Political notebook: Corbett stops, challenger drops

Hours after he hailed Altoona’s crime-fighting efforts and stopped by the Mirror office Thursday morning, Gov. Tom Corbett appeared in Pittsburgh to cover a familiar issue: that city’s status in the state’s Act 47 financial-distress program.

In a press conference with Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Corbett announced that the city will remain in the program despite a successful drive toward solvency, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The announcement drew ire from firefighter and police unions, who – like their Altoona counterparts – question the leeway Act 47 status grants cities on contract and pension issues.

Corbett’s joint announcement with Peduto, a Democrat, offered a brief respite from a partisan campaign atmosphere that has grown thicker as his field of Democratic challengers has narrowed.

On Thursday, former Department of Environmental Protection head John Hanger announced he would drop out of the Democratic primary, leaving six candidates in the race. York businessman Tom Wolf, who has peppered state TV stations with early commercials, has shot up in polls.

Polls haven’t been as kind to Corbett, but last week’s news that his campaign had gathered more than 50,000 ballot signatures shows he’s still in the hunt. The November election will likely look clearer as the remaining Democrats are whittled away in the next two months.

Fromage fight

In 1773, the British government passed the Tea Act, protecting the East India Co.’s revenue at American merchants’ expense. Colonial outrage culminated in the famed Boston Tea Party.

Now, according to Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., tyrannical European governments are at it again – this time with cheese.

The European Union claims geographically distinct cheese types, like muenster from Muenster and asiago from Asiago, should be closely regulated. American dairies can’t make feta, officials there say, because that cheese is unique to EU member state Greece.

Toomey, accompanied by more than 50 fellow senators and backed by the American dairy industry, signed a letter to U.S. trade representatives last week, urging them to refuse any European efforts at cheese-name-grabbing in upcoming talks.

“Can you imagine going into a grocery store and cheddar and provolone are called something else?” Toomey said in a news release. “Generations of dairy farmers and producers have worked hard to cultivate a product and brand that resonates with consumers.”

Paterno hit

with challenge

A Harrisburg Democrat fighting for the party slot as the state’s No. 2 official plans to challenge Jay Paterno, a fellow candidate and former Penn State coach, in a bid to knock Paterno off the May 20 primary ballot.

A lawyer representing Harrisburg Councilman Brad Koplinski told news website PoliticsPA on Friday that he plans to challenge some of Paterno’s 1,200 signatures, possibly knocking him below the threshold required for a ballot position.

Paterno held a razor-thin lead among several lieutenant-governor candidates in early Democratic polls, but a large number of those polled remained undecided.

Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.