John Hanger to challenge Gov. Corbett on school funding, natural gas taxes

John Hanger, Pennsylvania's former DEP secretary, will run for governor in 2014.

John Hanger, Pennsylvania's secretary of environmental protection under Gov. Rendell, made it official Wednesday at the Reading Terminal Market: He is the first Democrat to announce a challenge to Gov. Corbett, who is expected to seek a second term in 2014.

Hanger's campaign seems to have three main thrusts:

  • Schools and Shale: Hanger wants to increase state funding for public education, in part by expanding how the state taxes Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.  This presents an opportunity to contrast himself against Corbett, who is an ally of the natural gas industry.
  • Using the headlines:  Hanger said he supports state Attorney General-elect Katherine Kane's plan to investigate how Corbett, as attorney general, investigated the child abuse scandal that eventually sent former assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky to prison.  He also plans to focus on the debate about climate change and Corbett's signing of a no-tax pledge pushed by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform
  • Seizing the left:  Hanger touted key points in his campaign, including the development and support of green energy programs, support for civil marriage for gay couples, legalizing medical marijuana and a plan to repeal the state's new Voter ID legislation.  That should help him move to the left of what may be a crowded Democratic primary election.  John Baer includes a list of potential opponents in his Wednesday column.

"I'm running to win," Hanger said. "This is not a race to make a statement. This is a race to make Tom Corbett a one-term governor."