Attorney General hopeful Zappala skips PA Society for basketball, ‘family stuff’


The latest candidate to jump into the race for Pennsylvania attorney general won’t be attending Pennsylvania politicos’ biggest party this weekend.

The state’s top political players – those who want to be and those who want to be seen – will mingle in the swanky digs of New York City hotels and clubs this weekend for the Pennsylvania Society annual gathering.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. is taking a pass for a bleacher seat at his son’s basketball games, said his campaign manager, Marty Marks.

“He’s sticking around for family stuff and family activities,” Marks said, adding the decision to skip the NYC weekend was made over Thanksgiving. “We have a lot of friends going to be talking about Steve and talking him up.”

Zappala, Allegheny County’s top prosecutor for two decades, confirmed Wednesday he will seek to replace embattled Kathleen Kane as attorney general in 2016. The Fox Chapel Democrat jumped into a Democratic pool already featuring Pittsburgh attorney David Fawcett, former federal prosecutor Jack Stollsteimer of Delaware County and Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli.

Fawcett, an attorney at Reed Smith, was driving to NYC Friday for the festivities. He joked he was disappointed he missed Friday’s state Republican fundraiser featuring Donald Trump.

Fawcett said he’s become a regular at the annual party and looked forward to talking to political brethren from points east, like Harrisburg and Philly.

“It’s a good way to see people in one place,” he said.

Allegheny County’s governing elite will be well represented Friday evening as County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto host a reception at the Yale Club, where neither attended.

Pennsylvania GOP provokes Twitter spat over campaign finances in Senate race



The first round of campaign finance reports in the race to replace Matt Smith in Pennsylvania’s 37th District Senate seat are due today.

Republican Guy Reschenthaler, a former district judge, and Democrat Heather Arnet, former head of the Women and Girls Foundation, are locked in a heated campaign with television ads that turned nasty quick.

The two have attracted the attention of bigwigs from both parties. Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio posed for a photo with Reschenthaler during a fundraiser in Pittsburgh last week. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was in town the day before to endorse Arnet.

Their special election is the same day as the general election (Nov. 3), and the winner gets one year in Harrisburg.

So far, late contribution reports have shown up on the Department of State’s website, but they are already creating a stir.

A filing from Arnet’s committee, Heather for Harrisburg, shows a $40,000 contribution on Oct. 20 from Rebuild PA, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s political action committee. State Republicans pounced on the filing, tweeting at Arnet demanding that she take a stance on Wolf’s tax proposals.

Arnet responded, kind of, tweeting that she is not in favor of the GOP’s tax plan.

But the GOP kept pushing

The two will debate Wednesday at Robert Morris University.

Puggle politics: Pittsburgh goes to the dogs


Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald faces some ruff competition in Pennsylvania’s November elections.

Yep. I went there.

Nellie, a 7-year-old puggle, a mix between a pug and beagle, has launched a write-in campaign for Fitzgerald’s post. Fitzgerald, seeking his second term as county executive, faced no competition in the primary and has no Republican opposition on the November ballot.

“Since it was clear no political party, and no human at all, was going to step into the gap, she decided to step up herself,” Nellie’s website,, states.

ptr-fitzgerald01-020515When handed a flyer about Nellie and asked to respond, Fitzgerald laughed and put the flyer in his pocket.

Nellie has all her shots and is properly licensed. She is politically active, attending rallies and demonstrations, often wearing a sign.

If elected, Nellie does face a few legal hurdles. According to the county charter, the county executive must be a registered voter and 25 years old. The charter does not specify human or dog years.

Nellie is prepared to confront those hurdles if elected, her handlers say.

But that’s a big if. Write-in candidates received 1,730 votes in the 2011 county executive race, three-quarters of one percent.