Primary Election day is May 20, 2014. Pennsylvanians will go to the polls to select the Democratic and Republican contenders for governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. Congressional representatives, some state senators and all state representatives.
In the gubernatorial race, Republicans have one choice. Tom Corbett is the incumbent governor and former state attorney general. Prior to running for statewide office, Corbett was a teacher and a lawyer both as an assistant U.S. attorney and in private practice. Bob Guzzardi, also an attorney, had been a candidate for governor as a Republican but was removed from the ballot on May 1 by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court due to improperly filed documents. (See more here.)
Democrats have more choices. Here is how they will appear on the ballot:
Tom Wolf is the former Secretary of Revenue under Governor Ed Rendell and is CEO of a kitchen cabinet and specialty building products company. Rob McCord is the current state treasurer. Prior to his public service, he was the managing director of several venture capital funds. Katie McGinty sits on the boards of several energy and clean technology companies. She was a senior advisor on environmental matters to Senator and Vice-President Al Gore and President Bill Clinton and was secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) under Governor Ed Rendell. Allyson Schwartz currently represents Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District and is a former state senator. Prior to elective office she was executive director of the Elizabeth Blackwell Women’s Health Center, a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Philadelphia.
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference neither supports nor opposes any candidate for public office but aims to educate Catholic voters about candidates and their positions on key issues. We sent a questionnaire to every statewide candidate giving them an opportunity to state their positions in their own words. Governor Corbett responded (read his completed questionnaire here); the Democratic candidates did not respond. However, all the candidates have made public statements and published campaign materials that give clues about where they stand.
These are a few, but certainly not all, of the issues that may be of interest to Catholic voters.
Life and dignity of the human person
Republican Corbett indicated on PCC’s questionnaire that he opposes legalized abortion, except when the life of the mother is in danger or the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.
All four Democratic candidates described themselves as “pro-choice” on the abortion issue during a debate at Carnegie Mellon University in January 2014.
Access to health care
Corbett told the PCC he believes Pennsylvania should use the additional federal funds under the Affordable Care Act to allow more people, including the working poor, to access the private insurance market. He has proposed a plan to this effect called Healthy Pennsylvania.
All four Democrats say they would expand Medicaid immediately if elected governor. According to his campaign website, Wolf would “take an active, aggressive role in expanding access to health care in Pennsylvania.” In addition to expanding Medicaid, McCord told Keystone Politics that he “would like to see Pennsylvania take an aggressive approach to promoting health care exchanges, especially to young, healthy consumers who will help spread out the risk and bring costs down for the rest of us.”
In a campaign press release, McGinty said, “Numerous studies have shown the federal aid would not only cover hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, but it would also boost economic activity, support job creation and generate real savings for state government.” Schwartz talks about her record in Congress helping to pass the Affordable Care Act and in her campaign ads.
Corbett increased funding for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC) and established the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program (OSTC) during his administration.
All four Democratic candidates told NBC 10 in Philadelphia that they oppose state-funded tuition assistance vouchers for private school students. They also told the York Daily Record about their opposition to vouchers. Wolf has a plan to reform charter schools. McCord has a $1.3 billion education plan. McGinty has a multi-step plan to increase education funding. Schwartz details a “new road forward” for education in Pennsylvania.
In addition to researching the candidates’ public statements on issues, reviewing a list of endorsements can also demonstrate a particular point of view. Catholics may consider reviewing campaign websites for news about who is supporting the candidates.
Tom Corbett – www.tomcorbettforgovernor.com
All of these resources serve to educate voters about the issues and allow us to inform our consciences about which candidate will act in the best interest of the common good. As Catholic citizens, we have a moral obligation to participate in the political process. Mark your calendar for Primary Election Day on May 20.
The staff of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference contributed to this article. The PCC is the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania. Stay up-to-date with Catholic news and issues at www.pacatholic.org, www.facebook.com/pacatholic, and www.twitter.com/pacatholic.