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Early Returns Blog

Polls will be open another three hours in the North Hills of Pittsburgh for the special election to replace convicted state Sen. Jane Orie in the 40th Senate district. Yours truly will be writing about the results through the night -- so far we're hearing from both parties (and the Allegheny County elections division) that turnout is low, and could end up at less than 10%.

Since the seat represents parts of Allegheny and Butler counties the best place to follow full results may be here at the Department of State's election site. Allegheny's special election site is here and Butler's here.

Here's my setup story on the race between Democrat Sharon Brown and Republican Randy Vulakovich.

Nice story from Abby Rapoport at the American Prospect today on the challenges facing Philadelphia groups trying to get the word out on voter ID (we wrote about similar struggles facing those in Pittsburgh):

It's a stiff challenge. Spreading the word and reaching out to affected voters is tough, especially without reliable information about who those voters are. The coalition relies on the state's study, which merged voter rolls with ID-information from the state's Department of Transportation, to tell them which areas are most affected. (While the coalition focuses on Philadelphia, which has a disproportionate number of the people without ID, the activists hope to make it a statewide campaign.)  Volunteers will go door-to-door in such neighborhoods, alerting everyone to the change in rules. In the next few weeks, the coalition also plans on calling homes, using phone numbers from the voting rolls. There's even a gigantic megaphone at the field operation headquarters meant to blare out the message from atop a van. Running on a shoestring budget, Certaine, who's in charge of field operations, hopes for a volunteer army and will rely on church vans to provide transportation to driver's license centers. Groups in the coalition, like the Senior Law Center, are also offering clinics for those who need legal help to obtain an ID.

CNN has a story saying the voter ID fights in Pa and other states could lead to post-election legal battles on a 2000 Bush v Gore level.

So far, so good in the workout today of the tough new voter ID law in the Kansas primary. We'll be watching for reaction tomorrow and through the week.

The series of polls showing President Obama leading in Pennsylvania hasn't gotten Pat Toomey down.

In fact, the state's Republican U.S. senator said this morning he expects Pennsylvania to provide a share of the electoral votes that deliver Mitt Romney to the White House.

"Basically, the dynamic that allowed me to win federal office in 2010 is still very much in place, and he is going to carry Pennsylvania in 2012 much the way that I carried Pennsylvania in 2010," Toomey said.

Toomey, a former congressman, won in a close race with Joe Sestak, the congressman who beat five-term Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary that year. Toomey said today after a speech before county commissioners in Hershey that his race and the presidential contest share "a focus on the economy and restoring some fiscal sanity to Washington."

"It's the fact that President Obama's policies have failed. They've failed Pennsylvania. They've failed America," he said. "It's the fact that Governor Romney is such an accomplished man and so competant in economic and business matters, that he clearly has the knowledge and the ability to turn this around.

"I think that's exactly what people are looking for, and I think that's why he's going to carry Pennsylvania and become the next president."

A Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll released last week found Obama leading Romney by 11 points in Pennsylvania. The president led by 6 points in a survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, and 4 points in a Rasmussen poll.

Yesterday we noted the Koch Bros' Americans For Prosperity is making ad buys in Pittsburgh (and elsewhere across the state). AFP announced the first wave in Pa (as well as Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin) will cost $6.7 million.

Here's a look at the nearly $40,000 buy AFP made over the next week at KDKA-TV.

Their spot attacking President Obama over the national debt is below:

Photo: Clara Ritger
HERSHEY, Pa. -- U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey placed a priority on balancing the budget in a bipartisan fashion at the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania meeting Tuesday.

“We as a collective government are refusing to deal with a completely unsustainable fiscal policy that is courting a financial crisis,” Toomey said.

Earlier this year, Toomey, a Republican, worked with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, to pass a bill that would make it easier for companies to go public. He said in the Senate it is hard to get things done when legislators don't make concessions and work in a bipartisan fashion.

“Now Chuck Schumer and I probably have a hard time agreeing that today is Tuesday,” Toomey said to the laughing crowd. “But nothing’s going to happen in the Senate unless it’s bipartisan.”


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