Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
Tom Wolf, the man in the Jeep from York County, has won the Democratic nomination to face incumbent Republican Governor Tom Corbett in the November general election.
Wolf took roughly 58 percent of the Democratic vote, with none of his opponents cresting the 20 percent mark.
To a few hundred supporters at Santander Stadium in York, Wolf said he’s running against the established record of the Corbett administration, which he said has made funding decisions that “hollow out” the commonwealth’s schools.
“As Democrats, we can show a better future. We can show a future where we’re not hollowing out our schools, we’re actually investing in education,” said Wolf. “Yes, investing in education -- how about that for a change?”
Wolf said he’ll also emphasize the need to create jobs, steward natural resources, and forge a fairer tax code.
“This can’t be a place that actually does good things for you if you have the right connections, if you live in the right place, if you look the right way,” Wolf said. “This has to be a place that is open and fair for everybody.”
The road to Wolf’s 58 percent was paved with wealth. He pumped millions of his own money into his campaign, and launched an expansive television ad campaign (in which his Jeep figured prominently) to boost his profile in a field of candidates with greater name recognition. The gambit worked, securing Wolf a lead his opponents couldn’t erode -- despite their greater name recognition at the start of the race and increasingly personal attacks as the campaign wore on.
All three of Wolf’s opponents – Allyson Schwartz, Rob McCord, and Katie McGinty – said they’ll support him in the general election.
Allyson Schwartz, the five-term congresswoman who chose not to run for the House again to make a play for governor, took about 18 percent of the vote.
"Even though I won't have the honor of serving as your governor -- and I would have loved to -- I know that we will work together to take on new challenges in the future and to do great things for Pennsylvania and this country,” Schwartz said. She declined an interview to talk about what she will do next.
Rob McCord, state treasurer, had roughly 17 percent in the primary election. He said the general will be defined by the candidates’ views on education.
“I know Tom Wolf will continue to drive that issue and Tom Corbett really has no bold approaches here whatsoever,” McCord said.
He added he looks forward to finishing his second term as treasurer, which ends in 2016.
Katie McGinty, a former state environmental protection secretary and Clinton White House adviser, came away with about eight percent of the vote.
“I will be all in to help Tom Wolf defeat Tom Corbett in November!” McGinty said in a written statement.
Corbett is considered the most vulnerable incumbent governor in the country, with stubbornly low approval ratings that his critics say are due to a $1 billion cut in education spending during Corbett’s first year in office. The governor maintains that the drop in overall funding for schools went down because of the disappearance of federal stimulus dollars that weren’t replaced with state aid.
Corbett was unopposed in the Republican primary, and he accepted his party’s nomination for governor at an event in Pittsburgh, where he outlined some of the successes of his first term.
“We have passed three balanced budgets on time, and we haven’t raised taxes -- in fact, we’ve scaled back the tax burdens on tax payers,” said Corbett. “When I look at those facts, I know our campaign has the winning case.”
WESA’s Deanna Garcia, StateImpactPA’s Katie Colaneri, and WHYY’s Aaron Moselle contributed to this report.
Published in State House Sound Bites
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