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Will the Most Trumpian Candidate Win?

Dom Giordano Column

The Dom Giordano Program
April 09, 2018 - 9:23 am

I‘m just back from the distant kingdom of Harrisburg where I was the moderator[referee] of the big Republican debate to help determine the nominee to take on Governor Wolf in November. My first observation is that insiders believe that State Senator Scott Wagner is far ahead of Paul Mango, his chief challenger, and as a result they claim Mango has unleashed an outrageous tv commercial claiming that Wagner has been a slumlord, deadbeat dad, major polluter and all round bad guy. He even teases at the end of the commercial that the next commercial will show the violence of Wagner. This apparently refers to Wagner pushing away a Democratic operative who pushed a camera into his face.

I asked Mango about this during the debate and he defended it as a truthful ad that he wouldn’t withdraw even though the Pennsylvania State Committee in a basically unprecedented move has called upon him to take the ad down.

Mango, a cultural conservative, has also gone after Wagner for helping to champion a bill that on the surface would curtail discrimination in employment and housing but Mango claims would result in men being able to use women’s bathrooms. Wagner was asked about this and he didn’t seem to have a command of the details. His responses were very Trumpian and it raised in my mind a big choice he’ll have if he is the nominee.

Wagner is a very Trumpian figure. He is a very successful businessman who answers questions directly and is often entertaining. In interviews with me he has praised Trump but at other times he has denied comparisons. It’s clear to me that he is trying to soften his tough guy image and I think the advice he is getting is to distance himself from trump in this election cycle. I think that would be a mistake.

 I think candidates like Wagner and Republicans who are running for Congress have to realize Democrats will rouse their base by making all Republicans into Trump surrogates.  Their challenge is to rally the Trump base to turn out and support them.