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PA-Gov: Candidates Draw Blood At Forum

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(Lancaster, Pa.) — In a forum cohosted by Franklin & Marshall College, WGAL News, PennLive/Patriot News and Lancaster Online, the Democratic candidates for governor fired shots at Governor Tom Corbett – and a Tom of their own, Mr. Wolf.

The candidates went twenty minutes before barbs were launched at Wolf, and Allyson Schwartz attacked first. She began with a thinly veiled reference at Wolf’s involvement in the legal defense fund of convicted lawmaker Steven Stetler, and then things became nasty.

Schwartz turned to face Wolf as she launched her attack, suggesting that his support of Stetler implied that he would allow corrupt friends to serve in a Wolf administration. Wolf gave his regular response on the topic – that Stetler was a friend and he was entitled to the full process of the American justice system and that he maintains that his friend is a good person.

Katie McGinty was then asked about accepting $125,000 from the executive of a coal company whose project she fast-tracked while at the PA DEP as an entry into a discussion about ethics.

“If your issue is environment, then I am your candidate,” McGinty responded. “The permit you’re talking about – well, if slow bureaucracy is ok, I’m not your gal. When I’m hired to run a department, I’m going to run it. The environment is not helped when projects to improve environment are buried in paperwork.”

She was pressed a bit harder on whether that contribution would taint her leadership as governor, and surprisingly, opponent Rob McCord jumped to her defense, saying that he didn’t believe the contribution would affect her decision making. The rest of the candidates moved into a discussion of a gift ban that would be more inclusive than a simple cash ban. Schwartz took the discussion a bit further and recommended annual ethics reviews for elected officials and the application of federal campaign finance laws at the state level.

Wolf used the question to talk about his time as Revenue Secretary when he declined benefits and salary, and Schwartz attacked again. She pointed out that he was an anomaly in the ability to decline a salary and that his wealth allowed him unusual opportunities.

“I think there is a lot of nonsense there,” Wolf responded. To be fair, Schwartz is worth approximately $5 million. “You’re asking me to apologize for not accepting benefits.”

“I’m not asking you to apologize,” Schwartz retorted.

And that spat continued for several minutes before McCord broke in to criticize Corbett’s budget priorities. McGinty joined him to promote job creation and restoration of education funding.

For the rest of the forum, candidates focused on Corbett and Wolf shifted out of the hot seat.

They all blamed Corbett for the increase in property taxes, though none advocated for an elimination, but rather an increase of state contribution.

Wolf won this topic with a specific answer about increasing the state investment to 50%, up from 32% and stressing the importance of “local skin in the game” to fund their schools.

On an entirely different topic, the candidates were pushed to answer whether they support the death penalty with a simple yes or no answer.

Schwartz was the only adamant opponent to capital punishment, and the others supported a moratorium while there is discussion of sentencing reform.

As is his custom, McCord the proclaimed Corbett slayer, gave strong answers about education, refusing to accept Corbett’s answer about education funding that the cuts come from a loss of federal stimulus dollars.

Per the usual, the candidates stated that they support Pennsylvania accepting the Medicaid expansion, and Schwartz reiterated her work on and support of the Affordable Care Act.

There was a bit of discussion on pension reform, and this time it was McCord who aimed at Wolf, calling the plan offered to his employees is similar to Governor Tom Corbett’s proposal. While the Wolf Organization once offered defined benefits to retirees, they now offer a 401k plan.

When it came to closing statements, three of the candidates pitched their qualifications, their go-getter-ness and the unique attributes of their personal stories. Schwartz took a different approach, and her statement was the final words of the debate.

“Tom has told a very nice story of his life, but I’m not sure it’s so different. You put on TV a story of your business, but the fact is that you leave out a big chunk, that when you left the company, you were paid $20 million to get out,” she began. “It’s perfectly acceptable, it’s what happens in business. But [because of that] the company had to restructure and had to lay off hundreds of people.”

“Somehow that part of the story is left out of your ads. I think we each know that we need a governor that will tell us the whole story,” she concluded.

The timbre of this debate was starkly different than the early, congenial appearances where the candidates focused on policy substance. At one point, Wolf suggested that they get back to that and Schwartz shut him down, saying that their personal style and history were important considerations in the process.

The forum was moderated jointly by F&M’s Terry Madonna, PennLive’s John L. Micek, Lancaster Online’s Karen Shuey and WGAL’s Pete Munlean.

The PA GOP issued their standard post-forum response.

“Once again, the Democratic gubernatorial candidates debated over who was the most out of touch with Pennsylvania voters,” Gleason said. “Whether it’s pushing for higher taxes or bragging about their support of Obamacare, these Democratic candidates are more concerned with scoring cheap political points among liberal special interests groups than offering actual solutions for Pennsylvania families.”

29 Responses

  1. John Hanger isn’t endorsing Rob McCord. I just don’t see it happening. McCord is too inside the box for Hanger, and I don’t see his supporters going with a venture capitalist. Look at where his supporters are going. I think that ‘a where his endorsement goes too, and it isn’t to Captain Hothead.

  2. If that is the case I yield my looking taller comment to back pain. Sorry Rob!

  3. Bob Casey and Ed Rendell should be embarrassed. They’re the closest thing PA Democrats have to leaders and they’re sitting back while their colleagues try to shred Wolf and make it easier for Corbett to win in November. There’s going to be hell to pay if they don’t get involved ASAP!

  4. Head on over to to see the latest Treasurer McCord scandal!!

  5. I wasn’t there & didn’t see the step stool that Bruce in Lancaster saw, but I do know that when Rob McCord was at an event I was at, his staffer asked if we had a step stool that McCord could put his foot on to relieve the stress on his back. McCord could pick up the back pain sufferers’ vote!

  6. I agree ease up on the attacks. tom wolf looks like he will be the democrats choice.politics can be frustrating when your candidate is behind.Schwartz and mccord have nobody to blame but them selves.they let wolf run free for 6 weeks by himself on Tv.I’m not a wolf supporter now, but I will be come November.

  7. You are backing or being paid to back a guy that sounds like one. Look in the mirror son.

    Takes more than a sweater and a jeep with an overpriced sticker package to be the real deal.

  8. JB and Peggy,
    I realize you two are the only McCord supporters left in Pennsylvania. McCord is done. It’s over. Wolf is the nominee. If Wolf really wanted to, he could destroy McCord by going negative. Just one ad showcasing McCord’s record of outsourcing jobs to India would put a nail in the McCord Campaign’s coffin. McCord is desperate, erratic, angry, uncontrolled and arrogant, and the people of Pennsylvania see him for who he really is.
    Word of advise JB and Peggy: Stop trying to tear down our nominee. You sound like bitter Republicans.

  9. McCordlies- I have a strong grip on what I value and it’s not what Wolf has shown in his history. You can expect people to cut him in the general just like they are doing in the primary to certain candidates in Philly. He is a very weak candidate and people outside dem hack circles know this and have been talking about it for months. The general public doesn’t know any of this guys negatives yet. You don’t think they matter because we discuss them here. No one reads this stuff.

    David- McCord has done a fine job as treasurer with Corbett in office. He has nothing to worry about win or lose.

    With a strong GOTV effort and some of this “insider” information becoming more mainstream, it’s not over til it’s over. In fact the fight has really just begun.

  10. I was outside the debate doing a little local politiking when McCord and his group passed by. One man in the group was carrying a little step up bench for Rob to stand on behind the podium so he would look a little taller to the crowd. You can see it in some of the pics taken. I find this as a little strange for a man wanting such a big job.

  11. All the candidates are good, but my pick is Rob McCord. Rob did an outstanding job last night. The shame is this website allows people to post lies about their opponents and to make up names. If I were Kathleen Kane I would find out who is using her name and take them to court.

  12. Bob Guzzardi has become the JOHN BROWN’S BODY of the conservative movement and all those Pennsylvanians who don’t want 4 more years of necrophilia by the Republican consulting class. GUZZARDI’S TRUTH WILL GO MARCHING ON! Neither Corbett, Brabender, Gleason nor the Bakers and Nutts can stop the truth spoken by Guzzardi from being heard!

  13. Former Lower Merion Constable Eric Bradway is running as a Write In Candidate on the Democratic Ticket

  14. Write In Eric Bradway For Governor on the Democratic Ticket and you wont have to deal with any of the Guys in this article

  15. JDAH-
    I don’t know about any rumors. But, based on the polling, Wolf appears to be a lock.

    The officials who have waited to see which way the wind is blowing realize it’s become gale force.

    I’d expect Wolf to pick up endorsements from any politicians looking to ingratiate themselves with him. (not that he needs their endorsements at this point)

  16. That Morning Call poll was a killer for Schwartz and McCord. And they know it. Hence, their attacks on Wolf tonight.

    I just hope Gov. Wolf appoints McGinty to something.

  17. McCord hasn’t been attacked because he hasn’t been in front. If he starts pulling ahead, count on Schwartz to drill down on his job offshoring and to point out what being a venture capitalist really means [read, Mitt Romney].

  18. McCord is done. No question. Wolf is the nominee.

    No path to victory for Schwartz, McGinty or McCord. If you want to see a similar election, just look at the recent GOP 4-person primary for Governor in Illinois. Very telling.

  19. At debate heard multiple rumors that Jack Wagner and Bob Casey are planning joint event in Scranton a week before primary day to endorse Tom Wolf.
    Obviously just a rumor, but it was going through the room like wildfire.

  20. McCord and Schwartz are attacking Wolf like Sarah Palin in a helicopter.

    Unlike Palin, they are shooting blanks that manage to backfire.

    Given today’s poll, McCord is in more trouble. Not because of the 3rd place ranking. (The difference between him and Schwartz is within the margin of error.)

    The reason McCord is in trouble is that Wolf is going to be the next Governor of PA and McCord, as Treasurer, is going to have to work with him. Yesterday’s attacks were unfair personal character attacks. I don’t know if McCord can offer any apology that Wolf would accept/believe as sincere. However, I hope both will put their differences aside for the good of PA to clean up the mess left in Corbett’s wake.

    At this point, negative campaigning is counter productive for any future working relationships with Gov Wolf (and politically if they ever run for any other office and need an endorsement from the Gov).

  21. Scenario:

    McCord makes McGinty Secretary of Education if elected Governor.. Schwartz slays Wolf and cuts deal with McCord after primary, who knows where that leads…but it’ll work for Schwartz.

    Wolf goes home, rebuilds company, goes back to being a gentleman millionaire in York County.

    The big plays and deals have been made. Although Im totally guessing here, it has the look and feel of insiders and the candidates other than Wolf have gamed out amongst themselves how the story ends.

    Wolf may have a clue, but no pull to slow the train.

    Unless voters see it differently, McCord catches Wolf, wins primary.

  22. I called into pcn and asked John Hanger if he would endorse before the primary and he said if he was going to do it he will do it next week. I personally think it’s going to be McCord or Wolf. If he endorses McCord it will be a 2 man race and it will come down to the wire and the gotv effort. If its Wolf and I think its going to be this race will be over. Also ill be interested to see who he endorses for Lt. Governor. I think it will be Stack. The people are Hanger are smart people and if they wanna play king maker the best way to go to beat Tom Corbett is to have a Wolf/Stack ticket

  23. The McCord and Schwartz camps are picking a fight with a juggernaut who if he goes negative will sink each one of them in about 2 min of tv ad time. These personal attacks are disgusting. Debate policy!

  24. Oh and did I mention the new poll that was released today:

    Wolf 42%
    Schwartz 16%
    McCord 14% << Third Place
    McGinty at 4%


  25. JB,
    You sound just like Rob McCord. Desperate, erratic, angry, uncontrolled and arrogant. The good news is you only have to wait a little over two weeks before this is all over and you can curl up into a little ball sobbing uncontrollably that the cocky Rob McCord lost the primary.
    At one point in the debate McCord throws his hands up in the air. What a great example of leadership. He doesn’t like what he hears or he doesn’t get his way so he stomps his feet, throws his hands in the air and cries like a baby.
    Get a grip man.

  26. Imagine on top of milking the company, milking the employee pension fund with the help of his friends, destroying the lumber business, contracting with cheap right to work state labor and not manufacturing a single thing let alone in pa, this guy attacked his employee’s pensions while saddling the company with crushing debt cashing out!

    Be proud of what you stand for Wolfpack! I want to hear you boast about the character of your candidate and how you are doing the right thing for PA!

  27. Wolf is so dull! There’s a reason he’s slipping from 50’s in the polls to 30’s in the polls. This race isn’t over.

  28. I don’t think Schwartz did herself any favors tonight. If she picked off any Wolf supporters, they most likely went to McCord.

  • Does the NYC Verdict Make You More or Less Likely to Vote For Trump in 2024?

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