EDITORIAL: Wagner in action

The York Dispatch

Did Trump University have a political science department?

State Sen. Scott Wagner. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Think you need a brains, class and an even temperament to run for office? Wrong! Let Donald Trump show you the secrets to a successful campaign. Hint: They’re not what you would think — but they work!

Sign up now for the “Gold Elite” program at the low, low price of $35,000. Sell your home or use the kids’ college funds if you have to.

Not that Scott Wagner would have had to sell anything to study under the master (or from a member of his “hand-picked” faculty) if the alleged scam real estate school had also wooed wannabe politicians.

The wealthy York County businessman, Republican state senator and gubernatorial candidate probably could have covered the tuition cost without breaking the bank.

But Wagner didn’t need any book-learning. It seems he’s been studying Trump from afar for a while now .

Poke your finger in the eye of your party’s establishment? Check.

Super PAC to Wagner: Give us our stuff or else

Police investigating Sen. Wagner's confrontation with cameraman

Wagner announces run for governor

Wagner made Pennsylvania history three years ago by running the first successful write-in campaign, beating the Republican’s hand-picked candidate.

Say outrageous or inflammatory things? Of course.

Wagner tends to say what’s on his mind, with little care for how it’s received.

In 2014, he compared public union workers to Adolf Hitler, a remark Wagner later apologized for making. Also, during a phone interview with a radio program that year, he said he'll be "sitting in the back of the room with a baseball bat" in reference to getting things done in Harrisburg.

More recently, Wagner was criticized in March when he was quoted suggesting to natural gas advocates that climate change could be due to the earth moving closer to the sun and a growing world population putting off more body heat.

The remarks prompted one scientist to tell Politifact Pennsylvania he was “kind of disappointed in (Wagner’s) high school science teacher."

Now the state senator from Spring Garden Township seems to have ripped another page from Trump’s political playbook — take a hostile, threatening attitude toward those who don’t agree with you.

Trump is famous for targeting protesters at his rallies, sometimes urging supporters to “get ‘em out of here.” In fact he’s being sued by three protesters for incitement to riot, negligence, gross negligence and recklessness. Two Trump supporters being sued for assault and battery have responded that they believed they were following Trump’s directions.

Wagner now is part of a police investigation for an incident on Tuesday at the Country Club of York, where he was addressing a group during a private gathering.

Wagner noticed a man filming him, and once he found out the man was a tracker for American Bridge 21st Century, he grabbed the camera, despite the tracker's objections.

"You're about to see your senator in action," Wagner said to the crowd as he took matters in his own hands.

Trackers often are hired to shadow political candidates in high-profile campaigns in an attempt to catch them saying or doing something controversial.

Video of the incident and subsequent cellphone footage show the tracker trying to get his camera back, Wagner appearing to grab at the man and the man then showing a bloody finger. The PAC posted both clips to YouTube.

Spring Garden Township Police Chief George Swartz confirmed police were called to the scene and the incident is under investigation.

Lizzy Price — a spokeswoman for  American Bridge 21st Century, which describes itself as "a progressive research and communications organization committed to holding Republicans accountable" — said the camera was returned, but the device's memory card was not.

The organization posted on Twitter that it intends to pursue criminal charges if Wagner doesn’t return the card.

It seems Wagner is living up to the assessment of Joyce Haas, the state GOP vice chairwoman who has called him "our Donald Trump."

Please Sen. Wagner, set your sights higher.

There’s a year to go until the gubernatorial primary, and there’s still time to learn some restraint (and maybe some science).

Think before you speak, for instance, and let police or security handle any opponents and protesters if a situation calls for it.

If you have a strong message of hope for all Pennsylvanians — lower-income and the country club set alike — it should be able to withstand with criticism.

Oh ... and would you please just return the memory card and help put this mess in the past?