Dollars likely to determine who stays in Dem governor’s race in Pennsylvania
HARRISBURG — A state deadline requiring candidates to reveal campaign money raised in 2013 likely will be a sobering moment for some of the eight Democrats potentially vying for the gubernatorial nomination in the May primary, political analysts say.
The filing deadline is Jan. 31, but two candidates voluntarily disclosed raising a combined total of nearly $20 million. Former state Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf of York raised $13 million, according to his campaign, and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Montgomery County disclosed raising $6.5 million — $3.1 million of it transferred from her congressional campaign.
Wolf is donating $10 million of his own money and collected about $3 million from others, according to his campaign.
“Essentially we raised the same amount Allyson did,” said Mary Isenhour, a consultant to Wolf’s campaign.
There’s a reason for reporting early.
“If you raise huge amounts of money, you deter other candidates,” said W. Wesley McDonald, a political science professor at Elizabethtown College. “By and large, money speaks in politics.”
In a crowded field with candidates largely unknown to most voters, campaign money is the way to obtain name recognition, said Moe Coleman, director emeritus of the Institute of Politics at the University of Pittsburgh. Money pays for TV and radio ads and newsletters to voters.
Depending on the totals reported by month’s end, an overwhelming amount of campaign money may enable Schwartz to force Philadelphian Katie McGinty, a former Department of Environmental Protection secretary, to drop out, said J. Wesley Leckrone, political science professor at Widener University.
“It behooves Allyson to get McGinty out of the race” to garner more support among those favoring a woman for governor, Leckrone said.
But McGinty’s campaign chairman, T.J. Rooney, said: “By any objective standard, Katie will raise eyebrows” with her campaign donation filing. “Katie will be competitive.”
Some analysts believe Treasurer Rob McCord will report a substantial campaign account by month’s end.
“It’s fair to say we feel good about our results in 2013,” said Mark Nevins, a McCord spokesman.
“It was surprising the Schwartz campaign did not have bigger numbers…she is the self-described front-runner,” Nevins said.
Nevins said McCord invested his own money in previous races. “I would not be surprised if he does so again in this race,” he said.
Neither McCord’s nor McGinty’s campaigns would release estimates of fundraising to date.
“It’s no surprise that McCord’s campaign would attack our impressive fundraising total, but what’s surprising is that they haven’t released their numbers,” said Schwartz’s spokesman Mark Bergman.
Bergman said “strong grassroots support from over 8,000 individual contributors from every county” puts Schwartz in position to compete against McCord and Wolf, “who will be able to outspend us with millions from their own personal fortune.”
Candidate John Hanger of Hershey, another former DEP secretary, urged other candidates to limit spending in the primary to $3 million to $5 million.
“If money is the only way to win a campaign, then Tom Wolf wins because he will have the biggest war chest,” Hanger said. “Right now, he can outspend Allyson Schwartz two dollars for every one that she has.”
By May, the candidates combined may spend “an obscene $30 million fighting each other,” Hanger predicted. He said candidates should instead talk directly to voters.
The winner of the Democratic primary likely takes on Republican Gov. Tom Corbett of Shaler. A potential Republican challenger is Bob Guzzardi, a Montgomery County attorney.
Guzzardi said he is trying to gather the 2,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot. He won’t solicit campaign money or spend his own, choosing to rely instead on an Internet campaign, he said.
The other declared Democratic candidates are Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz and Pentecostal minister Max Myers of Mechanicsburg. Former Auditor General Jack Wagner of Beechview has said he might run.
Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media’s state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717- 787-1405 and [email protected].