Scott Wagner, a state senator, the founder of a trash-collection company and a York, Pa. resident, won the statewide primary election today to run as Republican candidate for governor.
Wagner bested opponents Paul Mango and Laura Ellsworth. He’ll now face Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf (who was unopposed today) in the November 2018 general election.
This win was pretty much expected in Pennsylvania. While campaigning for the primary election, Wagner polled ahead of his opponents and scored endorsements from the Pennsylvania GOP, Steve Bannon and the “Making America Great” PAC.
In his campaign, Wagner prioritized a few key issues, mostly regarding funding and education.
He has said he wants to pass a Taxpayers Bill of Rights, which would impose strict limits on state politicians’ powers to tax and spend. He promised to shake up the state’s pension program by instituting a “defined-contribution plan” for all new state and school district employees.
Speaking of education, Wagner also said he’d hold public schools more accountable for their own funding, developing a system that allows performance of public and charter schools across the state to be directly compared.
Who he is
“What could someone who grew up shoveling horse manure…possibly do for the state of Pennsylvania?”
That’s the question Wagner asks on his own campaign website. Wagner said growing up as a “farm boy” helped him develop his work ethic and inspired him to enter politics.
After his farm days ended, Wagner became a businessman and made a fortune working with, well, garbage. He founded Penn Waste, a recycling and trash collection company, which is estimated to make $70 million this year.
Also, he loves President Trump. At campaign events, he’s called the President “courageous” and said he was “relieved” when he was elected. In the summer of 2016, when some Republicans refused to attend that year’s national convention, Wagner told reporters he planned to buy 20,000 Trump lawn signs.
What this means for Wolf
Tuesday’s primary election officially solidified the opponent for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat running for reelection this November.
Of all the three candidates seeking the Republican governor nod, Wagner appeared to pose the most threat to Wolf. He trailed Wolf by 16 percentage points, while his opponents Paul Mango and Laura Ellsworth both lagged behind the governor by 20 percentage points.
In his campaign, Wagner mostly rode the national wave of conservatism established in 2016 by President Donald Trump. In fact, some even called Wagner “the Pa. Donald Trump.”