Wolf plays defense in Democratic gubernatorial debate

     Democratic candidate for governor Tom Wolf squares off with Allyson Schwartz during a debate at Channel 6 in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/for NewsWorks)

    Democratic candidate for governor Tom Wolf squares off with Allyson Schwartz during a debate at Channel 6 in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/for NewsWorks)

    The four Democrats running for governor of Pennsylvania traded shots in a debate taped yesterday at Channel 6 that won’t be shown until the weekend.

    The dominant issue in the debate was Tom Wolf, the York businessman who’s surged into a lead in the campaign on the basis of TV ads bought with some of the $10 million he put into his campaign.

    Channel 6 was so concerned about keeping exclusive control of the audio and video that I couldn’t get a broadcast quality recording. Instead, play the audio above and you can hear reporters question U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz and State Treasurer Rob McCord after the debate over some of the issues they raised during the debate.

    In the debate, Schwartz questioned Wolf about whether he sent his company into ruin when he sold it in 2006 by taking $60 million for himself and two cousins and leaving the firm with so much debt that it couldn’t weather the recession. Wolf said it was the recession and the collapse of the housing market that really devastated his old family firm, which made home building products.

    Wolf also had to answer charges from State Treasurer Rob McCord about his past association with a York mayor accused of racist conduct decades before. Wolf never addressed McCord’s central question – why he didn’t distance himself from the mayor in 2001 after he was charged with murder (he was later acquitted). Wolf said he helped get the mayor to drop his re-election bid, and that he’s proud of working to bring York into a better era of race relations.

    Candidate Katie McGinty mostly stayed out of the firing line and promised to fund education and improve the economy.

    In the audio above, you’ll hear Schwartz talking with reporters about Wolf’s claims about his businesses record, then McCord talking with reporters about the matter of the York mayor and Wolf’s business.

    You won’t hear Wolf, who left before reporters could question him. I get the feeling Wolf is so concerned about preserving his lead in the race that he’s playing it safe and avoiding situations that could lead to a damaging gaffe. I know he had another appointment in Philadelphia yesterday and the debate went longer than planned, but it’s pretty standard to stay and face reporters after a major debate.

    You can watch the debate on Channel 6 Saturday evening at 5 and Sunday afternoon at 1.

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