News

Scott Wagner win sets up York County showdown for governor

Written by Dylan Segelbaum and Ed Mahon/The York Daily Record | May 16, 2018 5:14 AM
wagner-1_primary.jpg

State Sen. Scott Wagner, right with his wife Tracy after wins the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania governor. (Photo: Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record)

Republican Scott Wagner will try to unseat incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf for governor. And another York County man, John Fetterman, will be on the ballot for lieutenant governor.

(York) -- Scott Wagner, who quickly ascended to power after defying the establishment and running a successful write-in campaign for the Pennsylvania State Senate in 2014, on Tuesday secured the Republican nomination for governor, setting up an Election Day matchup between him and a fellow millionaire and York countian: Gov. Tom Wolf.

At 11:35 p.m., with 8,684 out of 9,162 districts reporting, Wagner, 62, of Spring Garden Township, received 289,479 votes -- or 45.57 percent. Meanwhile, Paul Mango, a retired heath care systems consultant, got 229,336 votes (36.10 percent). Laura Ellsworth, an attorney, gathered 116,442 votes (18.33 percent), according to unofficial election results from the Pennsylvania Department of State.

The Associated Press called the race at 9:59 p.m.

PENNSYLVANIA

Governor - GOP - Primary
97.7 % Precincts ReportingMay. 16, 2018 12:26 AM ET
PARTY NAME VOTES VOTE %
GOP
WAGNER, SCOTT
323,098
44.30 %
GOP
Mango, Paul
269,130
36.90 %
GOP
Ellsworth, Laura
137,074
18.80 %

"Look folks, I don't need this job. But let me tell you something: after spending four years in Harrisburg, I want this job," Wagner said to a crowd of hundreds of cheering supporters at the Wyndham Garden York in West Manchester Township. "In fact, I want it so bad I can taste it."

In his speech, Wagner referenced the contentious primary. He thanked his family, supporters and voters. He and said he's looking forward to having a united Republican Party.

At one point, Wagner talked about his own background growing up on a farm in York County and shoveling horse manure at the age of 8.

"Think about this: A guy shoveling horse manure can become a Republican nominee in one of the largest states in the nation. Isn't this great!"  Wagner said to cheers.

Wagner told the crowd that he wants to increase economic opportunity and reduce the unemployment rate. He said he wants to increase college affordability, make the education system equal and ensure that schools are safe.

And he talked about his plans for eliminating school property taxes. He made a direct appeal to Democrats and Independents.

Wagner also criticized Wolf several times.

For example, Wagner called Wolf someone who doesn't honor veterans, who is for sale to the highest bidder and whose only focus is to get more money from the paychecks of hardworking people.

"He's got a way about him," Wagner said. "He can get in your wallet many ways."

Meanwhile, Wolf's re-election campaign sent out a fundraising email calling Wagner a "Trump-backed Republican." The message said he will slash education funding, rollback Medicaid expansion and strip women of the right to make their own health care decisions.

In a separate email, Jeff Sheridan, Wolf's campaign manager, called Wagner "the very worst of Harrisburg," adding that he's stood in the way of getting a severance tax on natural gas drilling.

Ellsworth addressed her supporters at about 9:30 p.m., before the AP had called the race.

She talked about the importance of civility and decency in her campaign.

"When some of us are sad about the outcome of this, we have to remember that from the beginning of this race, we said that this government, this future, this state, our communities are about us," Ellsworth said. "And the ability to change that resides within each of us. And it continues to reside within each of us, no matter what the result of this race."

Mango spoke at about 10:20 p.m.

"While we didn't achieve our goal, we must all remain focused on the most important goal, which is to defeat Gov. Tom Wolf in November of this year," Mango said. "We all need to come together to do that."

The main room at the victory party started to fill up after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Supporters burst into cheers and embraced when Amanda Davidson, Wagner's assistant campaign manager, announced that the AP had called the race.

People talked about being drawn to his conservative agenda, background in business and reputation as an outsider.

"I feel we need someone different than the typical politicians that we have now and a change in Harrisburg," said Paul Clouser, 48, of East Manchester Township, who works at a printing company.

Charles Huff, 66, of Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County, is president of the Pennsylvania Vape Association.    

Wagner, he said, was one of the senators who voted against the 40-percent tax on e-cigarette products.

Huff, who's retired from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, said he also likes Wagner's platform of fiscal responsibility.

"Pennsylvania," said Sandy Riebling, 71, a retired secretary and teacher's aide from East Berlin, Adams County, "would be blessed to have him as our governor."

In the lieutenant governor's race, Wagner's running mate, Jeff Bartos, a real estate investor from Montgomery County, also won the Republican nomination.

On the Democratic side, John Fetterman won the lieutenant governor nomination. He's from York and is the mayor of Braddock in southwestern Pennsylvania.

So that means three of the four candidates for governor and lieutenant governor have strong ties to York County.

Wagner announced in 2016 that he intended to run for governor.

He has repeatedly emphasized his background in business. Wagner graduated from Dallastown Area High School in 1973 and spent one year at what was then Williamsport Area Community College, dropping out to pursue various business ventures.

In 1985, Wagner and two partners, including his uncle, Robert Kinsley, started York Waste Disposal. They decided to sell the business in 1997.

Then, in 2000, Wagner opened Penn Waste, a competing waste-hauling company, as soon as his non-compete agreement expired.

In 2014, Wagner ran for the state senate seat in the 28th District, which includes part of York County.

He accused the GOP bosses of plotting to make it more difficult for him to win. The Pennsylvania State Senate Campaign Committee criticized him as a "millionaire trash man" and backed his opponent.

It didn't matter. Wagner became the first person to be elected via write-in to the state Senate. He received more than 10,000 votes.

When he got to Harrisburg, Wagner was instrumental in ousting then-Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County, from his position.  He's been a vocal critic of public-sector unions and government spending. But he's also thrown his support behind criminal justice reform measures as well as a bill that would've banned discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

People have drawn comparisons between him and President Donald Trump, citing their backgrounds in business, brash personalities and personal lives that include multiple marriages. In fact, Wagner told abc27 that "Donald Trump is actually a mini-Scott Wagner."

During the campaign, Wagner vowed to put big government in the dumpsterHe said he'd get rid of property taxes. He also touted a "100 percent pro-life voting record."

The race got personal.

Mango unveiled an ad called "Faded Neon," which featured a cartoon caricature of Wagner and accused him of being a sleazy bail bondsman, deadbeat father and greedy business owner.

The spot mentioned how his daughter, Katharine, applied for a protection-from-abuse order against him in 2006. It was later dismissed when she failed to appear for a hearing. She came to her father's defense, calling Mango a "disgrace" and adding that dragging her into the campaign was "beyond the bounds of decency."

Ellsworth stood above the fray.

Election Day is on Nov. 6.

--The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.

 

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record

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