Relatability factor could propel Wolf to Harrisburg


Paul Wintruba

Tom Wolf after his debate with incumbent governor Tom Corbett.

Nick Buzzelli, Editor-in-Chief

On the surface, Tom Wolf is an average Pennsylvania resident from York County.

The 65-year-old currently resides in his childhood home, drives a 2006 Jeep Wrangler, works for his family’s cabinetry business and like every other native of the Keystone state, wants the commonwealth to prosper.

But there is something different about Wolf, not evident from his next-door neighbor-like guise.

Unlike everyone else, the Democratic candidate is a wealthy CEO who holds a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

But in an era where politicians appear to be more like celebrities than local legislators, Wolf stands out from the rest of the pack, which is perhaps the chief reason he is leading Republican incumbent Tom Corbett by nearly 22 points in the Pennsylvania Gubernatorial race.

“My first effort to try to connect with the voters was my story and I just said who I am. I do live in the same house I came home to from the hospital, I didn’t make that up. … I share 20-30% of my profit with my employees and my company, that’s what I do. I think [people] like that,” said Wolf while campaigning in Mt. Lebanon.

“So I am maybe different from what they’re used to in politics. I’m different, but again, I grew up in the same kind of circumstances that every Pennsylvanian did.”

Wolf provides a glimmer of hope to those still frustrated by the educational cuts imposed by the current governor.

“Corbett has made too many cuts on too many things and it’s time for a change and Tom Wolf seems to be the answer,” said Chris Cox, a Mt. Lebanon resident and Robert Morris University alumni. “There’s young kids coming out of Robert Morris with Master’s degrees and Bachelor’s degrees, yet they’re working at Half Price Books. Tom Wolf, I think, can create jobs whereas Tom Corbett has been basically keeping the taxes down and, as a result, education has suffered a little bit.”

Despite the fact that Wolf hasn’t been hiding his personable persona, Robert Morris Political Science professor Dr. Phillip Harold believes that his success in the polls is a combination of his character, effective advertisements and his opponent’s lack of legislative aptitude.

“If there’s one thing that shows political competence, it’s taking credit for things. The natural gas industry is going gangbusters, it really is going well and unemployment is down. But [Corbett] hasn’t successfully taken credit for the things that he could of,” he said.

“Corbett is running like the challenger. He’s really running like the challenger and Wolf is like the incumbent. It’s totally crazy. This is historic that a governor is this despised and is going to lose. That’s never happened for a long time.”

Even though Pennsylvanians from all over have shown their support for Wolf because of his down-to-earth demeanor, in his mind, the public approves more of his values than his amiable traits.

“They like that my two daughters went to the local public schools and I have a wife, we’ve been married for 39 years. People like those things, but I think they like more what I stand for,” Wolf said. “I think they agree with me that Pennsylvania could be better. And so instead of putting up with the stuff we put up with, let’s work together and make it better.”