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Donors stoke state AG race after costly primaries

Plus, breaking down the Biden protest vote.

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A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Today: Big donors, transplants halted, ballot date litigation, breaking down the Biden protest vote, and Shapiro's RV roadtrip. This is PA Post.

The Democratic and Republican candidates competing to be Pennsylvania’s next attorney general first had to survive contested primaries that drained their campaign coffers and left both with roughly $30,000 to spend. 

With more than five months until the November general election, Democrat Eugene DePasquale and Republican Dave Sunday are rebuilding those cash reserves, thanks to very different groups of backers. 

Read Spotlight PA's full rundown: Pennsylvania attorney general candidates rebuild campaign coffers after pricey primaries.

And in the race for state treasurer, establishment donations are coming in to Erin McClelland in the weeks since her surprise win in April's Democratic primary, a race in which McClelland was her own biggest funder.

Among the donors: Democratic U.S. Sen. John Fetterman’s campaign committee, which gave McClelland $1,000. The two know each other and have plenty in common, but McClelland says they don't agree on everything.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: She beat the party-backed candidate for Pa. treasurer. Donations are starting to roll in.


"If anything, the agency’s own actions have demonstrated how poorly equipped it is to meet 'this extraordinary moment.'"

—A letter signed by over 50 groups, many in Pennsylvania, calling on the U.S. Department of Energy to suspend negotiations around the ARCH2 Hydrogen Hub in Appalachia and engage relevant communities
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Spotlight PA will soon launch a new weekly newsletter focused on caregiving and caregivers across Pennsylvania. Every Tuesday, "How We Care" will feature original reporting and perspectives on how we care for one another at all stages of life, the huge economic and policy questions ahead, and how it's affecting the lives of millions of people across the state. You can sign up for How We Care here.

SETTLEMENT STRATEGY: Join us Thursday, May 30, from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on how counties are using their opioid settlement funds, and what influences these decisions. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org

A fox seen on the road into Luzerne County's Nescopeck State Park by Don H. Have a photo of your own to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
A fox seated on a roadside in front of tall grass.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.UNDER SCRUTINY: Penn State Health will discontinue its troubled liver and kidney transplant programs amid scrutiny from federal regulators, Spotlight PA reports. A spokesperson said staff are helping waitlisted kidney and liver transplant patients transfer to other transplant centers. The move does not affect Penn State Health’s heart, stem cell, and bone marrow transplant programs, the spokesperson added.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
2024 SUIT: Pennsylvania voting rights groups on Tuesday filed a lawsuit that argues disqualifying undated or improperly dated mail ballots violates the state's constitution, the AP reports. The suit, filed against Pennsylvania's top election official and those in heavily Democratic Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties, aims to get such ballots counted in November, when thousands of votes could be on the line.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
PROTEST VOTES: The vast majority (about 13,600) of the more than 16,000 Democratic write-in votes cast in last month's presidential primary in Philly were "protest votes clearly related to the Israel-Hamas war," Politico's Jonathan Lai reports. Democratic write-in votes nearly doubled statewide, while protest votes were seen against former President Donald Trump here as well. The trend has continued.
  • Biden to launch coalition to shore up support with Black voters at Girard College in Philadelphia today, via The Inquirer (paywall).
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
NEW ERA: As pandemic-era federal aid dries up, Pennsylvania cities like Lancaster and Pittsburgh face shifting fiscal realities. LNP (paywall) reports a consultant is warning Lancaster its $2 million deficit could hit $10 million next year without action, while spending is outpacing revenue in Pittsburgh, where PublicSource reports the city's controller is urging a post-American Rescue Plan Act reckoning.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.TORNADO SEASON: Several tornadoes have touched down in Pennsylvania this month and a suspected one hit Schuylkill County on Monday, less than a week out from the 39th anniversary of an outbreak that killed 64 people here in a single day. Here's a map of tornado warnings issued so far this year as experts tell Vox of subtle changes in tornado patterns "that could have major consequences."
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ALL CLEAR: A "suspicious package" prompted the closure of the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center on Tuesday. Authorities eventually gave the all clear but said little more, per the Evening Sun.

MARKET VOTES: Two Harrisburg City Council members who voted against a contractor chosen to rebuild the fire-ravaged Broad Street Market are now reconsidering, FOX43 reports. State funding was on the line.

NEXT EDITOR: Journalist and media executive Kevin Donahue has been named the next editor of Philadelphia's Billy Penn at WHYY. Donahue said: “It would be hard to overstate how excited I am."
GETAWAY GUV: Gov. Shapiro and family took an RV trip across Pennsylvania last week to promote his new tourism push. There was jet-skiiing, dark skies, a Pennsylvania playlist, and a news interview conducted on a bike.
RIDING WITH RIDGE: You might be wondering if Shapiro is the first sitting governor to be interviewed on a bike. The answer, according to newspaper archives, is no. In fact, he wasn't even the second to do it.
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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. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

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