BACKGROUNDER: Tom Wolf Wants to Be Your Governor

601637_149655851872824_1758861966_nWho is Tom Wolf? Where does he come from and what does he want? These are the questions we began asking ourselves this morning when an email showed up with the subject line, “Fairness for the middle class.”

The middle class, you say? Never heard of them! And a candidate for higher office who’s using these mostly unknown peoples in a campaign? That’s new to us, too.

We kid, Tom Wolf.

Here’s some background on the man who will run for governor of Pennsylvania in 2014.

He’s a state government veteran. Wolf, a Democrat, served as secretary of the Department of Revenue under Gov. Ed Rendell (and worked in the Revenue Dept. under Govs. Casey, Shapp and Thornburgh), and resigned his position in November 2008 as both revenue and the economy was in the process of hitting the fan. Rendell said, upon Wolf leaving the administration, that the York native helped make “business taxes fairer, simpler and more competitive with other states, continues to guide the tax and economic policies that helped strengthen our economy before this national downturn and will help us weather the economic storm.”

He’s a York County native—and still lives there.
But the 64-year-old took some time off, as per his announcement email: “Growing up in a small town, my parents always taught me to value hard work and be willing to help those who are down on their luck through no fault of their own. Those were lessons that really stuck with a scrawny boy growing up among the rambling hills of south-central Pennsylvania. So as a young man, I joined the Peace Corps and went overseas to do my part in helping to fight poverty. For two years living in rural India, I saw deep poverty up close, every hour of every day.”

Then… he worked his way up, married the love of his life, served on boards, kept his small-town values, American dream, etc.

He plans to use his own cash during the primary campaign. According to the York Dispatch, he’ll be using a “minimum” (!) of $10 million for the May 2014 primary. Additionally: “We believe we can raise at least another $5 million from supporters across the state,” he said.

Like many people, he’s not all about Gov. Corbett’s policies
. Including some of the issues other potential candidates (save John Hanger) have so far ignored. From a second email sent out today: “Gov. Corbett has spent his term in office putting politics over policy; corporations over people; and giving away our natural resources to the highest bidder,” Wolf said.  “This governor put 100,000 children at risk of losing health care.  He cut education by $1 billion dollars. And Pennsylvania has gone from 7th to 46th in job creation. This is not tapping our potential. This is wasting it.

His internal polling suggests he may be able to do something. According to Greenberg-Quinlan-Rosner Research, which conducted an internal poll for Wolf, the race is wide open—45 percent of Pennsylvanians are undecided for the primary just over a year away. And when given a short description of the candidate (which, let’s be honest, isn’t the best indicator, especially when such descriptions are internal) Wolf is competitive with U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, but behind former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak—who, though he hasn’t announced his candidacy yet, has the greatest name recognition of all the possible, potential candidates.

Wolf has said that the idea that “government should be run like a business” should be debunked. Money quote, from the York Dispatch: “Businesses are not in the trade of educating our kids, providing health care to low-income families and children, and giving seniors the dignity of a happy and secure retirement. Our government is—or at least it should be.”

Follow Randy on Twitter: @RandyLoBasso

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