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Why five ex-governors want open primaries in Pa.

Plus, today's special election in Allegheny County.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2023
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Open calls, today's special, McCormick launch, record pay, county concerns, Vivitrol data, and minks on the loose. Thanks for checking in.

A bipartisan group of five former governors has joined the call for open primaries in Pennsylvania, saying "it's the right thing to do." 

In a letter published Monday, Govs. Tom Corbett, Ed Rendell, Tom Ridge, Mark Schweiker, and Tom Wolf argued that primary elections are now decided by fewer, more extreme voters and that open primaries would help tamp down extremism and political polarization. 

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Five former Pa. governors want to allow independents to vote in partisan primaries.

THE CONTEXT: Pennsylvania is one of nine states with a closed primary system, meaning only voters affiliated with a party can vote in its primary.

An open primary would allow independents in to provide a moderating force on the kinds of candidates who make it through, experts say.

With nearly 80% of statehouse elections across the country determined by the primary, supporters of open primaries say that unaffiliated voters have a right to weigh in, calling it the most democratic option. 

Critics of open primaries have long warned about muddying the proverbial waters, but the five former governors disagree, writing in their letter: 

"Both political parties have seen dramatic declines over the past 20 years, while independent voters are the fastest growing segment of the voting population. Why wouldn’t we want to invite them in?”

"They were done, they were tired, they were cold."
—David Beohm, of the Pennsylvania State Police, on Monday's arrests of nine juveniles who escaped a Berks County detention center Sunday
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» Guide to the candidates for state Supreme Court
» Guide to the candidates for Commonwealth and Superior Courts
» What to know about the judicial retention questions on your ballot
» STORY FEST: Spotlight PA is participating in Philly Story Fest, a first-of-its-kind festival that brings together storytellers from across the city on one stage. Join us Thursday, Oct. 5 from 7-10 p.m. at the Bok building in South Philadelphia (1901 South 9th St.). Tickets are $25 and available here.

» PATH TO EQUITY: Join Spotlight PA for its first in-person summit on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. Spotlight PA is co-presenting this event with Color & Culture, a Pennsylvania marketing firm. Tickets are on sale at this link until sold out.

» ELECTION 101: Join Spotlight PA’s government reporters Kate Huangpu and Stephen Caruso on Thursday, Oct. 12 from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on Pa.’s 2023 judicial candidates. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
As seen at Lake Wallenpaupack by Paul R. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
An antlered deer peeking its head around a bush at the edge of a paved walkway.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.ELECTION DAY: With state House control on the line, voters in one Allegheny County district will elect a replacement for former Democratic state Rep. Sara Innamorato in a special election today. Find out if you're one of them. PublicSource's Charlie Wolfson reports 80% of the mail ballots requested in the race were requested by Democrats. The party also had the financial edge headed into the homestretch, per WESA.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.RUNNING MAN: David McCormick was in Harrisburg to meet with GOP lawmakers Monday ahead of the expected launch of his latest bid for U.S. Senate, WGAL's Tom Lehman reports. The former hedge fund executive will challenge Democratic incumbent Bob Casey. Early coverage has focused on the stakes of the contest, the GOP's backing, and McCormick's main residence in Connecticut’s Gold Coast.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
CHARITY CARE: CHOP paid CEO Madeline Bell a record $7.7 million in 2021, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. The number is notable for another reason: It's more than the nonprofit hospital spent on charity care in three years, all as scrutiny grows around the free and discounted services to needy patients that afford nonprofit hospitals big tax breaks.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
DETENTION PLANS: PublicSource reports that candidates for Allegheny County executive — Democrat Sara Innamorato and Republican Joe Rockey — oppose the county's plan to reopen a shuttered juvenile detention center under a private contractor, Adelphoi, that has faced accusations of abuse. The Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism first reported on the county's renovation of the space.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.HIDDEN OVERDOSES: Vivitrol — a long-acting injection of the drug naltrexone — is the opioid addiction treatment of choice in the U.S. criminal justice system, and its being used in prisons across Pennsylvania, sometimes as the only option. But author Maia Szalavitz, in a Scientific American opinion piece, flags new research that found hidden overdoses amid concerns about its efficacy and safety.
Join Spotlight PA for a day of conversation about Pennsylvania's growing communities of color and their lack of representation.

MIXED BAG: Philly saw its median income rise (modestly) in 2022, bucking a national trend, but it remains the poorest big city in the U.S., per Axios. Pennsylvania did not buck the trend and saw its median income drop to $71,798 in 2022. That's up from 2020 but down from 2021.

DRESS CODE: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., NY) has decided the chamber will no longer enforce its informal dress code for members starting this week, per NBC. That's welcome news for Pennsylvania's junior U.S. senator and his hoodie collection

OPEN RECORDS: Learn the basics of navigating Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law in a webinar hosted by Pennsylvania's Office of Open Records at 10 a.m. Wednesday. If you can't make it (or want a primer), here's Spotlight PA's basic guide to requesting public records.

RUNNING OF THE MINKS: Police are investigating after someone reportedly cut holes in a fence at a fur farm in Northumberland County, freeing thousands of minks. Experts say don't approach them.

KORSHAK'S CLOSING: Philadelphia's beloved Korshak Bagels is closing. Philly Voice reports poet-owner Philip Korshak said the business simply isn't sustainable. Sunday is the last day of service.

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.
Yesterday's answer: Deferential

Congrats to our daily winners: Vicki U., Don H., Jon W., Barbara F., Hallie W., Judith D., Bob C., Kimberly D., Jane R., Elaine C., Susan D., Susan N.-Z., James B. and Anne B., Dan A., Kim C., Dennis M., Craig E., Stacy S., Robin S., Tom M., Wendy A., and Richard A.
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