Buried in yesterday's briefs filed ahead of Wednesday's Commonwealth Court hearing, state lawyers revealed another tool they're unveiling in the voter ID dispute.

Voters who lack the required government-issued (or college/nursing home-issued) photo ID and the key documents to otherwise acquire a state photo ID will be able to request a new "Department of State voter ID card" beginning next month.

The new card, first mentioned in the state's legal brief, would be issued to registered voters who know their Social Security number and can provide two documents proving their address, such as a utility bill or lease.

A Department of State spokesman couldn't be tracked down after the documents were filed late yesterday afternoon, but here's my full story for more on the voter ID dispute.

Or check out the arguments from each side yourself, embedded after the jump. 

Forget attack ads; Tom Smith has an attack website.

The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate today launched www.SenatorZero.com. 

Its centerpiece is a video accusing Democratic incumbent of, well, doing "zero" to help Pennsylvanians.

The 53-second web video hones in on the number of Mr. Casey's 324 bills enacted into law. Technically, Mr. Smith is right: no casey bills became law. 

What the ad doesn't say is that several Casey initiatives that didn't pass on their own did get folded into other pieces of legislation that became law. For example, a Casey effort to provide tax credits became part of law that temporarily extended payroll tax reductions. 

The video also blasts the incumbent senator for ramping up the number of bill introductions as re-election time approached. According to the Smith campaign's tally, Mr. Casey introduced 125 bills during his first four years in office and 199 in the last year and a half. 

What the ad doesn't say is that 129 of his recent bills are for tariff exemptions that help local manufacturers avoid import taxes on raw materials not available domestically. Mr. Casey introduced more than any other senator this term because, he has said, Pennsylvania has a lot of manufacturers who need them and because he has picked up exemption sponsorships that his former counterpart Sen. Arlen Specter used to shepard through. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who replaced Mr. Specter, didn't introduce any tariff exemptions.

Don't look for those 129 bills to boost Mr. Casey's passing rate. They're likely to be absorbed into an omnibus bill that incorporates several hundred similar bills introduced by other lawmakers.

View the Smith video for yourself here.

Democrats in Allegheny and Washington counties officially tapped state Rep. Matt Smith of Mt. Lebanon to run against Republican D. Raja yesterday evening, and the Raja camp was quick to take aim at their new opponent.

Smith was the sole Democrat to offer his name after Greg Parks of Pleasant Hills dropped from the 37th District contest. 

After Tuesday evening's selection meeting, the Raja campaign offered this statement from their campaign manager, Jennifer Hass:
"The voters now have a clear choice between a liberal Harrisburg politician who was handpicked by party bosses and an independent leader and job creator who will get our economy moving again. Despite Matt Smith's rhetoric, his record of voting for higher taxes, more spending, and job-killing policies are out of step with the 37th District. We look forward to a vigorous debate on those issues in the month's to come."

In Western Pennsylvania congressional races, incumbents enjoyed predictable cash advantages over their opponents at the June 30 close of the latest federal reporting period.
Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, fresh from an expensive though relatively easy primary victory over Evan Feinberg, reported total receipts of nearly $2 million. While he spent $1.2 million by the end of  the reporting period, he still had $1,024,587 for his quest to fend off a challenge from Larry Maggi, the Democratic nominee and Washington County commissioner.  Mr. Maggi, was well behind in contributions and available cash, but his campaign touted the fact that, with $499,212 in contributions, and $407,771 in available cash, he had raised more than any Murphy challenger since the Republican's 2002 election. Mr. Maggi also reported debts of $126,054, however, while Mr. Murphy ended the period debt free.
In what figures to be the most competitive race in the region, Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, had out-raised his Republican opponent, Keith Rothfus, but after his expensive primary battle with fellow Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire, faced a cash disadvantage as the campaigns entered the second half of the year.  With total spending of roughly $1.3 million, Mr. Critz had $428,275 on hand.  Mr. Rothfus spent just over $270,000 in the first half of the year, and had $647,479 available at the end of June.  Both candidates went into the general election with campaign debts, $113,575 for Mr. Critz and $200,467 for the Republican.
In the third district, which stretches from Erie down through Butler County, Rep. Mike Kelly, the freshman Republican, had raised $820,315, and had $389,138 in cash, although he also reported campaign debts of $331,995.  Melissa Ann Eaton, the Democratic nominee in the district, had raised $130,867, spent, $109,385, and had just $21,482 in cash with four months to go before the general election.
In the 14th District, which includes the city of Pittsburgh and much of the Mon Valley, Rep. Mike Doyle, the veteran Democrat, had $293,230 in campaign cash after raising a total of $660,623 in this cycle.  His opponent, Republican Hans Lessman, had $14,351 available from his receipts of $15,935.

For the truly depraved Pittsburgh political types out there, both parties have filed their lengthy opposition research books in one of the most-watched congressional races in the country, Mark Critz vs Keith Rothfus in PA12.

The DCCC's book on Rothfus has been out for several weeks now, and Republicans updated theirs on Critz today. Since the party committees are barred from coordinating directly with outside groups (such as unions supporting Critz or SuperPACs aiding Rothfus) they release the opposition material publicly so they can work from the same playbook.

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