PA-Gov Round-Up: The First Debate

PA-Governor-Mansion2Normally, the week centers around a number of different events. This week, though, the first debate between the candidates overshadowed all else.

You can read our rapid reaction piece here or watch the debate in full here.

The showdown provided a showcase of spin from both campaigns as each sought to answer the charges of the other. In fact, each campaign issued press releases during the debate (it’s almost like they wrote them ahead of time).

Anyway, it shouldn’t be surprising that the rest of the week centered on the questions brought up on Monday night.

Corbett

The Corbett camp chose to strike first at Tom Wolf on taxes. After seemingly suggesting in an interview that a tax increase might be necessary to put the state’s fiscal house in order, Wolf has backed away from that statement, claiming he was mischaracterized.

The Governor’s re-election campaign sent out a clip of the debate wherein Wolf was asked about the topic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZzwRcD0_mI&feature=youtu.be

“Instead of Tom Wolf finally explaining his income tax hike proposal to a statewide audience during Monday’s debate, Wolf instead chose to blame the media for simply trying to make sense of Wolf’s extremely vague ramblings,” Corbett-Cawley Communications Director Chris Pack said. “If Tom Wolf doesn’t want to be called out for his plan to raise income taxes on middle class families, all he has to do is use the publicly available tax data to give us the details of his plan. Nobody told Tom Wolf he had to run for governor, but since he chose to do so, he needs to adequately convey to the voters what he is actually proposing.”

Later in the week, the campaign posted another video of Wolf speaking about charter schools.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfvdJiQAo0M&feature=youtu.be

“It’s unfortunate that Secretary Tom Wolf continues putting the interests of the public sector unions above finding a solution to deliver a quality education for Pennsylvania’s children,”  Pack said. “Charter schools give our students and their parents the choice and flexibility they need to find a school that best fits their individual needs, but Wolf opposes them because his union handlers tell him to oppose them.”

In Wolf’s defense, the clip is quite short (just fifteen seconds in length) and it is difficult to get the full picture of the question and answer. The complete video is included here.

Finally, the PA Republican Party called out the Democratic nominee for getting booed during the debate when talking about tax returns (as seen in the first video).

“Tom Wolf doesn’t seem to understand why families are rejecting his plans to institute a marriage penalty tax,” Sweeney said. “During last night’s debate, Tom Wolf tried to lecture Pennsylvanians about why a higher tax on middle-class married couples would fit his agenda. The fact that Tom Wolf seemed confused as to why people would not support a marriage penalty tax goes to show just how out of touch he really is.”

It is worth noting, though, that the crowd at the Chamber Dinner was noticeably pro-Corbett so it is not a surprise that Wolf was booed at one point. I make this assertion for two reasons: 1. I was there and witnessed the atmosphere 2. The Chamber already endorsed Corbett last year.

Wolf

Meanwhile, the Wolf campaign tried to capitalize on what they felt was a gaffe by the Governor.

After the Democrat mentioned that 27,000 teachers had lost their jobs thanks to Corbett’s education cuts, the Gov decided to strike back by splitting hairs.

“And you know, Mr. Wolf uses a number of 27,000 educators. That’s a false number,” the Governor asserted. “Those aren’t all teachers. Those are people that worked in the system, that were part of the administrations. They weren’t all teachers.”

“Governor Corbett is right – they weren’t all teachers,” responded Wolf Campaign Spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan. “They were also nurses, librarians, and guidance counselors. The bottom line is that Governor Corbett’s failed policies have decimated our schools and plunged Pennsylvania’s economy to the bottom. We cannot afford another four years worth of Governor Corbett.”

FreshStartPA, on the other hand, sought to use the news that the state’s debt rating had been downgraded to undercut Gov. Corbett’s claim that promises have been met and progress made.

“Tom Corbett talks a lot about fiscal responsibility, but the reality is that his policies have been a complete and utter failure for the people of Pennsylvania,” Campaign for a Fresh Start Spokesman Mike Mikus said. “Tom Corbett cut $1 billion from public education and his fiscal policies have led to credit downgrades and more debt. Either way you slice it, Tom Corbett’s policies have been a disaster for hardworking Pennsylvanians. So in response to Tom Corbett’s claims of fiscal discipline, we say ‘really’?”

Don’t forget, Wednesday October 1st, the two candidates will debate for the second time in Philadelphia. That means we’ll get to go through this whole process all over again next week!

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