Businessman & Conservative Super-Donor Wagner to Run for PA Senate

Scott Wagner headshot

Scott Wagner

Scott Wagner, a York County businessman who for decades has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to conservative candidates and causes in Pennsylvania, will run for the seat of retiring state Sen. Mike Waugh (R).

“I have been very vocal about my frustration with Harrisburg and the completely ineffective system that is in place. It is time to elect legislators who will make the necessary, tough decisions that will benefit the citizens of Pennsylvania instead of the self-interests of those elected to represent us in Harrisburg,” said Wagner, the founder and owner of Penn Waste.

Waugh, 57, announced in August that he would not to seek re-election, citing in part a medical condition.

County Commissioner Steve Chronister and state Rep. Ron Miller have both expressed interested in the seat, which comprises safe Republican territory in central and southern York County.

Wagner’s decision to join the race presents a major headache to state Senate leadership. Chronister and Miller both represent the kind of mainstream Republican likely to support party leaders, who typically are compromise-minded.

Wagner is an outspoken critic of the GOP establishment and legislative leaders who he says are insufficiently devoted to limited government. He falls much closer to the camp of state Sens. John Eichelberger (R-Blair) and Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) who are more prone to pursue a more conservative policies. They are each critical of lawmaker pensions and other benefits.

“For over three decades, I have had numerous candidates ask me for contributions every election season. Over and over again, they say they stand for something yet their voting record consistently says differently. I am sick and tired of the process and the system,” Wagner said.

“I think the problem with many of our elected officials is that their elected position is the best job they have ever had so their priority is getting re-elected. My priorities are growing the economy, protecting taxpayers and citizens and reforming Harrisburg.”

He has been a major supporter of the Citizens Alliance for Pennsylvania, a group that frequently recruits and supports primary challengers to GOP incumbents. In 2012, CAP helped oust House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Rick Geist (R-Blair). He was a major supporter of Sen. Pat Toomey in 2004 and 2010, and frequently supported GOP opponents to Congressman Todd Platts (R-York).

Pa. has no campaign contribution limits and Wagner is free to spend as much of his own funds on the race as he likes. That fact further complicates the 2014 election picture for Senate leadership because the caucus campaign committee must now decide how much to spend in support of its preferred candidate in a safe GOP district.

Any dollar the Senate GOP spends in the York County primary will be unavailable to spend in the general election, when Republicans must defend potentially vulnerable incumbents in eastern Pa. like Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and the open seat of Sen. Ted Erickson (R-Delaware).

The party spent more than $600,000 to help state Rep. Mark Mustio (R-Allegheny) in his failed effort to defeat businessman Raja in 2012 and went on to lose 3 seats in the general election.

They are also hoping to present any like-minded conservative outsiders from posing a serious bid for the open seat of Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-Lancaster), who also is retiring.

Wagner has also been a regular advertiser on PoliticsPA, directing readers to his website which provides information about his broad political philosophy.

In late 2012 he briefly entertained the idea of mounting a primary challenge to Corbett despite having had contributed $40,000 to the Governor’s campaigns.

September 10th, 2013 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg, Top Stories | 16 Comments

16 thoughts on “Businessman & Conservative Super-Donor Wagner to Run for PA Senate”

  1. Bob Guzzardi's Filthy Dumster says:

    While Scott Wagner wallows in Bob Guzzardi’s filthy dumpster in Camp Hill, loyal Politics PA readers are subjected to Bob Guzzardi’s trash on the message boards. Can’t Guzzardi’s Politics PA garbage be picked up and disposed of with more frequency? He’s stinking up the place here

  2. John says:

    I would really like to see this Bob Guzzardi run for office one day. For as much as this guy likes to run at the mouth, one would think he would make for an excellent voice in Harrisburg or Washington too. He’s opinionated and loves to Monday morning quarterback all things politics. He has my vote if he ever decides to run. I can just see it now; the Wagner and Guzzardi Ticket.

  3. Nathan Shrader says:

    I haven’t met Scott Wagner. Maybe he is the greatest guy in the world. However, do the people of that district really want a Lyndon Larouche supporter representing them in the Senate of Pennsylvania?

  4. bobguzzardi says:

    Scott Wagner will be the only Senator with brains and principles, an unusual combination and most welcomed by The Forgotten Taxpayer.

  5. bobguzzardi says:

    breaking news Scott Wagner has negatives and if they aren’t good enough, the Scarnati Pileggi hacks can make some up.

    Joe McGinnis knows how Turzai’s House Hacks do it. Jubelirer’s Hacks have had a lot of experience. We know the storm of negative is coming. We have been through this all before.

  6. bobguzzardi says:

    The trash contracts tracts that are competitively bid .There is strong competition for these contracts from many qualified vendors. The highest quality at lowest price wins. It is not an insider connections network that wins; it is competence and quality of service that wins and keeps these contracts. Scott’s company picks up my trash in Camp Hill.

  7. bobguzzardi says:

    Scott Wagner is well informed, has a network of supporters and will be a real problem to leadership of both parties. Scott Wager is a leader who inspire with his ideas and his passion. Scott Wagner is a businessman who can organize a campaign of media and grassroots.

    The Bipartisan Hacks are right to be afraid.

  8. Frugal Fred says:

    Can’t be spendin $50,000 on pronthonotary races any more.

  9. John says:

    I can’t wait for the skeletons in Wagner’s closet to come out. And I’m sure there are many skeletons in there too. This should be fun to watch once the press gets wind of any of them.

  10. Brad says:

    @CentPADem,

    I think you are wrong on a few points. Being a backbench state senator does not provide you with much power. Sen. John Eichelberger also is a vocal “anti-establishment” state senator (he defeated the Senate President Pro Tempore), with much more seniority and knowledge of the system than Wagner will have. When he came into office, he was every bit as vocal as Wagner will be. Do you think Sen. John Eichelberger has, or ever had, much power? He does not, never did, and nobody involved in politics thinks that he does or that he ever did. Most people acknowledge that Sen. Eichelberger is the 27th most powerful Republican state senator (and there are only 27 GOP state senators). Rep. Daryl Metcalfe is at least as vocal as Wagner will be. Due to seniority, he was guaranteed a committee chairmanship, so they gave him one of the least desirable (for example, the House Democratic leaders booted Rep. Mark Cohen from their ranks and gave him the same committee chairmanship merely because he was guaranteed one). Because Metcalfe has a big mouth and is full of bluster, people think he is important and is holding up transportation funding. That has NOTHING to do with Metcalfe. Nobody inside the Capitol, even Republicans, thinks Metcalfe has much power.

    Having worked in and around Pennsylvania politics and public policy for two decades, there are only a few members of each legislative caucus who matter.

    In the end, Scott Wagner is Rep. Daryl Metcalfe and Sen. John Eichelberger with money, nothing more. A William Shakespeare line written in MacBeth accurately describes the bluster spewed by Wagner, Metcalfe and Eichelberger: “It is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.”

    I wouldn’t call that power. At best, I would call that nothing more than the illusion of power, no more real than a mirage.

  11. Joe B says:

    Keegan – you make mention of Pat Browne as being in a competitive race. Yes, the registration is not good in the new district, but Browne has absolutely no one willing to run against him in a primary or general. All elected Ds have been asked and refused to run already. He will face a nobody and win 60-40 like he did the last cycle he ran (the registration is pretty similar in both the old and new districts, he only swaps safe R areas for other safe R areas basically). Oh yeah, and he is the Whip and can raise all the money he needs or wants.

  12. CentPADem says:

    Brad – I have to take issue with your comment. Regardless of initial seniority, Wagner will become 1 of 50 people in the PA State Senate which brings a great deal of power and influence with it. Wagner is clearly a very far right / limited government person. He will dump a huge amount of his fortune into this race and you are right, the seat is a safe Republican seat, so whomever wins the primary will win the seat. If he wins the seat, he won’t be a quiet State Senator, he will be a VERY active and VERY vocal member. I think you can also expect that he will overshadow many of the existing members of the PA Senate. Agree or disagree with him, he has strong opinions and appears from his website to be a person who will push his opinions and issues.

  13. Mark says:

    Gotta love folks who get filthy rich off of government contracts, but hate government and government spending.

    “Yes, its ok to give me government money, but no one can have it.”

  14. Brad says:

    YAAAAAWWWWWWWNNNNNN, big deal. I don’t doubt Scott Wagner is a good businessman. And he has a lot of money, that isn’t disputed. I doubt his courage.

    He is running for a safe Republican state senate seat. The only real election here is the Republican primary. At best, he will be the lowest-ranking senator of 26 state senators in the majority (probably, there will be more than 26 Republicans), with Republican leaders in the Senate, House, and Governor’s office who strongly dislike him. At best, he will be assigned chairmanship of the least important committee in the PA Senate.

    He has the money, the mouth, and the belief in his own brilliance to run for any statewide or congressional office in Pennsylvania. If Scott Wagner had any courage, he would have run for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2008 (he has made clear his disagreements with Governor Corbett). But no, that would be too hard and he would have lost. If Scott Wagner had any courage, he would have run for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2012 (he has made clear he strongly disagrees with Sen. Casey). But he didn’t, that would have been too hard and he would have lost. If Scott Wagner had any courage, he would have run for for Congress against Todd Platts in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, or even the open congressional seat Congressman Platts retired in 2012 (he has made more clear that, more than anything, he loathes Todd Platts). But he didn’t, those campaigns would have been too hard and have lost all of them.

    Instead, he has continued to run his mouth about his own self-proclaimed brilliance. Then, when he finally unveiled his great path to changing politics and public policy, he announced he will be running for a safe Republican open state senate seat. His decision has very little risk, with very little reward at best. As a result, he will make happy only those who worship him now, change nothing, and be an unimportant footnote in Pennsylvania political history. That isn’t called “courage,” it is called “cowardice.”

    So celebrate if you wish, but know that nothing is or will be won by Scott Wagner running for an unimportant state senate seat.

  15. D. Miller says:

    The above comment is just stupid. Those are public contracts that are bid out and given to the lowest bidder.

  16. Tim says:

    This guy sent a mailer out complaining about how the government shouldn’t force you to do anything, yet he made his millions because local municipalities forced their residents to use his garbage collection company.

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