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Pennsylvania GOP wants Paul Mango to nix 'despicable' Scott Wagner attack ad

| Friday, April 6, 2018, 4:09 p.m.
Candidates seeking the Republican Party's nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's re-election bid are (from left) Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Wagner, Laura Ellsworth and Paul Mango.
Candidates seeking the Republican Party's nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's re-election bid are (from left) Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Wagner, Laura Ellsworth and Paul Mango.

The chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania on Friday called on gubernatorial candidate Paul Mango to cancel an ad attacking Republican rival Scott Wagner, saying the attacks could hurt the party's chances of defeating Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in the fall.

The ad touches on Wagner's time as a bail bondsman, head of a waste-hauling company and landlord, bringing up court cases and episodes from his past that Wagner addressed in his successful campaign for state senator in 2014.

The state GOP party, chaired by Val DiGiorgio, endorsed Wagner in February after Wagner won several rounds of internal party polling around the state.

“For the good of our party and our commonwealth, it is time we rise above personal attacks and focus on substantive solutions to the problems facing Pennsylvanians,” DiGiorgio said in his Friday statement. “As such, I call on Paul Mango to take down this misleading attack ad.”

Wagner's campaign criticized the attacks, coming before the May 15 primary, which include Pittsburgh attorney Laura Ellsworth.

“Airing this despicable ad with false attacks more than a month from election day shows Paul Mango is desperate, is losing and has no message of his own to run on,” Wagner spokesman Andrew Romeo said in a statement. “He knows Scott is the true conservative candidate in this race, and because of that, he is resorting to smearing Scott's character rather than talking about his own record or policies. Scott will continue to focus on what this race is really all about, the people of Pennsylvania.”

Mango is keeping the ad up, and bought more slots for it Friday morning, said campaign spokesman Matt Beynon.

“If Scott Wagner's personal record cannot stand up to scrutiny during the Republican primary, clearly Wagner gives our party the worst chance of defeating Governor Wolf in the fall... We view the chairman's comments as encouragement that our message exposing Wagner's record as a Harrisburg insider with serious character flaws is resonating with voters,” Beynon said in a statement.

Wagner's campaign has aired ads attacking Mango's record as a health care consultant, saying he supported Obamacare and outsourced jobs.

Mango's new ad portrays a cartoon Wagner in different outfits for each period of his past.

It calls him “slumlord Wagner,” citing York County Court of Common Pleas documents saying Wagner rented apartments with termites and no heat. Romeo, the Wagner spokesman, said Wagner has never lost a landlord-tenant case.

The ad says Wagner certified bail for a man accused of sex crimes against a minor, who after his release pleaded guilty to similar crimes.

“Anyone who's familiar with the bail bondsman process knows that when you post bail for someone you're not endorsing their crime,” Romeo said of the allegation.

The ad says Wagner didn't make child care payments, a claim Romeo said is false. That claim, along with concerns over an argument and physical altercation between Wagner and his daughter, were addressed by the York Daily Record in a 2013 story .

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, wventeicher@tribweb.com or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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