GOP endorses Wagner for governor, Turzai drops out of race

State Sen. Scott Wagner and running mate Jeff Bartos received an endorsement Saturday, Feb. 10, from the Republican Party of Pennsylvania in support of Wagner's bid for governor in 2018.

FILE – In this Jan. 11, 2017, file photo, Pa. state Sen. Scott Wagner, a Republican from York County and owner of trash hauling firm Penn Waste, speaks to reporters after formally announcing he will run for Pennsylvania governor in 2018, during an event at a Penn Waste facility in Manchester, Pa. U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican planning to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey's bid for re-election in 2018, and Wagner, planning to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's attempt to win a second term in 2018, were both early supporters of Trump, and remain unabashed supporters of the president. (AP Photo/Marc Levy, File)

Fellow Republican candidate and speaker of the state House of Representatives Mike Turzai announced his withdrawal from the campaign the same day.

Wagner's speech laid out the challenges he faced in getting to where he is now.

"You voted today to support a conservative outsider who only four years ago ran as a write-in candidate against both parties," Wagner said in the speech.

The Spring Garden Township businessman spoke about the changes he hopes to see in the government.

"I’m talking about change that comes from zero-based budgeting and eliminating abusive taxes like the school property tax," he said. "I’m talking about change that comes from lifting regulations, so Pennsylvania businesses can thrive, attract more business and our families can have good-paying jobs, save and build a future."

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He countered that "Tom Wolf has taxed everything and anything that moves, and it’s costing families thousands more so he can grow government."
Wagner said he plans to invest in classrooms and teachers, retrain skilled laborers, cut regulations to create more jobs and reform the tax system.

"Thank you for your courage. Thank you for choosing me, and thank you for choosing change," his speech concluded.

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Bartos submitted a statement following the endorsement, extending his gratitude.

“The State Committee’s choice to endorse the Wagner-Bartos ticket today is a critical first step in our mission to beat Tom Wolf and bring change to Harrisburg," he stated.

He continued, "I’m incredibly humbled to have the party’s support and am looking forward to spending the coming weeks and months continuing to bring people together."

Wagner expressed his support and regrets for Turzai in his acceptance speech, according to transcript.

"I want to thank Speaker Turzai and his wife, Lydia, for their leadership and their selflessness," the speech read. "Running for political office is never easy — and endorsements are family fights that are often hard."

Wagner continued, saying Turzai was "a good man" and that he looked forward to him being a partner in changing Harrisburg.

Financial advantage: Wagner has an edge on Republican competitors in campaign financing, with the largest cash balance of the campaign at $5,919,757.84 at the end of 2017, The York Dispatch reported Tuesday, Feb. 6.

More:Wagner edges out Mango in cash for GOP governor's primary race

More:Wagner puts millions in Pennsylvania gubernatorial run

Candidate Paul Mango was not far behind in the four-man race for governor, with $5,523,854.22, according to reports.

Turzai was $4 million behind the two candidates, and fourth candidate, Laura Ellsworth, did not break $1 million, the Dispatch reported.

Mike Turzai, GOP candidate for governor. (Submitted)

Turzai drops out: Turzai's suspension of his campaign comes less than three months since Turzai joined the race for governor and the #PaFightsBack movement, in an effort to unseat Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, according to a news release.

His campaign manager, Andrew Ritter, released a statement expressing gratitude for all the support his candidate received throughout his campaign. 

"Mike’s been to 67 counties and talked to thousands and thousands of Republican voters," Ritter stated. "The movement has had building momentum, and we are unspeakably grateful for the support you have all shown."

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He stated that Turzai is prepared to continue fighting for the policies that matter to individuals and working families in the Republican Party.