PHILADELPHIA – Democrat Tom Wolf is being endorsed for governor by one of Pennsylvania’s largest labor unions while the man he’s challenging, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, is getting unqualified support from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is at the controls of his biggest cash supporter.
Wolf appeared Friday morning across the street from Philadelphia City Hall with members of Service Employees International Union to formally accept the endorsement.
The endorsement was not a surprise, since SEIU has fought Corbett on a variety of his policies, such as his support for the since-overturned 2012 voter identification law and his stance against an expansion of Medicaid eligibility under the 2010 federal health care law.
On Friday afternoon, Corbett attended a private fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association with Christie at the downtown Pittsburgh Omni William Penn Hotel.
The men then headed to a popular Primanti Bros. restaurant, where they were greeted by dozens of chanting and sign-waving supporters and protesters.
While there, the governors posed with restaurant patrons for selfies and tried to speak over the din of the chanting.
Christie told reporters he is prepared to spend a lot of money on behalf of Corbett in his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He also said ensuring Corbett’s re-election is a top priority for him.
Corbett is running for a second term as governor and his campaign is leaning heavily on the group’s financial assistance.
The Republican Governors Association was Corbett’s biggest campaign donor in 2010, giving him $6 million.
It again is his biggest contributor, already donating $1.8 million for his re-election campaign. In a campaign finance filing last month, the organization reported having $8.6 million to spend in Pennsylvania.
The election is Nov. 4. Early polling shows Corbett far behind Wolf, the wealthy York County businessman who is spending at least $10 million of his own money in his first effort to win public office.
Wolf easily won a four-way Democratic Party primary May 20.
SEIU has six Pennsylvania locals that represent more than 80,000 workers, including public- and private-sector nurses, public assistance case workers and property maintenance and security workers. While SEIU did not endorse anyone in the Democratic primary, many other labor unions sided with state Treasurer Rob McCord.
Corbett, who has battled public-sector unions since he became governor, expects to compete for the endorsements of private-sector unions, and has bagged a couple so far, including the Boilermakers and Laborers locals in his home base of Pittsburgh.