The Republican National Committee says it’s spending an eye-popping $3 million to air a TV ad in Pennsylvania.
The move comes in the final five days of a presidential campaign that has seen the traditional battleground state go from a relative backwater to front-and-center in an 11th-hour blitz by Republican Mitt Romney and conservative allies.
The RNC’s announcement came Thursday night. Last-minute ad buys by the Romney campaign and other pro-Romney groups could bring their combined spending to $10 million in the campaign’s final days.
Pennsylvania has supported Democrats in the last five elections and winning its 20 electoral votes is crucial to President Barack Obama’s re-election bid.
Judge denies injunction request over voter ID
HARRISBURG – A judge has denied a request for an injunction from opponents of Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, who wanted him to order the state to be clearer about voters not needing photo ID at the polls Tuesday.
The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported Commonwealth Judge Robert Simpson ruled the opponents did not provide any proof the state’s message about photo ID being requested but not required would lead to disenfranchisement.
Last month, Simpson ordered the voter ID law put on hold for the upcoming election. But he said the state should continue educating voters about the law, which will apply in future elections.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the judge’s ruling comes as no surprise. A Department of State spokesman said the state wants people to focus on getting out to vote.
Casey, Smith rejoin campaign trail
HARRISBURG – Democratic Sen. Bob Casey and his Republican challenger Tom Smith are hitting the campaign trail after taking several days off while Pennsylvania weathered a massive storm.
Smith visited Republican Party offices in Lancaster and York on Thursday with Casey’s Senate colleague, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, while Casey dropped by a State College restaurant.
The election is Tuesday.
Casey, a key ally of organized labor, is seeking a second, six-year term and is leading independent polls. Casey, of Scranton, is the son of the late former Gov. Robert P. Casey and is a former state treasurer and auditor general.
Smith is a newcomer to statewide politics after making a fortune in western Pennsylvania’s coal mining industry. He’s a tea party favorite and is tapping his personal wealth to outspend Casey.
Freed launches attack ad in AG race
HARRISBURG – Republican candidate David Freed has launched the first attack ad of his campaign for Pennsylvania attorney general, suggesting voters cannot trust Democratic candidate Kathleen Kane.
Freed’s 30-second spot takes Kane to task for erroneously claiming she was endorsed by the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association and for accepting campaign contributions from special interests after criticizing the practice during the primary campaign in the spring.
A female narrator concludes the ad by saying “We just can’t trust Kathleen Kane.”
Kane has said the false claim of a state troopers endorsement resulted from a mistake by a campaign intern. Her campaign spokesman, Josh Morrow, says Freed’s ad is a sign of “desperate campaigning” by Gov. Tom Corbett’s hand-picked choice for attorney general.
Kane has not aired any negative ads against Freed.
Whistleblower suit filed on furnace program
UNIONTOWN – A western Pennsylvania man has filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming he was laid off from a county program that provides assistance for people who need furnaces after he reported employees who showed favoritism to friends and relatives.
Michael Volek’s lawsuit targets the Redevelopment Authority of Fayette County, where he was hired in 2008 and laid off six months ago.
The authority isn’t commenting, saying officials there haven’t seen the lawsuit filed late Wednesday.
Volek contends his complaints led to an inspector general’s investigation of the authority’s weatherization program, which helps needy people get new furnaces and make other weather-related home improvements.
Volek said he audited the program and saw officials buying furnaces for people who didn’t need them and giving preferential treatment to friends and relatives on a waiting list for heating assistance.
Anonymous donor offers reward in slaying
DERRY – An anonymous donor is offering $15,000 as a limited time reward for information in an unsolved western Pennsylvania slaying.
Twenty-two-year-old Samantha Joann Lang was found with her throat slashed at the home where she lived with her father and brother in Derry Township on March 27, 2007.
The Lang men weren’t living there at the time, because they were incarcerated on drug charges and, police say, their house was known for drug activity.
Lang was found slain in the ransacked house, but nobody has ever been charged in her death.
The victim’s mother, Carol Polo, said the reward offer made her cry.
Previously, other sources were offering $5,000 for information, so any new tipsters stand to gain as much as $20,000 for information that solves the case.