At a meet and greet Thursday evening at the Cumberland County Democratic Headquarters in Carlisle, gubernatorial candidate John Hanger told a crowd of about two dozen that his campaign for governor would be based on policy before politics and putting Pennsylvanians first. Although he spoke primarily about education and the environment, he got a question from the audience about his fellow candidate for governor, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, who is leading in the polls with 18%.
After saying that Congresswoman Schwartz was a friend of his, Hanger said that he would ultimately be the better candidate. When pressed for why, Hanger said that the Republicans “already have a plan” for how to beat Schwartz. According to Hanger, the GOP’s anti-Schwartz strategy consists of four parts.
First, she has a long voting record, which will make it easier for the Republicans to paint her in a variety of negative lights. “She has lots of votes in Congress” and “she voted for the last legislative pay raise,” said Hanger.
Second, “she’s from Congress,” which Hanger said “is not the best organization to be from” in terms of popularity. Hanger said Corbett supporters will “appeal to the hatred of D.C.” to cast Schwartz as a beltway politician.
Third, Hanger said that the GOP will appeal to strains of racism in the commonwealth by describing her as a Philadelphia politician. Hanger said that even though Ed Rendell proved that a Philadelphian could take the governor’s office, “being described as a Philadelphia politician isn’t a compliment” in certain parts of the state.
Fourthly, Hanger said that because Schwartz “ran a reproductive health clinic that did provide abortion services,” the GOP would use that to mobilize their conservative base and make gains with Reagan Democrats.
Hanger was quick to add that he will work hard for Schwartz if she is the nominee. Hanger is beginning a multi-day school bus tour of the state, and said that he needs to reach 15% in the polls by December to be competitive in the primary election.