Wednesday, November 12, 2014

GOP Conservatives Oust Pileggi as PA Senate Majority Leader

Dominic Pileggi, arguably the most powerful political figure in Pennsylvania in recent years, has been ousted by fellow Republicans as Senate Majority Leader, a post he has held for the past eight years. Pileggi was widely criticized for bottling up Gov. Tom Corbett's reform agenda in the GOP-controlled Senate, which in turn may have contributed to Corbett's defeat on Nov. 4 to liberal Democrat Tom Wolf.

A conservative group of state Senators publicly denounced Pileggi, a moderate Philadelphia-area state lawmaker and sought his ouster. The coup took place Wednesday as the GOP Caucus met to decide on its leaders for the next legislative session. With a pickup of three new seats on Election Day, the Republicans now control 30 seats in the 50-member PA Senate.

The new Senate Majority Leader is Sen. Jake Corman of Centre County.

Gov. Corbett sought to privatize the state's liquor monopoly and revamp pensions for teachers and government workers, but both measures died in the Senate because Pileggi refused to bring them up for a vote. Pileggi also blockd a vote on SB 76, which would have eliminated Pennsylvania school property taxes.

Pileggi was often referred to as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) by Harrisburg observers. The Wall Street Journal today called Pileggi's ouster as a "setback for Pennsylvania Democrats" because of Pileggi's perceived willingness to work with Democrats and incoming Gov. Tom Wolf.

From the Journal's Political Diary:
Notwithstanding the Republican governor's 10-point defeat to Democrat Tom Wolf, Republicans picked up eight seats in the state House and three in the Senate. The gains bolster the GOP majority in the Senate to 30-20 and 119-84 in the House. That's not strong enough to override a veto, but Democrats will now have a hard time passing legislation merely by picking off some moderate Republicans.

Many of Mr. Corbett's governing priorities, such as pension reform and liquor-store privatization, foundered in the statehouse because of intraparty squabbles between his caucus's moderate and conservative wings. Public unions were able to block reforms by bribing or browbeating a couple of Republican senators or a dozen or so House members. Democrats often used Mr. Pileggi as their liaison.

The Senate Majority leader was known to act as a double agent, publicly backing legislation while working behind the scenes to kill it. Former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell has described Mr. Pileggi as "the most powerful person in Harrisburg." Conservative state Sen. Scott Wagner described him earlier this year as "the number one obstacle in the Senate."
The only holdover in a leadership position is Senate President Joe Scaranti. Because of the defeat of Republican Corbett and running-mate Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, a Democrat, newly-elected Lt. Gov. Mike Stack will now preside over the Senate. Stack, who is also a state senator, has said he plans to keep both his senate seat and his new post as Lt. Gov., but there are questions about the constitutionality of holding two elected offices at once.

Over in the House, where Republicans also bolstered their majority, ultra-conservative state Rep. Mike Turzai, who had been Majority Leader, was elected Speaker of the House, another blow to liberal Tom Wolf's chances of getting any of his tax-and-spend agenda through the Legislature.

The bloodless coup staged by Senate conservatives effectively makes Gov.-elect Tom Wolf a lame duck even before taking office. Republicans will now set the agenda for the next four years.

Don't believe me? Liberal John Micek of PennLive.com is already asking, "Is Wolf's honeymoon over before it even starts?"

Here's a release from the Republican Party of Pennsylvania congratulating the new Senate leadership:
PA GOP Chairman Gleason Congratulates
New State Senate GOP Leadership Team

HARRISBURG – Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason released the following statement regarding the reorganization session of the State Senate Republican Caucus.
"Congratulations to President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, Majority Leader Jake Corman and our entire State Senate Republican leadership team on their elections," Gleason said. "At such an important time in the history of our Commonwealth, it's important to continue the tradition of strong Republican leadership that will stand up for the Republican principles of individual freedom and economic opportunity in our state Senate.
"I congratulate the new state Senate Republican leadership team, and look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead."
Today, State Senate Republicans chose the following officials to serve as members of their leadership team:
President Pro Tempore – 25th District Senator Joe Scarnati
Senate Majority Leader – 34th District Senator Jake Corman
Senate Appropriations Chairman – 16th District Senator Pat Browne
Senate Majority Whip – 27th District Senator John Gordner
Senate Majority Caucus Chairman – 24th District Senator Bob Mensch
Senate Caucus Secretary –  33rd District Senator Rich Alloway
The following State Senate Republicans were appointed to serve in leadership positions by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati:
Senate Caucus Administrator – 10th District Senator Chuck McIlhinney
Senate Majority Policy Committee Chairman – 29th District Senator David Argall

Here's the PA GOP release congratulating the new House leadership:
HARRISBURG – Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason released the following statement regarding the reorganization session of the State House Republican Caucus.

"Today, our state House Republican team voted to elect quality leaders who will move our Commonwealth in the right direction," Gleason said. "Speaker-designate Mike Turzai and the State House Republican leadership team will bring their proven track records of creating jobs, keeping taxes low, and growing our economy to their new positions and our Commonwealth will be better because of their leadership.

"I congratulate Speaker-designate Mike Turzai and every member of our state House Republican leadership team on their elections, and eagerly anticipate working with them to improve our Commonwealth in the future."

Today, State House Republicans chose the following officials to serve as members of their leadership team:

Speaker-designate of the House – 28th District Representative Mike Turzai

House Majority Leader – 62nd District Representative Dave Reed

House Majority Whip – 100th District Representative Bryan Cutler

House Appropriations Chairman – 165th District Representative William Adolph

House Caucus Chairman – 111th District Representative Sandra Major

House Policy Committee Chairman – 171st District Representative Kerry Benninghoff

House Caucus Administrator – 11th District  Representative Brian Ellis

House Caucus Secretary – 63rd District Representative Donna Oberlander

HARRISBURG – Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason released the following statement regarding the reorganization session of the State House Republican Caucus.
“Today, our state House Republican team voted to elect quality leaders who will move our Commonwealth in the right direction,” Gleason said. “Speaker-designate Mike Turzai and the State House Republican leadership team will bring their proven track records of creating jobs, keeping taxes low, and growing our economy to their new positions and our Commonwealth will be better because of their leadership.
“I congratulate Speaker-designate Mike Turzai and every member of our state House Republican leadership team on their elections, and eagerly anticipate working with them to improve our Commonwealth in the future.”
Today, State House Republicans chose the following officials to serve as members of their leadership team:
Speaker-designate of the House – 28th District Representative Mike Turzai
House Majority Leader – 62nd District Representative Dave Reed
House Majority Whip – 100th District Representative Bryan Cutler
House Appropriations Chairman – 165th District Representative William Adolph
House Caucus Chairman – 111th District Representative Sandra Major
House Policy Committee Chairman – 171st District Representative Kerry Benninghoff
House Caucus Administrator – 11th District  Representative Brian Ellis
House Caucus Secretary – 63rd District Representative Donna Oberlander
- See more at: http://www.pagop.org/2014/11/pa-gop-chairman-gleason-applauds-election-house-gop-leaders/#sthash.8zXhAbrA.dpuf
HARRISBURG – Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason released the following statement regarding the reorganization session of the State House Republican Caucus.
“Today, our state House Republican team voted to elect quality leaders who will move our Commonwealth in the right direction,” Gleason said. “Speaker-designate Mike Turzai and the State House Republican leadership team will bring their proven track records of creating jobs, keeping taxes low, and growing our economy to their new positions and our Commonwealth will be better because of their leadership.
“I congratulate Speaker-designate Mike Turzai and every member of our state House Republican leadership team on their elections, and eagerly anticipate working with them to improve our Commonwealth in the future.”
Today, State House Republicans chose the following officials to serve as members of their leadership team:
Speaker-designate of the House – 28th District Representative Mike Turzai
House Majority Leader – 62nd District Representative Dave Reed
House Majority Whip – 100th District Representative Bryan Cutler
House Appropriations Chairman – 165th District Representative William Adolph
House Caucus Chairman – 111th District Representative Sandra Major
House Policy Committee Chairman – 171st District Representative Kerry Benninghoff
House Caucus Administrator – 11th District  Representative Brian Ellis
House Caucus Secretary – 63rd District Representative Donna Oberlander
- See more at: http://www.pagop.org/2014/11/pa-gop-chairman-gleason-applauds-election-house-gop-leaders/#sthash.8zXhAbrA.dpuf

HARRISBURG – Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason released the following statement regarding the reorganization session of the State House Republican Caucus.
“Today, our state House Republican team voted to elect quality leaders who will move our Commonwealth in the right direction,” Gleason said. “Speaker-designate Mike Turzai and the State House Republican leadership team will bring their proven track records of creating jobs, keeping taxes low, and growing our economy to their new positions and our Commonwealth will be better because of their leadership.
“I congratulate Speaker-designate Mike Turzai and every member of our state House Republican leadership team on their elections, and eagerly anticipate working with them to improve our Commonwealth in the future.”
Today, State House Republicans chose the following officials to serve as members of their leadership team:
Speaker-designate of the House – 28th District Representative Mike Turzai
House Majority Leader – 62nd District Representative Dave Reed
House Majority Whip – 100th District Representative Bryan Cutler
House Appropriations Chairman – 165th District Representative William Adolph
House Caucus Chairman – 111th District Representative Sandra Major
House Policy Committee Chairman – 171st District Representative Kerry Benninghoff
House Caucus Administrator – 11th District  Representative Brian Ellis
House Caucus Secretary – 63rd District Representative Donna Oberlander
- See more at: http://www.pagop.org/2014/11/pa-gop-chairman-gleason-applauds-election-house-gop-leaders/#sthash.8zXhAbrA.dpuf

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