HANOVER TWP. — It was after 6 p.m. Tuesday when Rob McCord leapt from his campaign bus and raced over to supporters for some hand shaking and back slapping, almost bursting with energy and excitement.
And he’s going to need every ounce of that vigor in the week ahead, as an uphill battle in a four-way race for the Democratic nod to challenge Republican Gov. Tom Corbett for his seat in November comes down to the wire.
Three polls had Tom Wolf leading McCord, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz and former Clinton White House advisor Katie McGinty by at least 20 percentage points. For McCord, Schwartz or McGinty to win, it would be the most dramatic comeback in modern political history, according to the Associated Press.
But five state officials, including Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski — a former McCord opponent in the race — told the crowd of more than 100 at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 163 that McCord can and will come out victorious May 20 if they work to get him elected.
“Look what happened on Sunday in the Clippers-Thunder game. Thunder ahead by 16 points with just five minutes to go in the ballgame, and the Clippers end up winning. That’s what’s going to happen. Tom Wolf may have a big lead or he may have had a big lead, but the game’s not over folks,” said former WBRE-TV sportscaster and current state Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich, D-Taylor.
State Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Avoca, and state senators John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, and John Blake, D-Archbald, all painted bleak pictures of gridlock in Harrisburg under Corbett, as well as bad economic policy.
Yudichak said he interviewed all four Democratic candidates and was impressed by every one, but McCord “stood head and shoulders” above the rest. “He had the best ideas in terms of making the drillers pay so we could fully fund our education system … the best ideas for creating jobs and turning the Pennsylvania economy around as he did in the private sector …working across party lines to get the job done.”
Yudichak said McCord stopped Corbett’s plan to privatize the state Lottery. “He beat Tom Corbett on the battlefield in Harrisburg, he can beat him on the election fields.”
McCord said a governor who can “defeat gridlock” is needed in Harrisburg or “people will suffer. More and more people are working harder and harder for less and less.” He said he would bring “innovative optimism” to the office, and if voters want “a governor who will invest in job creation and education, education, education, I’m Rob McCord, and I’m here to ask for your vote.”
McCord said there are three basic reasons his supporters can asking people to vote for him: bolder public policy, better professional experience and better personal experience.
McCord said he would negotiate for a 10-percent extraction tax on gas drillers to fully fund education. He said he created thousands of jobs in the private sector before becoming treasurer, and that his five years in office have allowed him to see what’s wrong in Harrisburg, formulate ideas to fix the problems and form “great relationships to actually get things done.”
McCord urged his supporters to get others to “firmly commit” to vote for him so he can be the dark-horse candidate in November.
“We would get to run against Tom Corbett, the guy who didn’t take the state car against the guy who did take the state car, the guy who raised taxes against the guy who never raised taxes, the guy who never met a payroll against a guy who created jobs in the business world.
“We will have so much fun,” McCord said to cheers and applause.
Asked after the rally if he would support legislation to eliminate school property taxes and replace revenue with an increased and expanded state sales tax and an increased earned income tax, McCord said he wants to “dramatically relieve property taxes,” but said there’s a distinction between capping or eliminating property taxes “for less-affluent seniors who are on a fixed income versus very affluent seniors.”
He said the “real problem” is that while Corbett didn’t raise state taxes, he left school districts underfunded, “hurting seniors who are being overburdened by local property taxes.” McCord said he would “drive the revenue and budget conversation so the state is providing closer to 50 percent of the total revenue for public education as opposed to close to only 30 percent. That 20-percent swing will dramatically relieve local property tax burdens,” McCord said.
“One thing I hope people will learn about me is I don’t over-promise and under-deliver to just win a vote. When I say we’re going to invest in education, they can count on it — year one, budget one,” he said.