Why Scott Wagner spent about a month as a Democrat in 2002

Wagner

Wagner

In April 2002, Scott Wagner, who is now running as a conservative Republican for state senator, decided to become a Democrat.

The switch didn’t last very long — about a month.

“I did what I did because I did not want to see Bob Casey Jr. as our governor,” Wagner said in January.

Back in 2002, Casey was running against Ed Rendell, the former mayor of Philadelphia, for the Democratic nomination for governor. Wagner wanted to vote against Casey.

Wagner is now running a write-in campaign for the March 18 special election to replace Mike Waugh in the state Senate, competing against Democrat Linda Small of New Freedom and Ron Miller, a Republican state representative from Jacobus.

He’s also seeking the GOP nomination for the May 20 primary, along with Miller and Zachary Hearn of Windsor Township.

Wagner said he doesn’t think Republican voters will care about his switch.

“People respect me because I have an opinion,” he said.

Ed Rendell makes a campaign stop in York in late 2001.

Ed Rendell makes a campaign stop in York in late 2001. (FILE)

He said he has “such distaste” for the younger Casey and his late father, former Gov. Robert P. Casey.

Here’s what he said about the former governor:

“All he did was attack the waste industry,” said Wagner, the founder of Penn Waste Inc. “…He hated our industry.”

And the younger Casey?

“He hates business. He hates people who have built businesses,” Wagner said. “He’s a big union guy.”

The primary was on May 21, 2002. Wagner said he voted for Rendell.

“When I went down and pulled the lever that day, I felt good about it,” Wagner said.

Rendell won the primary with more than 56 percent of the vote.

And Wagner switched back to the GOP later that week, according to York County’s elections and voter registration department.

In November of 2002, Rendell ended up defeating Republican Mike Fisher with more than 53 percent of the vote. Wagner said he didn’t vote for Rendell that time.

Casey responds

Bob Casey makes a campaign stop in York in 2006. (FILE)

Bob Casey makes a campaign stop in York in 2006. (FILE)

Casey was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 with more than 58 percent of the vote and re-elected in 2012.

He was asked to comment on Wagner’s criticism of him and his father.

“It is correct that Governor Casey fought to protect Pennsylvania’s environment,” Casey spokesman John Rizzo said in a statement. “In particular he worked to clean up toxic waste sites and tried to limit the practice of importing garbage from other states and dumping it in Pennsylvania. His record on economic development and job creation speaks for itself.”

Contributions

Wagner gave money to Democrat Kathleen Kane’s campaign when she was running for state attorney general. He said she’s the only Democrat he’s given to for state or federal races.

He said he traveled to the Scranton area to meet with her.

“Kathleen Kane has a great story,” Wagner said. “And she’s not a political person. …I did my homework. If I’m going to hire someone, I interview the person.”

About Ed Mahon

County government and politics reporter at York Daily Record/Sunday News.
This entry was posted in 2013-14 legislative session and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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