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A woman will finally lead the Pa. Senate


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Ed Mahon
November 13, 2020
Two historic moments, three days of Sunday hunting, tens of thousands of provisional ballots to count, a sweet treat, and a festival of lights. Happy Friday.

Two historic moments happened in the Pennsylvania legislature Thursday.

Kim Ward, a Republican from Westmoreland County, won the election within her caucus to become the first woman to serve as majority leader in the state Senate. The change happens as Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) was tapped to become president pro tempore next session.

And in the other chamber, state Rep. Joanna McClinton (D., Philadelphia) won the election in her caucus to become the first Black woman to serve as Democratic leader. (The Inquirer spoke to McClinton in 2018 after she became the first woman of color to become chairperson of the House Democratic Caucus.)

Ward didn't dwell much on the historic moment at a Capitol news conference Thursday. But in an interview with TribLIVE, Ward said women and men can achieve what they want if they're willing to fight for it.

“We have to fight a little harder here on this side of the gender horizon," she said. "Just fight, stay focused on your goals, don’t take your eye off it and go and you’ll get there."

THE CONTEXT: Despite President Donald Trump's loss in Pennsylvania, state Republicans scored big victories in down-ballot races. They flipped two row office positions and kept their majorities in both chambers.

Democrats are doing some soul searching into what wrong. In Allegheny County, moderates and progressives are fighting about the role calls to "defund the police" and ban natural gas drilling played in the election.

On the other side of the state, many voters in the Philly suburbs split their ticket, voting against Trump but in favor of Republican lawmakers like Rep. Todd Stephens in Montgomery County, WHYY reports.

For now, divided government will remain in Harrisburg, just as it has for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's entire time in office. While lawmakers are already preparing for the new session that begins in January, they still need to pass a budget before the end of the month.


"We have not seen anything other than some questions about process that have been exaggerated into allegations of misconduct."

— Republican Gary Eichelberger, chair of the Cumberland County commissioners, on how members of his own party are nurturing false information about voter fraud

POST IT: Thank you, Kristine A., for this shot of Ridge Valley Creek in Bucks County. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
MINOR WIN FOR TRUMP: An appellate court has ruled counties can't include a small pool of mail ballots in their final vote tallies, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The decision will have no effect on the outcome of the presidential election, as none of those ballots have yet been included in the official state tally that showed Joe Biden with a roughly 54,000-vote lead as of Thursday.

CONTINUING COUNT: Many counties have blown past the Tuesday deadline to report the preliminary results for provisional ballots, cast by voters whose eligibility was somehow in question on Nov. 3. As of Thursday morning, roughly 27,500 out of an estimated 94,000 provisional ballots had been processed and reported to the state, Spotlight PA and Votebeat report.

BACK IN COURT: The campaign of Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati renewed its lawsuit against a Spotlight PA journalist and others Thursday, asking the Jefferson County Court of Common Pleas to overturn a lower court’s dismissal of the case. The suit claims the journalists owe an accounting firm thousands of dollars for producing public records that documented questionable spending by Scarnati’s campaign, The Caucus reports.

BREAKING A BARRIER: Pennsylvania's next auditor general, Republican Tim DeFoor, was the first person of color elected to a Dauphin County office in 2015. Now, he's the first person of color elected to a Pennsylvania row office. He told PennLive he hopes to serve as an example for children of all races.

DENIED ACCESS: York County government officials are refusing to provide basic information about employees in a county office — including names, pay rates, job titles, and dates of hire —to The York Dispatch. Adams and Lancaster Counties provided similar records within days.
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SPECIAL SUNDAYS: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has this delightful lede about a recent change in state law: "Hunting on Sundays has been illegal in Pennsylvania since British rule of Penn’s Woods colony. After decades of debate in the state legislature, that ends Sunday." Sunday hunting will take place Nov. 15, 22, and 29 this year.

LIGHT OVER DARKNESS: Diwali, a five-day festival of lights observed by millions of Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains, will look different this year. But Pooja Makhijani writes that the symbolism of Diwali seems more important than ever.

SWEET TREAT: If you love the Farm Show milkshakes, get ready for this: "Cowabunga," a new ice cream that is basically a "Farm Show milkshake by the scoop." Here's where you can find one.

RECYCLED SIGNS: The Philadelphia Inquirer has this super detailed explainer about what you can do with campaign signs. The story even breaks down the differences between ones made with cardboard, paper, corrugated plastic, and more. A West Philly nonprofit has found creative uses for those signs, turning them into lamps and other items.

SCRAPPLE 2.0: When I lived closer to Philly, I almost always chose scrapple as my side dish at diners. But now, as an eight-year resident of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, I am tempted to try cornmeal scrapple — maybe as a Thanksgiving side dish? 

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out the winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. If you love the scrambler, make a donation and we'll DOUBLE it.

Yesterday's answer: Entrenched 

Congrats to our daily winners: Mary Ellen T., David I., Jarrod B., Theodore W., Steve D., Thomas B., Susan D., Irene R., Lynne E., Heidi B., Bill C., George C., Anne G., Erica S., Craig W., Kim C., Dianne K., Ron P., Chris W., Jeffery S., Patricia R., James B., Beth T., Robert S., Carol D., Maureen G., Craig E., and Lance L.
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