Put 'on the spot,' Democratic guv hopefuls answer questions

ED HILLE / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Five of the candidates - including (from left) Jo Ellen Litz, Katie McGinty and Allyson Schwartz - appeared.
ED HILLE / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Five of the candidates - including (from left) Jo Ellen Litz, Katie McGinty and Allyson Schwartz - appeared.
Posted: February 06, 2014

THE SEVEN Democrats seeking their party's nomination for governor in the May 20 primary election rarely disagree in public.

That can be a little dull.

So moderators from WHYY and the Philadelphia Business Journal yesterday threw into the mix "on the spot" questions specifically tailored for the five candidates who attended a forum.

That was more interesting.

* U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz was asked about claims that Gov. Corbett hopes she wins the primary, thinking she's easier to beat in the general election. She said Corbett has already engaged with her to debate the issues.

"He's taking me on because he is deeply concerned that I will be the nominee and I will beat him," Schwartz said. "And he's right to be concerned because that's exactly my plan."

* Former state Environmental Secretary Katie McGinty, who has taken six-figure campaign contributions from coal and insurance industry executives, was asked if special interests will get special treatment.

"I've been in the hot seat for 25 years on tough environmental issues," she said. "And anyone who knows my track record knows there's no special interest who tells Katie McGinty what to do."

* Former state Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, who touts in his campaign his experience running his family's large kitchen cabinet company, was asked if he would make public company financial information. Wolf said he already shares information with employees in a profit-sharing plan.

"So I'll be happy to share whatever anyone wants to see," he said. "That's been my practice throughout my business career."

* Former state Environmental Secretary John Hanger was asked about his call to legalize marijuana. He spoke of people who need marijuana for medical use being forced to buy from drug dealers and the huge cost of prosecuting people for using the drug.

"I want to move marijuana purchases from the drug gangs, bring it into the legal economy and create, frankly, a whole new industry," Hanger said. "That's innovation that will create thousands of good paying jobs."

* Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz, who has raised less than $5,000 in a contest expected to cost other candidates several million dollars, was asked if her campaign is truly viable. Litz said she has visited the state's 67 counties, "sightseeing" and interacting with voters.

"It's up to the people to decide this election," Litz said. "It's not up to the select few."

The candidates all said they oppose Corbett's effort to privatize the state liquor store system and want to close the "Delaware loophole" that allows an estimated 70 percent of corporations in Pennsylvania to avoid paying the corporate net income tax.

They all support a tax on drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation to raise funds to pay for public education. And they support raising the minimum wage in the state.

The two hopefuls who did not attend the forum were state Treasurer Rob McCord and Pentecostal minister Max Myers.

Corbett delivered his annual budget address an hour after yesterday's forum ended. His campaign accused the Democrats of being "no less predictable than the sun rising" in offering "higher taxes and more spending."

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/PhillyClout.com

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