Starting to Rev Up the Fall Campaign Engine...!
Hello friends, What a week it’s been. Our nation is still reeling from five diseases—the coronavirus, climate change, entrenched racial inequality, enormous economic disparity and a plague of disinformation. Meanwhile, I see people volunteering in new ways, business owners and employees continuing to adapt, young and old and from all our myriad backgrounds marching and singing together for equality, and that liberals and conservatives, libertarians and the unaffiliated see that our bright future requires us to work with the Creation, not against it. Across the 171st, I’m hearing from people who know that we need action for that bright future in Harrisburg. THE CAMPAIGN FOR THE 171st Last week we made a lot of progress. People have mailed hundreds of postcards, dropped thousands of door hangers and made phone calls to constituents. I received donations from my high school math teacher who wrote, “Go get him Peter! It’s your time.” Interesting, she was my teacher just a few years before Benninghoff was elected to the House for his first term. And I graduated in 1994! I think he needs a new job. More on that later. The Sierra Club of Pennsylvania endorsed my campaign. They know that I’m a champion for all people to explore, enjoy and protect our world. I helped organize the earliest protests against the out-of-control fracking industry, helped pass two referenda in Centre County that commit to a sustainable energy future, worked on the state’s largest solar power purchase agreement, oversee an environmental justice mapping project and currently serve on two intergovernmental committees to advance climate planning and solar power. Their endorsement means a great deal to me personally. [Use the seal here.] On Monday, I was endorsed by the Seven Mountains Central Labor Council. From a young age, I’ve been committed to democratic principles, transparency, safety protection, family-sustaining wages and collective bargaining for workers. Whether you’re a nurse, a welder, a teacher or a boilermaker, I stand with you. So it was a joy to sit down with my buddy Jamie for an outdoor lunch, receive the endorsement and talk about our common cause for common working people. Thank you! HEALING AMERICA Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are now the Democratic Party’s nominees for president and vice president. What struck me most was the recognition that vision, an open heart, persistence and accountability matter. Our nation and our state need it. We are wounded by years of dark distrust, divisive cynicism and by special interests and for-profit media who feast on the carnage of our division. Now, more than ever, the bright spirit, vision and style of a man like John Lewis calls to us. In 2016, I saw him speak alongside Keith Ellison (former Rep. Minnesota) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Lewis spoke of his simple childhood house shuddering in a storm. Though they were frightened, his family pulled through. Just think about what he endured in beatings and insults and never lost heart that if he persisted, made “good trouble,” and lived into the great love we need, that we can become a more perfect union. Touchingly, he thanked Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for all he’d done on and off the court for black Americans and to make us realize our more perfect union. Kareem was nearly speechless. Lewis’s grace and generosity nearly brought this giant of a man to tears in front of hundreds of people. That’s leadership. DARK TIES & DARK MONEY Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.” My opponent, Kerry Benninghoff and his big brother in the State Senate, Jake Corman, love dark money and PACs created by polluters. In case you missed it, Benninghoff has been endorsed by the Koch Brothers’ PAC, Americans for Prosperity. Known for their secretiveness and backdoor legislative moves to make sure that the fossil fuel industry can do whatever it wants, wherever it wants to whomever they want, the Koch Brothers see that Pennsylvania is on the line. The more they can shade and conceal their activities, the more they can occupy our government and keep ordinary people down. Last week, a report came out in Spotlight PA, showing that Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman has been cooperating with a dark money group, possibly doing so in violation of federal law. According to the story, Corman attended a posh fundraiser near Palm Springs, California with the Growth Opportunity Fund. This organization doesn’t disclose its donors nor any details about its spending. As if that weren’t bad enough, one of Corman’s top campaign consultants, Ray Zaborney is both a lobbyist and the fund’s manager. It’s no wonder Corman and Benninghoff are opposed to increased transparency. If even half of it is true, this is the kind of stuff that gives politicians a bad name and puts the truth behind villains on shows like House of Cards. Wouldn’t you love to see what’s in their emails? Who else are they meeting with? We encourage you to reach out to local, state and national media about this story as well as your lawmakers to pressure them to open up their work to sunshine. I work for people, not corporations. I will fight dark money, end gerrymandering and open up our legislature to sunshine. OUR KIDS & OUR SCHOOLS Teachers, administrators, and staff across our school districts are making herculean efforts to get our kids safely back to school. Through in-person instruction, virtual learning and blended instruction, trying to balance bussing and schooling, continued service to kids in need, I’m humbled by their efforts. The Mifflin County, Bellefonte, Penns Valley and State College Area School District websites, as well as private and charter schools across the 171st have posted their plans. TheCentre Daily Times has a rundown for Centre County schools and There’s a good deal of frustration regarding sports. I know my son feels it. He has been looking forward to basketball tryouts. When I raced bikes, having races cancelled would have driven me nuts. A few days ago, the PIAA voted 25-5 to resume fall sports activities, per the choice of local school districts and leagues. There is a lot of difference between fall sports regarding the likelihood of transmission. Cross country and football are not equal. I encourage coaches, administrators, parents and student athletes to stay informed and be safe. Whatever your political party, I ask that you treat everyone with kindness. Remember that the people working in our schools are trying the best they can to provide our kids with an education that prepares them for the future. NEXT WEEK We have lots of opportunities for engagement in the coming weeks. I’ll be joining Lee Griffin who’s running for U.S. Congress tonight and tomorrow with other candidates in Centre and Mifflin Counties, including Joe Waltz, Scott Conklin and Ian Kidd. Join us! On Wednesday, I’ll be joining Linden Hall and Centre Hall voters for a discussion about what matters to them. On Sunday August 30, I’ll join the Centre County Democrats for a Day of Action. You can help! Share the word about my campaign on social media. Write a letter to the editor supporting a vision for a bright future for all. If you’d like to volunteer by postcarding or dropping door hangers (on doors…not in mailboxes), sign up on our website by clicking Take Action. You can get a yard sign, bumper sticker or buttons at the Centre County Democratic Headquarters on Allen Street in State College. Please consider donating $250, $100, $50 or $25 to our campaign, please do. As a grassroots campaign that’s fighting dark money, your donations go entirely to making sure that we reach as many voters as possible. If you’d like to host an event with friends and neighbors, in-person (safely) or on Zoom, just ask by writing to email@example.com.