As it was reported yesterday in The Inquirer, the four Democratic candidates running for governor of Pennsylvania collectively raised $35.5 million in campaign contributions surpassing the record set during the 2002 gubernatorial primary by $4 million. With the all-out goal being to unseat the incumbent, Tom Corbett, the Democratic Party is not holding back in the 2014 primary. Compared to his challengers, Corbett received the largest single campaign contribution of $1.6 million from the Republican Governor's Association, but he is walking on shaky ground that the opponents hope will shatter on election day. With polsters showing Corbett's numbers lagging in the polls, it is anticipated that one of the Democratic candidates will likely take home a win in November. At this point, it really comes down to which Democrat will beat out their challengers at the May 20 primary.
The latest Franklin and Marshall poll that was published on April 3 shows front-runner Tom Wolf dominating against the Democratic competitors. Wolf, who is a York County businessman, invested $10 million of his own money into his campaign and spent about $1 million a week over the past five weeks into advertising. According to the Associated Press as it was reported in Penn Live on May 9, Wolf spent almost all of the $14.5 million he raised for his campaign on television ads to get the word out to the voters that he is running for election. This strategy to run continuous TV ads paid off for this first-time candidate who hopes to continue to dominate against his Democratic opponents at the primary which if the votes cast next Tuesday match what the polls predict, Wolf may win hands down.
A sample of 524 registered Democrats from Pennsylvania were asked which of the four Democratic candidates they would vote for at the primary, and 33% said they would pick Tom Wolf. Of the three other candidates running on the Democratic ticket, U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz would receive 7% of the votes, state treasurer Rob McCord would receive 6% of the votes, and former Department of Environmental Protection secretary Katie McGinty would receive 4% of the votes. Interestingly, the poll showed that 4% of the sample said that they would vote for another candidate other than the four choices given. Who those other candidates might be is open for speculation. Education and the economy were the top two issues that the Democrats sampled said they are looking for the next governor to address. Fracking, taxes, budget, and health care were other key issues where they want to see changes made. In deciding on which candidate they will vote for at the primary, 33% of those polled said that honesty is the most important value they are looking for in the next governor. Having a strong character and caring about the people were the other top traits they seek in a candidate.
With the F&M poll showing that 46% of registered Democratic voters remain undecided about which candidate they will vote for at the primary, there is still time for the candidates to market themselves to the voters. Although there are only eight more days until the primary election, this last week is when the candidates will be campaigning the hardest. Despite their low poll numbers, Schwartz, McCord, and McGinty have the advantage of having government and political experience which is something that Wolf cannot claim. He may be the most widely recognized candidate, but he has not been in public office. Not having experience and a record in politics may be the biggest political disadvantage that Wolf has which is something that the other candidates can use to accentuate their campaigns. Voters are looking to elect the candidate who is going to be in their corner and work for the good of the people. Not having a political record may work to Wolf's advantage as he would brings a fresh face to Pennsylvania politics. Just the same, there is value in being known in local government as it relays in working with others to get things done. Going by what the last poll shows, Wolf looks like a shoe-in, but there is another 46% who have not made up their minds. Most important to keep in mind when casting a ballot that as far as the Democratic Party is concerned, it really is not about the best person for the job winning as long as one of their candidates wins against a Republican.