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Wagner's primary opponent goes personal in gubernatorial attack ad

David Weissman
York Dispatch

Republicans are hoping to replace Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf for the state's highest office, but for now the GOP candidates are tearing into each other.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul Mango personally attacked his opponent, Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, in an ad that began airing Wednesday, April 4, in six media markets in Pennsylvania, according to The Associated Press.

The ad depicts a cartoon version of Wagner as "Slumlord Wagner," "Bail Bondsman Wagner," "Toxic Wagner," "Greedy Wagner," and "Deadbeat Dad Wagner."

Scott Wagner, a York County state senator and the president of waste-hauler PennWaste Inc., answers questions from the panel during a debate between Republican Gubernatorial candidates at Harrisburg Area Community College in Harrisburg, Pa., Thursday, March 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Knight)

The ad also concludes showing footage from last year of Wagner grabbing the camera of a campaign tracker with the narrator closing, "and coming soon, violent Wagner."

Andrew Romeo, a spokesman for Wagner's campaign, wrote in a statement that the "despicable ad with false attacks" shows that Mango is desperate, with just more than a month left before the May 15 primary election.

"He knows Scott is the true conservative candidate in this race, and because of that, he is resorting to smearing Scott’s character rather than talking about his own record or policies," Romeo wrote.

Paul Mango, a former health care systems consultant from suburban Pittsburgh and a first-time candidate, answers questions from the panel during a debate between Republican Gubernatorial candidates at Harrisburg Area Community College in Harrisburg, Pa., Thursday, March 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Knight)

Wagner, who has run attack ads of his own, calling Mango an Obamacare advocate and outsourcer of jobs, is used to such criticisms, as similar claims were made during his 2014 state Senate campaign.

Those attacks also were coming from within his own party, though he was running as a write-in during that special election, while he is now the state party's endorsed gubernatorial candidate.

Katharine Wagner, the candidate's daughter, addressed all the claims in a lengthy Facebook post, particularly disputing the "Deadbeat Dad" label, which stated he was $800,000 late in paying child support.

"Because of my father, I have been given countless (opportunities) many typically wouldn’t have in life," she wrote. "... Because of my dad, I have all the emotional support & good advice you could possibly imagine. I have a great father; someone who has created jobs for thousands of individuals over the last 40 years, someone who knows the value of a dollar and hard work."

The Associated Press noted that a judge found in 2012 that Wagner had an “arrearage” of $800,000 in a case stemming from a dispute over Wagner’s income that should be considered eligible for calculating his support obligations. The judge’s opinion noted that Wagner had made payments going back to the separation.