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PA State Rep. Jockeying for Leadership Has Same Donors as Governor-elect Wolf

Television commercials may have gone away for now, but it’s politics as usual.

While the rest of the country was swept up in a 2014 Republican midterm wave, Pennsylvania’s top ticket race went to a neophyte who racked up political debt owed to unions who helped to finance his campaign. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett lost handily to Democratic candidate Tom Wolf on Election Day.

The race was called in Wolf’s favor immediately at the close of polls. The outcome should not come as a shock to anyone who was paying attention throughout the campaign. Wolf, and his former Democratic primary candidates, led by nearly double digits in every poll published in 2014. Wolf is the first candidate to unseat an incumbent governor since the state’s constitution was amended to allow governors to serve two four-year terms.

Pennsylvanians who went to the polls and had no problem casting their vote for Wolf, however, apparently also fought no resistance to vote for Republicans on state and federal levels. The 2015 Pennsylvania Legislature will have a commanding Republican lead in both the state House and state Senate, 119-83 respectively in the House, and 30-20 respectively in the Senate.

In the state House, Stan Saylor, currently House Majority Whip, who represents the 94th District in York County, is vying for House Majority Leader. Wolf is from York County. Talk of Saylor’s pursuit has grassroots activists pointing out a similarity between Saylor’s and Pennsylvania’s Governor-elect Wolf’s donors. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) is currently House Majority Leader.


Louis J. Appell Jr., chairman of Susquehanna Real Estate LP, gave Citizens for Stan Saylor $126,000 between Sept. 24 and Nov. 3 with $100,000 coming on Oct. 3.

M. Thomas Grumbacher, chairman of The Bon-Ton Stores, gave $225,000 to Citizens for Stan Saylor with $200,000, interestingly, coming on Oct. 3 and the rest on Nov. 3.

Grumbacher has given Wolf $1,450,100 while Appell has given our governor-to-be $475,000.

Saylor has a reputation among grassroots for working closely with unions, who will expect to cash in on their support of Wolf throughout campaign season. Saylor’s move to accept donor funding from Wolf’s supporters have them wondering whose interests Saylor would have in mind as House Majority Leader. The timing of both donations have observers scratching their heads wondering why the late, last push.

There are other shake-ups occurring in the state Senate, as well. Voting for leadership roles is set for Nov. 12. Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

In a move that could mean a more conservative shift in what has been a body controlled by moderate Republicans, Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre, will challenge Republican Majority Leader Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, for his post in leadership elections next week, according to several Senators and staff members.

It is highly unusual for a sitting Senate majority leader to be challenged; Republicans have controlled the state Senate since 1980.

Corbett’s lashing could be chalked up to voters’ perception of his role in the Penn State University Jerry Sandusky investigation, along with being hammered by the Left for cutting $1 billion in education spending. Conservatives were disappointed in Corbett, too, for passing the largest transportation bill in Pennsylvania history—it lifted the cap on wholesale taxes on fuel—and for not being able to pass liquor privatization, and paycheck protection legislation.

Conservatives are going to want to talk about pensions, another issue Corbett couldn’t work well with the Legislature to reform. As much as Wolf is salivating to impose a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas drilling, and revamp the state’s income tax structure, he most likely is going to have to make concessions in order to pass any major legislation.

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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  3. PA State Rep. Jockeying for Leadership Has Same Donors as Governor-elect Wolf
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