It’s official: the Democratic gubernatorial primary has become a knife fight.
York businessman Tom Wolf, who’s self-financed TV ad campaign vaulted him into a big lead in the race, is now the target of attack ads from Democratic rivals Allyson Schwartz and Rob McCord, and even Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.The most incendiary ad is McCord’s (above) which charges that Wolf stood by “an admitted racist who handed out ammunition and shouted white power” and who was “charged with first degree murder.”
The spot refers to a painful chapter in York’s history – a 1969 race riot in which a Black woman was shot to death – and Wolf’s relationship more than 30 years later with Charles Robertson, the mayor of the city who was charged in 2001 along with others with participation in her murder. Robertson was acquitted at trial, but admitted having held racist views at the time of the riot and yelling “white power!” at a rally. He said he’d changed his thinking over the years. Robertson denied the charge that as a policeman he’d handed out ammunition to white gangs.
Wolf responded to McCord’s attack with this ad and a news conference at which a number of African-American leaders defended Wolf. Kim Bracey, the African-American mayor of York, called McCord’s ad “absolutely disgraceful,” saying the McCord “should be ashamed of himself.”
Robertson was arrested and charged with murder in 2001, just after he’d won the Democratic primary. McCord makes much of the fact that when Wolf was asked, he said he would remain Robertson’s campaign chairman for the general election if Robertson wanted, despite the charges against him. Robertson soon dropped out of the contest.
In an interview today, McCord told me he didn’t regard Wolf as a racist, but said that he showed he lacked the kind of executive judgment voters needed when he failed to “step away from a racist” and said he would head his re-election campaign.
Schwartz hits Wolf on jobs, his company
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz’s ad challenges Wolf’s often-told story of rescuing his family cabinet-design and distribution firm when it was on the verge of collapse in 2009. The ad says when Wolf sold the company in 2006, he forced it to take on debt while he walked away with $20 million, and “hundreds of employees lost their jobs.”
The ad makes Wolf look pretty sinister, and never mentions the economic collapse of 2008, which Wolf says is what got the company in trouble. You can see the supporting material the Schwartz campaign provided for its ad here.
Wolf responded with this ad featuring grateful employees of his company saying from where they sit, Wolf came back rescued the firm when he had no obligation to do anything. The Wolf campaign also produced a a longer video on the same subject.