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Trebek Steals the Show: Three Takeaways from PA Gov Debate

The one and only “debate” between incumbent Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and GOP candidate Scott Wagner took place last night at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry’s annual dinner in the Hershey Lodge.

The candidates sparred over their different vision for the commonwealth, but the moderating of “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek left viewers wondering if he was the one seeking the office. 

Here are three takeaways from last night’s showdown.

Alex Trebek, Stick to “Jeopardy!”.

It’s undeniable the game show host was the story of the night. Before welcoming the candidates on stage, Trebek discussed how this would not be a traditional debate, but doing so “my way” and joked that, “I’m not here to embarrass the candidates, they are perfectly capable of doing that all by themselves.” Trebek on multiple occasions injected himself in the conversation, going on long soliloquies about what the state was doing well and what needed improvement in comparison to other states – and his childhood, and more. The time would have been better suited to hear about the candidates different visions on subjects not addressed, such as healthcare or immigration. During the PCN Call-In Show post debate, the first several callers rattled off their displeasure with how the debate was conducted, which both panelists of different political views agreed. The first positive review of Trebek on the show came in at 9:55 pm, after many callers found the performance to be subpar. Their confusion and criticism was echoed across social media.

3 years and 8 months

As both candidates tried to distance themselves from the Harrisburg political lifers, Gov. Tom Wolf reiterated multiple times during the debate that he has been in office for 3 years and 8 months and was proud of the record he was running on. “This is really a referendum on where we were and where we want to be, where we want to go,” Wolf said. When given the chance, he touted investing in education, expanding health insurance, addressing the opioid epidemic, while doing so “in a financial responsible way.”

Pledge to Change My Name.

Wagner believes Wolf has no record to run on in the 2018 election and thinks the state hasn’t truly tapped it’s potential. Wagner did not credit Wolf on the education funding since he did not sign the bill, nor veto it, which later became law and shared his vision of investing $1 billion in education without raising taxes. In his closing, Wagner painted a picture of a Harrisburg not working and described it as “Government Gone Wild”, while he made a promise to voters if he is to be elected. “If I don’t do anything in four years, I pledge to you that I will change my name to Tom Wolf,” Wagner said in closing.   

For topic by topic breakdown, here is the coverage from multiple outlets in the state.

Death Penalty, Philadelphia Inquirer.

Pension Reform, PennLive.
Education Funding, Associated Press.

See the full debate here.

13 Responses

  1. Alex Trebek only pointed out the obvious which was that Scott Wagner was a horribly bad candidate who thought being a Trump clone would carry him to the Governorship. He was wrong. It will not. He comes across as inexperienced and used a campaign for State Senate where he won on a write in as an ineffective basis to run for Governor. When Scott Wagner is compared to legends like Tom Ridge or Governor Bill Scranton his weaknesses as a candidate for Governor are all too clear. Scott Wagner–don’t blame Alex Trebeck for the mess you created that is called your campaign. Blame yourself. As the late great Warren Zevon once said (and I cleaned it up a little bit), “Your stuff is messed up. The stuff that used to work doesn’t work anymore.”

  2. While the debate was a little absurd, I did enjoy that Trebek did enough research to be able to call out the candidates. Telling Wagner he was a hypocrite who did a 180 on education was a special moment.

    Of course, anyone who has been paying attention can see what naked pandering Wagner’s education flip flop was, especially after years of calling for firing thousands of teachers and his infamously out-of-touch private helicopter ride.

  3. Jeopardy viewers could have predicted this–Trebek is smug. For that matter, so is the Chamber. Why are we letting them run things?

  4. Invite all four balloted candidates. That way I’d actually watch because I’d know issues of substance would be discussed. These Demopublican Republicrat only debate always devolve into “vote for us solely because you hate us a little less than the only competitor allowed on stage.” And why wouldn’t they?

    1. Steven-

      This was such a sh*t-show that Wolf and Wagner should have declined the invitation or not bothered to show up. Adding the other balloted candidates wouldn’t have improve things.

      It’s more a badge of honor not to have been involved.

      1. Maybe. But having only one debate without anyone to challenge the quasi-clones removes all credibility the event might have had, for a significant and growing number of voters.

  5. “Trebek Steals the Show”

    In the same way some teens steal a car for joy riding, and wind up driving it over a cliff.

  6. Yea, that was a disgrace and an insult. In the end, no votes will change over this. Wolf in a blow out.

  7. Yo PCN has one hell of a postgame show. I’ve always wanted to know what it felt like to watch tv in the 1980s. Some “questionable” outfits for sure!

    Oh, and btw, the debate sucked.

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