EDITORIAL: Wolf has earned a second term

York Dispatch Editorial Board

Big decisions aren’t always difficult decisions.

Such is the case in next week’s gubernatorial race, which pits incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf against Republican challenger Scott Wagner.

On the basis of their positions, their records, their vision and their temperament, Wolf is the clear choice. He has earned the York Dispatch’s full-throated endorsement.

The first-term governor’s success was anything but assured some 45 months ago, when he assumed his first elective office alongside a Republican-controlled state legislature.

And, to be sure, there have been some bumps in the road. Three straight budget impasses and the still-unresolved debate over taxing the state’s hydrofracking industry leap to mind.

But Wolf has emerged as a steady and steadying presence in Harrisburg, where he has overseen fiscal stability and led sure-handed responses to some of the state’s — and era’s — most pressing social issues.

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His efforts to battle the explosive opioid crisis, for example, has been far-reaching and effective.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf speaks during a meeting with The York Dispatch editorial staff at the Dispatch offices Friday, October 19, 2018. Bill Kalina photo

From establishing dozens of treatment centers to arming police officers and school officials with overdose-reversing drugs, the governor has brought resources and support where they’ve been most badly needed.

Wolf’s efforts to expand and coordinate resources to counter sexual assaults in schools and colleges through the “It’s On Us PA” campaign has been similarly timely and effective.

More important than past accomplishments, Wolf offer the best chance for progress going forward on a number of important fronts:

— Gun violence: As a horrific mass shooting at a Pittsburgh-area synagogue Saturday once again demonstrated, Pennsylvania is not immune from the epidemic of gun violence plaguing the nation. Wolf has pushed for a ban on the sale of assault weapons — like the AR15, which was one of the firearms used in Saturday’s shooting — and an expansion of background checks to cover private sales of many firearms. Saturday’s violence shows he must push harder during his second term.

— Political reform: Wolf supports stricter lobbying laws and a ban on gift-giving to state politicians. He has also proposed same-day registration for voters and he continues to push for a much-needed independent commission to draw congressional and legislative districts.

— Middle-class concerns: Wolf supports the Medicaid expansion and has been the only thing standing between Medicaid benefits and GOP-backed work requirements. He also supports raising the state’s current $7.25 minimum wage to $12 and has been an advocate for full and equitable funding for public schools.

Finally, Wolf brings to the governor’s office the type of personal and political probity that is sorely lacking in much of today’s politics.

He does not target opponents with slander and sarcasm. He does not resort to violent imagery and physical threats. He charts a concerned, thoughtful and respectful course through his public dealings that reflects positively on himself, his office and the state.

The race for governor is arguably the most important decision Pennsylvania’s voters will make next Tuesday. It is inarguably the easiest.

On the basis of his record, priorities and temperament, Tom Wolf has earned a second term.