You could probably forgive Sharif Street, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party when he decided not only to do a lap of honor but also to do a rhetorical wheelie about the party’s performance in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
Pennsylvania Democrats captured both the governor’s office and Pennsylvania’s vacant US Senate seat; they now hold nine of the state’s 17 congressional seats; They retook the State House for the first time in 12 years (which gets complicated quickly) and added a legislature to their ranks in the solid Republican Senate.
But despite all this, “the Commonwealth remains solid purple”. Streetwho is also a senator from the Democratic state of Philadelphia, said during a lunchtime appearance on the Monday before Pennsylvania Press Club.
In far-reaching remarks Street broadly on the midterm elections and Senate Democrats’ legislative priorities for 2023 — and how much of them they can get across the finish line in the GOP-controlled chamber, and much less on the upcoming Senate impeachment trial Larry Krasner, Philadelphia District Attorney.
Below are three takeaways Street Looks.
Regarding the Krasner impeachment:
Street postponed when the audience’s inevitable question about the Republican-led impeachment of Krasnersurfaced during the Q&A portion of his performance.
The Republican-controlled House voted 107 to 85 to impeach Krasner on November 16a progressive who has drawn the wrath of Republicans (and some Democrats) for believing he’s not tough enough on crime.
The vote sent the impeachment articles to the majority GOP Senate for consideration. Streetlike other senators, will act much like a jury in this trial last person to be successfully convicted by the Senate was a former state Rolf Larsen, Supreme Court Justice more than a quarter of a century ago.
The Democratic lawmaker gave an indication of his feelings when asked a question about rising crime and falling arrests in the state’s largest city.
“The district attorney’s office only charges after arrests,” he said. “He can’t hire more cops.”
Speaking to reporters after his performance, Street offered little time or logistics for the process.
“It’s evolving. We were advised to just really stay away from it because it really is an evolving process.” Street said. “What I can say is that we haven’t done anything like this in quite a while. And so…working through the logistics was a challenge for the Senate staff. And then remember… the Senate didn’t ask for it.”
The Senate is expected to return for two days before the end of this year’s legislative session on November 30 to consider procedural issues related to the trial. But it’s not clear how things will go from there.
Running – and governing – from the center.
Reflecting on victories by both Democrats Newly elected governor Josh Shapiro and we Senator-elect John Fetterman, Street said both ran and won from the middle, with both men passing voting President Joe Biden in the counties biden won two years ago.
“Pennsylvanians are deterred by partisanship” Street said, pointing to major victories by the former Republican Governor Tom Ridgewho nobody would mistake for a progressive, who nonetheless campaigned pragmatically in his election victories in 1994 and 1998.
“Josh Shapiro struck a moderate tone that people rallied around,” he said. “…We emerged as the adults in the room.” which attracted Republicans and Independents who were put off by the Republican candidate Doug Mastrianos Hardline extremism.
“If there was another brand of Republican [on the ballot]there would have been a significant shift.” Street permitted. “But Republicans did the right thing and rejected extremism. They understood that whoever gets the most votes wins and that we don’t hate each other.”
And while national Republicans tried to paint Fat man As both a left-wing extremist and a criminal, the current Lieutenant Governor’s efforts to engage with voters are overwhelming Trump card Land were still an important lesson in campaigning and resonated with voters in suburban Pittsburgh.
“That Fetterman formula – we should look at that as something he did right.” Street said.
On life in the Legislature in 2023:
The narrow Democrat majority in the State House, coupled with a returning Republican majority in the Senate, is a reminder that “we still have divided government.” Street said.
Street said he believes incoming Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, R-Westmorelandand Majority Leader Joe Pittman, R-Indianaare pragmatic and fair.
He said he was “cautiously optimistic” that Democrats could work with the House of Lords’ new leadership team. But to get bills on the ground, Democrats mustn’t move too far to the left because Pittman’s Office controls the Senate voting calendar.
“We have to be more pragmatic because yeah will call votes and he’s a pragmatic guy,” he said.
Asked to check off Democrats’ legislative priorities for the new session, Street offered a broad list that included “protecting the right to vote, creating jobs, keeping people safe, and protecting the environment.”
A well-known proponent of legalized recreational cannabis, Street said he still hopes he can get a bill passed, despite opposition from some Republicans.
“It doesn’t have to be our top priority to get it done,” he said.