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Brewster weighs in on governor's race

| Thursday, May 22, 2014, 3:21 a.m.

Tom Wolf made two visits to McKeesport during his successful campaign for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

“That tells me he will come back,” state Sen. James Brewster, D-McKeesport, said. “When we want to talk about jobs, job creation, economic development and public education, I would think we would be able to pick up the phone and talk to him.”

Brewster was one of Wolf's hosts at Di's Cornerstone Diner on March 8, when the York cabinet company owner met with Mon-Yough elected leaders.

“I'm going to do my best to make you proud,” Wolf said.

Brewster and Reps. Marc J. Gergely, D-White Oak, and Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg, organized a gathering on Friday at Renziehausen Park that drew an audience of 250.

“I expect he will be a great candidate in the fall,” Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, said Tuesday, citing Wolf's wide-ranging background, from time in the Peace Corps to service under Gov. Ed Rendell as state revenue secretary.

In the coming campaign, will Corbett visit the Mon-Yough area?

“We are going to be everywhere and talking to everyone,” Corbett campaign press secretary Billy Pitman said. “You can expect him to come into the area at some point in the campaign.”

It would be the first time Corbett visited McKeesport since his election in 2010, though the governor went to Jefferson Hills in April 2011.

“We need the confidence from the governor on down,” Brewster said. “We really need to know that someone respects our region, respects what goes on here.”

Calling the McKeesport area region “very important,” Pitman stressed that “the governor is focused on putting Pennsylvanians back to work” by keeping taxes down and promoting economic development.

“It is something he will continue to focus on during his time in office,” the Corbett campaign spokesman said.

In August 2012, members of Corbett's manufacturing advisory council came to Duquesne to present their recommendations, but Corbett himself went to an advisory council presentation in Lehigh County.

Earlier this month, PennDOT secretary Barry J. Schoch addressed the impact of Act 89 on transportation plans before the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce in West Mifflin.

“We worked with (Senate Transportation Majority Chairman) John Rafferty (R-Montgomery County) to get a 45-5 vote in the Senate (on what became Act 89),” Brewster said. “This could have major infrastructure implications in the region.”

Schoch is the highest level cabinet official to visit the area since the April 2011 Corbett visit to Kurt J. Lesker Co. in Jefferson Hills.

Brewster said he has respect for the governor.

“When the governor was the attorney general, he did some nice things in our region,” said Brewster, who was mayor prior to his first Senate election in 2010. “He helped with some investigations we had in McKeesport.”

Brewster opposed the impact fee that was passed for natural gas development in lieu of a severance tax, such as the 7 percent levy the McKeesport Democrat proposed.

Citing his longtime advocacy of Marcellus shale drilling and support of gas drilling in McKeesport, Brewster said, “That is an asset and a resource that everyone should benefit from. You can hold down and mitigate lower school taxes. That's one of the things I would have wished the governor had handled differently.”

Brewster hailed the nomination of a colleague, Sen. Mike Stack, D-Philadelphia, by Democrats for lieutenant governor on Tuesday. Stack will take on Republican incumbent Jim Cawley in the fall.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967,or