October can be a spooky season for a variety of reasons. Outside of the fall festivities and Halloween horrors, those in the political Hellfest … or … space are getting their Pumpkinheads in a row and gearing up for the Final Destination of election season.
With that in mind, City & State has been Conjuring up some of Pennsylvania politicos’ worst nightmares. Pulling from scary movies of old and new, here are several Happenings that could create a Nightmare on State Street to a Haunting in Pennsylvania.
Redrum: Statewide Shining
With judicial races spanning from the local courts all the way to the state Supreme Court, this election could prove to be crucial in the coming years as issues related to reproductive rights, education funding and more continue to find themselves in front of the courts.
For the state’s Democratic Party, watching a red wave of judicial victories – not unlike the tide of blood pouring out of the elevator in The Shining – would be nothing short of a horror show.
What’s more suspenseful than a figure from your past following you into the future? For the state Republican Party, the ghost that is the 2020 presidential election – and some of its party members’ efforts to overturn the results – still looms large over its current candidates.
With GOP candidates – both statewide and local – either steering away from or fumbling the question of who won the 2020 election, the spirits of seasons past could be following them into this election cycle.
Democrats in the state House were celebrating last year as they retook control of the chamber for the first time in more than a decade. But the one seat-majority has been precarious in 2023 with resignations and special elections shifting control back and forth.
A potential disaster for Democrats would be if a member were to follow in the footsteps of North Carolina state Rep. Tricia Cotham, whose party flip gave Republicans veto override power. While no Democrat has shown signs of doing so, just one party member switching would result in the lone blue chamber in Harrisburg vanishing like a ghost in the night.
184 days later: Zombie Budget
Regardless of party, budget politics can be messy. The commonwealth still had unfinished budget business heading into the month of October, with several code bills that would authorize state spending on a number of programs remaining in legislative limbo.
An ominous outcome for the commonwealth as a whole is to see this current budget – somehow living and yet not alive at the same time – not finalized by the end of the calendar year. If lawmakers were to not come to terms on spending bills by the end of December, 184 days after the June 30 deadline, state-related universities, support services and more could be left to survive on their own.
There’s one person in the commonwealth who has the power – more directly, the bank account – to directly impact the state’s elections: Jeffrey Yass, the libertarian billionaire who is the state’s richest person.
As millions of dollars flood into the state’s judicial races in support of both candidates, the Commonwealth Leaders Fund, a pro-school choice PAC funded almost entirely by the Montgomery County stock trader, spent $2.2 million on ads and mailers supporting Republican candidate Carolyn Carluccio and attacking Democrat Dan McCaffery this cycle. And as more eyes focus on this year’s judicial races, the power of one man’s thumb on the election’s funding scales – and its impacts on the commonwealth’s laws – is all the more unnerving.
NEXT STORY: A Q&A with PA Secretary of State Al Schmidt