-council/

To have your events included in Today’s Sked, please email the information to editor@cityandstatepa.com.

KICKER: “Changing the rules late in the fourth quarter causes confusion and disenfranchises voters. That’s what the Purcell Principle is designed to guard against. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court was within their bounds to allow the three-day extension and it should stay intact.” – State Attorney General Josh Shapiro. From the AP.