EDITORIAL: Wagner resignation leaves York County vulnerable

York Dispatch

Bad timing, former senator.

Scott Wagner on Monday, June 4, resigned his seat in the state Senate to devote his full attention to his campaign for governor.

On Tuesday, outgoing Lt. Gov. Mike Stack announced that there will not be a special election to fill Wagner's 28th District seat, saying the cost of a special election was not justified with less than seven months left in Wagner's term. 

This leaves most of York County without a voice in the state Senate as the Legislature turns its attention to the state budget, which is supposed to be approved by the end of the month. Not that it's ever done on time, but that's a discussion for another day.

We're not arguing with Wagner's decision. It makes sense that he can't effectively campaign for governor while also performing his duties as a state senator and representing the people of the 28th District, which covers most of York County.

But the timing of it really stinks.

State Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, speaks to reporters Monday, June 4 after delivering his farewell address on the Senate floor. Wagner resigned to focus on his gubernatorial campaign. (David Weissman photo)

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Yes, it's only been a few weeks since the primary election that gave Wagner the Republican nomination for governor. But Wagner has been campaigning hard for months now, throughout the state and even out of state, hobnobbing with the GOP elite. He got the endorsement of the state GOP committee in February.

It's been a big change for someone who only four years ago was so far outside the Republican mainstream that he wasn't even on the ballot in the special election that won him the Senate seat. He became the first person elected to the Senate via write-in ballot. 

"Given the fact that they chose to write his name in on the ballot in 2014, Scott has always felt a special kind of responsibility to his constituents, and it was a tough choice to resign," wrote Andrew Romeo, Wagner's campaign spokesman. "However, he feels that as governor he can do far more to help them than he has been able to do as a senator."

And yet, Wagner is turning his back on those constituents at a very vulnerable time of year. 

Budget season is when many huge decisions are made at the state Capitol, from taxes to education funding to funding for health services, an endless list of critical areas where the Legislature will be making choices. And York County needs all the voices in the chamber it can get to make sure that our schools get their fair share of state funding and our services are properly funded.

Scott Wagner is congratulated during an election party May 15 at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in West Manchester Township after the announcement that he won the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Now, York County is missing a potentially loud voice in its favor as the money is divided and decisions are made. 

Wagner says he has spoken with Sen. Jake Corman, a leader within the Republican Senate caucus, to ensure that York County's interests are heard while our senator is running for governor, and the York County House delegation will also be stepping up.

In the meantime, we just have to hope for the best and remember that, whoever the governor is come January, he'll be from York County.