Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Conservatives Oust Pileggi as PA Senate Majority Leader

Dominic Pileggi, arguably the most powerful political figure in Pennsylvania, has been ousted by fellow Republicans as Senate Majority Leader. Pileggi was widely criticized for bottling up Gov. Tom Corbett's reform agenda in the GOP-controlled Senate, which in turn may have contributed to Corbett's defeat on Nov. 4 to liberal Democrat Tom Wolf.

A conservative team of state Senators publicly denounced Pileggi, a moderate Philadelphia-area state lawmaker and sought his ouster. With the addition of three more seats, the Republican majority in the 50-member PA Senate is now 30-20. The new Senate Majority Leader is Sen. Jake Corman of Centre County.

Corbett sought to privatize the state's liquor monopoly and revamp public pensions, but both measures died in the Senate because Pileggi refused to bring them up for a vote. Pileggi also would not allow a vote on SB 76, which would have eliminated Pennsylvania school property taxes.

Pileggi was often referred to as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) by Harrisburg observers. The Wall Street Journal today called Pileggi's ouster as a "setback for Pennsylvania Democrats" because of Pileggi's willingness to work with Democrats and incoming Gov. Tom Wolf.

The only holdover in leadership positions is Senate President Joe Scaranti, who holds a largely ceremonial position. Because of the defeat of Republican Tom Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, a Democrat, newly-elected Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, who is also a state senator, will now preside over the Senate. Stack has said he plans to keep both his senate seat and his new post as Lt. Gov., but there are questions about the constitutionality of holding two elected offices at once.

Over in the House, where Republicans also bolstered their majority, ultra-conservative state Rep. Mike Turzai was elected Speaker of the House, another blow to liberal Tom Wolf's chances of getting any of his tax-and-spend agenda through the Legislature.

Here's a release from the Republican Party of Pennsylvania congratulating the new Senate leadership:

PA GOP Chairman Gleason Congratulates New State Senate GOP Leadership Team

HARRISBURG – Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason released the following statement regarding the reorganization session of the State Senate Republican Caucus.
"Congratulations to President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, Majority Leader Jake Corman and our entire State Senate Republican leadership team on their elections," Gleason said. "At such an important time in the history of our Commonwealth, it's important to continue the tradition of strong Republican leadership that will stand up for the Republican principles of individual freedom and economic opportunity in our state Senate.
"I congratulate the new state Senate Republican leadership team, and look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead."
Today, State Senate Republicans chose the following officials to serve as members of their leadership team:
President Pro Tempore – 25th District Senator Joe Scarnati
Senate Majority Leader – 34th District Senator Jake Corman
Senate Appropriations Chairman – 16th District Senator Pat Browne
Senate Majority Whip – 27th District Senator John Gordner
Senate Majority Caucus Chairman – 24th District Senator Bob Mensch
Senate Caucus Secretary –  33rd District Senator Rich Alloway
The following State Senate Republicans were appointed to serve in leadership positions by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati:
Senate Caucus Administrator – 10th District Senator Chuck McIlhinney
Senate Majority Policy Committee Chairman – 29th District Senator David Argall

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