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PA-Gov: Corbett and Wolf Face-Off in First Debate

Gov-debateGovernor Tom Corbett and Secretary Tom Wolf met for the first of three debates tonight.

The debate came in the middle of the PA Chamber Dinner, so the event took place in a crowded dining room full of tables, people, and leftover food.

The crowd was decidedly more favorable to Governor Corbett which appeared to have an effect on both candidates.

The candidates gave fairly typical opening statements introducing themselves and their platforms.

The first question concerned the issue voters care the most about, namely education funding.

Wolf disputed the Governor’s attempt to assert that education spending has increased.

“Education has been cut,” he stated plainly.

The Democratic nominee also said that 27,000 educators in the state have lost their job under Corbett’s Administration.

Governor Corbett acknowledged the distress the issue has caused throughout the commonwealth.

“We need to do better,” he said.

Yet he also referred back to the culprits he has blamed in the past, including the stimulus spending, Governor Rendell and public sector unions. Corbett also called Wolf’s 27,000 number a “false number” because it included all those involved and not just teachers.

Wolf responded that he didn’t know how much money education would ultimately need which was a common refrain from the Democrat. Corbett hammered his opponent for not providing specifics.

Governor Corbett then performed his most impressive feat when he successfully dodged a direct question from moderator Dennis Owens about taking another “no new taxes” pledge like he had in his first term.

“My job is to be the steward of your money,” he said. When asked directly for a yes or no question he responded “That is my answer.”

The Gov. also claimed that the transportation bill was not an tax increase as some of his conservative critics have asserted.

Tom Wolf was then asked about his plans to raise taxes. Wolf said this was “a misconception”. Owens pressed him on whether he felt Pennsylvanians were paying enough in taxes or if they needed to pay more.

“Some people are paying too much right now,” he conceded before saying that “to create a fair tax system, some people will have to pay more.”

“Fairness is in the eye of the beholder,” Wolf said philosophically.

Things got tougher for the Democrat, though, when he was booed by the crowd when he stated that most people file their state tax returns separately.

Then, Owens asked Wolf if he would categorize the issues with pensions as a “crisis”. Wolf responded that this disagreement was mostly about semantics and that it was a problem that had the potential to grow into a crisis.

The focus then shifted back to Gov. Corbett and the lack of a severance tax. The GOP nominee countered that impact fees and other taxes were sufficient enough.

Wolf took the opportunity to once again draw attention to his plan for a 5% severance tax. When asked about specific figures he responded “I don’t have a crystal ball, I work better with calculators.”

This answer proves that Wolf is honest when he says he is not a politician, as while this statement makes sense for a businessman, it’s definitely not good politics.

Corbett ducked a question about raising the minimum wage while Wolf stated he supports an increase to $10.10 an hour.

In the final rapid-fire section, Wolf was questioned about his financial support from unions. He pointed out that these organizations mostly didn’t endorse him in the Democratic primary. Owens asked the incumbent why he is behind in the polls and Corbett countered that his was proud of his work but felt he could have handled the public relations better.

Overall, Governor Corbett was much more fiery, active and energetic. Wolf was a bit more laid back and was obviously trying to win over the audience. The problem was that those attending the dinner loudly applauded Corbett several times. Without a doubt it was a home game for the Governor although it wasn’t clear whether he scored a clear victory and if that would benefit him come November.

25 Responses

  1. I remember Corbett cutting education. It was a “we cant afford it” thing. Wasn’t the only thing he cut. My vote goes to Tom Wolf. 4 years of Tommy has been 4 too many.

  2. Does any of this really matter? The debate was on PCN, not the broadcast networks. The only people that watched the debates or are closely following this analysis afterwards are political junkies. Left or Right, the political junkies are pretty much party faithful so these debates will do nothing to change the direction of this race. It was Wolf by 20 points yesterday afternoon before the debate and its Wolf by 20 points today. Nothing gained, nothing lost. Get over yourselves.

  3. Uh, Scott? They’re not going to move to Ohio or West Virginia or anywhere else because…the natural gas IS HERE in PA. Those companies will shut up and pay the severance tax (like they do in EVERY other state where natural gas is extracted) and STILL make a fortune.

    This is not a difficult concept to understand.

  4. Corbett-Cawley should make an ad of their highs and Wolf’s lows from this debate, pull out of the other, and say “Why have a rematch? It wasn’t even close the first time.”

  5. CORBETT IS NOT FACING REALITY! TOO MUCH TIME IN THE BUNKER! ICYMI: State Sen. Dominic Pileggi predicts natural gas extraction tax by next year – Times Leader –

  6. I have no idea where PoliticsPA got this kid Nick Field as an editor, for any number of reasons. To begin with, reading his analysis of the debate makes me wonder where he actually was last night. I was at the debate and see the results completely differently. Can we have the previous PoliticsPA editor back? She was good. Smart.

  7. I though Wolf won when he brought up about the Government having to borrow money on a budget that was just past.

    I was going to vote against Corbett, no matter who ran. I liked what Wolf had to say and now I will vote for him and his platform.

  8. The debate host, PA Chamber of Business and Industry, formally and publicly endorsed Corbett/Cawley before Christmas.…/press_releases/pdf/134.pdf

    But if folks in cars honking on their way into this august event were any indication, we Wolfies had the Corbsters at least 3:1. Probably more. I felt a little bad about how few honks their folks got. Basically, they got all the Beemers and Lexuses. We got…well, every other type of vehicle, from a bicycler and joggers to tractor trailers. I think that foreshadows Nov 4 better than any exhaustive study by the experts.

  9. Corbett needs bases loaded grand slams in every debate to win this game. Wolf only needs a few singles to maintain his lead. Corbett didn’t commit any errors but failed to hit a home run last night. Wolf did what he needed to do, he didn’t commit any errors either and didn’t blow his lead.

  10. How come Acting Governor Brabender didn’t debate directly? Corbett only does as he is told so the public deserves a debate with the real brains of the operation..

  11. If anyone still has any questions about the motivations of the Chamber of Commerce, you need only to ask yourself: Why do Chamber members heartily clap their hands for the statements of the career politician, the man who has spent most of his life living off a taxpayer funded salary, a non-creator of jobs, and show lukewarm support for the statements of one of their own, the man who has spent most of his life as a successful businessman, a job creator and capable of earning his money the old fashioned way?

  12. Gov. Corbett was the clear winner. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I tuned into the debate, but it appeared to me that Tom Wolf didn’t answer most of the questions asked of him.

    Corbett made it clear that Public Sector pensions are the reason that our property taxes are going up. Not because of some contrived cut to education spending.

  13. Scott: Why wouldn’t gas drillers move to Ohio or West Virginia if taxes are increased, because those states already have extraction taxes on gas. Pennsylvania is the only state which does not have this tax.

  14. So, let’s get the facts right. Wolf doesn’t use the DE loophole. He pays business taxes in PA. He knows how to run a successful business, how to develop a budget, set goals and keep expenses in line with it. Unlike his challenger. Wolf also has a vision of what the state can become. Unlike his challenger. Wolf cares about a thriving middle class and so is focused on what will sustain it: an effective education system in this state accessible to all, good jobs, and an infrastructure where PA citizens can communicate, safely travel, and easily distribute goods. Unlike his challenger. There is promise with Wolf. Unlike his challenger who promises only tired, ineffective and universally acknowledged failing ideas. Take your pick.

  15. So long as Wolf didn’t pull a Jameis Winston at the student union, these debates don’t really matter. The race has been over since Corbett announced he was running for re-election.

  16. Corbett should make Wolf answer for why taxes in addition to PA’s steep corporate tax and it’s fairly calculated impact fees are necessary for an industry that is providing so many jobs and an actual product (natural gas). Wolf moved his own business out of the state because if taxes and liability. What makes him think natural gas operators won’t move their operations to Ohio or West Virginia or other places if he burdens them with more taxes? I’m disappointed that this passes for a legitimate strategy, especially when Wolf has personally chosen to react by building products in one state and registering his corporation in another.

  17. its cleer that goevnor cobritt won the debate today with a big win and john wolfe didn’t win it too, and it proves guvn. corbitt is gonna win in a land slide there aint no way he aint gonna win big is for shore.

  18. I find it pretty humorous that the media and anti-Wolf folks have focused on this phony argument about so-called specifics. I’m not sure what specifics Corbett offered tonight or 4 years ago. Campaigns are about vision and the person you trust to lead us the next 4 years. Taxes are a complicated issue and to figure out the various streams takes more than a 1 minute response. But the Corbett team and his allies in the media are trying to play gotcha with Wolf. But I guess when you’re 20 points behind and you’re policies have failed your only strategy is to attack and raise phony issues. Thank goodness Tom Wolf understands that campaigns should be about vision and ideas.

  19. Wolf….I am a business man…have no specifics…..don’t like statistics…..l think my calculator.

    This is the candidate for the democrats. Oh boy

  20. Neither of them knew the moderator was slightly off on education spending by $17billion. It is not $27bil of a $29bil budget.

    I don’t really know what to say other than that.

    By this point everyone knows I was right.

  21. One of the things that struck me in the debate was when the issue of the minimum wage came up. As expected, Corbett was opposed to an increase and gave the expected response of a corporate puppet. What was Corbett’s response? Get a higher paid job and that there are resources to get further education and search for higher paid jobs. That’s nice and all but it is so out of touch! To get a higher paid job to live, you need a college education these days and not everyone is cut out for it or can afford it. College grads are sacked with a ridiculous amount of debt for life (that’s a different discussion). As a result, many have no choice but to work a minimum wage job and can barely live off the pay in the first place. In a place like America, there is no reason for people to live like this. I support Wolf’s plan to raise it to $10.10 an hour even thought I think it should be higher than that
    (like 15 dollars an hour). When it comes down to it, people need to be able to afford to live and provide for their families and $7.25 is an absurd amount to live on. Pennsylvanians needs a raise now! One last point I wish to make: Conservatives always complain about the poor, vilify them and call them takers and moochers for having to live off Welfare and food stamps. For starters, if you pay people higher wages, then there is more money in families’ pockets to pay bills and eat. With the current minimum wage, many can’t afford to eat and have to stand in lines at food banks. I believe that a higher minimum wage will cause people to no longer need food stamps or Welfare in the first place. This should answer the GOP’s complaints but it will never be good enough when Republicans like Corbett are looking out for big corporations and there profits.

  22. Was unable to watch @ the PCN website; does anyone know when it will be available for [delayed] viewing?

    Also, do we know when the next quasi-debate will occur?

  23. As a Tom Wolf supporter, I was disappointed. I believe that Corbett was the clear winner of the debate tonight. While Corbett was more precise and specific in his responses, Wolf was too vague and lacked specifics. I hoping to hear numbers and more insight into Wolf’s plans but all he did was keep talking about his experience as a business owner and what he did at his company. I like what he did with his company and how he treats his employees, but I wanted to hear more than that. I wanted to hear a different vision for PA from Corbett but I feel Wolf failed again. Despite this, I will still vote for Wolf and I have read some of his ideas on his website feeling confidant in his ideas despite his poor performance tonight. I still believe PA needs new leadership and a new direction. Now I am left wondering what the effect will be on the election in November and future poll numbers. If Wolf does a repeat in the remaining debates, I fear that the tide could turn to Corbett’s favor.

  24. So stimulus money is to blame for Governor Corbett cutting nearly a billion dollars from the Education budget his first year. Even better, raising the gasoline tax is not a tax increase! It is absolutely amazing!!! Amazing this clown is not down by 50% at this point!

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

    • Less Likely (36%)
    • More Likely (34%)
    • Makes No Difference (30%)

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