It’s been a tough week for Democratic candidates for governor.
John Hanger, the former state environmental protection secretary who made marijuana reform a key part of his campaign, withdrew from the race today. The timing was unexpected, coming three days after filing petitions to get on the May 20 primary ballot.
But in a statement, Hanger said, “There is no longer a path to victory in the Democratic primary, and so I am therefore withdrawing my candidacy for governor of Pennsylvania.
“This decision disappoints my great campaign team and me, as it does thousands of our supporters. We have tried every possible means to find a way to win and so avoid the necessity of making this decision. With no path to victory, to press on could cause damage to the issues and people for which we campaigned,” he said.
Hanger, of Dauphin County, said that Democratic candidate Tom Wolf’s television campaign has been “startlingly effective,” and the former state revenue department secretary has taken what Hanger called a commanding lead with support of 40 percent or higher in the Democratic primary race.
“Tom Wolf’s surge that stalled our January momentum meant that our recent polling was not strong enough for us to raise the funds for television and radio advertising needed for victory at the end of this campaign. Furthermore, and crucially for our campaign, it is now probable that the winner of the Democratic primary will get considerably more than 30 percent of the primary vote, a target we cannot reach,” he said.
Hanger said the remaining five Democratic primary candidates are “conducting their campaigns well and honorably, never losing focus on the ultimate goal” of winning the office. Hanger said the objective of defeating Republican Gov. Tom Corbett remains “clearly in sight and I have never been more optimistic that we will be toasting that victory the evening of Nov. 4.”
Another longshot Democratic candidate, Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz, didn’t file her petitions by Tuesday’s deadline to get on the ballot. She cited the rigorous rules for a gubernatorial candidate to file.
Candidates need at least 2,000 signatures, with at least 100 from a minimum of 10 counties.
Besides Wolf, of York County, the remaining Democratic candidates are: U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, 13th Dist., of Montgomery County; Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord, also of Montgomery County; Katie McGinty, of Chester County, another former state environmental protection secretary; and Jack Wagner, of Pittsburgh, former state auditor general.
Conservative Bob Guzzardi, of Montgomery County, will oppose Corbett in the GOP primary.
– John Guerriero