Election 2019

Democrat Tom Wolf wins a second term as Pa. governor with running mate John Fetterman

Wolf defeated Republican Scott Wagner, multiple networks predict.

3 governor tom wolf election 2018
Incline Illustration / Photo: Governor Tom Wolf Facebook

Updated 11:21 p.m.

YORK, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf has been elected to a second term as Pennsylvania’s governor on a ticket with Braddock Mayor John Fetterman as his running mate, according to the Associated Press.

Democrat Wolf defeated Republican Scott Wagner, a former state senator from York County, with 58 to 41 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election results.

Shortly after 9 p.m., Wolf emerged to chants of “four more years!”

“I want to introduce myself: I am Tom Wolf. I am John Fetterman’s running mate,” the governor said to laughter. “We make an incredible team, don’t you think? … We are going to do great things for Pennsylvania.”

“You did everything to make this possible,” Wolf told the crowd at his election night party in York. “You made calls. You got people out to vote. You canvassed. You voted. And by voting you did some really amazing things. And what you did, I think, is make a really great future for Pennsylvania.”

“Pennsylvania has to be a fairer place, and you understand that — and you voted for that.”

“We still have a lot of work to do. So let’s get back to work,” Wolf said.

With a commanding lead in recent polls and strong fundraising advantage, a Wolf win was expected. While Republicans had hoped to capitalize on President Donald Trump’s surprising 2016 victory in the commonwealth, GOP observers expected to be disappointed by weak top-of-the-ticket candidates.

Wagner conceded the race after 10 p.m.

“I don’t have a prepared speech. I’ve told you all I’m not trying to be politically correct,” Wagner said. “I expected the outcome to be different.”

The race was criticized as sleepy affair that didn’t focus enough on substance. Wolf agreed to just one debate, a spectacle moderated by Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek that yielded little to no new information about either candidate.

The campaign’s biggest headline came after Wagner threatened to stomp on Wolf’s face with golf spikes.

Wolf won his first term as a businessman who vowed to reform Harrisburg and restore deep cuts to education. His proposals to do so were met with fierce opposition from the Republican-controlled General Assembly, and he signed only three of the four budgets passed during his first term.

The Democrat has been an outspoken supporter of abortion access and raising the minimum wage. He also expanded Medicaid and created a statewide LGBTQ affairs commission.

Wolf will be joined in Harrisburg by newly elected lieutenant governor, Fetterman.

Fetterman has become synonymous with Braddock since he was elected to represent the struggling steel town in 2005. He unsuccessfully ran for Senate in 2016 on a progressive platform of legal marijuana, preserving the Affordable Care Act, and humane immigration reform (his wife Gisele was undocumented as a child).

At the Wolf party tonight in York, Gisele Fetterman talked about what the win means about Pennsylvania shortly after major TV networks began projecting Wolf as the winner — essentially as the polls closed at 8 p.m.

“We want to continue to move in the right direction. We do not support hateful rhetoric. This is not who we are as a state,” she said.

 

Fetterman beat incumbent Lt. Gov. Mike Stack and three other Democrats in the May primary. Wolf stripped Stack of his security detail in April 2017 after reports that he was verbally abusive to staff, and their relationship was described as “chilly and distant.

While the soft-spoken Wolf refrained from responding directly to Wagner’s insults, Fetterman regularly came to his running mate’s defense on Twitter.

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate and chairs the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons.

‘Mixed feeling about him leaving’

In Braddock, a crowd gathered at the bar of Peppers N’at beneath a television carrying live election coverage. It wasn’t long after the polls closed that Wolf and Fetterman were named the projected winners in Pennsylvania’s race for governor and lieutenant governor.

“Honestly, I think he can do better for Braddock being lieutenant governor than being mayor of Braddock,” Peppers N’at owner Bob Portogallo said of Fetterman.

“I mean, we don’t like to lose him as mayor, but ultimately I think it would be better for us.”

Portogallo elaborated, saying he hopes Fetterman uses his new position to bring state resources, tax money and attention to the long-struggling borough.

In his tenure as mayor, a largely ceremonial position, Fetterman has succeeded in raising Braddock’s profile in his bids for Senate and lieutenant governor and through his ability to attract a steady stream of media coverage.

For those reasons, some question what Fetterman’s LG win means for the borough in the midst of a slow and long-delayed comeback.

“It seems like there are mixed feeling about him leaving,” said Collette Walsh of Braddock. “I have a lot of neighbors that don’t want him to leave. So I’m curious what happens next.”

Fetterman has said he will keep Braddock as his “base of operations” and that he remains committed to improving the borough’s trajectory. His successor would be appointed by borough council. It’s unclear at this time who that successor might be.

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