#PAGov: Jack Wagner Will Run to Allyson Schwartz’s Right

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Get ready for a replay of the Pittsburgh Mayor’s race in the Democratic primary for Governor. Jack Wagner thought he’d win the primary running to the right of Bill Peduto, and now he thinks he’ll win running to the right of Allyson Schwartz:

“To win statewide in this commonwealth, you must appeal to a cross section of voters,” Wagner told MSNBC. “Being a moderate Democrat and having a track record in government is crucial to being able to win in PA,” he said.

Wagner, who won more votes (3.26 million) than Barack Obama in Pennsylvania in 2008, emphasizes his moderate credentials because he believes it will take a moderate to win in the fall against Corbett. It’s an indirect knock against Schwartz, who some perceive to be too liberal to win the general election [...]

“We have a cordial relationship,” Wagner said of Governor Corbett. “He’s a man I respect personally, but Pennsylvania and its economy is stuck in the mud right now,” he said.

Is Schwartz too liberal to win? That’s not what any polls say right now. All the recent polls show her beating Corbett by a lot.

Granted this is before any general election campaign activity has begun in earnest. Republicans are certainly going to spend a lot of money trying to define her, particularly on abortion, by trying to make an issue out of her experience running a women’s health clinic. Is that going to work? I don’t really think so. The Schwartz campaign tested some opposition messages on this question and found it didn’t really move the polling. And while the opposition message they tested seemed a bit tame compared to what we’re likely to see, I do think they tested the most effective version of the Republican message.

If I know anything about the 2013 Republican Party, or Republican donors to be exact, they are not going to use the most effective message on Schwartz’s Blackwell experience. Prodded by donors who think the messages most persuasive to committed rightwingers are the same as the messages most persuasive to the general electorate, they are probably going to go way way overboard. They are going to call her Allyson the Abortionist. They are going to send out mailers with Schwartz superimposed into photos with her arm around Kermit Gosnell. And this is going to backfire on them badly.

Other than “social issues” I really have no idea what Jack Wagner thinks is especially liberal about Allyson Schwartz. Schwartz is a pretty orthodox Democrat, and is less progressive than Matt Cartwright, despite having a much more solidly liberal district. I’ve wondered if she will be considered too conservative to be the Democratic nominee. That seems to be what many online progressives think, although it would be a big mistake to project their views onto the broader Democratic base.

What I want to know is, what positions will Jack Wagner take this year that are to the right of Schwartz’s positions?

This Bill Peduto ad looked at all the right wing positions he’s taken over the years. He was the clear favorite of Republican donors in the Pittsburgh Mayor race. That’s because he opposes abortion rights, waffled on Pittsburgh’s fracking ban, and sided with state Republicans on health care cuts on several occasions. And back in the day, he opposed an initiative to diversify the Fire Department, and opposed school integration efforts.

This really is not the kind of record that will create a clear contrast with Tom Corbett next year. But I’m sure there’s even more on the way if Wagner’s deliberately staking out a position to Allyson Schwartz’s right.

(via Michael LaRosa)

This entry was posted in Miscellany.

2 Responses to #PAGov: Jack Wagner Will Run to Allyson Schwartz’s Right

  1. Talking about Schwartz one-on-one vs. someone who hasn’t even declared–isn’t this a bit premature? There are already 8 Dem candidates in the race. As Robert G. commented to “Schwartz Poll: Schwartz Still Leads” (8/21), John Hanger has clear and well-researched stands on the issues. He is certainly not running to Schwartz’s or anyone else’s right. But I’m not sure it’s about right v. left; at this point, for example, a lot of people on both wings are worried about government intrusion into school curricula and personal privacy. A future multi-candidate primary will depend largely on which candidates take votes away from which others. What gets me is that the candidate sites, except for Hanger’s, say so little about what they believe. At this stage, candidates should be setting out their positions and educating voters on the issues. It’s not about the cult of personality.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      This is just a post about one article on Wagner. We certainly won’t be treating Wagner as any kind of frontrunner.

      Where does Hanger come down on “government intrusion into school curricula?” That’s like “keep your government hands off my Medicare.” Public schools are a government program!