4 Republicans claw for an edge in live TV governor’s debate

Apr 27, 2022, 3:19 AM | Updated: 8:15 pm
In this April 1, 2022 photo combination shown from top left are Lou Barletta, Pennsylvania state Se...

In this April 1, 2022 photo combination shown from top left are Lou Barletta, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, Bill McSwain and David White at a forum for Republican candidates for governor of Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in Camp Hill, Pa. The four are scheduled to meet in Harrisburg, Pa., for a debate on Wednesday, April 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Leading candidates for the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania’s open governor’s office made big promises in Wednesday night’s debate about how they’ll ramp up the economy and spend state dollars, as they clawed for an edge in a huge nine-person field.

Four of the nine candidates appeared at the live-televised prime-time debate, spending part of the hour in the studio of WHTM-TV in Harrisburg trying to establish an identity or an edge on a rival.

The four met the polling threshold set by the station’s parent company as they vie for the nomination to succeed the term-limited Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat. Five others didn’t meet the polling threshold.

The candidates were: Lou Barletta, the GOP’s nominee for U.S. Senate in 2018 and a former congressman known for his crusade against illegal immigration; state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a force in Pennsylvania’s right-wing politics who pushed to overturn 2020´s presidential election; Bill McSwain, a lawyer in private practice who was the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia under former President Donald Trump; and Dave White, who runs an $85 million-a-year plumbing and HVAC firm and is a former Delaware County councilman.

In addition to questions on taxes and the economy, the candidates agreed that they would get rid of the state’s two-year-old no-excuse mail-in voting law, which some Republicans blame for Trump’s 2020 election loss in the presidential battleground state.

They also said they would sign “constitutional carry” legislation — scrapping the state’s requirement that gunowners get a permit from the county to carry a concealed firearm in public. And they all said they would restrict or even ban abortion, if allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court, differing only on possible exceptions. McSwain said he would maintain exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother, while the others would not.

Neither the state party nor Trump have endorsed in the race, leaving the field that much more wide open. Two-term state Attorney General Josh Shapiro does not face a challenger for the Democratic Party’s nomination.

But the huge field has stoked unease among some top Republicans that a toxic candidate could win with less than 30% of the vote in the May 17 primary election.

To that end, Mastriano was asked what he would tell voters concerned that he has “legal issues,” worries that stem from the subpoena issued to him by the congressional committee looking into the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“There are no legal issues,” Mastriano responded.

On spending, the candidates struggled to say — or didn’t say at all — how they would replace revenue if they cut the state’s gas tax. They pledged to cut business taxes and regulations.

They also pledged to help bail out nursing homes, which have said they’re having to close facilities because of inadequate Medicaid reimbursements, except for Mastriano.

Instead, he turned the question to the baseless accusation that the Wolf administration is guilty of “sending the sick back into the homes which have killed at least 16,000 of our elderly” during the pandemic.

Across the country, and in every state, recovering COVID-19 patients were accepted by nursing homes, more than 250,000 in the 12 months through March 1, 2021, according to federal data.

No investigation or report has thus far pointed to the policy as a cause of death or outbreak. Rather, research points to other factors — such as asymptomatic community spread — as determining factors in COVID-19 outbreaks in the homes.

On the economy, they all promised to usher in more natural gas drilling in the nation’s No. 2 gas state.

“We will frack,” White said, using the shortened term for hydraulic fracturing, a critical method of unlocking oil and gas from rock formations. “We’ll get it going. That’ll bring additional revenue to our state and it’ll grow our economy. Great-paying, six-figure jobs, 50,000 to 60,000 of them, very quickly.”

However, the industry already describes drilling as strong and says it has access to the gas it needs. Rather, it lacks things that are difficult for a governor to deliver on, such as big interstate pipelines and big customers — like liquefied natural gas processing facilities — to use it.

They also vowed to turn around Pennsylvania’s economy, despite the fact that it has for decades lagged most of the rest of the nation in its employment rate, population growth and the rate of job creation as its legacy industries shrank.

“We shouldn’t be towards the bottom,” McSwain said. “And it’s only going to change if we have a conservative outsider, not more politicians as governor.”


Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at twitter.com/timelywriter

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - In this July 3, 2014, file photo, the Microsoft Corp. logo is displayed outside the Microsof...
Associated Press

Microsoft adds AI tools to Office apps like Outlook, Word

Microsoft is infusing artificial intelligence tools into its Office software, including Word, Excel and Outlook emails.
3 days ago
FILE - This photo provided by the Alaska Volcano Observatory/U.S. Geological Survey shows the Tanag...
Associated Press

Alaska volcanoes now pose lower threat, after quakes slow

Diminished earthquake activity led authorities Thursday to reduce the warning levels at two volcanoes on an uninhabited island in Alaska’s Aleutian chain because of the decreased potential for eruptions.
3 days ago
A television screen displaying financial news is seen inside one of First Republic Bank's branches ...
Associated Press

Big banks create $30B rescue package for First Republic

NEW YORK (AP) — Eleven of the biggest U.S. banks Thursday announced a $30 billion rescue package for First Republic Bank in an effort to prevent it from becoming the third to fail in less than a week and head off a broader banking crisis. San Francisco-based First Republic serves a similar clientele as Signature […]
4 days ago
A pedestrian carries an umbrella while walking past a Silicon Valley Bank Private branch in San Fra...
Associated Press

Experts, banks look for ideas to stop next bank failure

The warning signs were all there. Silicon Valley Bank was expanding at a breakneck pace and pursuing wildly risky investments in the bond market. The vast majority of its deposits were uninsured by the federal government, leaving its customers exposed to a crisis.
4 days ago
FILE - Text from the ChatGPT page of the OpenAI website is shown in this photo, in New York, Feb. 2...
Associated Press

What can ChatGPT maker’s new AI model GPT-4 do?

The company behind the ChatGPT chatbot has rolled out its latest artificial intelligence model, GPT-4, in the next step for a technology that’s caught the world's attention.
4 days ago
Lumber is stored in the yard at East Coast Lumber, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Hampstead, N.H. On We...
Christopher Rugaber, Associated Press

US wholesale inflation fell last month on lower food costs

Wholesale price increases in the United States slowed sharply last month as food and energy costs declined, a sign that inflationary pressures may be easing.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
4 Republicans claw for an edge in live TV governor’s debate