The First Gubernatorial Debate: What They’re Saying

Corbett came out aggressive, but Wolf's lead may be insurmountable.


Gov. Tom Corbett and challenger Tom Wolf had their first official debate Monday night in Hershey. Here’s what observers are saying about it:


Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf traded charges over taxes and education in their first debate before Pennsylvania voters choose their next governor on Nov. 4.

Trailing in the polls, Corbett pressed Wolf for specifics on his tax plan. Wolf decried cuts in education under Corbett resulting in 27,000 job losses in education and “property taxes through the roof.”

Wolf has made $6 billion in campaign promises without specific plans for how to pay for it, Corbett charged. From what is known, “everyone above $60,000 (annual income) is going to pay more,” the governor said. “I think it’s time he shared his plan.”


For his part, Wolf sought to frame Corbett as failing to capably steer the state’s economy and government finances, while he cut critical funding for public schools. To burnish his credentials, Wolf continually referred to his experience heading his family’s York-based building products business for nearly three decades as evidence he can invigorate the state’s economy and heal government finances.

“We aren’t doing as well as we should do and I think we need to look at that and say, ‘this is what we need from our state government, to set the table for robust economic growth,’” Wolf said.


Corbett, at times, behaved more like a challenger than a sitting governor, going on offense early and challenging Wolf on numbers in his economic plans and Wolf’s charges against education funding.

”He doesn’t want to talk about statistics,” Corbett said. ”Mr. Wolf’s supporters in the public sector unions have spent millions to put out the lie that I cut education. I did not.”


Behind in the polls, Gov. Corbett went on offense Monday night in the first televised debate of the Pennsylvania governor’s race, defending himself as a steady steward of taxpayers’ money while characterizing Democrat Tom Wolf as an untested entity with vague promises.

And the Post-Gazette points out:

The candidates met six weeks before the election and after months of largely dispiriting news for the incumbent’s campaign. Last week, the state’s unemployment rate crept up for the second month in a row, challenging a GOP campaign that had been touting better news on jobs for much of the last year. Polls have consistently found Mr. Corbett trailing his Democratic challenger by wide margins. A Muhlenberg College survey released Sunday showed Mr. Wolf with a lead of 21 points — 54 percent to 33 percent.