I hate to say “I told you so,” but several weeks ago, well before the PA Republican State Committee endorsement, I posted my concerns about gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner. I also noted that if State Committee was going to ignore Wagner’s baggage, Governor Wolf surely would not.
That was before I knew that both Paul Mango and Laura Ellsworth weren’t backing out of the race even after Wagner got the PA State Committee endorsement. And to that, I say, “Good for them and good for us.” If State Committee is not going to vet these candidates, then a primary challenge is the best way to suss out the issues and see if they matter to voters.
Mango is now running an ad that is so brutally effective that the PA GOP is crying, “uncle.” PPG:
The Pennsylvania Republican Party on Friday called on GOP gubernatorial candidate Paul Mango to take down a controversial campaign ad labeling his opponent, Scott Wagner, as a “slumlord” and “deadbeat dad.”
But Mr. Mango’s camp wasn’t budging as of noon Friday, signaling it wouldn’t take down the video that Mr. Wagner’s team is calling a “character smear.”
The chairman of the state GOP joined in criticizing the ad, deeming it a personal attack on Mr. Wagner, whom his party endorsed in the primary. The 30-second spot uses unflattering cartoon caricatures of Mr. Wagner to characterize him as sleazy, greedy and toxic, among other undesirable character traits.
It is the PA GOP’s duty to vet candidates before putting their stamp of approval on them with an endorsement. Wagner’s issues were well known to members of State Committee prior to the endorsement meeting. So why did State Committee endorse Wagner, knowing that all of these issues were going to be exposed during a #metoo/March for our Lives election where all Republicans are facing unhinged Trump-induced anger from the left? Why would they endorse the most “Trump-like” candidate in the field when last November’s election proved that the very idea of Trump being a Republican is an effective incentive in uniting and getting out the Democrat vote? A possible answer: it has been suggested that Wagner has been spreading money all around Pennsylvania, essentially buying the support of cash-strapped County Republican organizations, and therefore influencing the votes of each county’s state committee members.
Oh, and the stakes just got a little higher. Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer is investing at least $3.5 million in PA alone as part of the “largest youth organizing program in American history.” NextGen America:
Today, NextGen America announced its plans to launch the largest youth organizing program in American history ahead of the 2018 midterms elections. Across ten states, NextGen America will register, engage, and mobilize young voters, on and off campuses, to elect progressive candidates up and down the ballot. The youth organizing program — NextGen Rising — will run in Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, California, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Arizona.
“Today, we’re putting Donald Trump and the entire GOP on notice. Young voters are energized like never before, and have the power make the difference in 2018,” said NextGen America President Tom Steyer. “NextGen America is going to do all that we can to elect a Congress that represents us all —and send failed leaders like Paul Ryan, Darrell Issa, and Barbara Comstock back home.”
At $30 million, NextGen Rising’s 2018 program will be the largest youth vote organizing effort in American history. The program will help progressive candidates in at least 10 states, as well as more than 30 Congressional districts.
The Mango camp is not backing down. Mango campaign chairman Matt Benyon says that they have provided full documentation to the press to back up all of the claims made in the ad. PennLive:
“If Scott Wagner’s personal record cannot stand up to scrutiny during the Republican primary, clearly Wagner gives our party the worst chance of defeating Governor Wolf in the fall. This ad, like all of our ads, have included full documentation for the press and voters to see. We view the chairman’s comments as encouragement that our message exposing Wagner’s record as a Harrisburg insider with serious character flaws is resonating with voters.”
So now that the PA State Committee has gotten into bed with Wagner, local Republican committee people will be flogged into line, forced to support Wagner in the face of charges everyone knew were coming. And if they think the Mango ad is brutal, wait until Governor Wolf’s team gets into the race.
The question for PA State Committee members should never be, who can woo party leadership most effectively or who is most like Trump; for State Committee members, the only question should be, “Who can defeat Tom Wolf in November?” In this political climate, is that really Scott Wagner?
Republicans should have taken out the trashman weeks ago.