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State Senator Scott Wagner intends to run for governor

Written by Ed Mahon/York Daily Record | Nov 11, 2016 8:00 AM
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Scott Wagner and Lauren Muglia, the chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, pose for a photo during the Republican celebration at PeoplesBank Park on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Photo: Jason Plotkin, York Daily Record)

(York) -- State Senator Scott Wagner of York County, intends to run for governor, he said Thursday.

He intends to write "a significant seven figure check" to his campaign, from $1 million to just shy of $10 million. He said he has not yet decided whether that money will be a loan to a committee that could be paid back to him or a direct gift. He said that contribution will not require him to sell part of Penn Waste, a waste and recycling company he owns.

Wagner, who has been publicly considering a run for months, plans to make a formal announcement in January.

Charlie Gerow, a Republican political consultant, said Wagner "will be at the front of the pack" in a Republican primary.

"He will be viewed as the logical heir to the Trump constituency," Gerow said. "And like Tom Wolf did ... he will have a lot of his own money to jump start his campaign."

Wolf, a Democrat from York County, is up for re-election in 2018. When Wolf ran for governor, he contributed about $10 million to his own campaign, launched a statewide TV ad campaign earlier than his opponents and soared to an early lead in the polls that he never lost. Wolf has said he intends to seek re-election.

Wagner, a 61-year-old wealthy York County businessman, was a prominent supporter of Republican Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, and he hosted a rally for Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, in September. Journalists and fellow Republicans have compared Wagner to Trump, because of his blunt style and business background.

"I think a lot of the voters that voted for Trump will vote for me," Wagner said. "The reason that Donald Trump won is people are fed up."

Wagner thinks that frustration paved the way for his own path to the state Senate.

Video: Meet Scott Wagner Sean Heisey, York Daily Record

In 2014, Wagner challenged leaders of his own party. He accused them of orchestrating a state senator's resignation and setting up a costly special election as a way of making it harder for him to get elected. So he ran a write-in campaign.

"I realize this is a large hill to climb and it's never been accomplished before, but I'm confident people are tired of career politicians rigging the system to benefit themselves," Wagner said in a mass email in February 2014.

He won the special election as a write-in candidate, receiving more than 10,000 votes, and he was elected to a full-term later that year. In office, he spearheaded a successful effort to replace the Senate majority leader. He has emerged as a frequent critic of government spending, public-sector unions and Wolf.

And this election cycle, he had a leadership position with the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, and helped the GOP flip three seats from Democrat to Republican. The state Senate will have 34 Republicans in the 50-member chamber, which will be the largest Republican majority since the 1949-50 legislative session, according to Republican leaders.

Wagner's role with those Senate wins are one reason he had "a great night" on Tuesday, Gerow said.

"He's proven a couple of things. One, he knows how to run a campaign, and that's important to any potential statewide candidacy," Gerow said. "And he's picked up some very important friends along the way. That doesn't hurt either."

Those relationships with Republicans across the state could be useful in a primary.

Scott Wagner discusses his business career at Penn Waste in East Manchester Township . Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record

 

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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