Allegheny County politicians seem to be garnering some national attention lately, especially from late-night comedy shows. First, Braddock's mayor and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman was featured in a panel discussion on Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore in January.
Last Sunday, our very own Pa. House Speaker Mike Turzai, of Marshall Township, was featured in the Season 3 premiere of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. But not really in a “thanks for coming on, let's hear your thoughts” kind of way. More like the pie-in-your-face kind of way, due to Turzai’s ideas on voter-ID laws.
Oliver argues that voter-ID laws tend to disproportionately affect African-American and Latino voters; are an overblown problem, mostly peddled by conservative lawmakers; and may expose the true agenda of their proponents.
Archival video of Turzai shows him talking about the hoped-for role of voter-ID laws in then upcoming 2012 presidential election. “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania. Done,” said Turzai in the video. (Turzai comes in at around 9:45 on the video).
Turzai's statement was made before voter-ID laws were struck down in Pennsylvania in 2014, something another Western PA House rep took issue with. And another Pennsylvanian was also featured: Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason argued that voter-ID laws helped former Massachusetts Gov. Romney gain ground on President Obama in 2012, compared to Obama's contest against Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008.
Oliver characterized these gaffes as “saying the thing that everyone knows, but you are not supposed to say out loud” and compared them to “writing ‘I’m desperate to bone’ on an online dating profile.”
According to the Pennsylvania Election Commission, Turzai is currently up for re-election in Pennsylvania’s 28th House District and is running unopposed in the primary and general election.