Jeff Bartos has dropped his bid for Pennsylvania’s Senate race to seek the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, joining forces with gubernatorial candidate and State Senator Scott Wagner.
In a video announcement Wagner, a current state senator, lauded Bartos as a man who will work with him to take on career politicians, “Jeff is a person who wants to change the way Harrisburg works.”
The move means Bartos is leaving a race to take U.S. Sen. Bob Casey’s seat. Bartos had been facing off against Rep. Lou Barletta for the Republican nomination and opportunity to challenge Casey. Barletta was an early supporter of now President Donald Trump. Bartos had amassed over $1 million for his Senate campaign which now serves as an asset in his quest to become the next Lieutenant Gov. of Pennsylvania. About half of that total represents loans from Bartos to his own campaign.
Wagner promises in the video that the two will, “change the way things have always been done in Harrisburg. Jeff will help me make Harrisburg work for you, the taxpayers – not special interests or insiders.”
“My life has been in business, not politics,” Bartos emphasizes in the video. He described Wagner as a “tough” but “fair” conservative businessman who has “built his waste company from the ground up into a major job engine, right here in central Pennsylvania.”
Bartos remarks that Wagner has lived the American dream and now wants to “use his experience to make Pennsylvania win again.”
Bartos’ words echo President Donald Trump’s frequent promises to make America great again, make America win again. In his inaugural address Trump said, “America will start winning again, winning like never before.”
“Scott’s knows what it takes to win, and that’s what he’ll do. We both will,” said Bartos.
Wagner then fired shots at his opponent, incumbent Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf, pledging to “take out the trash.” He hit Wolf for raising taxes and spending more.
“It’s time for people who know how to win to take charge,” said Wagner.
Wolf does not share the same close relationship with the current Lieutenant Gov. as Wagner shares with Bartos according to the Morning Call. Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokeswoman Beth Melena dismissed the close relationship between Wagner and Bartos in that report, claiming Wagner is “far too conservative.”
Wagner and Bartos came under fire from Jeb Bush donor Paul Mango as the two men announced they would be campaigning together. Mango is also running for governor in the state, hoping to secure the Republican nomination in the May 15 primary election over Wagner. The crux of Mango’s criticism lies in Wagner’s support for a Democrat candidate for governor fifteen years ago.
A history of a conservative backing Democrats in the past is not unprecedented. Trump himself is well known to have supported Democrats in the past, but later became a Republican, ran on conservative positions in the 2016 election and has followed through with an agenda as President sufficiently conservative that moderate, establishment Republicans have tried relentlessly to moderate.
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Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to make clear that Paul Mango was not part of the “NeverTrump” movement. He donated to both Jeb Bush and Donald Trump.