The LuLac Edition #946, Sept. 19th, 2009
Gov. Ed Rendell and a few legislators from both sides of the aisle announced a deal on a $27.9 billion state budget Friday night. It brought an apparent end to the budget and political battle. Rendell met twice Friday with Senate Republican leaders to broker an agreement that adds several new sources of state tax revenue, expands legalized gambling, reduces spending by $400 million from last year's budget and provides enough revenue to satisfy negotiators that a balanced budget can be achieved during the next two years. The budget agreement comes 80 days late. Massive amounts of federal stimulus aid helped balance this budget. Rendell seemned pleased by the end result once the budget is adopted by lawmakers because it cuts spending yet safeguards key education and health programs.
The Scranton Times and Congressional Quarterly are reporting Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien is looking at a run for Congress in the 11th District. This was first reported by my friend Gort 42 in the spring. O'Brien has been candid and accessible to bloggers. Here's a report from CQ:
By Greg Giroux September 17, 2009 5:53 PM
He's not ready to formally announce his campaign, but Pennsylvania Democrat Corey O'Brien has taken formal steps to prepare a 2010 primary challenge of veteran Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski in the state's 11th District. O'Brien is a lawyer and county commissioner in Scranton who also has a broadcasting background. He filed a statement of candidacy and also formed a campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission, which processed his paperwork on Sept. 16. O'Brien told CQ Politics Thursday evening that he filed his FEC papers "out of an abundance of caution at this point, just to ensure that we're following all the appropriate procedures with respect to looking very closely at getting into the race." "I have not made a public pronouncement with respect to the congressional race at this point, but I am seriously considering it and looking into it in a very serious way," O'Brien added. "We'll have more to say about that, certainly before the end of the year." O'Brien said that he's looking seriously at the race "because I think it's an important opportunity in our nation's history to be actively involved to ensure that our children have a better quality of life than we do today."
O'Brien, 36, was elected in 2007 as a commissioner in Lackawanna County, which includes Scranton and is the most Democratic-leaning of the five counties that comprise the 11th District. He worked in Washington, D.C., for a decade, including a stint in the Clinton White House. Kanjorski, 72, is a senior member of the Financial Services Committee and chairs its panel on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises.
O'Brien, who worked for a financial services law firm, suggested that there has been too much focus on shoring up hedge funds and the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and not enough on the everyday struggles of people. "While we're worrying about those entities, I think we're failing to remember what built this country, and that's the people who are living in our communities," he said. "We need to start refocusing our efforts to make sure that the middle class doesn't evaporate in this process and that our communities aren't weakened in this process." O'Brien said that he has emphasized ethics as a county commissioner and suggested he would do the same as a candidate for Congress. First elected in 1984, Kanjorski has not faced opposition in the Democratic primary in his past 10 re-election campaigns. Kanjorski's only primary challenge came in 1986, when he won 94 percent of the vote.
O'Brien said that it would be "extremely difficult to beat a 25-year incumbent, but I feel confident moving forward that we'll be able to get our message out and let the voters decide." Pennsylvania's 11th, which includes Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton, has a decided Democratic lean, having backed Barack Obama over John McCain by 57 percent to 42 percent in the 2008 election. Yet Kanjorski was re-elected with just 52 percent of the vote over Republican Lou Barletta, the popular mayor of Hazleton. It's not clear who the Republican nominee will be. CQ Politics rates as Democrat Favored the November 2010 general election race in the Pa. 11th.