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Joyce draws cash in first re-election bid

Republicans seeking to hold their local House seats are dominating Democratic challengers in fundraising — fueled by hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from Pennsylvania business figures and national industries.

Political action committees from across the country are throwing thousands at candidates like Rep. John Joyce, R-13th District. But the sums so far are nothing like those in past presidential cycles, when veteran Rep. Bill Shuster fought off primary and general election challengers.

Joyce raised nearly $550,000 last year, about $164,000 of it in the last three months, Federal Election Commission filings show. Much of that came from familiar names in business, as well as from committees representing the medical industry and agriculture.

Joyce’s Democratic challenger, former park ranger and educator Todd Rowley, has raised just a few thousand dollars from private donors.

Joyce’s biggest single donor so far is David DeGol, head of the local DeGol Organization, who gave more than $7,000 last year. Several other members of the DeGol family are listed among Joyce’s top contributors.

Joyce has also received tens of thousands of dollars from political action committees representing elements of the health care industry. A physician by trade and a member of the GOP Doctors Caucus, Joyce has frequently spoken on health care issues since he took the congressional seat in 2019.

Major donors include the National Emergency Medicine PAC, the American Academy of Ophthalmology PAC and the American Academy of Dermatology Association’s curiously named “Skinpac.”

One notable donation — reportedly filed on Dec. 31 — is a $5,000 contribution from a PAC representing LifePoint Health, the Tennessee-based hospital chain that owns Johns­town’s Conemaugh Health System and Conemaugh Nason Medical Center in Roaring Spring. LifePoint lobbyists addressed rural health, long-distance telemedicine treatment and “issues related to charity care” with House members late last year, according to federal filings.

Like many in Congress, Joyce gets additional help from a network of more opaque (and more vaguely named) committees dedicated to securing GOP control of the House.

The American Media & Advocacy Group, for example, is a media vendor that has run ads on behalf of President Donald Trump — and has drawn scrutiny for murky connections to other conservative companies and organizations. The group gave Joyce more than $5,000 last spring.

The sharp drop in funding since Shuster’s later tenure points to both the threats Shuster faced — in tough primaries and, occasionally, in general elections — and the power he amassed atop the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Shuster’s nationwide business ties helped him outspend challengers like Art Halvorson, who repeatedly sought to push Shuster out.

All these connections enable politicians to build their own funding machines as they rise in seniority. By the time he left Congress, Bill Shuster had amassed hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to Bill PAC, a so-called leadership PAC that turns money over to political allies. Fueled by airline and railroad industry donations, Bill PAC gave large sums to vendors and colleagues’ campaigns.

Now seeking his second House term, Joyce is building his own leadership committee.

Called Re-Joyce PAC, it took in tens of thousands of dollars from local businesses and medical organizations last year. Its first beneficiaries: a collection of GOP members of Congress from Pennsylvania to Minnesota.

New poll shows Democratic edge in Pa.

A new poll says Pennsylvania voters support Democratic hopefuls over President Donald Trump in November, but the race could remain close depending on their choice of candidate.

In hypothetical head-to-head matchups presented by Quinnipiac University pollsters, voters here prefer Democrats to Trump by 3 to 8 percent — with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., holding a narrow 3-point lead and former Vice President Joe Biden leading by 8 points. The other candidates range between the two.

Overall, Pennsylvania voters have a negative impression of Trump, with 44 percent holding a favorable view and 52 percent unfavorable.

Most of the Democratic frontrunners are viewed unfavorably by a plurality of voters here as well, although Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg remain unknown to a large swath of voters.

The shape of the Democratic primary will surely change by April 28, when Pennsylvania voters go to the polls.

With Nevada’s caucuses held Saturday, South Carolina’s primary next week and a slew of key states voting on March 3, the field could be considerably narrower by the time Pennsylvania gets its say.

Mail-in ballots available online

Pennsylvania voters can now apply for mail-in ballots for the April primary — a first for the state following a raft of election reforms last year.

Voters who wish to get mail-in ballots for the primary can apply online, by mail or at county election offices.

With information from a driver’s license or Penn­DOT-issued ID card, voters can request a ballot for the April 28 party elections.

In past elections, voters had to show they faced difficulties — whether by illness, disability or a trip away from home — to get absentee ballots.

Under new reforms signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf, however, voters can get mail-in ballots for any reason they choose.

Voters must apply for the ballots by 5 p.m. on April 21. County offices must receive the ballots by 8 p.m. election day, April 28, to count them.

Voters can apply for ballots online at votespa.com.

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