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Republican state Rep. Randy Vulakovich is on the cable airwaves in his bid for the state's 40th Senatorial District seat.

His ad -- the first in that August 7 special election for former Sen. Jane Orie's seat -- highlights his years as a police officer, and states that he never took per diems for Harrisburg session days.

He faces Democrat Sharon Brown of McCandless in the upcoming contest.

Video of the ad is posted above, and the script can be read after the jump:


Good morning.

Obama seeks to cut middle class taxes, whereas Republicans see a tax increase on small businesses (Jim O'Toole)

With another round of state legislative district lines comes another round of legal challenges (Laura Olson)

Former state Sen. John Pippy is jumping right into the PA Coal Alliance lobbying efforts (Erich Schwartzel)

A bunch more on the Corbett admin's contract for a Republican firm to do voter education on the new Voter ID law (TPM). Sample graf on why Eric Holder won't be jumping into Pa fray:

While the Justice Department has challenged voter ID laws in South Carolina and Texas it hasn’t done so in Pennsylvania because it isn’t covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, a provision which requires certain states with a history of racial discrimination to have changes to their voting laws precleared by federal authorities. While civil rights groups have sued over Pennsylvania’s law on behalf of clients including a 93-year-old woman who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a challenge from DOJ’s Civil Rights Division likely couldn’t come until after the 2012 election.

Freshman congressman David McKinley of Wheeling is again zigging where the rest of the GOP is zagging.

With the GOP-controlled House planning a symbolic vote on repealing Obama's health bill, McKinley told the NYTimes yesterday that he's in favor of parts of the Democrat's legislation:

"[McKinley]  said prohibitions on lifetime coverage caps and on discrimination against people with pre-existing medical conditions should “absolutely” stay in force, even if health care costs would have to rise.

“If it means increasing my premiums, so be it,” he said. “That’s what insurance is about.”

The comments come a couple weeks after the congressman from northern West Virginia criticized a conservative Republican budget plan for its changes to Medicare.

WV-1 is has a Democratric registration edge but is still R+9 in Cook PVI.  Democrats held the seat for 40 years before former congressman Alan Mollohan was defeated by a conservative primary challenger in 2010. This fall he faces Democratic campaign worker Sue Thorn of Wheeling.

UPDATE: All that said, McKinley is still a cosponsor of the House GOP Obamacare repeal bill.

The biggest story in Pa politics these days has to be the new voter ID law and whether, as Mike Turzai has signaled, it will deliver Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes to Mitt Romney, or is an effort to ensure voting is free of fraud, as Republicans have usually argued in approving their bill.

The ACLU and other groups have sued to block the law, saying it will deny residents without accepted photo ID their constitutionally-protected right to vote. Meanwhile the state announced last week that about 10 percent of registered voters -- many of them in Philadelphia -- do not have driver's licences, which along with government/university/senior center IDs are the main form of acceptable identification under the new law.

Meanwhile Democrats and union allies worried about the law's impacts still don't have a list of voters without ID -- it's difficult to create without help from PennDOT -- and are really worried about the impacts this fall, the liberal site TPM writes.

The state has also had trouble updating the new rules on the website for the Dept. of State (which oversees elections), still listing old rules for ID at Pa polls, the AP reports.

Enter the Corbett administration. The Philadelphia City Paper reports the governor's office has hired a PR firm headed by a Republican fundraiser to produce spots educating voters on the new rules, which pitch the law as a voters-rights measure.

"Your right to vote. It's one thing you never want to miss out on," says one spot from the firm's video channel (since pulled), over black & white photos of the women's suffrage movement.

The P-G's Kaitlynn Riely reports that Allegheny County GOP chief Jim Roddey joked about the bill during a Romney campaign counter-rally to President Obama's Pgh visit on Monday:

“Ladies and gentleman, you are living in a state that is going to ensure that the people who vote are supposed to vote and only once," he said, a line that drew applause from the crowd of about 200 Romney supporters in Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum. They were there to see Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty campaign against President Barack Obama.

Mr. Roddey joked that he had previously re-done his will so he could be buried in Philadelphia and continue voting from the grave.

It's official -- former GOP state Sen. John Pippy will head a new coal industry group, after resigning from the Legislature minutes after his final budget vote.

From our main news page:

Former State Sen. John Pippy will be announced this morning as the chief executive officer of the newly formed Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, an industry group representing dozens of coal companies and their political interests.

Mr. Pippy, a Republican from Moon who represented the 37th District for nine years, resigned from the Senate 10 days ago after voting on the state budget. A formal press conference is scheduled at 10 a.m. to announce the news, but the PA Coal Alliance website had already updated to include Mr. Pippy's name as its top executive.

The Coal Alliance is forming after a merger of the Pennsylvania Coal Association and Families Organized to Represent the Coal Economy, or FORCE.

Mr. Pippy will lead a group whose members face troubled times. Preliminary data for the Environmental Information Agency's April report showed natural gas nearly edging coal in electricity production, the first time the two energy sources have been so close since the agency began collecting data several decades ago.

The Coal Alliance already has published two videos on its website calling for a resurgence in coal production, saying coal could solve the nation's debt and unemployment issues.

"You see, coal may be black, but it's also red, white and blue," the commercial says.

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