The rich guy surges ahead and becomes a target. The perennial Pittsburgh candidate jumps in, and the Northeast Philly gal goes for broke.
To catch you up on the scrum among seven Democrats competing for the Pennsylvania gubernatorial nomination….
The York businessman who dropped $10 million of his own money into the race and went on a statewide TV ad blitz surged into a big lead in two polls, and in the process made himself a target among rivals anxious to take him down a peg or two. Some potentially troublesome associations popped into the news, and an AP story appeared about something that will probably draw more attention – the family business that Wolf proudly says kept jobs in Pennsylvania and shares profits with its workers.
The former state senator, state auditor general and just about everything else made a late entrance into the race week before last. He has a geographical edge as the only western Pennsylvania candidate in the field. If he gets votes, he entrance probably hurts Tom Wolf and Rob McCord most, but he has no campaign cash and a record of not raising much. And he made some enemies running for mayor of Pittsburgh last year – the mayor and county executive endorsed Wolf yesterday. Watch to see if Wagner files enough nominating signatures to withstand a legal challenge by Tuesday’s deadline.
The Philly-Montgomery County Congresswoman rolls along, releasing a clean energy plan, regularly condemning Gov. Corbett, and saving her media money for later. Conventional wisdom says she benefits from Wagner getting in – another white guy to compete for western Pennsylvania votes, while she holds her base in the Philadelphia area.
Wagner getting in wasn’t good news for the state treasurer, but he’s still swinging, picking up significant union endorsements and proposing a big increase in the state minimum wage. He also took some shots at Wolf in a radio interview for turning the race “into an auction” by throwing his money around (McCord, no slouch, has put $1.7 million of his own into his effort). Hasn’t been up on TV yet – waiting for the right moment.
The former state environmental secretary took what you’d have to say is a gamble by spending money on TV ads earlier than any of her rivals except Wolf (for whom money is no object). McGinty had $1.8 million in her war chest to start the year – significantly less than Wolf, McCord and Schwartz (numbers below). I figure she needs to show movement in the polls to convince contributors to give more, but that means spending her modest resources early. It’s a gamble, because if she doesn’t get the poll numbers and donations, the bottom could fall out. Her ads (see video above) focus on her personal narrative and likability, which is considerable.
The other former state environmental secretary in the race has less money than most, and most of that was from his own pocket. But he’s as relentless as a Stairmaster on the campaign trail, releasing position papers, logging endless miles, and speaking with conviction and substance at forums. Maybe he’s sneaky fast at the end of this thing.
Here are the candidates fundraising totals and cash on hand as of January first: