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May 29, 2018

Scott Wagner calls for Gov. Wolf to debate him 67 times before Election Day

Incumbent Democrat says it's a "political gimmick"

Politics Governors
Scott Wagner Wagner for Governor/Facebook/for PhillyVoice

Scott Wagner is the Republican nominee for governor.

Scott Wagner is calling for Gov. Tom Wolf to debate him in every county in Pennsylvania. 

Yes, that would be 67 Wolf-versus-Wagner debates in total before Nov. 6.

“It’s time for Pennsylvanians to have a gubernatorial campaign that focuses on them for a change," a statement from Wagner's campaign reads. "They deserve candidates who are not afraid to provide direct and personalized answers on their plans for the future of the commonwealth. I believe that Governor Wolf is failing us, and that it’s important for voters in every county to get a chance to see the differences between us in person so that they can make an informed choice when they head to the polls in November.”

Wagner is requesting town hall meetings to avoid "rehearsed and canned answers" with the Democratic governor.

The campaign adds that Wolf may not have to participate in all 67 — lieutenant governor nominees Jeff Bartos and John Fetterman could step in, if need be, the announcement states.

“This may be a foreign concept to Governor Wolf, but Scott and I think a lieutenant governor should have a firm understanding of the administration’s agenda and be able to step in for the governor whenever necessary," Bartos said in the announcement.

In a statement to PhillyVoice, Wolf spokesperson Beth Melena called the whole thing a "gimmick."

"This is nothing but a political gimmick from a Harrisburg politician who is unhinged from the reality of Pennsylvanians, and who routinely ducked the very debates he's now championing during the Republican Primary," Melena said. "Governor Wolf will continue traveling around the commonwealth meeting with educators, parents, and students, workers and business owners, seniors, and families affected by the opioid crisis and listening to the issues Pennsylvanians face every day."

Wolf's office cited multiple debates during the Republican primary race that Wagner himself chose not to participate in. Wagner's opponent Paul Mango strongly criticized Wagner for this on multiple occasions, claiming Wagner was "chickening out" because of his "liberal positions on social issues," Mango said in multiple Facebook videos.

Wagner participated in 12 debates/forums during his primary campaign, his office told us.

Wagner defeated two Republican opponents, Mango and Laura Ellsworth, capturing 44.3 percent of the vote in the May 15 primary.

The race generated a lot of petty attacks — on all sides.

Let's hope the gubernatorial race isn't much of the same. We're not holding our breathe. 

This article was updated after it was published with the total number of debates Scott Wagner attended.