Democratic Challengers Aided by Shutdown

GOP moderates in tough spot in swing districts

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA 8th CD)
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA 8th CD)

Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013 3:42 am | Updated: 5:02 am, Thu Oct 10, 2013.

Associated Press |

Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick had been expected to face a tough re-election fight.

Then he sided with GOP leadership and a tea party insisting that a federal spending plan to keep the government open must delay or defund President Barack Obama’s health care law. Now, with the partial government shutdown stretching into its second week, Fitzpatrick’s bid for a second term may be growing even more challenging.

Voters in his suburban Philadelphia district talk of a widening sense of disappointment with their two-term congressman, while Democrats across Pennsylvania and other states claim new momentum in their quest to take back the House majority next fall

Kevin Strouse, Democrat challenger in PA 8th CD
Kevin Strouse, Democrat challenger in PA 8th CD

“It would have been nice for him to make a decision that wasn’t based on party,” says Daryl Curtis, who for two decades has run a barber shop along Bristol’s sleepy main drag.

For the GOP, the stakes in places like Bristol are high. The fight for control of the House likely will be won and lost in suburban swing districts where most voters favor political moderation and independence over party ideology. Republican success in hanging onto these districts will depend, in part, on how well they explain the shutdown to weary voters _ and how long it lasts.

That’s putting new pressure on Republican moderates who represent such districts, Fitzpatrick included.

After weeks of trying to balance the wishes of his moderate district and House conservatives, he sided with most congressional Republicans in refusing to approve a measure that would have kept the government operating because it also would have continued to pay for the health care law. Democrats, who control the White House and the Senate, refused to delay or destroy the landmark health care law. The impasse resulted in the government shutdown.

Continue reading Democratic Challengers Aided by Shutdown

The Class and Racial Politics of Bus Stops in Downtown Pittsburgh

Moving buses from the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh raises concerns

By Jon Schmitz

Beaver County Blue via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Oct 9, 2013 – A group that advocates for public transit riders has raised questions about a proposal to remove buses from the center of Downtown Pittsburgh, saying it puts the interests of a few businesses ahead of "the greater good of the entire community."

The group, Pittsburghers for Public Transit, also is demanding public involvement in any plan to reroute buses, community organizer Helen Gerhardt said Tuesday. "We’re going to make sure that we are very vocal and very involved every step of the way," she said.

The group is concerned about a proposal embraced by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the likely next mayor of Pittsburgh, city Councilman Bill Peduto, to create a bus-free zone in the center of the Golden Triangle. Bus routes would be moved out toward the fringes of Downtown.

Mr. Peduto said he envisions a circular route pattern using wider streets toward the edges of Downtown rather than having buses coming from four different directions and turning around in the middle of town.

Mr. Fitzgerald reiterated Tuesday that planning for such a change is in its very early stages.

"There are some discussions about how to put a plan together but there is no plan," he said. "There will be public participation, absolutely. I think people are getting the wrong idea that this is going to happen imminently and they’ll have no input."

Pittsburghers for Public Transit, which says it has nearly 6,000 supporters who have signed up for email and phone alerts about transit issues, said in an email that "precedence should not be given to the few businesses that have called for removal of bus stops in front of their establishments, when the greater good of the entire community should be our first public priority."

Continue reading The Class and Racial Politics of Bus Stops in Downtown Pittsburgh