The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Politics update

What you missed over winter break
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The top presidential candidates for the 2024 race are incumbent Joe Biden, former president Donald Trump and Nikki Haley. (Photo courtesy of the Hindustan Times)

While you may have been relaxing at home over break, the political world never sits still. Here are some major developments that have taken place over the past few weeks.

Decision 2024

Former President Donald Trump last month comfortably won the Iowa Republican caucuses despite mounting legal troubles, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the favorite of the Lafayette College Republicans, edging out former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley for a distant second.

DeSantis’ disappointing finish caused him to drop out of the race, following in the footsteps of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, effectively making the Republican primary a two-horse race between Trump and Haley.

On to New Hampshire’s Republican primary, Trump beat Haley by 11 points — a smaller margin than the polls expected.

Haley has pledged to continue running, despite some members of the Republican National Committee attempting to declare Trump the presumptive nominee.

Haley is aiming for a victory in her home state of South Carolina on Feb. 24 to carry momentum into the March 5 Super Tuesday primaries, where over one-third of all delegates will be up for grabs.

On the Democrat side, incumbent Joe Biden won a landslide victory in the New Hampshire primary despite not even being on the ballot. His Democratic challengers, Rep. Dean Phillips and author Marianne Williamson, had hoped for an upset after investing significant resources into the state. Both Phillips and Williamson have said they will continue running.

The next Democratic primary is in South Carolina on Feb. 3.

Shelby Park standoff

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently defied a Supreme Court order allowing the U.S. Border Patrol to cut wire along the Shelby Park, Texas waterfront to reach distressed migrants crossing the border illegally.

The waterfront previously served as a makeshift migrant holding site until Texas National Guard troops seized control of it back in January.

Abbott justified his decision by invoking Texas’ right to defend itself against invasion. Twenty-five of the 26 Republican governors released a joint statement backing Abbott.

More chambers, more problems

The Senate is currently negotiating a border deal. Both Trump and Republican Speaker Mike Johnson have expressed disapproval, with Johnson threatening to kill any such proposal the House receives.

Meanwhile, the House is focused on impeaching Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas over the Biden administration’s immigration policies. If successful, it would be the first cabinet official impeachment in over 150 years.

A new direction

Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro announced a new five-point economic development strategy for Pennsylvania, emphasizing regionalism and local revitalization.

Democratic Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. spoke positively about the proposal.

“We have not had an economic development strategy for 20 years,” Panto said. “I think Governor Shapiro has a lot of energy directed towards making Pennsylvania more competitive against other states to attract good jobs.”

Democratic State Rep. Robert Freeman added that “the Lehigh Valley will be a prime location to receive a lot of the grants and funding to promote economic growth and opportunity.”

Shapiro also previously proposed overhauling the state university system by reducing tuition for many students and funding schools partially by performance.

A draining start

A ceiling leak in Pennsylvania’s House chamber has left time slowly dripping away as the House remains shut down.

Pennsylvania House Speaker, Democrat Joanna McClinton, announced in December that the House would not meet to vote on legislation until March 18.

While the House remains on an extended break, it will convene on Feb. 6 at the Capitol Rotunda for the Governor’s annual budget address.

A House divided (again)

A special election in Bucks County on Feb. 13 will determine control of Pennsylvania’s House chamber.

Former state Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks stepped down after winning a magisterial judgeship election. Pennsbury school board member Jim Prokopiak, a Democrat, will face off against Republican Candace Cabanas.

This is the fourth time that a special election will determine House control since the start of the current term last year.

A stalwart is challenged

Photo courtesy of lehighvalleylive.com.

Easton City Councilwoman Taiba Sultana, a Democrat, announced a primary challenge to Freeman last Tuesday.

Sultana said she is running to bring new representation and fight for marginalized communities.

“I am proud to run as the first woman to seek this office,” Sultana wrote in an email. “We need more women in the State House to ensure fair representation on women’s issues.”

Sultana has faced controversy during her tenure on Easton City Council – she recently proposed a Gaza ceasefire resolution that was soundly rejected by the council (opponents argued that the City of Easton has no place in foreign affairs), not to mention picking up an assault charge last summer for allegedly slapping, punching and head-butting her son.

Freeman is running on his experience and results for Easton.

“I have the experience and the proven track record of being effective as a state representative representing the needs of the people in my district,” Freeman said.

Panto has endorsed Freeman in the primary, calling him “the person you want in Harrisburg.” Panto noted that Freeman has been instrumental in fostering economic development, especially through grants and the Elm Street program. The mayor had harsh words for Sultana, saying that he could not “think of anything that she’s done on City Council.”

“She ran against me four years ago and got 28 percent of the vote,” Panto continued. “I don’t expect her to do much better than that.”

The winner of the April 23 primary will run unopposed in the general election.

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