May 6, 2022

The biggest story of the week – and second place wasn’t close – was the bombshell revelation of an early draft of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that would overturn the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision. The story was broken by POLITICO, which called it “a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights, and a subsequent 1992 decision… that largely maintained the right.” The court confirmed the authenticity of the draft opinion, but stressed that it was not final and did not reflect the final position of any member of the court. If Roe is overturned, the shock waves may not abate for decades.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf said that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, there will be no immediate impact “as long as I am governor.” His second and final term ends this year, however.

Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race heated up this week as the Republican candidates held a final debate before the May 17 primary election. According to the Associated Press, the candidates mostly attacked one another and ignored the questions in favor of reiterating their favorite talking points. A Franklin & Marshall College poll shows three of the GOP candidates polling in double digits. They are Mehmet Oz (18%), Dave McCormick (16%) and Kathy Barnette (12%).

On the Democrats’ side, the Franklin & Marshall poll shows Lt. Gov. John Fetterman with a majority of support, weighing in at 53%. Conor Lamb and Malcolm Kenyatta are pegged at 14% and 4%, respectively.

In the gubernatorial race, that same poll has GOP state Sen. Doug Mastriano eight points ahead of second-place Bill McSwain, with Lou Barletta and Dave White close behind. The thing is, while leading, Mastriano is drawing only 20%, and 34% of Republicans said they were still undecided. Unopposed Democrat Josh Shapiro continues to bask on his mountain of money.

In congressional race news, the only contested primary is in the 10th Congressional District, where Shamaine Daniels, a Harrisburg City Council member, faces off against Rick Coplen, a 62-year-old retired Army officer who lives in Dickinson Township and serves on the Carlisle Area school board. The winner of that Democratic contest will face incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Perry in November.

For those who are interested in an independent, nonpartisan primer to prep for the big day, check out this guide from our friends at Spotlight PA. It’ll coach you up on how to vote, on finding your polling place, voting by mail, and more.

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a half-point this week, signaling that it is serious about countering inflation. The move immediately boosted stock prices by 3 percent, then they gave it all back the next day as investors… we dunno, came to their senses? Expect the roller coaster to continue, and be sure to keep your arms and legs inside the ride car.

The U.S. Labor Department released its monthly jobs report for April this morning, showing non-farm payrolls increasing by 428,000 and unemployment holding steady at 3.6%.

In other news affecting the economy, U.S. gas prices have surged to the highest level in real terms since the financial crisis in 2008 as strong demand for LNG from buyers in Europe and Asia puts pressure on inventories.

And before we leave this finance and econ thread, there was quite a nugget of good news this week as the Commonwealth ended April taking in more money in a single month than it ever has. PA collected $6.5 billion last month, a whopping $1.8 billion over projections and, according to the state’s Independent Fiscal Office, nearly $2.6 billion more than it took in last April. Woo hoo!

Luke Bernstein, a seasoned financial, government, and public policy professional with more than 20 years of experience, was named president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, replacing Gene Barr, who is retiring. Bernstein most recently served as executive vice president and chief operations and technology officer at Orrstown Financial Services, where he had been employed and served as corporate spokesperson since 2017. We send our best wishes to Luke and congratulate Gene for a career well done.

The lucky winner of this week’s Shameless Client Plug is the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, whose firefighters hosted their brethren from Trenton-Mercer Airport in a joint training exercise, using a Live Burn Mobile Simulator. They worked through various scenarios as real flames engulfed mock aircraft and surrounding areas, attracting fabulous news coverage. Here’s a little PR 101 tip: first responders and dramatic visuals make terrific front-page feature stories and remind us that first responder careers are not for the faint of heart.

Finally, this week’s We Can’t Make This Up segment takes us down south, to Flomaton, Alabama, where police are trying to track down a woman who stole a Crimson Tide “A” logo, along with several other items, and carted them away in a stolen trailer, pulled by a stolen lawn tractor. Florida Man, meet Alabama Woman!

And that’s what passes for news around here this week! Enjoy those May flowers, and don’t forget the Zyrtec! We’ll be back here next week with more fun and games, as we draw ever closer to the May 17 primary.