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NRCC's $1.3M for Rothfus TV blitz

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Sunday, June 17, 2012, 12:30 a.m.

Prepare to see a lot of Keith Rothfus on TV this fall.

The 12th Congressional District Republican nominee will be the beneficiary of $1.3 million in commercial time the National Republican Congressional Committee has reserved in the Pittsburgh television market, according to Roll Call. The campaign ads will begin airing after Labor Day.

Rothfus, an Edgeworth attorney, faces U.S. Rep. Mark Critz of Johnstown in November. Critz knocked off U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire of McCandless in April to win the Democrat nomination in the recently reconfigured district.

GUESS WHO MIGHT BE COMING TO DINNER. This is one political promotion that easily could backfire.

President Obama's re-election campaign has been holding online lotteries in which a $3 donation buys a chance to be selected for dinner with the fundraiser in chief and a celebrity guest. Famous folks who have wined and dined at these events include former President Bill Clinton, actor George Clooney, actress Sarah Jessica Parker and Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

Trying a different tack, the campaign has announced that the next winner will have the chance to weigh in on who the president should bring to the table. That conceivably could cause a surge in donations -- not from supporters, but from those willing to fork over $3 for the chance to embarrass the president.

Wrote one commenter on the Politco website: "I would bring (Rush) Limbaugh, (Bill) O'Reilly, (Sean) Hannity or Mark Levin, as I would love to hear the table conversation."

If someone did make such a suggestion, the Obama campaign couldn't refuse the request without appearing afraid of one of those conservative talk-show hosts.

Wouldn't that make for some awkward table talk?

FERLO STAYING PUT. State Sen. Jim Ferlo is dismissing speculation he could be the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh's next executive director.

The Highland Park Democrat says he won't be named the permanent successor to Rob Stephany, who took a position with the Heinz Endowments in April. Robert Rubenstein, director of the URA's economic development department, has served as acting executive director since Stephany left.

It's easy to see how the Ferlo rumor gathered Grant Street steam. Not only is he the URA board treasurer, but URA board chairman Yarone Zober is a former Ferlo aide. Zober's full-time job is chief of staff to Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who appoints URA board members.

RENDELL'S REPUBLICAN RAVES. Former Gov. Ed Rendell has veered from the Democrat template recently by saying President Obama can be a wuss. He also has speculated that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney could win Pennsylvania in the November election.

Now the ex-guv has kind words for his successor, Republican Tom Corbett, whose tough stand on the state budget has cost him in the polls.

"Give Gov. Corbett credit," Rendell told the Patriot-News of Harrisburg. "Even if you don't like a thing he's doing, he told you what he was going to do in the campaign."

We're agreeing more and more with the former Democratic National Committee chairman these days. Rendell increasingly sounds like a man emerging from a fog and preparing to change his party registration.

COSTA'S CLEVER CREW. State Sen. Jay Costa has several smartie arties on his staff.

So says PoliticsPA, which named a trio of aides to the Forest Hills lawmaker to its list of smartest Democrat Senate staffers: chief counsel C.J. Hafner, deputy chief counsel Gladys Brown and legislative director Colleen DeFrank.

The only other aide to a Western Pennsylvania state senator to be considered an especially bright bulb by the political website is Steve Bruder, Ferlo's chief of staff.

PASSING THE STOVEPIPE HAT. The Harrisburg-based Lincoln Institute is going through some trying times.

First, Albert Paschall, the conservative think tank's co-founder, died last month at age 58. Now, institute CEO Lowman Henry is acknowledging the organization is experiencing financial difficulties.

"The cost of polling, producing and distributing our radio programs and maintaining our websites are all paid for by voluntary contributions," he wrote in an email to institute supporters. "I've done everything I can to cut expenses. But the plain facts are costs are going up."

Henry is asking folks to pony up for the Lincoln Institute cause.

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