Friday, May 29, 2015

A (Tom) Wolf trap?

Democratic front-runner for governor Tom Wolf says opponents might use his past and present associations with pols charged with crimes to dent his lead.

A (Tom) Wolf trap?

Tom Wolf, of York County, is seeking the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania governor. (Photo from wolfforpa.com)
Tom Wolf, of York County, is seeking the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania governor. (Photo from wolfforpa.com)

Because no front-runner in politics goes untargeted, the current Democratic front-runner for governor is all but predicting a couple of targets that opponents could seek to place on him.

Wolf, in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, cited his backing of a former York mayor who was an admitted racist aquitted of murder charges, as well as his ongoing friendship with a former state legislator who served jail time and is now appleaing a corruption conviction.

You can read the full Tribune-Review story here.

Wolf, the wealthy York biz guy whose TV ads catapulted him to the top of the pile of seven Democratic candidates for governor in recent polling, was campaign chairman for former York Mayor Charles Robertson, a defendent in a sensational 2002 murder trial.

Robertson was found not guilty of charges he was an accomplice in the shooting death of a black women during race riots in York in 1969 while he was a police officer. He served as mayor from 1994 to 2002. He admitted shouting racial slurs during the riots but said he was young and that subsequent sensitivity training reformed him.

More recently, Wolf helped raise funds for the legal defense of former York County state Rep. Stephen Stetler, convicted in 2012 of public corruption related to using state employees for campaign work. Wolf also was a character witness at Stetler's trial and remains a friend.

Stetler, recently released from prison, has appealed that conviction.

"There's obviously going to be a bull's-eye on my back," Wolf told the Tribune-Review, "There's going to be efforts to make everything I ever did or said to be put in the worst possible light."

He's certainly right about that. But the fact that he's putting these connections out there before any of his opponents do could mitigate the impact of any attacks -- or, of course, help center the targets.

 

Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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