Editorials from around Pennsylvania

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TOM WOLF: THE NONPOLITICIAN

During a one-on-one telephone interview last week, Tom Wolf was asked to name the biggest obstacle to winning the Democratic nomination for governor. Was it the union support for Treasurer Rob McCord? Or the veiled racial accusations McCord and Allyson Schwartz threw at him for chairing York Mayor Charlie Robertson’s 2001 campaign? Or Gov. Tom Corbett’s recent jobs claim?

“I haven’t seen much of an obstacle,” he said before apologizing for the way that sounded.

As the saying goes, if you can back it up, it ain’t bragging. Given his victory Tuesday over a strong field, Wolf need not apologize.

Since the earliest days of his campaign, which began 15 months ago, Wolf said he has gotten the sense from voters that they are looking for a different type of leader.

He cited his experience as a Peace Corps volunteer, an academic, a businessman and a former state revenue secretary.

The voters, he said, are making a hiring decision and they like what they see on his resume.

Franklin & Marshall College Pollster G. Terry Madonna agrees.

“The race,” he said, “has turned into a debate about who has the best background and which life experiences matter most.”

And getting his story before the public “in a positive way” was a part of Wolf’s strategy. It enabled Wolf to define himself rather than allowing others to define him.

Indeed, Wolf’s early TV ad blitz - look for that to be a staple in future statewide races - enabled him to get a lead and maintain it throughout the campaign. The initial Franklin & Marshall Poll on Feb. 26 showed him with a 27-point lead over his nearest competitor. The final pre-primary poll, released one week before the primary, gave him a solid 17-point advantage.

Now that the primary is out of the way, Wolf aims to make Tom Corbett the first governor in state history to be ousted after a single term. (Footnote: Pennsylvania governors could only serve a single four-year term until 1968 when the state Constitution was amended to allow two terms.)

Unlike the Democratic primary, where there was little to distinguish between the four candidates, there are significant policy differences between Wolf and Corbett.

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