HARRISBURG, Pa.

GOP in two states targets precious electoral votes

Republicans in Pennsylvania and Nebraska want to change the way their states award Electoral College votes, moves that could hinder President Barack Obama’s re-election chances.

Lawmakers in the Democratic-leaning battleground of Pennsylvania are weighing whether to give the presidential nominees one electoral vote for each congressional district they win, rather than giving all its votes to the candidate who wins the state’s popular vote, like Obama did in 2008.

In GOP-tilting Nebraska, lawmakers want to go to a winner-take-all system four years after Obama won the 2nd Congressional District and its single electoral college vote.

It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency out of 538 up for grabs.

“Any electoral vote is important in these elections,” said Michael Mezey, a professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago. “When you start dealing with large states, it can make a difference. And also you’re not just dealing with Pennsylvania; other states may follow suit.”

MONTGOMERY, Ala.

Strict new immigration law driving away legal workers

Alabama’s strict new immigration law may be backfiring. Intended to force illegal workers out of jobs, it is also driving away many construction workers, roofers and field hands who are in the country legally and do backbreaking jobs that Americans generally won’t.

The vacancies have created a void that will surely deal a blow to the state’s economy and could slow the rebuilding of Tuscaloosa and other tornado-damaged cities.

Rick Pate, the owner of a commercial landscaping company in Montgomery, lost two of his most experienced workers, who were in the country legally. He spent thousands of dollars training them to install irrigation systems at places like the Hyundai plant.

“They just feel like there is a negative atmosphere for them here. They don’t feel welcome. . . .. I’d feel nervous, too,” Pate said.

WASHINGTON

Ron Paul sees scary side to killing of terror suspects

Republican presidential contender Ron Paul suggested Wednesday that the United States could assassinate journalists the same way it targeted Americans with ties to al-Qaida.

The Texas congressman again criticized President Barack Obama for approving last week’s drone strikes in Yemen against a U.S. citizen who was tracked and executed based on secret intelligence that linked him to two failed terrorist attacks against the U.S. An American-born propagandist also died in the bombing. Paul told a National Press Club luncheon that if citizens do not protest the deaths, the country could start adding reporters to its list of threats that must be taken out.

“Can you imagine being put on a list because you’re a threat? . . . This is the way this works. It’s incrementalism,” Paul said.

Anwar al-Awlaki, the target of the U.S. drone attack, was one of the best-known al-Qaida figures after Osama bin Laden. American intelligence officials had linked him to two thwarted attacks on U.S.-bound planes, an airliner on Christmas 2009 and cargo planes last year. The second American killed in the drone attack, Samir Kahn, was the editor of Inspire, an online magazine aimed at al-Qaida sympathizers in the West.

– From news service reports