5 Things You Need to Know About Our New Governor

Philadelphia magazine’s Steve Volk profiled Tom Wolf in September. Here are five things you should know about him before he takes office.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

In September, Philadelphia magazine’s own Steve Volk profiled a man with an even shorter name than him: Tom Wolf. The article, “Perfect Stranger,” was a close look at the man who many don’t know much about even after almost 1.9 million Pennsylvanians voted for him on Tuesday.

Here are five quotes from Volk’s fall profile to keep in mind when Wolf begins his term next year.

  • He’s a different kind of self-funded candidate. “He’s rich, yes, but he’s no tycoon. His $10 million contribution to his own campaign included $4.5 million acquired through a personal loan. And where Trump is a modern media creation and Bloomberg is a cutting-edge billionaire, Wolf seems to come gliding out of the past. There’s a nostalgic, old-timey quality about the man.”
  • He turned down an academic life in Boston for York County. “According to his closest friends from MIT, he could have stayed on there or taken a position at Harvard. He and Frances spent a spring afternoon strolling around Boston’s Copley Square, mulling the possibilities. They looked at the people and the buildings, the Romanesque Trinity Church. He tried to imagine a future there. But some other place still had a hold on his heart.”
  • He’s unknown, but he’s no neophyte. “Cleaning the local waterway, building a political party, advancing school reform — these are lofty pursuits for a guy selling kitchen cabinets. They also suggest that one of the most common knocks on Wolf’s ­candidacy — that he’s a political naïf in over his head — might be unfounded. In fact, it seems likely Wolf has long entertained the end game we’re seeing right now.”
  • He made a ton of money selling his company right before the recession. “The investment firm put up $32 million, and a team of in-house managers, Wolf’s protégés, contributed another $5 million. But that wasn’t reward enough for Wolf and his two partners. So Weston and the new management team took out a $50 million loan from M&T Bank on behalf of the company. That freed up enough cash to pay Wolf and his partners about $20 million apiece. They also each got to hold onto an 11 percent share of the company.” He returned in 2009 and invested $11 million in the company when it was in dire financial straits.
  • One summer, Tom Wolf’s parents pulled the meanest trick any parents have ever pulled on a kid. “But at age 12, after telling him he was going to baseball camp, his parents pulled a bait-and-switch and packed him off to a rigorous Quaker-affiliated summer camp instead.”

That last one probably won’t mean much to Wolf’s style of governing, but if he ever offers to take the entire state on a trip to Disney World, it’s probably a bait and switch.

[Tom Wolf: Perfect Stranger]