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Even in absence, Stack dominates lieutenant governor debate


The democratic candidates challenging Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack in May’s primary election. (Photo by Katie Meyer/WITF)

(Harrisburg) — A crowded field of Democratic candidates for Lieutenant Governor met for a debate Monday as they attempt to unseat incumbent Democrat Mike Stack.

Though Stack himself was busy presiding over the Senate and was notably absent, his four-year tenure was a central topic.

In Pennsylvania, candidates for governor and lieutenant run separately from one another in primaries, and pair off for the general election.

That can lead to odd couplings–including the current one between Stack and Governor Tom Wolf.

Their relationship was never close, and it hit a bump last year when Wolf stripped Stack and his wife of their police detail and other staff following verbal abuse allegations.

That, plus claims Stack is spending too much money, turned the debate into a referendum on the incumbent.

The challengers are molecular biologist and former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Nina Ahmad, Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, banker and insurance broker Ray Sosa, and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman.

None criticized Stack outright–but all promised they would be different.

“Any kind of abuse–verbal, physical, sexual–any kind of harassment like that, is unacceptable,” Fetterman said. “Budgetary extravagances as a public servant–that also can’t be tolerated.”

Another common thread was that the candidates all assured the audience they would be a better match for Wolf.

“I decided to get in this race because I’m very frustrated with the legislature, and because I saw the governor needed a partner he could have a better relationship with,” Cozzone said.

The Democratic party hasn’t endorsed a candidate, and neither has Wolf.

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