Four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for governor took similar positions on issues ranging from health care to fracking during a forum at the Gershman Y on March 24.
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, state Treasurer Rob McCord; former state Auditor General Jack Wagner and former Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty all focused on what they see as the need to replace Gov. Tom Corbett, rather than critiquing each other’s records.
Tom Wolf, a multimillionaire businessman from York who served as secretary of revenue under Gov. Ed Rendell and is considered, according to recent polls, the frontrunner in the May 20 primary, did not attend the forum.
As they have for most of the campaign, the candidates refrained from taking jabs at one another and hardly differentiated themselves on the various issues.
When asked about Corbett’s approach to health care, McGinty said she opposed the governor’s plan to use federal Medicaid dollars to help residents pay for private coverage.
“It amounts to a voucherizing of Medicaid and what that means is there will be fewer people covered and it will cost more and the coverage will be less effective,” she said.
The other candidates echoed her comments.
The most drastic difference in response came to a question about the state’s prohibition of abortion coverage for plans offered on the health insurance exchange created as part of the Affordable Care Act. Wagner, who is from Pittsburgh and ran for governor in 2010, described himself as a pro-life Democrat and said he only supports abortion rights in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.
When asked about state Attorney General Kathleen Kane's controversial decision to shut down a corruption investigation into state legislators and a judge allegedly accepting cash or gifts from a lobbyist, the candidates did not criticize Kane.
Toward the end of the forum, the anti-fracking activists, with one of the largest contingents in the crowd, got their wish when the moderators asked the candidates if they would preserve a moratorium in the Delaware River Basin on drilling for natural gas. Corbett has advocated lifting the ban. The candidates all said they supported the ban. They spoke about the need for strict safety and environmental protection on fracking elsewhere in the state but did not argue against the practice.
“We should make sure that” fracking “is not the answer to our energy use in the future,” said Schwartz, a five-term congresswoman whose district covers parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia. “We should make those investments in wind and solar, and I would add hydro and I would add energy efficiency.”