PA-Gov: A Totally Biased Primer for the Uninitiated
February 19, 2014

For the average registered homo sapien, the upcoming gubernatorial primary isn’t number one on the priority list.  Maybe it’s putting food on the table.  Or what case of beer to grab after work.  I’m not disputing the importance of such necessities.  Instead, I’m saying the race for governor affects those things, man.  I mean. Minimum wage increases. Modernizing the liquor stores and beer laws.  The fabric of our very existences will be changed by this election!  Get out there and sign a nominating petition to get these people on the ballot!  Learn about them!  Pandemonium will ensue if we don’t!

Or rather, it will continue, because Governor Corbett (R-Drillers) will get to go on another four-year roller-coaster ride powered by natural gas.  Or maybe tap water that can be set on fire and used as combustion.  Did you see he wants to use radioactive fracking waste as rock salt?  I’m sure the fracking waste lobby had a lively dance party on one of their recently-capped wellpads.

Most of us, whether we vote or not or pay attention until the day before the election or not, know that Tom Corbett has been a disaster of such epic proportions that every segment of Pennsylvania, with the exception of those who own drilling companies, has been negatively impacted.  Like our beautiful forests?  He let the drillers have them.  Like not being dumb?  He cut education by over $1 billion.  Like not wrecking your car on potholes?  He waited until his third year to pass an Infrastructure Bill, despite having a Republican House and Senate, that raises taxes on motorists and doesn’t bother raising enough money to address the structural deficiencies of all of our bridges.

The list goes on.  Feel free to add to it.

There are a lot of Democratic candidates and not a lot of people know not a lot about most of them.  So I’m here to help in a totally biased way.  In other words, don’t trust me.  Figuring it out for yourself is more time-consuming, but will be more enlightening than reading the refuse below.

The major candidates are Alyson Schwartz, Rob McCord, Katie McGinty, and Tom Wolf.  John Hanger is running, but won’t go far.

Who are these people?

Well, Alyson Schwartz is your Washington Insider. She’s a Congresswoman from near Philly and just recently voted to cut food stamps, which I’m sure will go over well with any urban constituencies who like eating food but are too poor to afford it.  She gained some points from me after she released her plan for voting.  Early voting, same day registration, mail-in voting.  Despite having left the Third Way and the New Democrat Coalition, the fact that she belonged to those things is worrisome.  These groups spend lots of time being corporate apologists.  Corporations don’t need apologists.  They pay front organizations like shadowy PACs to do that.  Financially, Schwartz is well off.  Given the success of Kathleen Kane, we know Pennsylvania is ready for a woman in a state-wide office.

But the gender vote — not that this is the sole factor of any voter, but it is a factor — will be split, as Katie McGinty, former Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (before Corbett functionally abolished it), is making a serious bid.  For somebody who didn’t have much in the way of recognition or money, she raised $2.4 million.  That’s competitive, despite being at the bottom of the front-runner pack, financially speaking.  She points out, rightly, that she doesn’t have a previous warchest and didn’t win the Mega-Millions lottery.  The Clintons also like her and have connections to her campaign, which worked wonders for Kathleen Kane.  McGinty got on the air early, before and after the Superbowl State of the Union Address.  This got her name out to the political class, which will spiderweb some buzz and raise her name ID, which is currently pretty low.  Policy-wise, she is the most realistic and progressive.  (John Hanger, who wants to legalize weed, is probably more progressive, but is such a long shot that McGinty gets the prize).

Which leads us to the next most progressive person out there, Tom Wolf.  This man is a total enigma to me.  Jon Geeting’s read on him made a lot of sense to me initially.  Then I saw his platform and his media push.  This is what Jon said: *Wolf has basically bought himself a mention in politics writers’ shortlists of the Top Tier, but can we get real for a minute? The Wolf campaign is super boring and he wouldn’t have any support in this race if he wasn’t a self-funder. He’s not wrong on many issues and I’m sure he’d make a decent Governor, but come on. Everybody would be saying this campaign was in the Pawlowski and Hanger dead zone if Wolf didn’t give himself $10 million to run with. He seems like a genuinely good guy though and I’m gonna be a little sad to see him waste all this money on a doomed bid 🙁

Wolf lent himself $10 million.  Kathleen Kane lent herself big bucks and it helped.  Money wins elections and what Wolf has been doing with his money has been great.  Each commercial has just the right mix of information, lightheartedness, sincerity, hope, and realism.  I’m very impressed.  And surprised.  He is a self-made millionaire who shares profits with his workers. That’s pretty amazing, philosophically.  His company isn’t union, which has drawn criticism from Rob McCord’s allies, but profit-sharing helps blunt that criticism.  Keystone Politics has a great write-up of the best aspects of Wolf’s platform.  A progressive tax, paid sick leave, public financing for campaigns (this is huge), voting-rights expansions, universal per-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten, and much, much more!

Now, since we’re looking at a large field of Democrats, we’ll see similarities in their positions.  Right now, it seems like Wolf’s is the most comprehensive.  His ad-blitz will raise name recognition and make it harder for others to compete.  Simply put, nobody knows any of these people running, so it’ll all come down to name recognition.

The final mention of the Fantastic Four is Rob McCord.  He’s the establishment Democrat and highly respected among elected Democrats statewide.  North Pocono’s new state rep, after redistricting, Mike Carroll, publicly endorsed him.  There is a petition-signing party for him at Joyce’s Cafe back Minooka, which, as many in NEPA know, is the political capitol of the Earth.  He is very pro-labor and his list of endorsements from both unions and elected officials is long.  He had the most votes at Democratic State Committee when it came to an endorsement, but a two-thirds threshold is required and he fell short.

Bringing up the rear is John Hanger, who is courting the pothead vote.  The way he’s approaching it is smart for a bottom-tier candidate.  Hey, Hunter S. Thompson almost became a Sheriff in Colorado by uniting what he called the “misfit crowd” — not that pot-smokers are misfits.  Thomspon actually up hookers and drug addicts, registered them, and nearly won except that the Democrats and Republicans united behind one candidate to prevent him from succeeding.  It’s worth reading his memories of that time.  Anyway, by staking out such a niche position and audience, he may round up some buzz.  One of the billboards is on I-81 near Drinker Street.  I guess there are potheads here willing to donate, according to his research! The benefit to his position is that it may force other candidates to move leftward.  Most of the candidates now support legalizing medicinal marijuana and decriminalization of possession.  These are the steps necessary to get to full recreational legalization.



There it is.  Your Borthwick-based, totally biased primer for those Uninitiated unto the Mysteries of the Gubernatorial Race.

I hope you feel better about life.  I know I do.




Leave a Reply


  1. McCord. Wolf. Schwartz. McGinty. Hanger. Professor. Mary Ann.

    McCord/Critz (or whichever Western PA hack McCord latches onto) narrowly defeats Corbett/Cawley.


    1. McGinty just got an endorsement from Al Gore, which counts for something. McCord doesn’t have momentum yet. Maybe he will. Wolf risks peaking early.

      I’m sure there will be lots of twists and turns. I’m pretty sure Schwartz will not get it, though.