If this was a prizefight, it would be Ali-Liston II, or maybe Joe Frazier versus George Foreman ("Down goes Frazier!). If the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania governor were warfare, it would be the first Gulf War -- Tom Wolf would be the American tanks speeding into Kuwait City, and the other six Democrats would be on the side of the road, walking the other direction with their hands in the air.
Today it was...down goes Hanger!
John Hanger withdrew as a Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania governor Thursday, saying opponent Tom Wolf's "startlingly effective" TV campaign left him "no path to victory."
"Tom Wolf's television campaign has been startlingly effective, and he has taken a commanding lead, having reached support of 40 percent or more," he said in a statement. "With no path to victory, to press on could cause damage to the issues and people for which we campaigned."
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I have incredibly mixed feelings about this. Tom Wolf is a progressive chap with exactly the right policy ideas for Pennsylvania and a not-perfect-but-pretty-darned-good resume for the job. But those aren't the reasons that he's the odds on favorite to become the next governor of the Keystone State. That reason that's happening is because he's a multi-millionaire who is buying the job with his own money.
If the situations were reversed and it was Hanger or Katie McGinty or someone else with $10 million to invest, would it be Tom Wolf leaving the race today, before a single voter weighed in? Probably. Meanwhile, Hanger was a flawed candidate who nonetheless was pushing the field in a progressive direction on a variety of issues -- from legalizing and taxing marijuana to placing real regulations on crude oil trains passing through the state. Who'll be pushing them now? Also, a white male governor for Pennsylvania?...there's something we've never seen before.
It's increasingly likely that Pennsylvania will get rid of the current governor, a tool of Big Oil, and replace him with a benevolent philosopher king. That's still an upgrade, but is it the best we can do? We won't find out in the voting booth.