Laura Ellsworth: Best choice for governor in GOP primary | Endorsement

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Laura Ellsworth, a prominent Pittsburgh lawyer and community leader, is the best choice in the Republican primary for governor. Her motto: 'Less Talk. More Action.'

The three Republican candidates for governor of Pennsylvania have spent most of their professional lives in the private sector. Laura Ellsworth has been a partner in a big Pittsburgh law firm. Paul Mango spent years as a McKinsey & Co. consultant working in the health-care sector. Scott Wagner, who was elected to the state Senate just four years ago, owns waste and trucking companies in York.

That lack of direct government experience can be a good thing, but business experience is hardly enough on its own. In business, people jump when the boss says jump. That can lead to a rude awakening when a governor confronts a hostile legislature (as Democratic Gov. Wolf has done), or complicated social problems, or massive budget shortfalls.

Presumably, a Republican governor wouldn’t have the same problem as a Democratic governor in wrangling with the current GOP-controlled legislature. But the state’s chief executive also needs to understand the complexity of the state’s problems, and be grounded in the reality of what might work to fix it.

LAURA ELLSWORTH has that capability, and is our choice for the Republican nomination for governor.

Ellsworth brings depth to her understanding of the issues facing the state. She oversaw her law firm’s global initiatives and boasts a highly active civic life. Her understanding of the state’s  priorities — job creation, education, workforce development, among others — is supported by fact-finding and realistic thinking that goes beyond sound bites.

On job creation, she makes a strong case for the need for a plan, describing how Harrisburg “lunges from one issue to another, driven by the need to solve immediate cash-flow issues created by its lack of discipline and focus.”  Those are wise and accurate words. She favors overhauling the business tax system and selling the State Stores to pay down pension obligations. And she understands that the elimination of property taxes may sound good to voters, but would require other taxation to make up the difference.

Hers would be a fresh, intelligent, and reasoned voice in speaking from the governor’s mansion.

As for her fellow candidates, ironically, the one person with government experience, Wagner, seems to have the least clue about how to get things done. While touting a good idea — providing job training to inmates — he offers no credible answer on how to pay for it beyond talking to prison guards about overtime. (It might be more efficient for him to download the Department of Corrections budget, which shows overtime declining by $14 million over the past four years.)  When in doubt, Wagner reverts to routing out “fraud, waste, and abuse.”

Mango seems to have a better grasp of complexities, though his solutions seem thin. He wants more choice in education, and points to Cristo Rey, a Philadelphia Catholic school, as a model for education. It may be a model that works for some, but not for public education.

It’s not unusual to run campaigns on sound bites. But Pennsylvania needs someone who can do more than govern by anecdote. Laura Ellsworth is that candidate in the gubernatorial primary.