Pa. businessman exploring a run for governor

    Paul Addis

    Paul Addis

    If Donald Trump’s stunning win in Pennsylvania mean it’s the season for wealthy outsiders in politics, that can only be good for Paul Addis.

    Addis, 63, a former energy executive, is exploring a run for governor in the 2018 Republican primary, where the winner is likely to face incumbent Democrat, Tom Wolf.

    State Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York, is a rich, solid-waste magnate who’s already running, and there’s talk of other self-funding hopefuls across the commonwealth.

    “I think you’re going to see several mini-Trumps come out,” Northampton County Republican chair Gloria Lee Snover told me last week.

    Not a Trump-a-like

    Addis is hardly a Trump clone.

    He didn’t support Trump (cast a write-in vote for president), and he isn’t running angry.

    He’s an affable guy who makes the case that his business experience, which he said involved reviving struggling companies and solving problems, is just what the state needs.

    But he is wealthy enough to make a substantial, though unspecific, contribution to his own campaign.

    He’s making the rounds to Republican leaders, and he’s hired Christopher Nicholas, a veteran consultant who knows his way around the Pennsylvania GOP.

    He tells me he’ll decide by next spring whether this thing is a go.

    Idea man

    Addis said if he gets anywhere, it will be because people are frustrated with government inaction on longstanding problems in the state, and he’s got some fresh, practical ideas to help.

    “It’s not just ‘no taxes’ or ‘more taxes’, or ‘more spending, less spending’, it means how to do things in an innovative, new way, how to fix problems,” he said.

    Like what?

    Addis said many of our problems are connected, like education funding and jobs.

    He said we should consider letting top high school students graduate a year early, provided they pass proficiency tests, and we should put a lot of kids into vocational, technical and apprenticeship programs with businesses.

    He figures those steps would save money on school budgets and give kids better shots at real careers — a win-win.

    Take another problem — the staggering unfunded pension liability for state workers and teachers. He says the only way out is a solution in which everybody sacrifices something, including current pensioners, who should accept a cut in benefits in return for seeing the fund become financially stable.

    It’s an idea that will get you vilified by public employee unions, but might go over in a Republican primary.

    It’s early in the game, and Addis said he’d also consider running for the U.S. Senate. Incumbent Democrat Bob Casey is expected to be hard to beat, so the Republican primary probably won’t attract the heavyweights said to be considering the governor’s race.

    That list includes state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, state House Speaker Mike Turzai, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly and others.

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