Following a Democratic-favored election that some politicos considered a warning about Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's unpopularity, a prominent York County businessman is among those being mentioned to run for the state's top office in 2014.
York-based Wolf Organization chair and CEO Tom Wolf, who served as secretary of revenue under Gov. Ed Rendell, said Tuesday he's considering a run. But the Mount Wolf Democrat stopped short of saying he will run, because he wants to make sure his business can thrive without him.
Wolf, 63, considered a run for governor in 2009, but instead decided to return to the family business.
"If I can get it to a point where I feel comfortable, I would love to throw my hat in the ring," he said.
Wolf said he's talking with potential investors to make sure the company -- a major distributor of kitchen and bath cabinetry and a supplier of building materials -- has the capital it needs to continue growing.
But while focused on his business, he also feels a pull toward the state office, he said.
"I think Pennsylvania has a lot of potential," he said. "This is a very potentially prosperous state and its potential is much bigger than the problems it faces. A governor could do some remarkable things."
He said Pennsylvania is the most dominant state in the union and "the right vision and leadership might make that clear. I think we can do much better."
He said he doesn't have a platform because he's "not really running at this point," but he thinks he could outperform the incumbent.
"Typically, an incumbent is hard to unseat, but in this case that might not be as true."
Good timing There was a Democratic sweep on the top state races, including election of Attorney General Kathleen Kane, Treasurer Rob McCord and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. Democrats also picked up three seats in the state Senate.
In a Nov. 5 Allentown Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll, 38 percent of state voters disapproved of Corbett's job performance, compared with 37 percent who approved, the newspaper reported.
In addition to Wolf, those being mentioned for a run include U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, newly re-elected state Treasurer Rob McCord, onetime Philadelphia mayoral candidate Tom Knox and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, the Morning Call reported.
Corbett's unpopularity is an opportunity for challengers, said York County Democratic Party chair Bob Kefauver.
"In many ways, last Tuesday's election was a referendum on Gov. Corbett," Kefauver said. "He remains one of the most unpopular governors in the nation, and his polices and leadership style have been unpopular with voters."
Corbett could be a one-term governor, breaking years of a cycle in which the state swings "eight years of Republican and eight years of Democratic," Kefauver said.
And after state Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-York City, last week became the first Yorker to win a state seat in decades, Kefauver said he's excited about Wolf's possibilities.
"We would be absolutely thrilled to see Tom Wolf make a run for governor, and we think he would actually have a very good shot at pulling this off," Kefauver said. "He's very well-known across the commonwealth, was secretary of revenue."
Wolf has not only run a very successful business, but he also has a Ph.D. and an Ivy League education, Kefauver said.
He has multiple degrees from Dartmouth College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of London.
"But he also served in the Peace Corps for a couple of years as well," Kefauver said. "He wants to do this, I believe, simply because he wants to serve the public good. A man like Tom Wolf doesn't need to be governor. I think his motivation comes from simple desire to serve the public. And that's truly admirable."
Kefauver said the time to make a decision is approaching, as "it's never too early to lay the groundwork for a statewide race."
Gubernatorial campaigns should begin a minimum of 15 to 18 months before an election, he said.
Republicans respond: While the York County Republican Party doesn't make endorsements, chairman Bob Wilson said he's standing by the governor in his bid for re-election.
"When Corbett was attorney general and he was running, he told everyone what he wanted to do and he's done that," Wilson said.
Another York County businessman, Penn Waste owner Scott Wagner, has been publicly critical of Corbett and is rumored as a potential challenger in the Republican primary.
Though he previously identified himself as a Republican and was an early supporter of the tea party, Wagner said he's "probably more of an independent than a Republican."
A would-be newcomer to politics, Wagner said he's unhappy with the "status quo" in Harrisburg and "might consider" a run.
"It's not my intention," he said. "But if we got so dire and somebody had to step ... I would have to. It might be something that I consider because I am holding people accountable."
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.