Meadville Tribune

Breaking News

State News

January 19, 2014

Dem hopefuls for governor raising millions

HARRISBURG — Three leading contenders for the Democratic nomination for governor have raised $26 million as they prepare for what’s expected to be a hotly contested — and expensive — May primary.

That total includes $10 million that kitchen cabinet kingpin Tom Wolf put into his own campaign. Wolf said he needs to spend his own money to overcome a disadvantage he has in name recognition to state Treasurer Rob McCord and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz.

“I need to spend that money so people can hear my story,” he said.

A former state Secretary of Revenue, Wolf heads the Wolf Organization. The York company, with 250 employees, bills itself as the nation’s largest supplier of kitchen cabinets.

Wolf hasn’t decided how much more he’ll spend if he wins the primary, he said, but he doesn’t believe it will need to be as much if he wins the party’s nomination.

The deadline for candidates to declare receipts from 2013 is Jan. 31. But Schwartz, McCord and Wolf have already announced how much money they’ve brought in.

McCord’s campaign said it will report $6.6 million in donations. Schwartz’s campaign has said it will report $6.5 million.

Wolf said he received about $3 million to go along with the money he put into his own campaign.

Early money flowing into the race portends what could be one of the most expensive gubernatorial elections in state history.

In 2010, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and Democrat Dan Onorato combined to spend about $42 million, campaign finance records show.

Former Gov. Ed Rendell and his opponents spent $65 million on their campaigns in 2002 — the year Rendell won election to his first term. That included about $29 million spent in the Democratic primary. Republican candidate Mike Fisher was unopposed in the 2002 primary.

Elections for open seats generally are more expensive, said Glenn W. Richardson Jr., a political science professor at Kutztown University who has researched political advertising.

This year’s campaign will be a clear exception, given Corbett’s widely perceived vulnerability and the crowded field of Democrats. “I would wonder why this wouldn’t be the most expensive in Pennsylvania,” Richardson said.

In the long run, Wolf’s $10 million head start is unlikely to be a game-changer. Richardson said there’s little reason to believe that Wolf will spend enough to saturate the media markets enough to overwhelm the other candidates.

Having $10 million to seed his war chest is pretty much the only reason Wolf is considered anything but a longshot, said Chris Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown.

The money “puts him in the upper echelon,” said Borick, separating Wolf from less-funded candidates such as John Hanger and Katie McGinty. If Hanger had the same resources as Wolf, Borick said, Hanger would likely be considered the stronger candidate.

Early on, Hanger called on other candidates to limit the spending in the race for the Democratic nomination. He was ignored.

But that doesn’t mean he and the others are completely left behind. Hanger and McGinty, in particular, have stayed in the public’s eye by getting in front of hot-button issues.

This week, Rendell told the Philadelphia City Paper that Hanger’s strategy of focusing on marijuana legalization is “brilliant” because it attracts attention without costing much money.

Those strategies — and the growth of social media — may help long-shot candidates make in-roads, Richardson said.

And it’s unclear how much of the sophisticated voter mobilization tools developed by the Barack Obama campaign for president will show up in the governor’s race, he said.

But, at the end of the day, money usually matters the most.

“Underdogs sometimes win,” Richardson said. But, using a baseball analogy, there’s a reason the New York Yankees have dominated historically while the Pittsburgh Pirates have made the playoffs only once in the last 20 years.

On top of that, Borick said, top-flight campaigns are expensive.

“Having trained professionals isn’t cheap,” he said. “There are no guarantees, but Wolf has the money for it.”

John Finnerty reports from the CNHI Harrisburg Bureau for The Meadville Tribune and other Pennsylvania newspapers owned by Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. Email him at jfinnerty@cnhi.com and follow him on Twitter @cnhipa.

1
Text Only
State News
  • Well inspectors trying to keep up during boom time

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

    July 27, 2014

  • PennDOT seeking outside help to make bridge repairs

    State officials are poised to sign a massive deal that will enlist outside help to rebuild and maintain up to 600 bridges, marking the Corbett administration’s latest foray into privatizing key government functions.

    July 24, 2014

  • Gov. Corbett pressures lawmakers in pension fight

    Gov. Tom Corbett is ratcheting up pressure on the Legislature to reform the state’s pension system by focusing on how often school districts use tax increases to offset costs.

    July 22, 2014

  • Experts: Expanding coverage fuels doc shortage

    Pennsylvania’s health care system absorbed more than 300,000 new patients who signed up for insurance through Obamacare’s exchanges. But experts worry the system can’t handle another wave of patients, twice as large, should the state expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

    July 13, 2014

  • Jerry Sandusky’s son tells story to Oprah Winfrey

    Jerry Sandusky’s adult son is speaking out about what he says was sexual abuse by his father.

    July 8, 2014

  • Environmentalists criticize drilling-for-dollars plan in state forests and parks

    Pennsylvania’s just finished budget calls for raising almost $100 million by expanding leases for gas development in state forests — even though leases the state has already issued are far from tapped out.

    July 3, 2014

  • Pennsylvania House approves Republicans' $29.1B budget

    The Legislature voted late Monday to put a looming, $1.5 billion shortfall in its rearview mirror, with a deal to pass a $29.1 billion budget that increases state spending by 1.8 percent but doesn’t hike taxes.

    June 30, 2014

  • Food safety delivery concerns rise with fuel prices

    A few weeks ago state agriculture inspectors forced a trucker to toss 2,000 pounds of food in the garbage after finding the cargo had not been kept at safe temperatures.

    June 15, 2014

  • Tow truckers hope to put brakes on dispatch system

    Some tow truck operators are boycotting a computerized dispatch system put in place by state police, complaining that it’s confusing and leads to longer response times than when troopers and dispatchers manage a call.

    June 1, 2014

  • 'Economics' of state gubernatorial campaigns

    Gov. Tom Corbett’s re-election campaign hailed April’s jobs numbers. Pennsylvania’s unemployment dipped to 5.7 percent — its lowest since 2008 and well below the national average of 6.3 percent.
    “The people of Pennsylvania elected me to Harrisburg on my promise of less taxes and more jobs, and we continue to see that promise ringing tr

    May 25, 2014