HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/KDKA) — Pennsylvania state senator and waste-hauling millionaire Scott Wagner is the winner of the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
Wagner’s victory in Tuesday’s three-way primary election caps a personal spending spree of more than $10 million that helped make him the front-runner and the GOP’s endorsed candidate.
“I want to thank the voters of Pennsylvania for nominating Jeff and I tonight to be the next lieutenant governor and governor,” said Wagner.
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Wagner defeated first-time candidates Paul Mango and Laura Ellsworth, surviving weeks of Mango’s sharp-elbowed attack ads that painted Wagner as sleazy and greedy.
The music faded just after 10 p.m. Tuesday night at Mango’s campaign watch party as supporters fell silent and waited for the bad news. After a hard race, the Republican candidate failed to end the night with a ticket to the race for governor this fall.
The Associated Press called the race for Wagner, roughly 20 minutes before Mango took the stage to give his concession speech. Mango thanked his supporters and volunteers for their help in a hard campaign that lasted 16 months. He encouraged all his supporters to now vote for Wagner.
KDKA’s Lisa Washington’s Report:
“We sent a message tonight, make no mistake about it, we sent a very strong message,” said Mango in his concession speech. “And while we didn’t achieve our goal, we must all remain focused on the most important goal, which is defeat Gov. Tom Wolf in November of this year. We all need to come together to do that.”
Ellsworth struck the same note a Mango in her speech, saying the party needs to work together to defeat Gov. Wolf.
“I think we all know that this night did not turn out the way we wanted it to,” she said. “I know that all of us in this room who have fought for so long to replace our sitting governor are going to get behind whoever wins and are going to help the Republican Party win in November.”
KDKA’s Amy Wadas Reports from Ellsworth Headquarters:
Wagner fashions himself as a garbage man coming to clean up a state government that chokes the economy with regulations and taxes. He has compiled one of the Senate’s most conservative voting records.
Wagner’s campaign released a statement that reads in part:
“Tonight is the culmination of over a year of hard work by our candidates, team and supporters. Scott and Jeff are beyond humbled to have secured the nomination of the Republican Party, and are eager to enter into the next phase of the race.
“We emerge from the primary stronger and are better prepared to meet the challenge we will face this fall. Our job now is not only to unite the rest of the Republican Party, but also to rally all Pennsylvanians behind our cause.”
Wolf leads a unified Democratic Party into the fall. Wagner and Wolf live in York County.
KDKA’s Jon Delano has analysis:
Also in Pennsylvania, three local state lawmakers lost in their Primary races. Republican State Sen. Randy Vulakovich, as well as Democrats Dom Costa and Paul Costa.
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