Hanger 1st Democratic challenger for governor in 2014 - abc27 WHTM

Hanger 1st Democratic challenger for governor in 2014

Posted: Updated:

"It is my honor to announce today that I am a candidate for governor of Pennsylvania."

With that, John Hanger is off and running. It's a race that won't end until November 2014.

Hanger lives in Hershey but has strong connections to Harrisburg. He's the former head of the Public Utility Commission and was the Secretary for the Department of Environmental Protection under Governor Rendell.

Energy is his expertise and he says Governor Corbett has mismanaged Marcellus Shale's growth in Pennsylvania by not taxing it adequately.

"Pennsylvania has had the misfortune of having Governor Corbett at the helm, who signed the Grover Norquist no tax pledge. That has tied this state in knots on this critical question of how to tax the Marcellus Shale."

Hanger points to Texas, Louisiana and Alaska as states where Republican governor's have approved more aggressive taxes on drillers. 

"The gas resource in Pa. is also the highest profit-lowest cost to produce shale gas in the entire United States. If any shale gas ought to be taxed, it's the shale gas right here."

Corbett's spokesman Kevin Harley dismisses Hanger's assertion.

"He's a tax and spend liberal by his own admission today. [Hanger] wants to tax Pennsylvanians more. Governor Corbett believes that we're taxed enough."

Energy may be his background, but Hanger's current passion is education and what he calls 'disastrous funding cuts' to schools in Pennsylvania by Corbett. Hanger is criss-crossing the state in a school bus to symbolize his support for public school funding.

He's also hoping to capitalize Penn Staters who are angry with Corbett about the Sandusky scandal and the treatment of Joe Paterno.

"ESPN the Magazine said Governor Corbett had a vendetta against Penn State."

The election isn't until 2014 but Hanger said he jumped in early to get a jump on fundraising. He acknowledges it will take a lot of money to beat an incumbent.

In his 35-minute announcement at the Capitol, Hanger showed he is more policy wonk than politician.

"He was a little nervous, looking down at his notes," said Keegan Gibson, managing editor of Politics Pa. "It wasn't the sort of charismatic, magnanimous presentation you're used to seeing from politicians in Pennsylvania, but I'm sure he would say that's a good thing, he's more about the issues rather than about the style."

A top Corbett aide said, "the governor couldn't get so lucky to have Hanger as an opponent."

Hanger's the first Democrat in the race. He will not be the last. A few rich Tom's are exploring it, York businessman Tom Wolf and Philadelphia businessman Tom Knox. Other names are rumored primarily because Corbett is perceived by many to be very vulnerable.

"The number one guy to watch is State Treasurer Rob McCord," Gibson said. "He's got the money. He's got the reputation. And he's got the network to really make a run at Governor Corbett and a lot of Democrats consider him the top tier candidate."

But for now it's Hanger running all alone in a race that won't end for nearly two years.

"The early bird does catch the worm," Hanger said with a chuckle. "Of course I think going early and indeed first is an advantage."

Powered by WorldNow