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GOP might pick which Pa. Senate candidate to seat

A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Sarah Anne Hughes
January 11, 2021
Important ruling, resignation calls, a bigger pool, political futures, homegrown talent, and a gold rush. Once again, it's Monday. 
A federal court is expected to rule today on a case involving a state Senate race — a decision that will have major implications for Pennsylvania politics.

Republican Nicole Ziccarelli is suing to throw out 311 mail ballots that Allegheny County election officials counted even though they did not have a handwritten date on the outer envelope. She lost a similar case that went all the way to the state Supreme Court. 

Those votes helped eke out a win for Democrat Jim Brewster, whose victory was certified by the state. Still, Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate refused to seat Brewster last week.

And now the chamber's top GOP lawmaker, Jake Corman, has signaled that if the judge doesn't rule on the case's merits — finding, instead, it wasn't a federal matter — the Senate may intervene and decide who to seat.

THE CONTEXT: While Corman has conceded he doesn’t “have any evidence of misdoing" during the November election, he and other prominent Republicans have repeatedly criticized the Wolf administration and state Supreme Court.

The latter, he and others have argued, overstepped by issuing rulings that accommodated voters during the pandemic. In the case of Brewster, three justices found the lack of a date to be a technical violation, while a fourth said the requirement may not have been clear to voters.

A handful of other Republican lawmakers have, meanwhile, fueled false claims of widespread fraud. That includes Sen. Doug Mastriano, who was in Washington last Wednesday when the U.S. Capitol was stormed by pro-Trump rioters. Democrats are now calling on him to resign, Spotlight PA reports. 

"I was also furious that people felt emboldened enough to do this. How dare they?"

— U.S. Rep Susan Wild, of the Lehigh Valley, on her experience inside the U.S. Capitol as rioters stormed the House chamber
POST IT: A hidden path in Harrisburg's Bellevue Park neighborhood, courtesy of Spotlight PA's Sarah Anne HughesSend us your hidden gems use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
BIGGER POOL: Pennsylvania officials have updated the state's vaccine rollout plan to make more people eligible during the initial phases, the Associated Press reports. Following health-care workers, people older than 74 and essential workers, like teachers and grocery store employees, will be qualified to get a dose. 

TRAINING DAY: In Allegheny County alone, nearly 1,000 volunteers will be trained to administer COVID-19 vaccines to the general public. That includes the state's pharmacy students, the Post-Gazette reports. At the moment, 210 pharmacies — with nearly 1,100 locations statewide — have agreed to serve as vaccination sites.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: Some Republican state lawmakers are pushing back after members of their own caucuses "amplified the misinformation campaign that reached its violent conclusion Wednesday," the Capital-Star reports. Still, many prominent members of the party are bullish about their political futures post-Trump, TribLIVE found.

HE'S (MAYBE) RUNNING: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, whose national profile has skyrocketed as he's forcefully pushed back against false claims of election fraud, is considering another run for the U.S. Senate, The Inquirer reports. The seat will be vacant in 2022 as Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, is not seeking another term.

'GO AWAY' ASAP: Toomey is calling on President Donald Trump to resign for "inciting" thousands of people to attack the U.S. Capitol. “The best way for our country is for the president to resign and go away as soon as possible," he told "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "I acknowledge that may not be likely but that would be best.”

» FREE FOR SUBSCRIBERS: A live interview with Daniel Greenstein, chancellor of the PA State System of Higher Education, at 5 p.m. Jan. 13. RSVP now and submit questions in advance to ypiper@spotlightpa.org.
HAPPY B-DAY: Today is the 151st anniversary of the birth of the Philadelphia sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder. He's responsible for many great public works including Swann Memorial Fountain in the city's Logan Square park. 

WHAT TO LISTEN TO IF ... you value homegrown talent: I can't stop listening to the latest Tiny Desk Concert with Philadelphia's Jazmine Sullivan. If you're not familiar with the songstress, here's a great profile in her hometown paper.

SNAPPED: A Pennsylvania high school student's First Amendment crusade may be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue: whether schools can discipline students for their speech online via platforms like Snapchat.

GOLD RUSH: Here's a fun (and potentially lucrative) history lesson from Uncharted Lancaster about buried treasure in York County. The gold and silver were hidden by the Loyalist James Rankin during the Revolution and people were still finding coins in the early 1900s. Anyone have a metal detector I can borrow?

CUTE ALERT: Need to see something adorable? How about an African penguin chick that recently hatched at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh? Did I mention it's in a tiny cup?
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Friday's answer: Superficial 

Congrats to our weekly winner: Neal W.

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Jill G., Tracey C., David I., Stephanie S., Susan D., Mary Ellen T., Gail H., Irene R., John C., Theodore W., Dennis E., Chris M., Carl D., Ron P., Joel S., George S., Heidi B., Karen W., Craig E., and David W.
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