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Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, other Western Pa. Dems endorse Lt. Gov. Mike Stack | TribLIVE.com
Politics/Election

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, other Western Pa. Dems endorse Lt. Gov. Mike Stack

Wesley Venteicher
| Wednesday, December 13, 2017 2:27 p.m
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WES VENTEICHER
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, speaks at a press conference where he endorsed Mike Stack, who stands to his right, on Wednesday, Dec. 13.
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Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
Lt. Gov. Mike Stack (Trib photo)

HARRISBURG — Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, endorsed Lt. Gov. Mike Stack’s re-election bid Wednesday at the Capitol, favoring the incumbent from Philadelphia over Western Pennsylvania candidates John Fetterman and Aryanna Berringer.

Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Pittsburgh, and Sen. James Brewster, D-McKeesport, joined Costa at a news conference announcing the endorsement, rallying around the former state senator despite controversy early this year after Stack and his wife verbally mistreated state workers.

Costa lauded Stack’s role in the state’s Medicaid expansion and other health care programs, along with criminal justice reforms and his legislative experience, in the endorsement.

“He’s ready to continue to do the job, and more importantly, he’s ready to be called upon if ever needed to do the position of governor if that ever occurs,” Costa said.

Costa said none of the other candidates for lieutenant governor formally sought his endorsement.

Costa’s endorsement followed news this week that Gov. Tom Wolf would not make public a report on an Office of Inspector General’s investigation he ordered into Stack’s treatment of workers at the lieutenant governor’s residence and in his state police-provided protective detail.

Wolf said Tuesday that he wouldn’t release the report over concern for Stack’s wife, Tonya, who he said is undergoing treatment.

“I don’t think anything will be served by piling on top of that,” said Wolf, who has not publicly endorsed a candidate for lieutenant governor.

The Tribune-Review filed an open records request under the state’s Right-to-Know Law seeking a copy of the report.

Five Democrats have announced they will challenge Stack this year in pursuing the traditionally low-profile office. Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock and a former U.S. Senate candidate, received the endorsement of former Gov. Ed Rendell and raised $100,000 in the first week of his campaign. Berringer, of Murrysville, is an Army veteran and former congressional candidate.

Also in the race are Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, state Rep. Madeleine Dean of Montgomery County and Lancaster County Commissioner Craig Lehman.

Fetterman and Berringer have each sought to stake claims as progressive Democrats.

Senators who spoke at the conference Wednesday tapped into that theme, saying Stack’s support for minimum wage increases and the “Pathways to Pardons” program demonstrate his dedication to progressive ideas.

“There’s a lot of folks I think who are going to be talking about being progressives and being a progressive and supporting progressive ideas,” said Sen. Andrew Dinniman, D-Chester County. “And Lt. Gov. Stack has not only been a supporter of these types of issues, but he has been a leader and he has been doing it for years and years and years.”

Rendell, in his endorsement of Fetterman, called the mayor a “progressive who understands the plight of the working-class family,” and Fetterman has said he would serve as a “progressive backstop” to Wolf.

Stack said his family has struggled but has become stronger. He said he wants to continue working on raising the minimum wage and hearing pardons cases while working to improve voting rights in the state and trying to improve the party’s relationship with Republicans, saying that partisanship is “sinking Pennsylvania.”

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, wventeicher@tribweb.com or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Wes at 412-380-5676, wventeicher@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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