Wagner tells Wolf, 'I'm going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes'

Staff and wire report

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner took to Facebook on Friday morning to warn Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in a live video that he'd "better put a catcher's mask on your face, because I'm going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes."

Hours later, The Associated Press reported Wagner had removed the nearly 3-minute video from his Facebook page and said he might have used a poor choice of words and that his passion should not be confused with anger.

The live stream was taken in front of a billboard that states Wagner has sued 6,979 state residents through his company Penn Waste. It also provides a link to a website offering more detail about the lawsuits.

The billboard is sponsored by PA Spotlight, a "social welfare organization dedicated to educating the public on issues that enhance the well-being of middle-class families and workers here in Pennsylvania," according to its website.

Although the organization isn't affiliated with the Wolf campaign, Wagner said the billboard was put up by "Tom Wolf and his Democrat cronies."

In the video, Wagner defends the lawsuits, stating a company that provides a service expects to be paid.

Next to Wagner are several bundles of paychecks for his "various companies," and after calling Wolf "not very smart" in regard to business, he boasts the checks are going to his well-paid employees who have a variety of benefits.

He issues his warning toward the end of the three-minute video.

"Between now and Nov. 6, you better put a catcher's mask on your face, because I'm going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes, because I'm going to win this for the state of Pennsylvania," Wagner said.

More:Wagner 'tapped out' of money, accuses Republicans of undermining him

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2018, file photo, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, left, and Republican Scott Wagner take part in a gubernatorial debate in Hershey, Pa. Wolf seems to be barely breaking a sweat in running a disciplined and conservative re-election campaign. Despite the fact that Wagner is making many more campaign appearances, the brash waste-hauling millionaire has struggled. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Wagner campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo said the golf spikes statement was metaphorical.

"Scott's comments were not to be taken literally," he said. "He wanted them to be a metaphor for how he will approach the final stretch of the campaign. Tom Wolf has spent the entire race hiding behind false and negative attack ads like a coward instead of debating in front of the people of Pennsylvania, and Scott will spend the last month of the race making it clear to voters why they should not give him a second term."

“Threats of violence have no place in society, especially from someone running for public office,” Wolf’s campaign said Friday. “This is part of an unfortunate pattern with Scott Wagner.”

Wagner has used other violent imagery in the past to describe how he would get things done in the Capitol as a state senator. In 2014, he talked about wearing gloves to the statehouse because things would get bloody, and another time he spoke of bringing a baseball bat.

In 2016, describing a budget stalemate, he told a Republican audience that GOP lawmakers had Wolf “down on the floor with our foot on his throat, and we let him up. Next time, we won’t let him up.”

A primary rival in April aired a TV ad calling him “violent Wagner” and teased a video clip from last year when Wagner grabbed a camera from a campaign tracker working for a liberal political opposition group.

The ad ended with the caption “violent Wagner accused of brutal assault.” However, Wagner was not charged in the incident, which happened at the Country Club of York, and the campaign tracker did not appear to suffer more than a minor finger injury.

In Friday's video, Wagner also said he's "sick and tired" of Wolf's "negative ads." But the Democratic incumbent isn't alone in running an aggressive campaign.

Wagner has previously touted his own billboards on his Facebook page, including one that shows a picture of Wolf and his running mate John Fetterman next to the phrase, "A more socialist PA."

Both candidates also have issued a steady stream of news releases criticizing their opponents and their political stances.

In all polls but one this year, Wolf holds a double-digit lead over Wagner. The incumbent  also is largely outraising and outspending Wagner.

Additionally, Wagner sent out an email Oct. 6 to supporters claiming certain "establishment Republicans" are working to undermine his campaign and that he's "tapped out" of money to finance it.

The campaign didn't respond to inquiries asking for the identities of the individuals in question and what they were doing to undermine the campaign.

— York Dispatch staff writer Logan Hullinger and The Associated Press contributed to this report.