Businessman joins Democrats aiming to run against Corbett

Tom Wolf is a York County merchant.
Tom Wolf is a York County merchant.
Posted: April 04, 2013

HARRISBURG - The gubernatorial election is 19 months away, but the field of Democrats hoping to take on Gov. Corbett gets more crowded by the day.

On Tuesday, Tom Wolf, a former state revenue secretary and York County businessman, declared his candidacy, pledging to bankroll his run with $10 million.

Wolf, 64, joins as many as 10 other Democrats angling to take on Corbett in 2014.

In an interview he accused the Republican governor of catering too much to special interests. He contended Corbett's decisions had favored "politics over policy, corporations over people, and giving away our natural resources to the highest bidder."

Wolf, who was revenue secretary under Gov. Ed Rendell, ran briefly for governor in 2010 but dropped out before the primary to turn his attention to saving his family's struggling business. He said the company turned around more quickly than he expected.

He said his business experience - the Wolf Organization employs about 235 people and bills itself as the nation's largest distributor of kitchen and bath cabinetry - combined with a stint in the public sector makes him a strong candidate.

Wolf says he will ante up $10 million of his own and raise an additional $5 million.

Meanwhile, Corbett's reelection effort shifted into gear Tuesday with the announcement that Michael Barley, executive director of the state Republican Party, will serve as campaign manager.

"I'm very excited to have the opportunity to work for him and help him win reelection," Barley, 34, said of Corbett.

Other Democrats weighing a possible run include U.S. Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz, state Treasurer Rob McCord, former Environmental Secretary Kathleen McGinty, and former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak. Former environmental secretary John Hanger and minister-businessman Max Myers are also declared candidates.

G. Terry Madonna, a political scientist at Franklin & Marshall College, said such a large field jockeying to take on an incumbent governor is unprecedented in recent state history and suggests the extent to which Democrats see an opportunity. "Most of the primaries have not been about the party trying to wean people off the ticket - it was trying to find a candidate," said Madonna.

Neither the level of Democratic interest nor the governor's weak approval ratings in polls phased Corbett's new campaign chief.

"I'm looking forward to putting up the governor's record against any other candidate," Barley said Tuesday. "I think Gov. Corbett has a great story to tell about his work for Pennsylvania."

Contact Amy Worden

at 717-783-2584 or or follow @inkyamy on Twitter.

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