Help Expose Obscure Meeting to Pick Dem Nominee for Western PA Congressional Special Election

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Payday needs gas and beer money to expose how the backroom shenanigans of how the Pennsylvania Democratic Party is trying in an undemocratic fashion this weekend to pick a nominee to run in the March 15th Congressional special election for a crucial Western PA special election.

With the district holding a 70,000 Democratic voter registration edge, millions of dollars from organized labor will flow into the special election. However, critics have contended that process selected for picking a nominee for the process is less than democratic and purposely slanted against candidates, who favor Medicare for All.

Instead of allowing a primary of voters in the district, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party will instead allow a select group of only 800 local Democratic committee members to pick the nominee this Sunday November 19th in Washington, PA. 

The convention has faced criticism and already lawsuits by some of the contenders for being an unfair process; No other national outlets are expected to be at the convention, but Payday intends to crash the party and bring the story to attention.

So far, the field has more than a half-dozen candidates and the convention is likely to have credentials challenges and multiple rounds of balloting. WIth many shenanigans likely to take place, it’s important that we bring a videographer David Slavick with us to document the entire convention.

While it’s impossible to know who the 800 committeeman favor at this point, political observers say that so far 4 leading voices have emerged.

The Candidates

Former Miss Pennsylvania Turned Westmoreland County Commissioner Gina Cerilli

The leading contender for the race so far appears to be 31 years old Gina Cerilli, a former Miss Pennsylvania turned Westmoreland County Commissioner, who has faced allegations of nepotism, corruption, and union busting. In past political races, Cerilli, who is pro-life and describes herself as “pro-business”, has refused to run with the rest of the party in past elections and has recently bragged about hanging out with the White House with Donald Trump.

As county commissioner of the 300,000 people, ex-urban deindustrialized Westmoreland County, Cerilli has support from the party infrastructure where a third of the committeeman will hail from.

Recently, Cerilli sued the state party for refusing to allow her to place 70 committee members in vacant slots so that they could vote at the convention.

Former Marine Corp Prosecutor Connor Lamb

According to the accounts of many political observers, Cerilli appears to be locked in a head-to-head fight for the nomination with Conor Lamb, a 33-year-old former Marine Corps prosecutor, who made his name taking on Marine Corps officers accused of covering up rape. Lamb comes from a well known political family and has significant support from Allegheny County, where a third of the votes will come.

Lamb has also attracted the support of many younger activist, who say that the party is too dominated by party bosses in their 60s and 70s.

However, Lamb’s refusal to take a position on Medicare-for-All has opened him up to challenges from the left.

Former Pennsylvania State Education Association President Mike Crossey

Running to Lamb’s left is 66-year-old former Pennsylvania State Education Association President Mike Crossey. While Crossey has signaled his support for Medicare-for-All and even showed his solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter in a district that is 90% white, he has so far failed to excite supporters.

He is likely to have the support of many in organized labor throughout the district.

However, Crossey has faced criticism from union reformers for increasing his salary as President of PSEA by $70,000 from $130,000 to over $20o,000 according to Department of Labor records. 

Furthermore, many see Crossey as emblematic of the kind of labor leaders who lost the state to Trump. As head of the state’s largest union, Crossey endorsed Hillary Clinton in the primary without even holding a vote of his membership.

While Crossey has endorsed, many Bernie for Labor supporters in the district say that if the race was an open primary, he would have no shot at all.

Bernie Supporter and ER Physician Bob Solomon

Finally, many Bernie supporters in the district say that if the race was an open primary that Emergency Room doctor, Bob Solomon might be able to mobilize the type of support needed to win the primary.

A solid supporter of Bernie in the primary, Solomon has come out for the landmark political positions that have defined the post-Bernie age while lacking the political baggage of Crossey. However, the committee process will make it unlikely that Solomon even has a shot at getting on the ballot.

Help us Raise $800

Obviously, this convention will likely be controversial, so we need your support to cover it.

As a publication, our greatest strength is our reader’s willingness to fund stories that the national media ignored. As a result of our reader’s funding, we were in Canton, Mississippi six months before the historic union election at Nissan and filed over 15 dispatches throughout the ensuing months (three times as many as any rival publications).

We are leading the movement to rebuild the independent labor press and covering stories that are vital for labor activists hoping to put democracy back in our movement.

However, we can’t do it for free.  We need gas money, dinner money, beer money, money to pay cameraman David Slavick, and likely money to catch a minor league hockey game afterward to pull off steam after a long day of reporting.

Help Us Reach Our Goal of $800.

$196 / $800

Donate Here!

So if you can help us raise $800 so can we cover this vital election. Finally, for folks check out some of the samples of our hard-hitting coverage.

In the past month,

  • We broke the story of how Trump’s OSHA was not coordinating health and safety training with immigrants rights workers groups, putting hurricane clean-up workers at risk in Texas; our exposé in the Guardian came out the day before a hurricane clean-up worker was killed by a flesh-eating bacteria.
  • We were the only national outlet to cover how the Pittsburgh DSA took out two key incumbents and is poised to take out even more incumbents in this May’s Democratic Primary.
  • We were the only national outlet to cover the defeat of the Steelworkers union drive at Kumho Tire in Macon, Georgia, by a mere 28 votes. Payday also broke the story of how Kumho fired a union activist in retaliation.
  • We were the first national outlet to provide the inside story of how campus workers in Tennessee, despite lacking collective bargaining rights, were able to defeat Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to outsource thousands of campus jobs.
  • Down in Nashville, we continued to hold corporate Democrat Nashville Mayor Megan Barry accountable for her silence on the death of Latino construction workers and her failure to stand up for affordable housing.

And here is a look back at what we did in 2017 so far:

In solidarity,

Mike Elk

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About the Author

Mike Elk

Mike Elk is a member of the Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild and is the senior labor reporter at Payday Report. He previously served as senior labor reporter at POLITICO and has written for the New York Times. He also writes for The Guardian.

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