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EDITORIAL: Nasty race between Scott Wagner, Paul Mango just sign of things to come

York Dispatch
  • Scott Wagner and Paul Mango are running for the Pennsylvania Republican nomination for governor.
  • Both candidates have already released attack ads against the other.
  • The Republican winner will face incumbent Democratic governer, Tom Wolf, in the general election.

Tom Wolf better be prepared.

Screen grab from Paul Mango's attack ad featuring Scott Wagner.

That’s the only conclusion you can logically draw after watching the ugliness that is unfolding between Scott Wagner and Paul Mango in Pennsylvania’s Republican primary for governor.

The two men are embroiled in a nasty and sophomoric campaign battle, although Mango’s commercials thus far seem a little more nasty and a lot more sophomoric than Wagner’s.

Here you have two Republicans, both considered bedrock conservatives, who are willing to sink to almost bottomless depths against a foe of a similar political persuasion. It makes you wonder what kind of vitriol the eventual winner might unleash on the Democratic governor from Mount Wolf when the general election rolls around.

It should send shivers up Wolf’s spine — as well as ours. It’s certainly nothing Pennsylvanians should look forward to.

Wagner's primary opponent goes personal in gubernatorial attack ad

Scott Wagner

Of course, there’s always the chance that another Republican, Laura Ellsworth, who is casting herself as the mature alternative to Wagner and Mango, could emerge victorious. Recent polling, however, indicates that Ellsworth is trailing significantly against both Wagner and Mango.

Maturity apparently doesn’t mean much, at least in Pennsylvania politics.

Adwatch: Key attacks in Pennsylvania’s GOP race for governor

That became perfectly clear when Mango recently unveiled his 30-second cartoon ad depicting Wagner as a slumlord, a polluter, a sleazy bail bondsman, a greedy businessman and, perhaps most damning, a deadbeat dad. That’s a lot to pile into a 30-second spot, but somehow Mango pulled off the ignominious feat.

It’s probably safe to assume that Mango feels like he has nothing to lose. Wagner is the hand-picked candidate of the state Republican party and held a sizable lead over Mango in recent polling.

Paul Mango

So, Mango apparently decided to throw some bombs in the hopes of winning an unlikely Hail Mary victory.

The feisty Wagner, however, is hardly a shrinking violet, and he’s certainly not the type to sit idly by while someone hurls insults at him. He and his campaign have responded, vigorously.

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 a month left before the May 15 primary election.

The York County businessman also has run attack ads of his own, calling Mango an Obamacare advocate and outsourcer of jobs.

Responding to Mango attack, Wagner's daughter demands apology in new ad

Wagner’s daughter, Katharine, even addressed Mango’s claims, first in a lengthy Facebook post and later in a TV ad.

Katharine Wagner calls Mango "a disgrace" and urges him to "take down your disgusting ads and apologize."

Tom Wolf

"Dragging me into his dirty campaign is beyond the bounds of decency," Katharine Wagner said in the commercial.

Well, Katharine Wagner is right about at least one thing. The Republican gubernatorial campaign has stretched far beyond the bounds of decency, especially on Mango’s part.

'Uphill climb' for GOP: Wolf, Casey dominate new poll

Still, accusations of dubious validity are being hurled by both Republican candidates.

No matter who wins on May 15, you can be sure that the political climate will get even more heated for the November general election against Wolf.

There will likely be months of nonstop attack ads, especially since the Republican winner will enter that race as a rather sizable underdog, at least according to the latest polling.

Wagner transitions from write-in opposition to GOP frontman

Like Mango against Wagner, the Republican primary winner will probably feel as through he has nothing to lose, especially in an election that's expected to produce a blue wave for the Democrats. As a result, you can expect more political bombs to be thrown.

For Wolf, and for Pennsylvanians, it is certainly not something to look forward to. In fact, it's something to dread.