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Ed Rendell is targeting the ‘Treason Caucus’ in Congress — including Scott Perry and Jeff Van Drew

Rendell has his sights on the 147 congressional Republicans who objected in January to the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell in Philadelphia in May.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell in Philadelphia in May.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

Former Gov. Ed Rendell sounds eager to throw political punches at the “Treason Caucus” — his first jab at the 147 Republicans in the U.S. House who objected in January to the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

Rendell is now chair of an advisory committee for Never Again, a super PAC that bills itself as “dedicated to holding the most dangerous Republicans in Congress accountable.”

At the top of Rendell’s list of targets: Rep. Scott Perry of south-central Pennsylvania and Rep. Jeff Van Drew of South Jersey. That pair sound ready to punch right back.

Rendell’s mission: Raise money to drive Democratic voter turnout and sway independents and Republicans who rejected former President Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election and were repulsed by the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection that followed.

» READ MORE: Scott Perry is the most loved and hated congressman in Pennsylvania

He knows most of those 147 Republicans hold districts where Democratic opponents stand little chance. Rendell figures to be a player in five to 20 races around the country.

“If we can pick off five or six of these incumbents that could mean the difference between keeping the House and losing the House,” Rendell said. “My efforts will be to give them occasional political wisdom, but mostly what I do in my sleep — raise money.”

Rendell has heard the strategic debate among Democrats, with some pushing for 2022 to follow the 2018 midterm election playbook by focusing on economic and health-care policies — rather than making it a referendum on Trump.

The party can do both, Rendell said, suggesting — without naming names — that some of the 147 may have criminal liability for helping foment the insurrection.

“They’re the worst people,” Rendell said of the 147. “They’re all bad people. They’re liars. They think nothing of our Constitution.”

» READ MORE: Jeff Van Drew was always a ‘confounding figure’ in New Jersey politics. Switching parties hasn’t changed that.

Perry and Van Drew — the latter a longtime Democrat who switched parties before the 2020 election — don’t sound worried.

“You would have thought that after wasting $12 million last November, the Democrats would have learned their lesson,” Van Drew spokesperson Ron Filan told Clout. “While the Democrats are once again relying on out of state Super PACs to handle their dirty work, Congressman Van Drew is fighting for a strong America and to make lives better for the people who actually live here.”

Perry spokesperson Matt Beynon predicted the PAC will “flush donors’ money down Ed Rendell’s toilet.”

“Last year, liberal Philadelphia donors gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to support Congressman Perry’s left-wing opponent,” Beynon said. “Not only did they fail, but Congressman Perry won by an even bigger margin than he did two years earlier, because he’s delivered — time and again — for the people of south central Pennsylvania.”

Lou Barletta’s new public safety adviser missed out on a Trump pardon

Former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, now a Republican candidate for governor, announced Wednesday that Ariel Benjamin Mannes will cochair his new Public Safety Advisory Board.

It didn’t take long for Twitter to take notice — or for Mannes to get ticked off about the social media attention.

Mannes caused a stir in 2018 by tagging along on the campaign trail with Democrat Scott Wallace, who was trying to unseat U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. Mannes said he was a reporter filing a story for the Bucks County Courier Times. He was actually being paid to do fieldwork for Fitzpatrick’s campaign, which later said it knew nothing about Mannes tailing Wallace.

That fracas focused attention on Mannes’ 2006 guilty pleas in Washington for carrying a gun without a license and falsely impersonating a police officer. Mannes, a former D.C. cop then working as a nightclub bouncer, was accused of pointing the gun at bystanders during a bar brawl and then showing the cops a badge for his job as Transportation Security Administration rail inspector.

“I’m proud of my law enforcement background,” Mannes said. “It had a really stupid end to it.”

» READ MORE: More Clout: A rumor about Brendan Boyle and Northern Ireland is triggering interest for his House seat

Barletta’s camp stood by Mannes. Spokesperson Tim Murtaugh said he is “a decorated law enforcement officer and his insights into Pennsylvania’s crime problems will be very valuable.”

Washington’s regulations for concealed weapons have been overturned in a string of legal challenges, but the convictions remain on Mannes’ record.

Mannes, who writes for local and national conservative media outlets, sees his record as both a burden and an advantage. It comes up every time he makes news. But he also knows the criminal justice system from both ends.

Law Enforcement Today ran an op-ed in January calling on Trump to pardon Mannes. Mannes said he lacked the political and financial juice to get on Trump’s radar. His request for a pardon is still pending.

‘Magic seats’ awarded to judicial candidates

Philadelphia’s Democratic ward leaders, as Clout predicted, selected six new judicial candidates Wednesday to fill “magic seat” slots for sure-to-win spots on November’s ballots.

Magic seats happen when incumbent judges up for a retention vote withdraw from the general election ballot, creating spots for party-picked substitute candidates who can win a full term.

For Common Pleas seats, the ward leaders picked State Sen. John Sabatina Jr.; Monica Gibbs, assistant general counsel at the Delaware River Port Authority; attorney Leanne Litwin; and Judge Mark Moore, now serving an appointment that expires in January.

For Municipal Court, lawyers Christian DiCicco and Fran McCloskey got the nods.

Clout hears five of the six were asked to kick in $25,000 for the party’s Election Day expenses. Moore gets a pass since he paid up as a candidate in the primary.

Clout provides often irreverent news and analysis about people, power, and politics.