Pennsylvania’s Democratic gubernatorial primary has just seen its strongest attack ad yet.
Rob McCord, state treasurer, has taken to the airwaves with his condemnation of primary front-runner Tom Wolf for supporting a former York mayor implicated in 1969 race riots in the city and acquitted of a related murder charge decades later.
The spot is a continuation of questions McCord raised at two consecutive debates this week with the four Democratic gubernatorial candidates.
As McCord aimed at chinks in Wolf’s armor, Wolf’s campaign massed troops: a string of prominent black public officials and pastors who say they have Wolf’s back.
Among them: state Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, who said he’s known Wolf since the early 1990s.
“At no time have I ever seen him ever express in any way any type of anti-issues against anyone, particularly black people,” Evans said.
Kim Bracey, York first African-American mayor, also came to Wolf’s defense, as she did after McCord first raised the issue.
“I don’t see a white man when I talk to Tom Wolf, and I know he doesn’t see a African-American woman,” Bracey said. “He keeps us all at the same level and keeps everyone the same.”
Wolf, a York County businessman, was campaign chairman for ex-mayor of York Charlie Robertson, who in 2002 was found not guilty in the murder of Lillie Belle Allen, a young black woman.
Wolf told the York Daily Record in March that he regrets sending a letter to York newspapers at the time criticizing coverage of an investigation into the 30-year-old race riot murders.
“In hindsight, I didn’t give credit to the city of York or the community in terms of resilience and in terms of overcoming it, so yeah, I think that was a mistake,” Wolf said.
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, also a candidate for the party nomination, has also said during recent debates that Wolf’s explanations about his support for Robertson are insufficient. Candidate Katie McGinty, former state DEP secretary, has not weighed in on the matter.