Race for Pennsylvania governor may come down to taxes vs. social issues

Tom Corbett
Tom Corbett | Photo Courtesy of the State of Pennsylvania

Whether voters are more concerned about taxes or social issues may decide the race for Pennsylvania governor between Republican incumbent Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf.

Dr. G. Terry Madonna, professor at Franklin and Marshall College and director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs, says it's all about taxes.

“The economy is always relevant,” Madonna said. “Both talk about job creation and reducing unemployment, but neither has a specific plan.”

Charlie Gerow, a Reagan-era campaign aide and current CEO of Quantum Communications, said if Corbett is re-elected, it will be because voters rejected the idea of higher taxes. Although Democratic challenger Wolf has not come out and said he will raise taxes, Gerow says Wolf has indicated a desire to do so.

Tom May, former executive director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and current partner at Triad Strategies, said the race is about both taxes and style.

If Wolf wins, May said it is likely because Corbett's rhetoric has been stronger than his actions over the years. In addition, he asserts that Corbett lost many supporters when he voiced opposition gay marriage, but refused to appeal the decision that made it legal in his state.

"He lost the base vote because Republican conservatives expected Skywalker and got Nelson Rockefeller," May said. On the other hand, for Corbett to be re-elected, it will be voters' fear of higher taxes that lead to his victory.

"Those who are realistic understand that you can't survive five years without tax increases," May said. "Inflation is eating away at buying power."