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Wolf Panders to Unions, then Business Community in PA Governor’s Race

The political fervor entering the final weeks of the 2014 General Election in the race for Pennsylvania governor is not about to cool off any time soon. With one down, and two to go, Republican incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett seemingly defeated his Democratic foe Tom Wolf in round one of scheduled debates.

Wolf, a businessman from York, had to come out from behind his more than $11 million spent on television advertisements to face both Corbett and a business-minded crowd Sept. 22 at Hershey Lodge. Wolf repeatedly emphasized that he has private-sector experience on his resume, but his effort to connect to the audience only received a tepid applause.

Whether Pennsylvanians trust Wolf’s hand, or not, in reassuring the business community that he is one of them will be revealed November 4. Corbett, who is trying to regain popular ground with an inharmonious conservative base, most likely recaptured and rekindled a relationship with some Republicans who are still deciding to vote or not to vote. What may have helped Corbett in the debate was not only his ability to articulate his viewpoints, but also the fact that Wolf could not articulate his.

That may have had something to do with Wolf’s prior engagement. A few short hours before both men took the stage, Wolf cozied up to union leadership at the Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon. Party nominees grappled, and will continue to grapple, over the state’s top issues – education spending, severance tax, and job creation – until the election is over, but, the undeniable truth about Wolf is that he is beholden to unions’, which often equates to the tax and spend conundrum.

“We cannot overtax,” Wolf said at the debate. Corbett went so far as to use a placard with the word pension on it, in which, again, Wolf projected an image of wanting to close his eyes in hopes that that would make the state’s billions in liability go away.

At this point in the game, one should be insulted when Wolf attempts to distance himself from any appearance of executing a union-driven agenda. Wolf, when asked for an amount, was unable to provide specifics on how much is enough to fund education. He’s been transparent in wanting to institute a severance tax because “everybody’s doing it.” And, he took a hard right on working to drop Pennsylvania’s 9.9 percent corporate tax rate to court corporations to the Commonwealth, but he said he wants to increase personal income taxes on individuals.

Wolf, also, deflected a question when asked about campaign contributions, pushing aside the obvious response, that, yes, unions are his closest allies. The latest campaign contribution reports were released the day following the first debate of the general election season.

Philly.com reported:

“Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, a York businessman, received about $2.9 million from labor unions in the three-month period, including $500,000 from AFSCME, which represents public employees, and $100,000 from the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the teachers’ union.

Wolf received $250,000 from the Democratic Governors Association, and $1 million from Thomas Grumbacher, chairman of the Bon-Ton department store chain, based in York.”

And, Wolf’s political action committee known as Fresh Start PA, Philly.com reported:

“The Campaign for a Fresh Start, a political action committee supporting Wolf and Democratic legislative candidates in targeted races, reported raising $243,070. It spent $136,751 and had $106,319 on hand by Sept. 15.

The PAC, chaired by Wolf’s former primary rival, Katie McGinty, was established in late June and had not previously been required to file a report.

Most of Fresh Start’s contributions came in large chunks from allied PACs. It received $50,000 from Local 98 of the Electricians union, headed by Philadelphia power broker John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty; $40,824 from the Democratic Governors Association; and $55,000 from the Wolf campaign.”

Pictured from left to right in header photo:  Mike Crossey, Pennsylvania State Education Association; Barbara Goodman, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Tom Wolf, Democrat nominee for Governor; Rick Bloomingdale, The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations; and Kenneth Mash, Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.


Jana Benscoter

Jana Benscoter is the editor of Watchdog Wire - Pennsylvania. Contact her at Pennsylvania@WatchdogWire.com and find her on Twitter @jbenz51. Jana has worked in journalism for more than a decade, during which she’s covered topics, including: business, education, local and state government, and political corruption. Jana has been published in The Boston Globe, The Daily Caller, Drexel Alumni Magazine, Carolina Journal, Guilford Woman Magazine, The Harrisburg-Patriot News, The High Point Enterprise, Kinston Free Press, Lincoln Tribune Online, the Rhinoceros Times, and others.

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Categories: Budget and Finance, Education, Elections, Energy, Government Transparency, Jobs, Labor / Unions, Must Read, News, Opinion, Policy, Politics
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