Race enters gubernatorial race, Wolf attacked - abc27 WHTM

Race enters gubernatorial race, Wolf attacked

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It was possibly the most beautiful day of the year at the state Capitol. Bright blue skies framed the green dome without a cloud in the sky. But for Democrats who would be governor, a dark campaign storm has blown in.

A television commercial by Treasurer Rob McCord asks questions of Tom Wolf. "Why would he chair the campaign of a man arrested for his role in a race riot? One that left a black woman dead?" the narrator asks.

Race has now entered the race, courtesy of McCord who targeted Wolf for his ties to former York Mayor Charlie Robertson, who was charged but found not guilty for his role in a deadly race riot in 1969.

The narrator continues in the spot: "An admitted racist who handed out ammunition and shouted 'white power.' For York, Pennsylvania it was an ugly episode."

Former Governor Ed Rendell called a news conference to say the only thing ugly is McCord's interjecting of race.

"It is ill conceived," Rendell said in asking McCord to take it down. "It's not the type of ad that makes me proud to have spent my life and career in politics.

"Tom Wolf is a good and decent man," Rendell added about his former Revenue Secretary. "He is not a racist and he's not insensitive to racism and he's worked all his life in York to try to wipe away the racial tensions that beset that city."

It's just the latest assault on Wolf, who polls suggest has a commanding lead over his three opponents - McCord, Allyson Schwartz, and Katie McGinty.

"Tom Wolf is pretty unproven and untested," said Schwartz last week in Harrisburg at a Press Club luncheon.

The Philly-area Congresswoman raised concerns about Wolf, about his self-funded ad campaign narrative that has defined him in a positive way since January, and about the fact that he's borrowed nearly $5 million to fund his campaign.

"What does it actually mean to have a governor who's gonna have to pay back 4-and-a-half million dollars while he's governor?" Schwartz asked. "What if he doesn't? What happens to the employees he says he cares about first and foremost?"

Schwartz went on to suggest that Wolf may not have been the savior of his cabinet company after all, as his numerous ads suggest. She contends that he sold the company, took millions out of it, and that forced it to the brink of bankruptcy forcing workers to be laid off.

Wolf has countered with an ad featuring his cabinet company employees praising his leadership.

He's beating back McCord's racist claim with a testimonial from York Mayor Kim Bracey and other African-American city leaders.

"The latest polls have shown McCord and Schwartz 20 to 30 points behind Wolf," said Brittany Foster, managing editor at Politics Pa. "So, they really have no option left at this point."

But Foster adds that going negative is dangerous because it can turn voters against the attackers, who come across as desperate.

"There are two weeks left and anything could happen," Foster said. "But I think his (Wolf's) lead is too great, his positives are too high, and negative advertising doesn't seem to be sticking the way they (his opponents) want it to."

Two weeks ago, prior to the double-barreled assaults, Wolf visited abc27. I asked him about being the front runner.

"I like being where I am," Wolf said. "Though it is a little unnerving to have a bullseye on your back."

But is he ready for his opponents to go negative on him?

"I've never been in politics before,: he said. "I have great respect for the other people running and I have no idea what their strategies are."

It's unclear whether Wolf still respects the other people running, though McGinty has stayed positive throughout. But it is clear that the last Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, who has thus far remained neutral in the primary race, has lost respect for McCord.

"Rob McCord is a smart guy," Rendell said. "But he's losing. And thinks he has to say something. Well the two elections that I lost, I could hold my head up high the next morning."

Despite the Rendell rebuke, McCord is unrepentant. He held a news conference of his own and said it is important to draw attention to the issue of race and question whether Wolf would stand up to racism.

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