John Hanger announces gubernatorial bid in Pennsylvania

The former secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection is the first candidate to launch a campaign for the 2014 Pennsylvania governor’s race.

Democrat John Hanger made the announcement Wednesday at Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market.

“The early bird catches the worm,” he said, hoping the early kickoff will give his campaign an advantage.

But he says it may be tough running against Republican incumbent Tom Corbett, who is expected to seek another term.

“Frankly, Governor Corbett has been raising money for a good long time,” said Hanger. “So we’ve got to get to work if we’re going to be serious about making the governor a one-term governor.”

Hanger says his agenda will emphasize education, economy, energy and the environment.

Hanger, who touts his record of breaking up the electric utilities’ monopoly in Pennsylvania in the 1990s and leading the charge to create a renewable energy industry in the state, says education will top his priorities.

He said he would restore funding levels to where they were before Corbett oversaw $1 billion in cuts chalked up to the end of federal stimulus funding.

“Tutoring is being ended. Preschool classes or kindergarten classes are being curtailed and, certainly, the layoffs of teachers aren’t making our schools better,” he said.

Hanger says he supports reforms to make charter schools more transparent and accountable, and is against vouchers.

He also says he would tax the natural gas industry — a knock on the drilling impact fee now in place. Even though the election is two years away, political analysts say Hanger’s early announcement may be prudent, since he has low name recognition statewide and will need to raise big money to prove he’s a viable candidate.

Hanger also said he supports same-sex marriage, abortion rights and medical marijuana.

Other Democratic candidates are also expected to jump in as the race progresses.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.