Political newbie seeks GOP nod in race for gov.
HARRISBURG (AP) — Paul Mango, a former health care systems consultant and a political newcomer, will run for governor in 2018, launching himself into a potentially daunting and expensive Republican primary that could be the gateway to taking on Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s re-election bid.
Mango made a formal announcement of his candidacy Wednesday night in Pittsburgh and launched his campaign website Wednesday morning. In a three-minute video on the website, Mango takes aim at Pennsylvania’s political class.
“I think the last thing Pennsylvania can afford is another politician who doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Mango says. “Where have the politicians led Pennsylvania? Today we have higher unemployment and lower job growth than most, our schools rank in the bottom half despite spending more per child than almost any other state, our taxes our high, we pay more at the gas pump and our children are dying from heroin. The only thing we seem to lead the nation in is politicians going to jail.”
Mango, a suburban Pittsburgh resident, had not done any media interviews on his political views before Wednesday and has largely stayed out of sight during a tour of Republican county committee dinners and other functions.
On his website, Mango, 58, is critical of Wolf’s fiscal policy and handling of the state’s economy, long one of the nation’s slowest growers. He promises to be a fiscal conservative who can invigorate job growth, in part by cutting corporate taxes. He also suggests that the state’s education, health care and anti-poverty programs are failing and can only be fixed by the private sector, not the government.
He opposes abortion rights and public funding for Planned Parenthood, calls Democratic former President Barack Obama’s health care law a “disaster” and says he’s a National Rifle Association member who believes the government has gone far enough in infringing on the rights of gun owners.
Mango has hired a team that worked on campaigns for former Gov. Tom Corbett and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, but little is known about his personal wealth or his ability to raise campaign cash. A winning campaign could cost $30 million, and Republican political consultants privately predict that Wolf will be tough to beat.
Before Mango can challenge Wolf, he faces a GOP primary field that so far includes state Sen. Scott Wagner, of York County, who owns the $65 million Penn Waste operation and reported loaning his campaign $4 million to get started. House Speaker Mike Turzai, of suburban Pittsburgh, has all but declared his candidacy, telling GOP state committee members that he hopes to announce his candidacy in the summer or early fall.
For many, Mango is an unknown.
A West Point graduate who served five years in the U.S. Army, he has a master’s degree in business from Harvard University and had a long career advising major health care companies for McKinsey and Co. on multiple continents about management systems and consumer trends.
He was undoubtedly well-known in his field: He testified in 2015 before a federal commission reviewing the Veterans Health Administration following its patient treatment scandal, and in 2014 he spoke on a panel organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta on the regulations and implementation of the federal health care law.
He has not divulged which companies he advised or how he helped them.