Allyson Schwartz came after Tom Wolf like a raging bull armed with brass knuckles Wednesday night in the first genuine debate among the Democrats running for governor.
Schwartz, the Montgomery County congresswoman who saw Wolf claim her frontrunner status nearly two months ago, threw haymakers at the York County millionaire and former state revenue secretary for taking out a large loan to fund the .
How much were those loans, what did you use as collateral for that loan, what are the terms of that loan, and how do you plan to repay it, Schwartz asked.
We don t really know where it comes from, or who you have to pay it back to, or what affect that will have on your future, she added.
Wolf said he d share the details.
I do owe an explanation, he said in response to the Schwartz inquest. In my case I had the ability to fund a campaign. I had the ability to gain million from a bank. I did this in a way that allowed me to get my story (out) I m playing by the rules as they are now, and I acknowledge that these [campaign finance] rules need to change.
A campaign spokesman said after the debate that the funds came in a combination of million in cash and liquidated assets and a million loan from M T Bank with a 3.1875 percent interest rate, but didn t know when or how the other questions would be answered.
Schwartz, meanwhile, did not let up, returning to the subject through the debate.
I do want to remind Tom about that transparency, she said later. Let s see all those documents.
Schwartz began her assault on the five minutes into the debate as she delivered her opening statement.
Being governor is really different than running a business, she said, arguing that Wolf s background, as CEO of Wolf Organization, does not qualify him to be governor. You really have to take on the status quo.
And at one point of the debate, Schwartz dismissed the detail-laden way Wolf discussed improving state revenues.
It sounded wonky, she said. But I m going to say the same thing in common language.
It was the first instance in the campaign in which any Democrat has directly challenged another, and was clearly planned by the Schwartz campaign.
She entered the Widener Law School lecture hall just 45 seconds before the debate was broadcast live across the state on WPCN, and studied Wolf like a hawk sizing up its prey throughout the 90 minute event.
Katie McGinty, the former state environmental protection secretary, opted to stay above the fray, saying after the debate she could have used some popcorn for the show.
State Treasurer Rob McCord, the fourth Democrat vying to win the May 20 primary, did not participate because of a prior commitment.
McCord has toyed with attacking Wolf in past forums, but never delivered the frontal assault Schwartz did Wednesday.
Wolf, who was situated between McGinty and Schwartz, smiled gentlemanly if a bit shell shocked as Schwartz delivered her onslaught.
Rather than reciprocate Schwartz s pugnacity, he stuck to his debate script.
Asked whom he would support if something forced an end his candidacy, Wolf delivered the line of the debate.
The only reason I would withdraw from the race was if I would die, so I would not be able to vote for anybody, he said to laughter.
He, along with Schwartz and McGinty, covered in a variety of topics through the debate, ranging from shale extraction taxes, and working with a Republican legislature, to pension reform and public education.
Wolf, for example, said he d place a moratorium on death sentences and study outlawing the practice.
Schwartz said she would sign a death penalty prohibition as governor if a bill came to my desk.
And McGinty said she would create citizens commission to reform the commonwealth s redistricting and election practices.
But after Wednesday night s debate, Wolf should have no doubt that he ll have a bullseye on his chest for the 41 days until the primary.
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