Are all of these emails really necessary right now?

Pennsylvania’s primary election was supposed to be held April 28 but was postponed until this coming Tuesday, June 2, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

FOR LOCALS: I have to stop to remind voters in the Commonwealth with ballots to mail them now, so they should arrive by Tuesday. Or drop them off at your County Board of Elections by 8pm Tuesday.

Philadelphia voters can already drop their own mailed ballots off at the Office of the City Commissioners (520 N. Columbus Blvd.) and the ballot drop-off office at City Hall’s south entrance. Then, from 7am to 8pm Tuesday, there will be ten ballot drop-off offices around the city.

Plus, ten other locations around the city will be available at certain times tomorrow, Sunday and Monday for voters to drop off their own mailed ballots.

And if you plan to vote in person on Tuesday, bring a mask and patience, but probably go to a place you’re not used to voting. Most precinct polling places have been consolidated. You may have gotten a post card telling you where to vote. I did, days after getting an email that my “official ballot has been received timely and recorded.” Check out this latest list of polling places, uploaded yesterday, and plan on long lines. Oh, and again, to bring a mask.

Now that I’ve done my civic duty (and also voted), I think the original April 28 was too late a date from the start. There may be a Republican presidential primary coming up, but most of us can agree the sitting president will win that one. As for the Democratic candidates, Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race weeks before we were first scheduled to vote, back in early April.

We, the people, never had a chance to help decide who the Democratic presidential nominee will be (remember, the electors do) in a way that counts, besides donating money.

It always bothered me that voters and caucus-goers in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina get to shape the presidential ballot for every other American — and both parties need to agree on a way to change the unfairness.

Of course, not every office on a primary ballot has anybody running against them. Remember, in closed-primary states like Pennsylvania, the challengers are from the same party.

Yes, in State Senate District 1, the longtime incumbent is being challenged for his fourth four-year term by an opponent who doesn’t feel he’s far enough to the left. Yeah, I get mail from each of them almost everyday, even though I already voted. That’s good for the U.S. Postal Service but bad for trees.

But in State House District 195, the representative is running for her fifth two-year term unopposed. I haven’t seen any campaign literature in any form from her. There’s no need! (Besides, there’s no way anybody but a Democrat will take her seat, probably in decades. I’ve shown how a Republican can end up in fourth place in an election in most of Philadelphia. And that means, yes, there can be two third-parties!)

Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D-Pa.), from @JoshShapiroPA on Twitter

What I’m seeing too much of is the race for state attorney general. Democrat Josh Shapiro got elected four years ago. He holds a statewide position. He wants a second term. He’s unopposed in the Democratic primary. And he was born and raised, and lives right outside Philadelphia, in Montgomery County.

So why is his campaign sending out so many emails? Yes. I know they’re cheap to send, but an incumbent usually has big benefits like more money. And I seem to be on everybody’s email list to learn, and to report for (But campaign emails like these don’t accomplish that for me.) And candidate emails could also be coming from PACS — political action committees like Citizens United, which I’ve written about here and here — rather than the official campaign that actually has to follow rules.

Emails supporting Josh Shapiro’s campaign: two today, one yesterday, and one the day before!

In November, Shapiro will face Republican Heather Heidelbaugh. She’s also unopposed in her party’s primary. If anything, she needs name recognition in these parts, especially since she has lived and/or worked way out in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) for much of her adult life, since 1988. I’d never heard of her until today.

Now I know where she grew up, went to school, and about her career, her late husband, and where she goes to church.

Attorney General candidate Heather Heidelbaugh (R-Pa.), from @Heidelbaugh4AG on Twitter

Shapiro seems to have done well as AG since taking office more than three years ago. Heidelbaugh seems interesting. I skimmed through their campaign websites. They both have impressive backgrounds. I’d like to see how they differ, and watch them debate, but there’s plenty of time for that.

The general election — when we also vote for president — will be in 158 days, on Nov. 3. Sure, anything can change, like being able to vote by mail before election day in Pennsylvania, and even the date of the election! As far as I know, both happened for the first time in the Keystone State for Tuesday’s primary.

It would be nice to see Heather Heidelbaugh around here. That should come as we get closer to the only election that counts for attorney general candidates, and hopefully Coronavirus fears lessen.

So in the meantime, Mr. Attorney General, can you cut out the campaign emails?


  1. The Committee of Seventy’s Voter Guide is a trusted source of nonpartisan information about the offices on every Pennsylvanian’s ballot, in addition to their rights and responsibilities as voters.
    Its BYOBallot platform lets you enter your address and build a customized ballot with your preferred candidates.

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