York County businessman and gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf has gotten a good bit of attention this week for his approach to the upcoming annual Pennsylvania Society weekend in New York City.
John Baer, political columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, described the event as a time when big-shot “Pennsylvanians (and wannabe big shots) migrate to The Apple for a few days of parties, receptions, shopping and general excess to celebrate themselves and spend money in another state during the holidays.”
Wolf and his wife, Frances, have attended the festivities before, as well as receptions for political candidates taking place during the weekend.
Wolf said they originally expected to host their own reception, but decided to go in a different direction.
“Instead of asking you to fit another reception into your busy weekend schedule, we will be contributing the cost of such a reception to Pennsylvania food banks so that others who are not quite as fortunate as many of us may enjoy a brighter holiday,” he wrote in a letter to friends and supporters Monday.
Money will be contributed to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank. In the same letter, Wolf also said his “candidacy is grounded in the idea that I am a different kind of leader — a nontraditional candidate — a businessman who has never run for public office.”
In an email to supporters, which was sent later in the week, Wolf said the cost of hosting such a reception would be upward of $15,000. The Thursday message included a policy argument, as well.
“Food should never have to be a question, but just before Thanksgiving, more than $5 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program went into effect, hurting more than 47.7 million Americans who are already struggling to put food on the family dinner table.
“In Pennsylvania alone, these cuts to food stamps affect more than 1.8 million of our neighbors and friends. For a family of four, these cuts mean 20 fewer meals per month — and as a result, charitable food banks are struggling to meet a sudden surge of demand.”
Wolf, a former state revenue secretary, is one of eight announced Democratic candidates for governor. They are seeking to defeat Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. Wolf has pledged to spend at least $10 million on his primary campaign.
The Associated Press reported that Wolf still plans to attend the event in New York City, taking place the weekend of Dec. 14.
Here’s what others said about the food bank move:
“I know what you’re thinking. Publicity stunt to get little-known Wolf some notice? Charity-giving to make all other Society indulgers look bad? Anything to separate Wolf from the pack?
“Don’t care. When good works get done motivation doesn’t matter. This is a good thing. More should follow Wolf’s path. In fact, more should consider moving the weekend to Pennsylvania and spending their money in their own state.”
Mary Wilson of witf tweeted a link to the news. Then followed up with another Tweet:
In other news: Small eye of the needle keeping you from the eternal glories of heaven? Call now for a giant needle!
— Marywilson (@Marywilson) December 4, 2013
“Is it possible to celebrate the grandeur of Pennsylvania Society while implicitly condemning it? Tom Wolf has found a way to claim the mantle of the political outsider at the same time as he plans to hobknob with the establishment in Manhattan next weekend.”