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Sen. Scott Wagner resigning his seat to focus on governor’s race

From the (Pittsburgh)

HARRISBURG – Republican gubernatorial nominee Scott Wagner will resign his seat in the state Senate next week to focus on his attempt to take Gov. Tom Wolf’s job.

Mr. Wagner, a millionaire businessman and owner of a York-based trash hauling company, submitted his resignation letter late Wednesday to Senate President Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson. In it, he wrote that his last day in the Senate will be Monday, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Inquirer and The Post-Gazette.

Mr. Wagner could not be reached for comment. But in a statement, campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo said: “Scott realizes that the way he can bring about the most change and do the most good for the commonwealth is to devote all his time and energy toward getting elected governor and giving Pennsylvanians a different choice.”

Mr. Wagner, said Mr. Romeo, will be giving a farewell speech on the Senate floor when the chamber returns to session on Monday.

Mr. Wagner, a self-described Capitol outsider and fiscal conservative who often draws comparisons to President Trump, beat out two challengers in this month’s primary to take on Mr. Wolf, a Democrat, in the November election.

Since announcing his candidacy in 2016, Mr. Wagner has tried to paint Mr.Wolf as a tax-and-spend liberal who lacks the leadership skills to get important work done in the Capitol.

Mr. Wolf’s campaign supporters have countered with attacks on both Mr. Wagner’s policies and temperament, calling him a bully with no experience in governing. Mr. Wolf, they say, has been able to work with the Republican-dominated legislature to push through major initiatives, including more money for public schools, breaking the state-run monopoly on the sale of wine, and legalizing medical marijuana.

Political observers say the Wolf-Wagner match-up will be bruising and expensive. Both men are wealthy and have the ability use their own money to finance their campaigns.

His sometimes brash style — he once threatened to carry a baseball bat to ensure his Republican colleagues voted in line with him — combined with his access to campaign money, has made him a rising, if unlikely, force in state Republican circles.

Mr. Wagner became a senator through a write-in campaign, winning a March 2014 special election without the support of major state GOP players. That November, he was elected to serve a full four-year term.

The establishment was quick to take notice. Shortly after his election, he was given the plum job of running the Senate Republican campaign committee for the 2015-16 cycle, a position that gave him a prominent seat at the table in choosing candidates and propping up their campaigns with cash.

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