News

Wagner denies he tried to influence senate race

Written by Flint McColgan, York Daily Record | Mar 11, 2016 10:07 AM

The chair of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee and a Senate hopeful dispute what happened in a February meeting.

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Republican state Senator Scott Wagner of York County. (Robert J. Gurecki -- Daily Times)

(York) -- State Sen. Scott Wagner said Thursday he remembers meeting on Feb. 10 with Scott Harper, a candidate for a senate seat, and having a 45-second conversation.

They were with Wagner's chief of staff, Jason High, and Matthew Plummer, campaign manager for another senate candidate, Brice Arndt, at the state Capitol.

Harper, a Washington Township lawyer, has told multiple media outlets that he was offered a judgeship if he would drop out of the race. Harper told Pennlive that Wagner did not offer anything directly, but that the offer came from High.

High's boss, Wagner, supports Mike Regan in the 31st Pennsylvania race.

Wagner said Thursday that Harper's allegations are not true.

"I don't have any reason to be involved in this race," said Wagner, a Republican from Spring Garden Township.

State senators can make nominations to fill empty court seats within their districts. State Sen. Pat Vance, whose retirement is opening up the 31st district seat, did that for now-York County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Flannelly last year.

In an interview with ABC-27 news, Harper alleged that at the Feb. 10 meeting, he was offered a possible judgeship if he would leave the race in order to allow Regan to be the sole York County candidate facing two Cumberland County candidates.

Harper did not return calls or emails for this story.

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Scott Harper (submitted to York Daily Record)

Plummer is the principal at PennPhoenix Partners, a Harrisburg firm created to "empower conservative candidates and entrepreneurs who want to grow business without growing government," according to its website. He said in a statement that the Feb. 10 meeting occurred, but said no offers were made.

Wagner said he is supporting Regan in the race but has not and will not make an official endorsement because he doesn't support endorsements. He said he will, however, contribute monetarily to Regan's campaign.

The 31st Pennsylvania Senate district includes portions of northwest York County, from Jackson Township north to Fairview Township and most of southern and eastern Cumberland County from Cooke Township in the southwest to East Pennsboro Township in the northeast.

Plummer wrote in his statement that he acted independently in setting up the meeting and did not do so in his capacity as a member of the Arndt campaign.

Arndt said Plummer "just does some independent stuff" for the campaign and added, "I'm not his babysitter."

Vance, the Cumberland County Republican, said she is "fascinated" by the race to replace her.

"Things are changing and I just don't understand how things work," she said.

She is supporting the campaign of Jon Ritchie, the former NFL player who she said "has the intellect and the courage" for the seat, but is refreshingly not overly partisan.

Ritchie released a statement stating that, "While I am disappointed with the reports of back room deals and politics as usual in Harrisburg, I am excited about the enthusiasm and energy surrounding my campaign."

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between York Daily Record and WITF. 

Published in News, York

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