Turzai run for Pa. governor looks likely

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

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

    Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial election is still well over a year away. But, already, Republicans are announcing intentions to contest Democratic incumbent Tom Wolf’s bid for re-election.

    It’s likely that GOP House Speaker Mike Turzai — long rumored to be interested in higher office — will soon be among them.

    The Pittsburgh-based political agency Cold Spark Media has confirmed it’s working with the Allegheny County Republican. Mark Harris, a partner with the agency acting as Turzai’s strategist, said the politician may explore a run more seriously after the state budget is finished.

    Cold Spark has helped other prominent Republicans, including U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Marco Rubio of Florida, win elections.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    Harris wouldn’t specifically confirm the bid, but he made it clear that it’s on the table. He also repeatedly stressed Turzai’s electability.

    “He starts with a strong geographic base in the west and a strong base among conservatives,” Harris said. “I think he would be very well positioned for someone to win a Republican primary, and then win in November.”

    He also said that Turzai’s conservative record as speaker — which has included expanding liquor sales and firmly opposing Wolf’s efforts to raise taxes — would be a “huge asset for the Speaker, should he decide to run for higher office.”

    “His focus really will be on touting that record,” Harris added.

    Turzai himself has not confirmed or denied a run for governor.

    Right now, the GOP field in the race is dominated by conservative York County Sen. Scott Wagner.

    Asked to compare Turzai’s chances with Wagner’s, Harris said only that “other people can do a lot of talking” but Turzai’s record speaks for itself.

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal