HARRISBURG —State Sen. Scott Wagner and Main Line Republican Jeff Bartos pledged to work together to correct dysfunction in state government Thursday morning when they formally announced their plans to run as a pair for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively.
The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported Wednesday that Bartos was dropping out of Pennsylvania's GOP U.S. Senate race to run for lieutenant governor as Wagner's choice for the ticket, removing the main obstacle for U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta on his path to the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.
The pairing of Wagner and Bartos before the gubernatorial primary presents an early wrinkle in the race for governor. Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately in Pennsylvania primaries, with the winners standing as a ticket for the general election.
The two presented their pairing as an alternative to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Lieutenant Gov. Mike Stack, whose strained relationship is not a secret in Harrisburg.
"This a very untraditional campaign," said Wagner, a York County Republican. He added later, "We have a governor and lieutenant governor who don't even speak to each other, and it is dysfunction at its best, and that has to stop."
Wagner and Bartos, a real estate executive from Lower Merion who has never run for office, met while attending various events as part of their respective campaigns and began talking about two months ago about the possibility of running together, Wagner said.
"It was a deep, thoughtful process where I considered what I really wanted to be working on," said Bartos, who said he took issues with any insinuations that his move was an effort to clear the way for Bartletta to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.
Whether Wagner and Bartos will fundraise together remains to be seen. Bartos had just over $1 million in his Senate political action committee as of Sept. 30, more than half from loans to the PAC, according to a campaign finance report filed Oct. 13. Bartos made two personal loans, totaling $550,000, in June and September.
Bartos said he has asked his attorney and campaign finance experts to review whether he can transfer any of that money to the state campaign efforts. He promised to stay within the confines of campaign finance law.
Wagner is expected to face Paul Mango, a western Pennsylvania businessman, and potentially also House Speaker Mike Turzai, from Allegheny County, in the Republican primary to challenge Wolf.