Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner opened a campaign office in the heart of the Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia on Saturday.
Wagner told about 30 people wearing “Democrats for Wagner” t-shirts in the new office on 5th Street near Lombard that he’d work hard to bring good jobs and better schools to the city.
The Wagner campaign has run video ads filmed in Philadelphia focusing on the needs of urban communities.
“Democrats are starting to come out of the woodwork,” Wagner said in an interview after the opening. “The level of poverty here is just saddening. More and more people are coming out, and I believe we’re going to do well. I’ll never win Philadelphia, but I’m going to move the needle here.”
The founder of Democrats for Wagner is Tracey L. Fisher, director of Gateway to Re-entry, a non-profit based in Southwest Philadelphia that works with former inmates and provides other community services.
Wagner took an interest in the group last year and bought the group two new vans for its work.
The vans were then seen bearing “Wagner for Governor” campaign signs that Fisher and the campaign said were legally-permitted campaign advertising.
Fisher said he was troubled that Democratic leaders had failed to improve conditions in the city’s struggling neighborhoods.
“I’ll take my chances [with Republicans],” Fisher said in an interview at the new campaign office. “We have to make the Democrats respect our votes again. They don’t work for our votes.”
Incumbent Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf holds substantial leads over Wagner in independent polls and fundraising, but Wagner said he’s done 600 events, and expects to win.
Wolf was also in Philadelphia Saturday, opening a new office for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party in West Philadelphia which will serve as a hub for campaign activities in the remaining five weeks before the election.
The candidates’ only debate is Monday night in Hershey.