Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, faces a challenge in the November 6th general election in Pennsylvania. Seeking to deny him a second term is the Republican team of PA Senator Scott Wagner, running for governor, and Jeff Bartos, his running mate for lieutenant governor.
HAWLEY - Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, faces a challenge in the November 6th general election in Pennsylvania. Seeking to deny him a second term is the Republican team of PA Senator Scott Wagner, running for governor, and Jeff Bartos, his running mate for lieutenant governor.
Bartos stopped by The News Eagle office recently, on his tour of the state’s 67 counties, discussing why voters should choose the Wagner-Bartos ticket. In Pennsylvania, the lieutenant governor runs on the spring primary ballot separately. Bartos states that it was the first time in the state’s history for candidates for the top two state offices to campaign together. Republican voters saw fit to give both of them the nomination, allowing Wagner and Bartos to continue as a team heading into November.
A Reading, Berks County native, Bartos has never held public office but was running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate when Wagner, who is from York County, invited him to join him last summer. The partnership was announced on November 9.
“Scott and I got to know each other on the campaign trail starting in March 2017,” Bartos said. A friendship developed, and it was Wagner who pursued the idea for a team approach.
“The current governor and his lieutenant governor don’t have any kinds of relationship, and Governor Wolf’s new running mate, they just really started to get to know each other the day after the primary,” Bartos noted. “We call it the most awkward first date in modern Pennsylvania political history.”
“Scott and I have a big advantage. We share values, we share common background, we’re both from rural counties,” he said, adding they both share a deep commitment to restoring prosperity to the Commonwealth. In contrast, he states that Gov. Wolf and his running mate, John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock PA in Allegheny County, have a real divide in ideology and politics.
Pennsylvania, Bartos says, has a history of “public corruption, sporadic government and inaction to address major challenges. It’s almost a time-honored tradition in Pennsylvania that we need to stop.”
Address PA’s role
He added, “We always say, Pennsylvania can be the fastest growing, most dynamic state in the country;” citing abundant natural resources, hard working and eager residents “desperate” for opportunity; a key position geographically and world-class institutions of higher learning.
“The only thing holding us back is leadership,” he said. Although good leaders are found in the PA Senate and House, he added, Gov. Wolf is showing no interest in moving Pennsylvania forward. “Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is almost 20% higher than the national average.
In this booming, economic time, how is that even possible, with all the advantages I just described?”
He then added, “Scott Wagner is a disruptor. He challenges the status quo, and he gets stuff done. And I can’t wait to help him do that.”
Their plan, Bartos said, is first to require all state agencies to prepare their next fiscal year budgets with a zero-based budget, building from the ground up. Departments will have to justify all of their expenses. Significant tax savings are expected, he said.
Second, having effectively balanced their checkbook, he said, Wagner will need to be the first governor to fulfill the promise of eliminating the school district portion of real estate property tax, and bring about meaningful tax reform.
Pennsylvania, he noted, has the second highest corporate tax rate in the country’ many senior citizens struggle with real estate taxes and many young families cannot afford a house because of the attached tax bills.
Thirdly, he said they will address Pennsylvania’s need to be competitive with the other states to help businesses grow.
Although Wolf talks a lot about education funding, Bartos charges that Wolf’s education funding goes to benefit union bosses and teacher unions that bankroll his campaigns- rather than benefiting the classroom.
Too many young people move out of the state for better jobs and lower taxes, Bartos stated.
In addition, regulatory reform is needed. Bartos cited President Trump’s example of cutting two federal regulations for every new regulation brought forward. “In the state we are going to bring the same focus on regulatory reform that the President has,” Bartos promised.
Pennsylvania has over 150,000 regulations, Bartos stated. “There are 201 just on the use and operation of a ladder,” he said.
The opioid crisis in the state, which claims over 100 Pennsylvanians daily, will take time just as it took years to reach this point, he said. Bartos said that Governor Wolf came to the issue late, and in an election year, which Bartos calls an “incredibly sad event.” The answers to the drug epidemic, Bartos said, lies at the county and local level. He said the state’s role is to review best practices and provide resources. He added that this is a bipartisan issue, one that we all need to work together to address.
A real estate executive from Lower Merion, PA, Bartos has some familiarity with Wayne County. He said his two daughters went to summer camp here. He also previously worked as a law clerk for a federal judge in Scranton, Lackawanna County. As newlyweds he and his wife lived in Clarks Summit.
Bartos and his wife Cheryl have been married 21 years. He has been active in business and as an attorney for over 20 years. He has been enthusiastic about philanthropy here and in Israel, focusing on education and youth at risk. He is a Republican committeeman in Montgomery County.
As a private sector businessman, he said he was fed up and decided to run for office. He challenged Senator Bob Casey when Casey supported the Iran Nuclear Deal.
Preparing him for office, he said, are his private sector business experience, legal background knowledge of his politics works, and his “deep love for the Commonwealth.”
Wagner and Bartos describe themselves as conservatives.
Asked to define what this means to him, Bartos stated that for him personally, is living a life of faith, focusing on community and realizing that our faith and family and work within the community moves people forward. This is in contrast to the government, he said, including “a well meaning but ill-equipped bureaucrat ” or some government program meant to solve huge challenges.
“The government is not the pathway to to solving these deep, societal challenges; it is faith, community and family,” he said.
As far as being fiscal conservatives, he defined the term as “watching out for the paychecks of ordinary Pennsylvanians.” Bartos said that Wolf wants to take the tax cuts that President Trump and Republicans in Congress implemented late last year, and reclaim those cuts and put them in the state coffers.
Why does Bartos love Pennsylvania? The candidate replied, “I am just struck at how proud people are of our Commonwealth, of how much other people love Pennsylvania, and how beautiful the state is… It just captures your heart. I love Pennsylvania for her history, for what she has given the world, and for the real opportunity she presents to reclaim her economic leadership. I am privileged to have the opportunity of making that happen.”