Leaning heavily on his military credentials, Pine Township resident Paul Mango last night announced his intention to run for Pennsylvania governor in 2018. The West Point graduate and former principal at the business management consulting firm McKinsey & Company became the second Republican to declare his candidacy, joining State Senator Scott Wagner of York County in the race.
After announcing that he is “ready to serve,” Mango spoke of the need to reform Harrisburg. He quickly went on the attack against Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.
“Combining a couple of departments and using a few catchy slogans is not my idea of reform,” Mango said. “We need to fundamentally redefine the role Harrisburg plays in our lives and the current leadership there is incapable of achieving this.”
Mango told the small crowd of close supporters that government needs to get out of the way of the leadership found in local communities.
“We need Harrisburg to start doing its job and stop doing ours,” he declared. “Harrisburg and its politicians are relics of the early 20th century model that embraces large-scale standardization, control, spending and, of course, bureaucracy.”
He said that is especially true when it comes to how the state spends money on its largest budget priorities of education, health care and anti-poverty efforts.
“The fundamental role of government in the 21st century is not to deliver all of these services but to engage the relevant groups in the community and to stimulate innovation among them by inviting collaboration with private enterprise,” Mango said. “Once we find the innovations that work the role of government is to transfer those across the commonwealth.”
At the same time, he called for the state to take advantage of its three biggest assets—cheap natural gas and coal reserves; access to international markets though ports on the Atlantic, the Ohio River and the Great Lakes; and the constant stream of technology coming out of local universities.
Political consultant Mike DeVanney says it appears that the Republican Party is in for an extremely expensive and hotly contested primary race. In addition to Mango and Wagner, State Rep. Mike Turzai of McCandless is widely believed to be considering a run for the office.
DeVanney said Mango is rumored to be willing to spend some of his ample financial reserves on the race.
“The real question is going to be, based on the national environment and that Wolf might have free ride to his nomination, do the Republicans beat themselves up to the point where the nominee emerges some what scathed?” DeVanney said.
Allegheny County Council member Sam Demarco, a Republican, says that is not a concern for him.
“I believe that competition breeds excellence,” he said. “If the competitiveness of these three men trying to layout their vision causes them all to have to raise their bar, that is something that is good for all of us.”
Mango will continue his campaign kick-off tour Wednesday with stops in New Milford, Susquehanna County, Scranton, Lackawanna County, and Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County.