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Two state legislators are considering the race for Allegheny County controller.

Reps. Chelsa Wagner, D-Beechview and Nick Kotik, D-Coraopolis, both said Wednesday they are poised to decide in the next few days whether to seek the post, which will be open if the incumbent, Mark Patrick Flaherty, follows through on plans to run for the Democratic nomination for county executive.

“I’m leaning very heavily toward running for controller,’’ said Ms. Wagner.

“I’m taking a serious look at it,’’ said Mr. Kotik.

Although he has yet to make a formal announcement, Mr. Flaherty’s cousin and advisor, Shawn Flaherty, said last week that the current controller planned to run for county executive regardless with whether County Executive Dan Onorato decides to seek re-election to a third term.

Mr. Onorato, the unsuccessful Democratic nominee in the 2010 governor’s race, has said he will announce his decision early this month.  That announcement will inform a decisions of several other potential candidates such as Rich Fitzgerald, the county council president, who has said that he will run for the post only if Mr. Onorato decided not to seek a third term.

George Matta, the former clerk of courts now working for The Rivers Casino, has said he is also considering a bid for controller.  Jim Burn, the county and state Democratic chairman, said Tuesday that he had considered both the executive and the controller’s post

Hate to say we told you so (not really), but HCR-foe Jason Altmire will not go along with the symbolic House GOP effort to completely repeal health care reform. There are major parts of the reform package the McCandless Democrat doesn't like (the individual mandate for one) but calls the repeal vote set for Jan. 12 "a purely partisan exercise that has no chance of becoming law" that would block things he does like, such as guaranteed health coverage for children with pre-existing conditions.

"There is no reason, other than partisan gamesmanship, that the repeal legislation has to be drafted this way. The repeal bill could easily have left in place these and other popular provisions, while repealing the remaining unpopular provisions that make up the bulk of the new health care law," he said in a statement issued today.

Full statement after the jump:


With Brian Nutt's departure, Tom Corbett's new pick as chief of staff is Pittsburgh lawyer and longtime friend William Ward.

From Tracie Mauriello:

Mr. Ward and Mr. Corbett have been friends since the 1980s when they worked together as assistant U.S. attorneys.

"He is a skilled lawyer and a man of unquestioned integrity," Mr. Corbett said. "Bill's proven management skills as a prosecutor, agency head and private attorney make him well-suited for the position of chief of staff."

Mr. Ward will leave his job at the law firm Ward McGough, where he has litigated civil and criminal cases, Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley said.

Among his clients is Rachel Manzo, a defendant in the Bonusgate corruption case prosecuted by Mr. Corbett's staff in the Office of Attorney General.

Ms. Manzo had been charged with 12 criminal counts, but Mr. Ward negotiated a deal in which she pleaded guilty to a single first-degree misdemeanor.

Mr. Ward also is former chairman of the state Board of Probation and Parole and for one year served as Mr. Corbett's first deputy in the Office of Attorney General.

(PS, we're seeing stories saying Mr. Ward -- and his firm Ward McGough -- represents the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board, but the firm resigned from that position back in October in a contractural dispute with the city that has roots in the fight over G-20 documents.)

Butler County's Daryl Metcalfe joined conservative legislators from around the country in DC today to unveil legislation denying US-born children of illegal immigrants of citizenship.

The state representative says the legislation is necessary "to correct the monumental misapplication of the 14th Amendment" that all those born in the U.S. are automatically citizens.

"Currently, hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens are crossing U.S. borders to give birth and exploit their child as an 'anchor baby,' as a means to obtain residency, access taxpayer-funded benefits and steal American jobs for themselves and for their families," said a news release.

Metcalfe and others argue the 14th Amendent really only awards citizenship to children whose parents are legal citizens. Not surprisingly, the ACLU disagrees, noting the Supreme Court ruled otherwise more a century ago, and legislation such as Metcalfe's subverts the anti-discriminatory aspects of the amendment (which conferred citizenship rights on slaves and all others born in the country).

The bill would do more than deny birth certificates than some of those born on U.S. soil, the ACLU of Pa says in its own statement.

"The proposed legislation would also require all people in the U.S., whether citizens or not, to prove their status before they can receive a standard birth certificate for their baby. Currently, there is no such requirement. The bill, which Metcalfe says he will introduce in the current legislative session, directly contradicts the long-standing 14th Amendment guarantee that all people born in the U.S. and under its jurisdiction are citizens of the U.S. and the state in which they reside and equal under the law."


John Boehner won the vote to be Speaker of the House a few minutes ago. Shocker, I know, but the vote did have a bit of drama to it -- as in, how many Democrats would not support Nancy Pelosi in her doomed-to-fail Speaker bid. The Democratic caucus elected Pelosi Minority Leader in November but, as a formality, a roll call vote is taken with members voting from their seats, one by one, in alphabetical order. It was excruciating.

But fascinating at the same time: 19 Democrats voted either "present" or for other Democrats to be Speaker. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, was the first to do so, backing Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., a fellow Blue Dog who Altmire had previously supported. Shuler received 11 total votes. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, who vocally backed Pelosi in the Minority Leader vote, voted for her again. The surpise was Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, who also backed Pelosi.

In the caucus vote, Critz was a nay and issued a statement saying that he would "continue to be an independent voice." But he didn't join his colleagues a second time in their rebuke against their chosen leader. For a member who's already likely to be on shaky ground after the Congressional redistricting, it's an intriguing move in favor of the favorite liberal punching bag of the GOP -- one that's sure to be used against him by foes.

To be fair, he wasn't the only one to flip to support of Pelosi: 43 Democrats backed another horse in the Minority Leader vote.

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