PITTSBURGH (AP) – Two of Pennsylvania’s most influential Democrats on Saturday strongly criticized a TV ad run by fellow Democrat Rob McCord in his campaign for governor.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell held a press conference to denounce the ad, which makes racially-charged accusations against apparent front-runner Tom Wolf.
Not long afterward, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said in a statement, “This ad is offensive. I hope it will be taken down and that all of the candidates will focus on the importance of moving the Commonwealth in a new and better direction.”
Neither Rendell nor Casey has endorsed any of the four Democrats seeking to upset Republican incumbent Tom Corbett this fall. But Rendell said the ad attacking Wolf was one of the worst he’s seen.
McCord “should pull it down, it’s not worthy of him. He knows in his heart that Tom Wolf is not racially insensitive,” the former governor said.
Meanwhile, McCord, the current state treasurer, held a news conference on the “issue of race and leadership” in the gubernatorial race. According to a spokesman, McCord said that he respects Rendell “but he and I strongly disagree” over the ad. McCord also said that Rendell “will not be driving my campaign strategy.”
Rendell said that such attack ads aren’t good for voters or the Democratic Party, which he said should be focused on beating Corbett.
“If Wolf returns fire, whoever wins will be weakened in the fall,” Rendell said.
He noted that McCord accepted a $20,000 campaign donation from Wolf in 2008, and said he now wonders if McCord will return the money.
Other Democrats are criticizing McCord, too. Lebanon County Democratic Chairman Chris Tarsa said in a news release Saturday that he has withdrawn his support of McCord over the ad and is now backing Wolf.
Wolf began airing his own ad Friday to respond to McCord’s efforts to tie him to a former York mayor who was acquitted of a murder charge in the city’s 1969 race riots.
The primary is May 20. Former state environmental protection secretary Katie McGinty and U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz are also seeking the nomination. Corbett has no opponent in his bid for re-election.