Wagner pulls U.S. Senate candidate into his gubernatorial campaign

David Weissman
York Dispatch
Jeff Bartos (left) announced Thursday, Nov. 9, that he will be suspending his U.S. Senate campaign to run as Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor in partnership with gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township. (Photo by David Weissman/ The York Dispatch)

Trying to capitalize on a perceived weakness in communications between Gov. Tom Wolf and his lieutenant governor, state Sen. Scott Wagner is joining forces with a fellow private-sector businessman in his gubernatorial push.

The Spring Garden Township Republican announced his partnership with Jeff Bartos on  Thursday, Nov. 9, at his campaign office across from the Capitol Building in Harrisburg.

Bartos, who owns a contracting company in Montgomery County, had previously announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Bob Casey.

A self-proclaimed conservative outsider — much like Wagner — Bartos said he decided to suspend his Senate campaign to run for lieutenant governor because he discovered that he cared most about state and local issues.

Wagner, owner of Penn Waste, said his successes in the business world have come as a result of surrounding himself with the best team, and bringing Bartos into the fold is part of his plan to do the same politically.

While the duo will be campaigning together from now through the primary election in May, Wagner and Bartos must be elected individually in order to appear on the ballot together during the general election.

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Wolf did not campaign with Lt. Gov. Mike Stack.

Wagner said he began conversations with Bartos regarding this possible partnership about two months ago, and Bartos said he believes his decision will strengthen the Republicans' chances to take down Wolf and Casey in 2018.

Bartos touted his fundraising ability as he leaves a crowded Senate GOP primary field that includes U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta and state Rep. Jim Christiana.

Bartos has more than $1 million on hand in his U.S. Senate campaign fund, the most of any of the GOP candidates, according to Federal Election Commission filings, and he said he will try to move that money into a state campaign fund, making sure to follow all legal requirements.