A debate among the four Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania governor became lively Thursday night when they were asked about ethics and leadership style, and presumed front-runner Tom Wolf continued to sustain and pushed back on daily attacks against him.
The 90-minute debate at Franklin and Marshall College also revealed that all four candidates support either a moratorium on or an end to the death penalty. Wolf, state Treasurer Rob McCord and former state environmental protection secretary Katie McGinty agreed that a moratorium on the death penalty was in order, while U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz said she is opposed to it.
Questions at the debate were posed by journalists and included ones on ethics and leadership style. The event featured a particularly sharp exchange when Wolf, who runs a building materials distribution business in York, responded to assertions by Schwartz, saying, "there's a lot of nonsense there."
Schwartz had questioned Wolf's financial support for the legal fund of a jailed former lawmaker who is a personal friend and derided his refusal to take a salary or perks when he served as the secretary of revenue under former Gov. Ed Rendell.
"I'm not sure this style actually is what we're looking for," Wolf told her. "This is the same style of negative attack politics that actually gets you to the point where we have the dysfunction we disparage in Washington and Harrisburg."
More attacks came later from Schwartz and McCord.
Schwartz was asked to defend her attacks on Wolf in the context of her ability to be a leader in Harrisburg. She responded that holding people in government to a higher standard is not an obstacle to cooperation.
She, along with McCord and McGinty, went on to try to stress their experience in working in government, perhaps in an effort to contrast themselves with Wolf's more limited experience.
McGinty pointed to her efforts as Rendell's environmental protection secretary in winning approval from a Republican-controlled Legislature in 2004 to make Pennsylvania the first industrial state to enact renewable energy standards. As a result, Pennsylvania became the No. 1 state in jobs in wind-turbine manufacturing, she said.