Wolf Romps to Victory in Pennsylvania Primary

Businessman Tom Wolf won a decisive victory over Rep. Allyson Schwartz in the Democratic primary Tuesday to take on incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett in November.

Mark Makela/Reuters

Money can’t buy love, but it sure seems like it can buy the governor’s office in Pennsylvania.

Tom Wolf, a businessman and first-time candidate running in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary, won handily by a margin of roughly 30 points over a field including Rep. Allyson Schwartz and state Treasurer Rob McCord. Wolf will match up against Republican incumbent Tom Corbett in a race that most observers believe is the best opportunity for Democrats to pick up a governor’s seat in November. With 41 percent of ballots counted, Wolf had 56 percent of the vote, while Schwartz and McCord trailed at 19 percent and 17 percent, respectively. A self-proclaimed “unconventional candidate” who was once unknown, Wolf spent roughly $10 million of his own money on advertisements over the winter, giving him a commanding lead in the polls that he never relinquished.

The other major advantage for the former state revenue secretary under Gov. Ed Rendell, who hails from the small industrial city of York in south-central Pennsylvania, was that he was the only candidate not from the Philadelphia area. As a result, his opponents cannibalized each other’s base.

In an email Tuesday night, Wolf cited Lou Gehrig’s retirement speech, saying, “Tonight, I feel like I’m the 'luckiest man on the face of the Earth’ -- and as a huge baseball fan, that’s something I’ve waited my entire life to say.”

In an April interview with The Daily Beast, Wolf said he relished the opportunity to present a clear referendum against Corbett, whom he described as a candidate of “austerity” and “higher property taxes.” The incumbent is deeply unpopular in the Democratic-leaning state and is considered the underdog in the general election. The Republican incumbent, though, didn’t hesitate to go on the attack against Wolf on Tuesday night. In an Election Night speech, Corbett’s running mate, Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley, boasted that Wolf’s “gonna huff and puff but he’s not going to blow down the Pennsylvania Tom Corbett has built!”