York businessman Tom Wolf easily captured the Democratic nomination Tuesday in Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial primary, launching a high-stakes contest against Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who is widely considered to be the most vulnerable incumbent GOP governor up for reelection this year.
Wolf, who briefly served as state revenue secretary under former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, had the support of 54 percent of voters, an even higher margin than public polls predicted, when the Associated Press called the race just after 9 p.m. Eastern time with 13 percent of precincts reporting.
Longtime Philadelphia-area Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz had 23 percent of the vote, followed by state Treasurer Rob McCord with 15 percent and former state Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty with 7 percent.
A poll from Quinnipiac University in February showed Corbett trailing Wolf with 33 percent to Wolf’s 52 percent, an enormous margin for an incumbent. No Keystone State governor has lost reelection since Pennsylvania altered its state constitution in 1968 to allow candidates to seek second terms, but Corbett has an uphill battle ahead of him to escape becoming the first to break that trend. The same Quinnipiac survey showed 55 percent of voters don’t believe Corbett deserves reelection, including 30 percent of Republicans.
Wolf successfully positioned himself as an outsider and proved impervious to rivals’ criticism over the $10 million in personal money he put toward his campaign, business dealings regarding his family-owned kitchen-cabinet company, and his character. Wolf’s personal millions proved especially useful by enabling him to wage an early and steady ad campaign, buying much-needed name ID in a field of candidates that differed only slightly on the issues. All four Democrats support abortion rights and Obamacare, and each favors raising the minimum wage, taxing natural-gas producers, and increasing spending on education.
Women’s groups including EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood had thrown their backing, and significant amounts of money, behind Schwartz, who they hoped would become the Keystone State’s first female governor. Outside Pennsylvania, the party’s best opportunities in 2014 to add women executives to their ranks now lie in contests further afield in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."