William Scranton, former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, died Sunday night at the age of 96. He served as governor from 1962-66, carrying a political outlook that has set him apart from his political party, both then and now.
According to Terry Madonna, Director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College, Scranton’s approach to governing was that of a “Kennedy Republican,” one who believed that the government should play an active role in helping the lives of others. Though Scranton was a man who was, as Madonna puts it “born to the manor,” or born into exorbitant wealth, he was instilled with a sense of responsibility for his community at an early age.
This outlook guided most of the political decisions Scranton made throughout his career, and Madonna notes that “he voted more than half the time for the Kennedy agenda” during his single term as a congressman from 1960-62. He was especially supportive of much of the Civil Rights legislation that Kennedy tried to pass during his presidency.
Although some have characterized Scranton as a fiscally conservative governor, Madonna disagreed, noting that in his single term as governor, he increased state spending by 40%, gave teachers a pay increase, created a department of community affairs to strengthen local governments, and made efforts to diversify the economy, all while increasing the state’s sales tax.