Farah Jimenez On The Wagner-Bartos Ticket’s Commitment To Philadelphia: “They Want To Make A Difference In Those Communities Where People Are Hurting”

Last week, 2018 Republican gubernatorial nominee Scott Wagner launched a digital ad highlighting his mission to make the people of Philadelphia a priority and run a campaign focused on helping them. The ad quickly received recognition from press and pundits alike, including from panelists on ABC Philadelphia’s “Inside Story” on Sunday.

Watch the clip HERE.


MATT O’DONNELL: “We also had Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner releasing an ad telling Philadelphians he will help them where Wolf would not. So let’s touch on the Wagner thing. Why is he going after Philadelphia voters?”

SAM KATZ: “It’s a smart move. That’s the first time I’ve seen a Republican candidate for governor, overtly, on television, try to connect with the Philadelphia voter.”

FARAH JIMENEZ: “Sam is pointing out the potential political reasons, but I also want to say that knowing Wagner and Jeff Bartos, his running mate, that they are really people who are genuine, who really care about the community. And they are not using polls to determine whether or not to make these kinds of ads. They really do want to display that they have some empathy and concern and they want to make a difference in those communities where people are hurting and they continue to hurt. Yeah, I think generally people feel better about the economy in Pennsylvania, obviously Harrisburg felt that way because they were able to go home ten days early. But, there are counties where the unemployment rate is far surpassing that nationally where people are really hurting, and they are showing that they have some empathy and some interest in helping them.”

Members of the media noted the unique nature of Wagner’s ad and what it means for his broader appeal to the Philadelphia area.

  • The Philadelphia Public Record’s, Joe Shaheeli:  “It is a different approach from the 2014 GOP gubernatorial candidate, Gov. Tom Corbett, who, although he was very approachable by Philadelphians in practice, spent little time addressing Philadelphia issues in his campaigns. Wagner has also picked up another cause dear to Philadelphian hearts: raising the minimum wage. While this matters to many Pennsylvanians statewide, it is of particular interest in a city with a high poverty rate. SB 865, proposed by Wagner, would increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $8.75 per hour in 50-cent increments over three years, but keep a training wage of $7.25 for everyone age 18 and below. It’s not as big an increase as what Democrats are calling for, but it takes a proactive stand on a subject in which hardcore conservatives have long resisted any change. Wagner’s attention to Philadelphia may reflect a pragmatic, non-doctrinaire approach to policy. (Philadelphia Public Record, 6/21/18)
  • WHYY’s, Dave Davies: “Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner has posted a new internet video featuring a setting not typically associated with a Republican candidate. Wagner appears (see video above) in Malcolm X Park in West Philadelphia, talking exclusively with black people — hugging, shaking hands, high-fiving a little girl, speaking with a woman wearing a hijab. His message is that Democrats have let Philadelphia schools and neighborhoods down.” (WHYY, 6/24/18)
  • Politics PA’s, Sy Snyder, “The Republican gubernatorial nominee did OK. He launched a new ad to soften his image by focusing on underserved Philadelphia schools, showing voters he’s the guy asking, ‘How can I help you?”’ (Politics PA, 6/19/18)
Wagner’s ad is not the only thing that has gotten him attention in Philadelphia. His decision to help get Malcolm X Park cleaned and mowed got some attention as well.
  • The Caucus’, Brad Bumsted, “If he would do this in almost every city around the state and go in and say, this is disgusting, I’m going to clean the park because no one else will, or here is a building that is dilapidated, I’m going to put my own money down and fix it up, it gets attention. People pay attention to that. They understand that.” (Journalists Roundtable, PCN, 6/16/18)
  • 60th Ward Leader, Gregory Spearman: “But back to Malcolm X Park itself–Gregory Spearman, the 60th Ward Leader who represents the park and surrounding neighborhoods, said the whole thing hasn’t been high on his priority list… But he added, it’s a rare thing for a Republican to even be in West Philly. ‘Republicans–I haven’t seen a Republican initiative,’ he said. ‘Period.’” (WITF, 6/8/18)
As the campaign progresses, look for Wagner to continue to spend time in Philadelphia, and with all the forgotten people of Pennsylvania.