Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hairy issue: Wolf says he won't come clean on beard

When it comes to one particularly hairy campaign issue, Democratic candidate Tom Wolf stands out from the field.

Hairy issue: Wolf says he won't come clean on beard




When it comes to one particularly hairy campaign issue, Democratic candidate Tom Wolf stands out from the field.

Wolf sports a beard.

No Pennsylvania governor for the last century - since Samuel Pennypacker took office in 1907 - has worn a beard. (Although  government history wonks note that Gov. Gifford Pinchot, in the 1920s, had a wildly manscaped mustache.)

Asked this groundbreaking grooming question Monday at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon and whether he would consider shaving for the sake of his candidacy, Wolf stood firm.

"I understand I am breaking tradition," he said. "I won't be shaving it off."

Then he paused and added, "My compromise is I trimmed it."

Wolf,  a York County businessman and former state Revenue Secretary, is the second gubernatorial candidates to address the press club this election year

(Former DEP Secretary Katie McGinty spoke last month and Treasurer Rob McCord is set to appear in March.) 

Wolf told about 100 people - among them lobbyists, business leaders, lawmakers and a strong contingent from his native York County - that he is the "unconventional candidate."

Wolf ticked off some examples: Dropped out of Dartmouth (temporarily) to join the Peace Corps., worked as a forklift operator in his family's cabinet making business, pulled an economic "180" and restored his near bankrupt family company to fiscal health, offers profit sharing to his 270 employees.

He also defended self-funding his primary candidacy. His $10 million donation to his campaign came under attack recently  by fellow Democrat Rob McCord. "I want to remain independent," Wolf said. "I'm not beholden to anyone."

Other candidates may argue that they too stand out from the rest of the field. But when it comes to a matter of hirsute history the unconventional label is indisputable.


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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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