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Final showdown

Published by James O'Toole on .

 

Early Returns took a road trip to Philadelphia Monday night to check out the last joint forum among the four Democrats running for the chance to challenge Gov. Tom Corbett.  From the main site, here's the report:

 

PHILADELPHIA -- Trampling rough but familiar terrain, Tom Wolf fended off attacks Monday night from state Treasurer Rob McCord and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz on his business background and his ties to a former York mayor who stepped down as a candidate for re-election in 2001 after being indicted for his role in a 1969 race riot in which a black woman was killed.

With a week to go before the Democratic gubernatorial primary next Tuesday, Mr. McCord forcefully renewed his critique of Mr. Wolf's judgment at the campaign's final debate at Drexel University. He pointed to the York businessman's role as chairman of former York Mayor Charlie Robertson's re-election campaign while contending that Mr. Wolf, the front-runner, had "failed the leadership test," in not speaking out against Mr. Robertson at the time that he was indicted -- though later acquitted -- of charges of having been an accessory to the women's death. Mr. Wolf protested that he had been in the Peace Corps in India at the time of the York riots, and that decades later he had been a behind-the-scenes voice in persuading Mr. Robertson to abandon his candidacy when the charges emerged shortly after he won the primary for renomination.

Ms. Schwartz of Montgomery County contended that Mr. Wolf's business background was not an adequate preparation to run the state, and insisted that he had to be willing to answer tough questions on camera if he hoped to be a credible challenger to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

"We cannot take a risk on someone who is untested, unproven," she said, defending the harsh focus on Mr. Wolf.

Mr. Wolf insisted that his varied business, academic and government background equipped him to lead the state and said that, if it didn't, and only more conventional political paths should be considered as qualifications for high office, then that would be an indictment of the entire political system.

Following another pattern from past encounters, Katie McGinty, who is also seeking the nomination, kept her focus on the incumbent they all hope to unseat.

Decrying cuts in education funding, she said, "[W]hat I hear the voters talking about their son or daughter no longer has tutoring after school, that they now have to pay 150 bucks if they want their son or daughter to be able to participate in sports, the fact that we're now dead last in the region -- zero, last -- in private sector job creation; the fact that 97,000 Pennsylvanians have lost Medical Assistance all because of roadblocks Tom Corbett has put up."

When the question of government ethics arose, she again faulted Mr. Corbett, the Republican incumbent, for having accepted gifts and a trip to Rhode Island.

The exchanges came after a campaign in which Mr. Wolf has vaulted to the lead in public polling on the strength of an early and abundant advertising campaign. Despite their caustic assessments of the apparent front-runner, however, both Mr. McCord and Ms. Schwartz said that they would be willing to support him over the incumbent in November.

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Corbett educates the voters

Published by James O'Toole on .

Early Returns' special correspondent Ed Blazina caught up with our governor Friday and got his thoughts on some of the early, anti-Democratic ads in the campaign to see whether he gets a second term.  Ed's report:

Who says Gov. Tom Corbett doesn't care about education?
Mr. Corbett, unopposed for the Republican nomination for the-election,nonetheless has been spending money on campaign ads and brochures.  Many of them have been aimed at Democratic front runner Tom Wolf.
All part of educating the electorate, he said.
"We're educating," Mr. Corbett said after a news conference at the Allegheny County Courthouse about how formation of a working group to fight heroin addiction and prescription drug abuse.
"It's an educating process," the governor said. "(The Democratic
candidates) have been spending millions against me."
Although the governor's ads seem aimed at Mr. Wolf, Mr. Corbett said he has no preference or expectation who his challenger might be.

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Wolf defends at Philly debate

Published by Karen Langley on .

Today in Philly:

PHILADELPHIA -- Riding high in the polls, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf defended his record from criticisms by primary rivals at a TV-studio debate here Thursday.

As they have before, state Treasurer Rob McCord maintained that questions remain about Mr. Wolf’s past association with a former York mayor once accused in a race riot, while U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz asserted Mr. Wolf has left unanswered questions about his family-founded kitchen supply business.

Armed with a much larger campaign chest than his opponents for the Democratic nomination to contest Gov. Tom Corbett, Mr. Wolf dominated the state’s airwaves early with advertisements introducing himself to voters.

He rose in the polls and stayed there, with the most recent public polling of Democratic voters showing him with far more support than Mr. McCord, Ms. Schwartz or former state environmental protection secretary Katie McGinty, who has stayed out of the fray in the attacks against Mr. Wolf. A survey made public last week had him 25 points ahead of Ms. Schwartz.

“The question I’m raising -- and I think it should be asked by the voters -- is really the story he’s been telling,” Ms. Schwartz said at the WPVI-TV studio Thursday. “The voters need to know who is he really? What does he really bring? What is true about his business?”

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Corbett won't appeal on voter ID

Published by James O'Toole on .

Kate Giammarise is all over the news that Gov. Tom Corbett will not appeal a Commonwealth Court ruling that roadblocked the state's controversial voter ID law. 

"Commonwealth Court judge had ruled in January that the law was unconstitutionalas it imposed an unreasonable burden on voters; the administration was expected to appeal to the state’s Supreme Court.

"Judge Bernard McGinley had said the law 'unreasonably burdens the right to vote' and threatened a fundamental right of hundreds of thousands of qualified voters.

"Even though the governor’s statement today indicated he would not pursue further legal appeals, it appeared to leave the door open for some type of legislation requiring photo ID for voting in the future.''

 

 

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Catching up with endorsements

Published by James O'Toole on .

The campaigns continue to highlght new supporters as the race for the Democratic nomination for governor hits the home stretch.

The Wolf campaign announced that Josh Shapiro, the chairman of the board of commissioners of Montgomery County, had endorsed the York County businessman.  The decision is noteworthy for a couple of reasons.  Montgomery County holds a huige store of voters and increasingly tilts in the Democratic direction.  It is also the home of Mr. Wolf's rivals, Rep. Allyson Schwartz and state Treasurer Rob McCord.

The McCord campaign, meanwhile, pointed to its backing from AFSCME  District Council 33, which represents approximately 13,000 active and retired public service workers in the city of Philadelphia and other eastern Pennsylvania communities.  Mr. McCord has received the more labor endorsemetns than any of other Democrats.  Institutional support like that could be crucial in a low turnout primary.

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