Wagner vows to ‘stomp’ on Wolf’s face with golf spikes in Pa. gubernatorial race

Republican Scott Wagner (left) has vowed to stomp on the face of Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, in the increasingly vitriolic Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign. A Wagner campaign spokesman says the threat was metaphorical. (AP file photos)

Republican Scott Wagner (left) has vowed to stomp on the face of Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, in the increasingly vitriolic Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign. A Wagner campaign spokesman says the threat was metaphorical. (AP file photos)

Pennsylvania’s Republican candidate for governor has released a video of himself saying he wants to “stomp” on the sitting governor’s face with golf spikes.

The Facebook Live video opens on a York County roadside, with Wagner standing next to a chair laden with envelopes. Above him is a billboard, which says Wagner’s waste-hauling company has sued 6,979 Pennsylvanians.
Wagner calls the billboard unfair, saying the customers owed his business money. He accuses Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf of causing budget impasses. Gesturing to the envelopes, he says he regularly gives paychecks to employees of his waste business.

Then, this:

“Your people said that I’ve raised a white flag?” Wagner asks, pointing a finger at the camera. “Well, Gov. Wolf, let me tell you, between now and Nov. 6, you better put a catcher’s mask on your face because I’m going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes.”

Six hours later, after a storm of criticism — including denouncements from fellow Republicans on the state and national level — Wagner took the video down.

In the video’s place, he posted a quasi-apology in which he said he “may have chosen a poor metaphor” and “shouldn’t have said what I said,” before going on to criticize Wolf for refusing a second debate.

A spokesman for Wagner said the golf spikes comment was metaphorical.

The campaign doesn’t deny that Wagner has sued almost 7,000 people — but said that’s normal for a trash company.

A spokeswoman for Wolf called the video an “unhinged rant.”

And Chris Borick, an analyst and pollster from Muhlenberg College, said it probably won’t get Wagner many new supporters outside of his Trump-voting base.

“He’s a little bit desperate right now. He’s way down in the polls, he’s having trouble raising funds,” Borick said.

An average of recent independent polls has Wagner trailing Wolf by almost 17 points, and the candidates’ latest campaign filings show Wolf with $8.9 million on hand to Wagner’s $1.9 million.

Borick said he doesn’t think Wagner’s latest video will help very much.

“You see a lot of candidates dipping into the rhetoric and style of President Trump, trying to mimic his success,” he said. “I don’t think it works very well for others.”

Contrary to Wagner’s claims in the video, Wolf’s campaign didn’t put up the lawsuit billboard. It’s one of five around York and Harrisburg funded by PA Spotlight, a left-leaning nonprofit that said it doesn’t have any connection to the Wolf campaign.

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