Wolf is the only Democratic Governor seeking re-election in a state that went for Donald Trump in 2016. This race is critical for a fair dedistricting process in 2021.
Re-electing Tom Wolf is a top priority because Republicans control both chambers of Pennsylvania's legislature and need only the Governor's office to have total control of the next redistricting process in 2021.
Governor Wolf is the former owner of the Wolf Organization, a family business that distributes lumber and other building products. He grew up in south central Pennsylvania and served in the Peace Corps in India for two years. Wolf has an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth, as well as graduate degrees from the University of London and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Wolf has been a catalyst for important change in his first term as Governor. One day one, he signed a gift ban prohibiting state employees from accepting gifts from lobbyists and reforming legal contracting to reform the "pay to play" political process. Wolf re-prioritized public education in Pennsylvania, restoring a $1 billion cut to education and improving high school graduation rates and increasing the number of children enrolled in Pre-K education programs; Pennsylvania's public schools are now among the nation's best. Wolf also expanded Medicaid in the state, providing affordable health care to 720,000 Pennsylvanians and making the state a national leader in fighting the opioid and heroic epidemic.
Governor Wolf's opponent is former State Sen. Scott Wagner, a wealthy businessman who made his fortune running trash companies and is often compared to Donald Trump. Wagner is expected to spend a considerable amount of his own money on this campaign.
Wagner on Global Warming:
"I haven't been in a science class in a long time, but the Earth moves closer to the sun every year — you know, the rotation of the Earth. We're moving closer to the sun."
"We have more people ... you know, humans have warm bodies. So is heat coming off? Things are changing ... but I think we are, as a society, doing the best we can."
Tom Wolf (D)
Scott Wagner (R)
Cash on Hand: $15.2M (as of 6/4)
Cash on Hand: $1.6M (as of 6/4) - Wagner is wealthly and can self-fund his campaign
PA has unliimted campaign contributions -
PA has unliimted campaign contributions
Polling results have generally shown Wolf to be the frontrunner in this race, but there are some concerns in the numbers that make this race competitive. While Wolf is popular among voters, his first term accomplishments as Governor are not well-known.
Pennsylvania voters backed Donald Trump in 2016 by about 44,000 votes, the first time since 1988 that the state did not stand with the Democratic Presidential candidate (Barack Obama carried Pennsylvania by 5 points in 2012). Pennsylvania has generally been declining in population since the 1990s amid struggles to re-orient the state economy away from steel mills toward big hospitals in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and a more diversified economy in the rest of the state. Pennsylvania has also become a flashpoint in the debate over hydraulic fracturing; the Marcellus Shale contains the nation's largest reserve of natural gas embedded in hard rock.