Winners and Losers for the week ending April 23, 2017

In a seven-day stretch bookended by rallies across the country, including here in Pennsylvania – last week’s Tax Day marches and this week’s March for Science – the message was resoundingly clear: voters are still paying attention, and they want politicians to pay attention to them.

The immediate impact of those events may be incremental at best, at least in the short term: Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford added his name to a small but growing list of GOP lawmakers calling for President Trump to release his tax returns, and the president himself paid lip service to the importance of science to him and his administration, calling it “critical” to economic growth and environmental protection. But, like the moral victories of outperforming Democrats in special elections in Kansas and Georgia, they point to an electorate that has weathered the Trump administration’s first hundred days – no small feat, as this encyclopedic overview makes starkly plain.

And there is more to come, as US Attorney General Jeff Sessions made clear this week when he called out eight cities – Philadelphia among them –for his latest, most detailed threat to withhold community development block grants for those municipalities that continue to maintain their sanctuary city status. In fact, when the closest the commonwealth can come to declaring a win this week is a short-term funding deal to reopen unemployment call centers, maybe it’s time to just take a break and luxuriate in the most enjoyable non-political story of the week.

Great read, right? OK, let’s get right to it, then:



Jake Corman: The state Senate Majority Leader faced down House leadership over using expanded gambling revenue and more liquor privatization measures as a way to stem the rising budget gap, arguing that reliance on “addictive products” isn’t the way out of the crisis.

Eugene DePasquale: Speaking of fiscal issues, the auditor general scored points by offering to investigate the Legislature’s $118 million operating surplus (rejected on a bipartisan scale) and by talking at about the financial rewards to be reaped by legalizing marijuana a rally held in the Capitol (h/t to frequent C&S contributor Colt Shaw for his rally coverage in Philly Weekly).

Lloyd Smucker: It’s been a very productive first quarter for the freshman US Congressman from Lancaster County – at least as far as fundraising. Smucker’s haul for the first three months of 2017: $204,000.



Mike Stack: A stunning series of revelations about the lieutenant governor has followed last week’s news that Gov. Wolf asked the Inspector General’s office to investigate the treatment of state employees by Stack and his wife, Tonya. This week alone, Stack has come under fire for questionable billing of expenses to the state, including hotel stays in Philadelphia while he had a home in the city, tickets to an IndyCar race in the Poconos and a constant hemorrhaging of staff at his official residence.

Don White: This could have easily gone in the W column if this story was sponsored by the National Rifle Association, but since it isn’t, there really isn’t any other way to spin the state senator’s revival of his 2014 effort to allow teachers to carry their weapons into the classroom. Words fail.

Darlene Harris: When you’re about to climb up to ride on a circus elephant – the same animals whose mistreatment ultimately led to Ringling Brothers shutting down – maybe call your PR person first. And just why would Harris, a Democratic Pittsburgh City Councilwoman, allow herself to be photographed on the GOP symbol, anyway?