Election 2018

4 things you need to know from PA’s only 2018 governor debate

Answer: The person who was boo’ed. (Who is Alex Trebek?)

Alex Trebek with the candidates

Alex Trebek with the candidates

Sarah Anne Hughes / Billy Penn

HERSHEY — With just one gubernatorial debate scheduled before the Nov. 6 election, Pennsylvania voters needed a moderator who would ask substantive questions, control the candidates, and move the conversation forward in what’s been a sleepy race thus far.

But that’s not what they got Monday night at a disjointed thought at-times entertaining debate between Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican former state Sen. Scott Wagner in Hershey at the Pennsylvania Chamber’s annual dinner.

Below are four takeaways from the one and only gubernatorial debate.

No. 1: Alex Trebek probably wasn’t the best choice of moderator.

The “Jeopardy!” host sure was charming as the special guest at the Pennsylvania Chamber dinner. And he definitely prepared. “This is not a game show tonight. This is serious stuff,” Trebek correctly said, adding that he’d experienced “agony” and “stress” getting ready.

But as a moderator, Trebek tended toward telling stories about himself rather than asking the candidates actual questions.

He was even booed toward the end of the debate after asking a question about a proposed severance tax.

No. 2: Scott Wagner continues to have thoughts on public sector unions.

When the candidates were asked questions, Wagner responded several times with criticisms of public sector unions. Trebek asked the Republican if the state GOP essentially dropped the ball by allowing so many Democrats to get elected to the state Supreme Court. Wagner responded that the Democrats had public sector union money. He also claimed that Wolf vetoed a pension reform bill because of unions. (Wolf provided other reasons.)

Wagner once infamously compared unions to Hitler.

No. 3: Tom Wolf and Wagner can agree.

The candidates found plenty of things to disagree about, like the death penalty (Wolf, citing a bipartisan commission is opposed; Wagner wants it to be mandatory for certain heinous crimes).

But the two men agreed about money in politics (it’s bad) and said open primaries would be good for Pennsylvania.

Still, Trebek couldn’t help but add his opinion, warning Wagner that an open primary system may have favored a more moderate candidate.

No. 4: Trebek can bring people together.

The host did do one thing. He got Pennsylvania Democrats and Republicans to agree that he didn’t do a great job.

Want some more? Explore other Election 2018 stories.

Mornings are for coffee and local news

Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter gives you a daily roundup of the top Philly stories you need to start your day.

You finished another Billy Penn article — keep it up!

We hope you found it useful, fun, or maybe even both. If you want more stories like this, will you join us as a member today?

Nice to see you (instead of a paywall)

Billy Penn’s mission is to provide free, quality information to Philadelphians through our articles and daily newsletter. If you believe local journalism is key to a healthy community, join us!

Your donation brought this story to life

Billy Penn only exists because of supporters like you. If you find our work valuable, consider making a sustaining donation today.

Being informed looks good on you

Thanks for reading another article, made possible by members like you. Want to share BP with a friend?