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As Budget Talks Stall, Campaign Tactics Fill The Void

The political debate over the state budget has hit a lull within the walls of the state Capitol, but it's very much alive on roadside billboards, radio ads, and in mailboxes.

"We're in a messaging war, but that's on both sides," said Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna) this week.

GOP ally Americans for Prosperity has radio ads and billboards blasting the governor for trying to raise taxes.

America Works USA, an affiliate of the Democratic Governors Association, has had its own TV and radio ads, as well as mailers slamming individual Republicans for not supporting the governor's budget vision.

Sen. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe) said the attacks on lawmakers will hurt Wolf's ability to make a deal with Republicans.

"Oh my gosh, yeah. Definitely," said Scavello. "Because, you know what, I could be one of those swing votes, I tell you right now." And after his district was blanketed by critical mailers? Not so much, Scavello said.

"It's called communication," said a disdainful Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia). He said there's nothing unexpected about the current messaging war - including any proxy-attacks against lawmakers.

"It has no interference with the negotiating practice, and it's exactly what we would all do," Hughes said.

Even if it's expected, it can leave some with raw feelings. Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) observed last week, "the level of acrimony is probably the highest I've ever seen ... from both sides."

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