Anti-Trump wave in Pennsylvania? More Democrats than Republicans seek election to the state Legislature

Democrats account for 56 percent of the 489 candidates who filed petitions by Tuesday’s deadline to run in 228 elections for Pennsylvania Legislature in what could be another sign of an anti-Donald Trump wave powering a renewed interest in elective politics.

Source: Anti-Trump wave in Pennsylvania? More Democrats than Republicans seek election to the state Legislature

Pa. lawmaker obtains restraining order against fellow House member she accuses of abusive behavior

Rep. Tarah Toohil obtained the restraining order against fellow House member, Rep. Nick Miccarelli, who she once dated, out of fear for her life. The restraining order bars Miccarelli from contacting her or being around where she lives or works.

State Rep. Tarah Toohil on Friday obtained a protection-from-abuse order against a fellow Republican House member who she has alleged in a complaint pointed a gun at her in 2012, threatening to kill her and himself by crashing his car while driving 100 mph.

Toohil, R-Luzerne County, obtained the order from a judge in her home county against sitting five-term incumbent Rep. Nick Miccarelli of Delaware County, with whom she once had a dating relationship, confirmed Terry Mutchler, who along with law partner Charlie Lyons, is representing her.

“From the beginning, she was in fear for her life and it was on that basis that the judge issued the temporary order,” Mutchler said. “A hearing will be held next week to determine whether the temporary order will stay in place.”

A spokesman for Miccarelli, who is under investigation by the Dauphin County District Attorney’s office as well as House of Representatives, denounced the order as part of “an ongoing smear campaign” by a jilted partner who is attempting to destroy his life.

Toohil along with a political consultant, who had dated Miccarelli from 2013 to 2014, last month filed a complaint with the House of Representatives, accusing the 35-year-old lawmaker of violating the House’s workplace harassment policy.

In her complaint to obtain the restraining order, Toohil alleged after they broke up, Miccarelli continued to harass and stalk her. “I had to hide my family and staple a note to my life insurance policy that in the event of my death he should be investigated,” the complaint states.

In a story about a complaint she and the political consultant filed with the House that was first reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Caucus on Feb. 28, the women alleged Miccarelli had sexually or physically assaulted them and engaged in other abusive behavior over the past six years.

Miccarelli, who got married on Feb. 17, has denied the allegations and has issued subsequent statements proclaiming his innocence.

The statement from his spokesman Frank Keel said, “It’s shameful that Toohil would make this move for a PFA without any notice to Nick or any opportunity for him to be heard. The allegations Toohil trumpeted to secure the PFA supposedly occurred six long years ago, yet she never decided to seek any legal relief until now?

“She knew Nick was recently married. It’s unconscionable that Toohil would abuse the PFA process in this way at this time, knowing the shame and embarrassment it would bring to Nick and his new family. The only minimal contact the two even have at this point in time is when they’re carrying out their official duties at the State House.

“This stunt provides further evidence that political forces beyond Toohil and Nick’s other female accuser are pulling out all the stops to destroy Nick’s good name and end his political career. Nick Miccarelli maintains his innocence. He has done nothing wrong and will continue to fight these outrageous and baseless allegations against him.”

The women have been reported as saying they didn’t come forward until now out of fear for putting their careers or lives in jeopardy.

In the complaint, Toohil states, “I have been silent for fear that when this story is released he will kill me, himself and others.”

She later says, “Threats, intimidation and his obsession with violence and firearms causes me great concern for myself and my entire family and coworkers.”

The women were emboldened to have their story made public by the #MeToo Movement to try to hold Miccarelli accountable for the alleged behavior, particularly after Miccarelli put a post on his Facebook page saying “The me too stuff is really hard to read. We must face this issue together,” Mutchler has said.

The restraining order bars Miccarelli from having any contact with Toohil or being where she lives or works, according to a story that appeared late Friday afternoon in the Citizens Voice.

It was unclear on Friday evening how that will impact his ability to participate in next week’s House session or caucus discussions. House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin said, “We’ve not seen the order yet. There’s nothing we can comment on.”

Mutchler confirmed that as part of the order, Miccarelli, who is a staff sergeant in the Army National Guard, will have his firearms confiscated. One of the women confirmed to PennLive that Miccarelli did occasionally carry a concealed firearm. In the complaint for the restraining order, Toohil said he has carried a weapon on the House floor.

Sources close to the House investigation who are not authorized to speak publicly about it confirmed that both women told House investigators looking into their complaint that Miccarelli had an obsession with former state Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer’s public suicide in 1987 and that fact sparked concern for House investigators. Toohil mentions the alleged obsession with the Dwyer suicide in her complaint for the restraining order as well.

All eight House Republican leaders have called on Miccarelli to resign from his House seat as did Gov. Tom Wolf and some House Democrats.

Until now, neither women’s names has been released publicly.

Mutchler said on Friday evening, “Rep. Toohil was preparing to go public with her name on Monday because she feels very strongly as a public official that she has a duty to protect other women and wanted to underscore the complexities and the issues that go along with women and families involved in situations of domestic violence or sexual violence. Obviously with the protection order her name came out sooner.”

Source: Pa. lawmaker obtains restraining order against fellow House member she accuses of abusive behavior

98 Democratic Women File Petitions for State Legislature

As Democrats look to increase their numbers in the state Senate and House, 98 Democratic women have filed petitions to be on the ballot in the May primary with the help of groups like Emily’s List and Emerge Pennsylvania.

Currently there are 9 women in the 50 member state Senate, and 40 women of the 200 seated members in the state House.

Update: According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University Pennsylvania ranks 39th for women in the state legislature.

Emily’s List has been on the ground in Pennsylvania since last year when they ran a training session in Philadelphia to help women become more engaged and connect with resources to help them navigate the process.

Part of the work Emily’s List has done includes helping women who have been working in politics, including women in elected office, help those considering learn about the process.  They have been working with groups in the state including Emerge Pennsylvania.

According to their website, Emerge Pennsylvania works towards “identifying, training and encouraging Democratic women to run for office, get elected and to seek higher office.”

“Since November of 2016, we’ve seen a movement sweep the country and women have stepped up to lead the resistance.  Women have decided that they are no longer accepting the status quo and have set out to make the government reflect their values and ideals,” Emerge Pennsylvania Executive Director Anne Wakabayashi said.

Emerge Pennsylvania has 18 alumni of their training program running for the state legislature, including five for the state Senate and 13 for the state House.

“After 100 percent of our alumnae on the ballot in 2017 won their elections, we are excited about the group of Emerge women who have stepped forward in 2018, ready to make a difference in their communities, Harrisburg and Washington,” Wakabayashi said.

Emerge Pennsylvania also has three alumni running for Congress.

The increase in Democratic women is part of an increase of Democratic candidates running for state legislative seats.  56% of the candidates who filed petitions to be on the primary ballot are Democrats, according to the Morning Call.

Source: 98 Democratic Women File Petitions for State Legislature

Democrat Meredith Buck announces run for 144th state house district

Meredith Buck, of Chalfont, is running for the state house with the endorsement of Bucks County Democrats.

First a nurse, then a lawyer and now she’s hoping to be a state legislator.

Meredith J. Buck, of Chalfont, announced her candidacy this week for the Democratic nomination in the race for the 144th District state House of Representatives seat held by retiring Rep. Kathy Watson.

The 58-year-old Democrat comes to the race with her party’s endorsement and so far is running unopposed in the May 15 primary. Buck is taking aim at health care, education and safety as campaign issues.

“The partisan politics in Harrisburg has neglected our senior population for way too long and has shortchanged our public education system,” she said, in a statement.

The race won’t be Buck’s first. In 2015 she ran for district judge, which she lost to District Judge Regina Armitage. Since that campaign, Buck has focused on her legal practice, especially in the field of family law, and on pro bono work representing protection from abuse victims, the candidate said by phone Friday.

On the Republican ballot, Realtor Todd Polinchock is seeking his party’s nod, touting his military service, small business experience and involvement with his community.

The two are likely to square off for Watson’s seat in the fall.

Watson was one of four state-level Republican legislators in mid-January to announce intentions to retire, along with Sens. Chuck McIlhinney, R-10, and Stewart Greenleaf, R-12, and state Rep. Bob Godshall, R-53.

Source: Democrat Meredith Buck announces run for 144th state house district

Phoenixville-Area Woman Announces Candidacy For PA’s 157th District

Local business owner Melissa Shusterman has announced her candidacy to challenge State Rep. Warren Kampf (R) in the 157th District.

Phoenixville-Area Woman Announces Candidacy For PA's 157th District

PHOENIXVILLE, PA — A Democratic challenger has announced her intention to run for Rep. Warren Kampf’s (R-157) seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Local business owner Melissa Shusterman will vie for the 157th seat, which encompasses parts of Phoenixville, Upper Providence, Schuylkill, and Tredyffrin.

“It is an exciting time to be involved in politics,” Shusterman said in a statement. “When it comes to the government, there is a great deal of activity, energy, sharing of ideas and frustration being expressed throughout my district. People are upset with the status quo and the lack of transparency with the entire election process.”

Shusterman, a Schuylkill Township resident and Conestoga graduate, is involved with TurnPABlue, an organization aimed at increasing the number of elected Democrats in Pennsylvania politics.

Kampf, a Republican has been in office since 2010. In 2016, he soundly defeated Democratic challenger Hans Van Mol.

Shusterman says she wants to “offer the voters a determined citizen not a career politician.”

According to Kampf’s office, his legislative agenda has “focused on job creation, pension reform, crafting sustainable budgets, improving Pennsylvania’s business climate, and increasing competitiveness through regulatory reforms.”

Shusterman has a master’s in Media Studies from American University. She has worked at companies like The Food Network, VH1, MTV, and HGTV, and has also founded her own digital video production company, Fedora Media.

State representatives in Pennsylvania serve two year terms. The election for the 157th seat will be held on Nov. 6, 2018.

Image via Furman Communications

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Shusterman announces candidacy for state representative in 157th District

Melissa Shusterman, a fourth-generation Phoenixville-area resident, Conestoga High School graduate, business owner and mother wants to unseat incumbent state Rep. Warren Kampf in the 157th House District.

Shusterman, who has never held elected office before, is running on a “common sense before politics” platform and hopes to utilize recent Democratic Party energy by activists to flip the 157th District.

Shusterman said she is not a career politician, rather she’s a passionate citizen who loves her community and is fed up with the political gridlock in Harrisburg. As state representative, Shusterman said she will fight to protect seniors, put Pennsylvania on the path to fiscal responsibility, and put an end to the Keystone Exams.

She started her career in the media after receiving her master’s degree in media studies from American University. She worked in the field for 20 years at several different startup and national media companies including: The Food Network, VH1, FX, HGTV, MTV, QVC and Fuse network.

While raising her son as a single mother, she founded her own business, Fedora Media, a digital video production company that provides digital video for various devices and platforms. She has been an advocate for positive change and has worked on many political campaigns throughout her life. Recently she founded the Women’s Caucus of the Chester County Democratic Committee.

She states on her website that she will not be pushed around by party leaders or special interests. Instead she will listen to our community and her conscience.

Shusterman currently resides in Schuylkill Township with her husband, Hans, son Paris, and beloved Shih Tzu, Zoey.

For more information, visit her campaign website:

Republican Kampf has represented the 157th District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since 2010, when he upset incumbent Democratic state Rep. Paul Drucker. Kampf is also a private practice attorney.

The 157th House District includes Phoenixville, Schuylkill and Tredyffrin townships in Chester County and about half of Upper Providence in Montgomery County.

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