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Statements below from ACLU and other voter ID challengers:

PENNSYVLANIA – A Pennsylvania judge rejected a challenge to the state's controversial new voter ID law today. Lawyers for the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP), the Advancement Project, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the Washington, DC, law firm of Arnold & Porter, had argued that the law puts up unconstitutional barriers to the fundamental right to vote and threatens to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of people without valid ID. The groups plan to appeal the judge's decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. 

"I just can't believe it," said Viviette Applewhite, the 93-year-old lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. "Too many people have fought for the right to vote to have it taken away like this. All I want is to be able to vote this November like I always have. This law is just ridiculous."

During the recent seven-day trial, lawyers for the petitioners established that in person voter fraud is exceedingly rare, hundreds of thousands of voters are at risk of being disenfranchised if the law stays in place, and the commonwealth is woefully unprepared to ensure that every voter who needs ID will get one before Election Day. The new Department of State "for voting only" ID is not yet available and not every voter will qualify for one. Prior to the trial, the commonwealth stipulated that it knows of no in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania. Supporters of the law claimed that the law was necessary to stop voter fraud.

The following statement can be attributed to Jennifer Clarke, executive director, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP):

"The determined men and women who came to court to describe their love of this country because we can all participate through the ballot box, will simply have to wait for another day and another court to vindicate this most cherished of all rights."

The following statement can be attributed to David Gersch, Arnold & Porter:

'We are disappointed but will seek to appeal. At trial, we demonstrated that there are about a million registered voters who lack the ID necessary to vote under Pennsylvania's photo ID law. If the court's decision stands, a lot of those people will not be able to vote in November."

The following statement can be attributed to Penda Hair, co-director, Advancement Project:

"This is a huge setback for the right to vote. It's contrary to core American values and sadly takes us back to a dark place in our country's history. We hope the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will see through this and affirm that all Pennsylvania voters have a right to be heard at the ballot box."

The following statement can be attributed to Witold "Vic" Walczak, legal director, ACLU of Pennsylvania:

"Given clear evidence that impersonation fraud is not a problem, we had hoped that the court would show greater concern for the hundreds of thousands of voters who will be disenfranchised by this law."

Leaders of both parties will hold dueling press conferences in Pittsburgh today to debate the fate of Medicare. The issue has burst forth since Paul Ryan was picked to be Mitt Romney's VP, and I have a story today on the local angle . . . which will draw national focus too:

A much-watched congressional race outside Pittsburgh may provide the perfect laboratory for studying how the Medicare changes proposed by GOP vice presidential pick Paul Ryan impact the political landscape this fall.

The 12th District race between U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, and attorney Keith Rothfus, a Republican of Sewickley, is among the top targets nationwide for Republicans this year. The district, formerly represented by the late Democrat John Murtha, voted for Republican John McCain in 2008 and was redrawn by GOP mapmakers to be even more favorable for their party. The National Republican Congressional Committee's largest initial television buy of the fall, launching Friday, will assail Mr. Critz here in the Pittsburgh market.

The district is also home to the largest percentages of Medicare recipients in the entire country. The Critz campaign targeted Mr. Ryan's proposal to issue future seniors private insurance vouchers as its lead attack point on Mr. Rothfus early this summer and with good reason: Westmoreland and Beaver counties have the highest per-capita participation in Medicare Advantage in the nation, according to July 2012 statistics from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, followed by Allegheny County at sixth and Cambria at ninth.

The NYT's Carl Hulse has a look at the impacts on House/Senate races nationally.

Here's the decision denying an injunction to stop Pennsylvania's voter ID law:

GOP US Senate Tom Smith is hitting back with a negative ad on Democrat Bob Casey regarding the economic stimulus bill and job creation policies that that the incumbent's team says isn't factual.

The spot says Casey voted for the failed stimulus that paid for jobs in China" and he "failed to offer one single solution to create jobs" as a senator.

Politifact and other independent fact checkers have largely rejected similar China/stimulus claims made in ads by the Romney camp and his supporters, and which the Smith camp indicates came from an October 2011 story in the Tribune-Review.

It appears some stimulus money went to Chinese manufacturers but the exact amount is in dispute. And the Smith camp notes Casey himself joined Chuck Schumer and a couple other Democrats in March to complain about stimulus money going overseas. Casey's complaints about the Obama administration using foreign steel in military vehicles was the subject of his first ad of this race, which was only broadcast in the Pittsburgh market.

The job solution claim is unsourced by the Smith team and easier to settle: here's a Casey press release from just last month pushing tax credits for small businesses that hire new workers or increase wages for new ones. The Smith team (see statement below) means none of Casey's initiatives were approved in the fractious Senate -- which is why they've dubbed him "Senator Zero" -- but that's different from saying he "failed to offer" a plan.

From Casey spokesman Larry Smar:

"First, Tea Party Tom Smith copies his agenda from the Tea Party, now he is copying attacks that have been discredited by independent fact checkers.  To cover up his support for policies that will send jobs overseas Tom Smith is recycling attacks that have been called 'False' and 'Pants on Fire.'  While Bob Casey has proposed cracking down on unfair trade, tax cuts to spur job creation and support for new industries, Tom Smith is lowering the bar on untrue attack ads."

Smith campaign manager Jim Conroy:

"Our new ad, in response to Senator Casey's first misleading attack of the campaign, highlights Senator Zero's record of accomplishing nothing to create jobs for Pennsylvania," said campaign manager Jim Conroy.  "While Tom Smith has a record of creating jobs here in Pennsylvania, Bob Casey, who has failed to pass a single bill into law, has done nothing but serve as  a rubber stamp for failed policies that have led to more than 40 months of unemployment exceeding 8 percent."

Democrat Mark Critz's campaign issued a statement on the Paul Ryan VP pick at 8:11 a.m. Saturday morning, more than a half hour before Mitt Romney formally introduced his running mate. The Critz camp had been hitting Rothfus with Ryan digs since the start of their general election matchup, so the renewed focus on his proposed overhaul of Medicare was like a fastball over the plate for the Democrat's campaign.Michael Jackson popcorn gif

GOP worries about entitlement reform are the (largely anonymous) talk of the Beltway, and the National Republican Congressional Committee was almost as quick as the Critz camp to give GOP candidates pointers on dealing with the issue. From Politico:

“Do not say: ‘entitlement reform,’ ‘privatization,’ ‘every option is on the table,’” the National Republican Congressional Committee said in an email memo. “Do say: ‘strengthen,’ ‘secure,’ ‘save,’ ‘preserve, ‘protect.’”

The Rothfus campaign has smartly parried by saying Critz's criticisms of the Ryan plan mirror those of the Obama campaign. From spokesman Jon Raso:

"Liberal Congressman Mark Critz has chosen to once-and-for-all align himself with President Obama in his fight to keep his political position and has elected to make his campaign solely driven by the same unfounded scare tactics used by President Obama – two career politicians, two desperate attempts to distract and deceive. But who can blame them? I honestly don't know how I'd campaign if I had to run on a record of 43 straight months of over 8% unemployment, 9.3% unemployment in my home county, raiding Medicare of $741 billion to pay for a new government program, and trillions of dollars in new debt that force us to place our children's future on the table and borrow more and more from China. But my campaign is about getting people back to work, saving Medicare for our seniors by repealing Obamacare, and creating the kind of economic growth that will enable us to pay down our debt and provide for our families. I stand not with President Obama, but with the American people."

Said the Critz campaign:

The people of Western Pennsylvania don’t like Keith Rothfus’ plan to end Medicare by turning it into a voucher program that will cost seniors an additional $6,400 per year for their health care. Now, Keith Rothfus is receiving his marching orders from inside the Beltway to do everything he can to keep Western Pennsylvania’s voters from finding out that he supports the Ryan Budget. According to Politico, The National Republican Congressional Committee began blasting out memos to Republican candidates like Rothfus warning them not to say anything about their plans to dismantle Medicare so they can give new tax cuts for the wealthy.

“Keith Rothfus is so out of touch with Western Pennsylvanians that even his political allies in Washington are telling him to quit talking about his disastrous plan to end Medicare and force seniors to pay an additional $6,400 per year for their health care so he can give the wealthiest Americans a tax cut,” Mark Critz for Congress spokesman Mike Mikus said. “Keith Rothfus can run but he cannot hide from the fact that his plan will be devastating for Pennsylvania’s seniors.”

Getcha popcorn ready: the issue is shaping up to be particularly explosive in this highly-watched race, and the fights between the campaigns continued this afternoon on Twitter (more here):


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