Turzai announces run for Pa. governor

Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny.  (Matt Rourke/AP)

Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny. (Matt Rourke/AP)

After months of deliberation, Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai has announced he is running for the Republican nomination for governor.

The Pittsburgh-area lawmaker is now the fourth GOP challenger to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who’s seeking a second term.

The field also includes conservative Republican state Sen. Scott Wagner, lawyer Laura Ellsworth, and former health care systems consultant Paul Mango.

Turzai has served in the House since 2001, and became speaker two years ago.

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He’s widely known as one of the Legislature’s biggest spending opponents, and he has frequently tangled with Wolf — and even other Republicans — over raising taxes to balance state budgets.

Lately, one of his biggest causes has been fending off a severance tax on natural-gas drillers.

In his newly released campaign video, that commitment to blocking taxes has top billing.

“As speaker of the Pennsylvania House,” Turzai said, “we’ve been the last line of defense against every possible scheme to take away your hard-earned dollars and freedom.”

He’s also adamant about privatizing Pennsylvania’s alcohol industry — another contentious area.

“When we proposed an end to Pennsylvania’s Soviet-style wine and spirits system, Wolf vetoed it,” he said.

The state Democratic Party quickly shot back at Turzai, calling him a “political insider” who “paralyzed state government and caused a credit downgrade so he could advance his own political ambitions.”

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