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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It was the only gubernatorial debate that Gov. Tom Wolf would agree to — a 57-minute exchange with Republican challenger Scott Wagner moderated by “Jeopardy!” game show host Alex Trebek.
“This is not a game show tonight. This is serious stuff,” said Trebek at the start.
Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry, it was part of a dinner fundraising party with tickets beginning at $275 per person.
Trebek was presumed to be a better draw than either Wolf or Wagner and the dinner did sell out.
But critics on both sides of the political aisle panned the debate when Trebek seemed to monopolize the stage.
In a statement following the Monday night exchange, the Wagner campaign opined, “Alex Trebek’s grandstanding during last night’s gubernatorial debate . . . prevented Scott Wagner and Tom Wolf from having a comprehensive discussion of their significant policy differences.”
“The evening is not about me,” claimed Trebek.
But watchdog.org said moderator Trebek talked 41 percent of the time, compared to 32 percent for Wagner and 27 percent for Wolf.
Trebek often took issue with the candidates, interjecting his own views.
And this comment about the Catholic Church even got a few boos.
“The approval rating for the legislature was at 14 percent. The only thing with a lower rating in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the Catholic Church,” Trebek said, eliciting both laughter and boos. “I was born and raised Catholic, and I’m just as ticked off as everyone else is.”
Following the debate, Wagner said the Trebek show failed to profile enough of the state’s serious problems, calling for two more debates, a call that Wolf immediately rejected.