Even in absence, Stack dominates Pa. lieutenant governor debate

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack has never had a close relationship with Gov. Tom Wolf. And it worsened last year when Wolf stripped Stack and his wife of their police detail and other staff after they alleged the Stacks verbally abused them. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack has never had a close relationship with Gov. Tom Wolf. And it worsened last year when Wolf stripped Stack and his wife of their police detail and other staff after they alleged the Stacks verbally abused them. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A crowded field of Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor met for a debate Monday as they attempt to unseat incumbent Democrat Mike Stack.

Though Stack himself was busy presiding over the Senate and was notably absent, his four-year tenure was a central topic.

In Pennsylvania, candidates for governor and lieutenant run separately in the primaries, and then they pair up for the general election.

That can lead to odd couplings — including the current one between Stack and Gov. Tom Wolf.

Their relationship was never close, and it hit a bump last year when Wolf stripped Stack and his wife of their police detail and other staff after they alleged the Stacks verbally abused them.

That, plus claims Stack is spending too much money, turned the debate into a referendum on the incumbent.

The challengers are molecular biologist and former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Nina Ahmad; Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone; banker and insurance broker Ray Sosa; and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman.

None criticized Stack outright — but all promised they would be different.

“Any kind of abuse — verbal, physical, sexual — any kind of harassment like that, is unacceptable,” Fetterman said. “Budgetary extravagances as a public servant — that also can’t be tolerated.”

The candidates all assured the audience they would be a better match for Wolf.

“I decided to get in this race because I’m very frustrated with the legislature, and because I saw the governor needed a partner he could have a better relationship with,” Cozzone said.

The Democratic Party hasn’t endorsed a candidate — and neither has Wolf.

 

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