Flood the polls.
That was first lady Michelle Obama’s message Wednesday morning at a campaign rally for Democratic candidate for governor Tom Wolf, as polls show him leading incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett by double digits.
“When we stay home,” she said, “they win.”
At the Dorothy Emanuel recreation center near West Oak Lane, Michelle Obama praised Wolf’s background as a businessman and supporter of public education. Wolf is the son of a school teacher and his two daughters attended public school, she said.
“He refuses to accept crumbling classrooms,” said Obama. “He refuses to accept teacher shortages because he believes that every child in this state should have a chance to fulfill their God-given potential no matter where they live or how much money their families have.”
Obama also used the platform to praise her husband, saying the country is better off than when President Barack Obama took office by nearly every economic measure.
A number of local and state politicians also ginned up excitement among Wolf supporters Wednesday.
Philadelphia City Councilwoman Marian Tasco said city residents stayed home in the 2010 race for governor, when Corbett was elected.
“What we need to do on November the 4th is get out and vote,” she said.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said he believes Wolf will win the election, but pressed on the audience to go to the polls in droves anyway in order to send the Democratic nominee to Harrisburg with a mandate. Nutter said Corbett has made false claims about his own record on education spending.
“The funds were cut!” said Nutter. “It’s not a debate.”
Corbett has said education funding is at record levels, while Wolf has said the governor cut $1 billion from the state’s schools. There are elements of truth to both claims, depending on if you measure direct state support for classrooms, pensions, reimbursements for money sent to charter schools, and other means of education funding.
In a statement, Pennsylvania GOP chairman Rob Gleason sought to portray Wolf’s connection to Michelle Obama as a negative.
“Wolf wants to bring the Obama philosophy of more taxes, more government and more Obamacare to Pennsylvania,” he said.
A recent poll by Quinnipiac University shows Wolf is leading Corbett by 17 percentage points. Wolf will be looking for a big turnout in Philadelphia, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 7 to 1, to make that a reality. For Corbett to close the gap, he would have to do well in the four suburban counties surrounding Philly.