Penn Law grad to run for Pa. governor in 2014
Democrat John Hanger officially entered the 2014 gubernatorial race on Wednesday
December 2, 2012, 5:39 pm·
Several days after entering the 2014 Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, 1984 Law School graduate John Hanger is fleshing out his policies and assessing his chances.
The Democratic candidate officially entered the race on Wednesday. He served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection from 2008 to 2011 under former governor and 1965 College graduate Ed Rendell.
Hanger, who also headed the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission from 1993 to 1998, became the first official candidate after an announcement at the Reading Terminal Market. Republican incumbent Tom Corbett has not formally declared his intent to run, but has indicated interest.
The candidate said he would focus on energy reform, public education and economic issues in his campaign. Hanger wants to invest more money in infrastructure projects and public education.
He proposes to increase revenue by taxing natural gas extraction while encouraging the development of renewable energy.
“Our goal is to protect the environment by strengthening the rules” and taxing the gas industry “reasonably,” he said.
In his time in public office, Hanger spearheaded a law that ended the monopoly of electric generation firms and pushed initiatives to develop renewable energy programs.
“Tom Corbett’s policies are disastrous for the state. They are a train wreck,” he said, referring to the governor’s no-tax pledge and his $1 billion cuts in public education funding.
“If he is re-elected, the public school education system in Pennsylvania won’t survive,” he added.
He pointed to the fact that the unemployment rate has risen above the national average in recent months. According to Hanger, Corbett is overly reliant on the natural gas boom for economic growth. “It will never bring prosperity … to all Pennsylvanians,” he said.
As the incumbent, Corbett holds a strong advantage in the race.
Since the 1970s, “it’s been almost like clockwork that you have two terms a Democrat, two terms a Republican” heading the state, according to Fels Institute of Government Executive Director David Thornburgh.
But other factors may run in Hanger’s favor. Political science professor Marc Meredith said in an email that Corbett is vulnerable due to “his somewhat low approval rating and the fact that he is a Republican in a slightly Democratic state.”
As a result, he said, Hanger may have to face “a number of high quality challengers” such as Joe Sestak or Jack Wagner, who are better known Democratic politicians.
“This could make raising money difficult, as [a] lot of donors may want to see how the race is shaking out before backing a candidate.”
Thornburgh said Hanger’s main challenge will be name recognition. He added that Hanger’s decision to run early likely came from a desire to “get ahead of the pack.”
Hanger admitted he is already behind Corbett in terms of fundraising. “Even though I’m quote-unquote early, I’m late,” he said. He is leading an early campaign to benefit from “first-mover advantage,” he added.
Meredith said he expects “a number of other candidates will also enter the race relatively soon for similar reasons.”
After his announcement in Philadelphia, Hanger finished the week by touring Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.
“I am ready to govern, I know the state really well,” he said. “Governor Corbett is very vulnerable, he can be beaten and will be beaten.”