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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s pretty hard to miss the negative attacks two Republican gubernatorial candidates have launched against each other in television ads.
Mango political ad: “Greedy Wagner sued an 84-year old woman who didn’t want his garbage service. Deadbeat Dad Wagner hauled into court.”
Wagner political ad: “Phony Paul Mango is at it again. Another ad lying about Scott Wagner’s record. No real Republicans support Mango.”
Pittsburgh business consultant Paul Mango and York County state Sen. Scott Wagner are engaged in an increasingly personal attack, and it has some Republican leaders worried.
“I would urge both sides to just stick to the issues,” Val DiGiorgio, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Friday.
DiGiorgio, whose party has endorsed Wagner, wants Mango to pull his ad and urges all candidates, “Be substantive. Tell what your vision is for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
But so far, it’s not clear who’s listening.
Wagner political ad: “How low can liberal Paul Mango go? His new ad — disgusting lies.”
In a new ad starting this weekend, Wagner goes after Mango.
Wagner political ad: “Conservatives oppose Paul Mango because he’s a phony. Mango’s a leading advocate for Obamacare. His company helped outsource jobs to India and Mexico.”
Those attacks only guarantee that Mango will step up his attacks.
Mango political ad: “Deadbeat Dad Wagner hauled into court ordered to pay $800,000 in back alimony and child support. And coming soon, Violent Wagner. ‘You just assaulted me.’”
Republicans do have a third choice — Pittsburgh attorney Laura Ellsworth.
“This race to the bottom is such a disservice to the voters of Pennsylvania,” Ellsworth told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Friday. “They don’t want to listen to two guys talking about each other with cartoons.”
Ellsworth says she’s sticking to issues, not personal attacks.
“There’s so much talk in this race about leadership, and there is only one person who is demonstrating that leadership — and it’s not one of those two guys,” she said.
So who’s telling the truth?
First, a reminder.
Unlike a standard commercial, the First Amendment allows candidates to lie in their political ads — and many do.
As for whether Wagner is a deadbeat dad, court records reveal a very contentious divorce that Wagner had nearly a decade ago. A judge found that he understated his income, so upped his alimony and child support, ordering him to pay $800,000 over the next seven years.
There is nothing to indicate that he has missed any of those payments.
As for Mango outsourcing jobs to Mexico, he was a consultant in a company that did recommend outsourcing to some clients.
But the Mango campaign insists that Mango himself never recommended that, and so far there is no evidence that he did.
The Republican primary is May 15.