Analyst: Wolf and Fetterman could unite Pa. Democrats

David Weissman
York Dispatch

Pennsylvania might still have four more years with the same governor, but Tuesday's primary election results ensured a new lieutenant governor beginning in 2019.

Gov. Tom Wolf, right, greets newly elected Lt. Gov. running mate John Fetterman as they meet for lunch and to speak to the media at Manchester Cafe in Manchester Township, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

As Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf prepares to take on fellow York County millionaire state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, he will be doing so with a new running mate.

Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, a York County native, defeated incumbent Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, of Philadelphia, and three other challengers for the Democratic nomination.

Wolf and Fetterman met for lunch Wednesday, May 16, at Manchester Cafe in East Manchester Township — less than a mile from Wagner's Penn Waste facility.

More:GOP picks state Sen. Scott Wagner to challenge Gov. Tom Wolf

More:Dems pick York native Fetterman for lieutenant governor nod

Fetterman said he and Wolf discussed their shared roots in York County.

Enthusiasm: Political analyst G. Terry Madonna said Fetterman, who was endorsed by Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Pennsylvania's United Steelworkers union, should add a sense of enthusiasm to Wolf's campaign, particularly with progressive Democrats.

"He helps marry the two wings of the Democratic Party," Madonna said, noting that Wolf has very liberal positions but has had to deal with four years of working with a very conservative Legislature.

Fetterman said he believes Wolf will be just fine running on his own record, and if he can help contribute in any small way, he's happy to do that.

Madonna said that ultimately people will vote based on the gubernatorial candidate's agenda, but Fetterman could help increase Democratic voter turnout.

Wolf said the key for their campaign will be developing a relationship based on mutual respect and trust.

Wolf's relationship with Stack had publicly soured — Wolf last year ordered an investigation into the treatment of state employees by Stack and his wife and stripped Stack of state police protection.

Asked outside the cafe about his relationship with Stack, Wolf briefly paused before thanking the outgoing lieutenant governor for his service.

More:Battle of the businessmen: Wagner and Wolf highlight 2018 race

More:Dillsburg minister, Army vet to take on Perry in 10th Congressional District

Madonna said he doesn't necessarily believe Democrats need any extra excitement because they've already been shown to be the more energized party right now.

"The anti-Trump sentiment among Democrats is huge," he said, though he added that a lot could change between now and November.

Low turnout for Dems: While Democrats voted in greater numbers statewide on Tuesday, York County Democrats didn't show as much enthusiasm.

Less than 17 percent of registered county Democrats voted, down from about 22 percent during the last midterm primaries in 2014, according to county voting records.

Chad Baker, chair of the York County Democrats, said he thought the competitive 10th Congressional District race — where George Scott edged out Shavonnia Corbin-Johnson in a four-candidate race — would draw more to the polls.

Gov. Tom Wolf, right, and newly elected Lt. Gov. running mate John Fetterman lunch before addressing the media at Manchester Cafe in Manchester Township, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

He suggested low turnout was a symptom of a larger, general dissatisfaction with politics.

"People are tired of politics," Baker said. "It’s been very divisive for the past few years. People are turned off by the whole process."

Higher for GOP: York County Republicans countered with more than 25 percent of registered voters showing up to the polls Tuesday, up from less than 20 percent in 2014.

Alex Shorb, chairman of the York County GOP Committee, said he wasn't surprised Republicans outpaced local Democrats because there were more contested Republican races locally.

He added that he believes local Republicans are more energized behind Wagner than they were for then-incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett in 2014 because they know Wagner more intimately.

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)

Wagner will be running with Jeff Bartos, of Montgomery County, and the two have been campaigning together for months despite the governor and lieutenant governor races being separate on the primary ballots.

Madonna said the two are dynamically suited as a pro-Trump ticket that should appeal to the same base of voters who helped the president win Pennsylvania in 2016.

— Reach David Weissman at or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.