Scott Wagner

Scott R. Wagner (born September 21, 1955) is an American businessman and politician from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He represented the 28th district in the Pennsylvania State Senate. He was the Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania in the 2018 election, being defeated by incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf.

Scott Wagner
Scott Wagner.jpg
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 28th district
In office
April 2, 2014 – June 4, 2018
Preceded byMike Waugh
Succeeded byKristin Phillips-Hill
Personal details
Born (1955-09-21) September 21, 1955 (age 66)
York Township, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Candy Overlander (divorced)
Ellen Beecher (divorced)
Silvia Rodriguez
(m. 1991; div. 2008)

Tracy Higgs
(m. 2014)
EducationPennsylvania College of Technology (no degree)
WebsiteState Senate website

Early life and educationEdit

Wagner is from Spring Garden Township in York County, Pennsylvania. He was raised on a farm. Wagner graduated from Dallastown Area High School in 1973.[1] He then spent one semester at Williamsport Area Community College (now Pennsylvania College of Technology), but left school to pursue business ventures.[2][3]

Business careerEdit

Wagner bought his first plot of land for $8,500 at age 19, selling it two years later for a $4,000 profit.[4] He then had several successful business ventures including a laundromat and ski shop, as well as buying a number of rental buildings.[4][5] He also worked as a bail bondsman.[4]

In 1985, Wagner co-founded the waste management company York Waste Disposal, a company which made $40 million a year,[4] and which he sold in 1997.[1] He then started Penn Waste in 2000,[1] a company with 400 employees in 2018.[4] The company has received over 30 violations and citations from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection over sixteen years, which Wagner claims have been unfair and overreaching (his company picks up garbage from 180,000 homes).[4] In December 2019, Wagner sold Penn Waste to the Canadian company Waste Connections.[6][7]

Wagner also owns three other companies, including a trucking company called KBS Trucking.[8]

Political careerEdit

Pennsylvania Senate (2014–2018)Edit

Wagner ran in a March 2014 special election for the 28th district in the Pennsylvania Senate.[9] When Ron Miller, an incumbent member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, declared his intentions to run for the seat, Wagner charged the Republican Party with cronyism.[10] Wagner withdrew his name from consideration, but remained a candidate for the regularly scheduled primary election in May 2014. The York County Republicans selected Miller as their nominee,[11] and Wagner chose to run in the special election as a write-in candidate against Miller and Linda Small, the Democratic Party nominee.[12] Wagner ran on a fiscal conservative platform.[1] He ran as an outsider, accusing party leaders of rigging the system against him,[5] and became the first write-in candidate to win election to the Pennsylvania State Senate in history.[8] In the election, Wagner received 10,595 votes (47.7%), Miller received 5,920 votes (26.6%) and Small received 5,704 votes (25.7%). Turnout was less than 14% of all registered voters in the district.[13] He was sworn in on April 2, 2014.[14]

In office, Wagner moved the General Assembly in a more fiscally conservative direction.[5] He led efforts to replace Republican Dominic F. Pileggi as Senate majority leader and to install plaques under the Capitol portraits of Senate and House leaders with criminal convictions.[15] Wagner used his own money in campaigns to help Republicans win seats in various parts of the state,[5] and as Chairman of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, he led Senate Republicans to achieve a 34-16 supermajority in the 2016 Pennsylvania Senate election.[15]

As Chairman of the Senate Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Wagner ushered the passage of a bill from the committee that would have established protections from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation based on "sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression."[16][17] It was the first time in eleven years of introducing such legislation that it passed a committee, though it did not advance to a vote by the full Senate.[15]

Working with Democratic Senator Anthony H. Williams of Philadelphia, Wagner introduced Clean Slate legislation to automatically seal non-violent misdemeanor conviction records after someone remains crime-free for ten years. Wagner and Williams' bill passed the Senate unanimously, and is nearly identical to the House's version which ultimately became law.[18][19][15]

In the state Senate, Wagner supported natural gas drilling on state lands and called for reducing regulations on the oil and gas industry.[20] Wagner inaccurately asserted in March 2017 that climate change is the result of Earth moving closer to the Sun and from greater body heat emanating from a greater number of humans; this debunked claim is contrary to the scientific consensus on climate change.[20][21][22]

In December 2017, Wagner voted in favor of a bill in the state legislature that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Governor Wolf vetoed the bill.[23][24] Wagner later came out in support of a U.S. House bill that would ban abortion as soon as the fetus has a heartbeat.[25] Wagner has also cosponsored bills that would prevent the use of state funds for non-abortion services, such as birth control and cancer screening, at Planned Parenthood.[26]

Wagner has been critical of labor unions, and has stated that he supports right-to-work legislation.[27] In 2014, he compared public sector unions to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Putin, later apologizing for the "unfortunate analogy."[28][29]

Wagner resigned from the Senate in June 2018 after winning the Republican nomination for governor.[5]

2018 gubernatorial campaignEdit

Wagner ran as a Republican candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania in the 2018 election, challenging Democratic incumbent Governor Tom Wolf; Wagner became the Republican nominee after winning the primary on May 15, 2018.[30][31][32] Wagner contracted Red Mavericks, a media, strategy and fundraising firm led by Harrisburg political operative and lobbyist Ray Zaborney, after having previously decried the use of political consultants.[33] Wagner resigned from the State Senate on June 4, 2018, to focus on his gubernatorial campaign.[34] Prior to the 2018 gubernatorial election, Wagner declined to release his tax returns, suggesting that labor unions will use it to try to organize workers at his company.[27][35][36] Wagner's company Penn Waste, which reported $75 million in revenue in 2017, is non-unionized.[1][27][36]

Wagner and Wolf had a televised debate moderated by Alex Trebek.[37] Wagner originally called for debates in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania.[38] He called Wolf a "chicken" for not having more debates.[39]

In a campaign video, Wagner threatened to "stomp all over" his opponent's face, saying: "Gov. Wolf, let me tell you between now and Nov 6, you better put a catcher's mask on your face because I'm going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes. Because I'm going to win for the state of Pennsylvania, and we are throwing you out of office because, you know what, I'm sick and tired of your negative ads." In a later video, Wagner said, "I may have chosen a poor metaphor. I may have had poor choice of words. I shouldn't have said what I said."[40][41][42]

During the campaign, Wagner was endorsed by the National Rifle Association,[43] which had given him an "A" rating in the past.[44] Wagner said that he would roll back Wolf's Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (in 2015, Wolf expanded Medicaid to 700,000 Pennsylvanians).[45] After initially suggesting that he might support a bill that would end recognition of same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, Wagner issued a clarification saying that, if governor, he would veto any bill that restricts marriage rights for same-sex couples.[46] Wagner pledged to eliminating property taxes, including school taxes, statewide, and adopting zero-based budgeting.[39] During his campaign, Wagner said he favored a tougher stance on school bullying,[47] supported school uniforms for all students,[48] and spoke out against standardized testing.[48] Wagner supported leasing Pennsylvania's wholesale liquor industry and privatizing the sale of alcohol, using $500 million in projected savings for education programs.[49] He expressed support for "clear sentencing and bail guidelines" but did not endorse the elimination of cash bail.[45] Wagner also pledged to reverse Wolf's moratorium on the death penalty,[50] supporting restoration of capital punishment in Pennsylvania.[51][52][53] Regarding the opioid epidemic, Wagner said that if elected governor, he would sue pharmaceutical companies.[53] Wagner proposed the creation of a fund to extent loans to people, especially those in poor communities, to open new businesses; he also criticized the state's existing public assistance programs.[45]

In a 2018 campaign appearance, a student challenged Wagner's claim that climate change is being caused by human body heat and asked whether his belief was the result of the money he received from the fossil fuel industry. Wagner responded by calling the student "young and naive" and said that Pennsylvanians are trying to elect a governor, not a scientist.[54][55][56]

In the November 2018 election, Wagner was easily defeated by Wolf.[57][58] Wagner spent more than $23 million on his primary campaign and $22 million on his general election campaign.[59] Wagner self-funded most of his campaign, and was his own largest contributor.[60]

Republican Party financing and Trump supportEdit

A lifelong member of the Republican Party, Wagner has donated more than $3.2 million to state and local campaigns since 2007.[1][61]

Wagner is a supporter of President Donald Trump.[62] Wagner has compared himself to Trump, and similarities of style have been commented upon by others.[4] Wagner expressed support for the Trump travel ban and called the Russia investigation "a lot of propaganda."[4] Trump endorsed Wagner for governor in 2018.[1][63] Wagner and the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Lou Barletta, appeared with Trump at an October 2018 rally in Erie, Pennsylvania.[64]

Antisemitism controversiesEdit

In 2017, Wagner denounced billionaire businessman and political donor George Soros (a U.S. citizen since 1961) as a "Hungarian Jew" who has a "hatred for America."[62] Wagner rejected calls from Jewish and Christian clergy asking him to apologize for the remarks, and the Democratic Party in the state denounced his comments as anti-Semitic.[65][66] In September 2018, Wagner approvingly cited an anonymous anecdote circulating on the conspiratorial website InfoWars that complained that "America is 'becoming a nation of victims where every Tom, Ricardo and Hasid is part of a special group with special rights."[67]

Personal lifeEdit

Wagner has been married four times. His marriages to legal secretary Candy Overlander, receptionist Ellen Beecher, and translator Silvia Rodriguez ended in divorce.[4] Following his divorce from Rodriguez in 2012, Wagner married former trucking company owner Tracy Higgs in 2014.[1][68] He has two daughters, Katharine and Cristina.[69] Katharine filed a protection-from-abuse order against him in 2006 but no charges were filed. They later reconciled and she has been employed by him for several years and worked on his Senate campaign.[4]

Electoral historyEdit

2014 Special Election 28th Senatorial District[70]
Party Candidate Votes %
Write-in Scott Wagner 10,654 47.51
Republican Ron Miller 5,951 26.54
Democratic Linda E. Small 5,744 25.61
Write-in Other Scattered Write-Ins 76 0.34
Total votes 22,425 100.00
2014 Primary Election 28th Senatorial District[71]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Scott Wagner (inc.) 13,214 84.91
Republican Zachary A. Hearn 2,349 15.09
Total votes 15,563 100.00
2014 General Election 28th Senatorial District[72]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Scott Wagner (inc.) 46,247 64.72
Democratic Linda Small 25,205 35.28
Total votes 71,452 100.00
Republican hold
2018 Pennsylvania gubernatorial election, Republican Primary
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Scott Wagner 324,013 44.3
Republican Paul Mango 270,014 36.9
Republican Laura Ellsworth 137,650 18.8
Total votes 731,677 100.0
2018 Pennsylvania gubernatorial election[73]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Tom Wolf (incumbent)
John Fetterman
2,895,652 57.77% +2.84%
Republican Scott Wagner
Jeff Bartos
2,039,882 40.70% -4.37%
Libertarian Ken Krawchuk
Kathleen Smith
49,229 0.98% N/A
Green Paul Glover
Jocolyn Bowser-Bostick
27,792 0.55% N/A
Total votes 5,012,555 100.00% N/A
Democratic hold


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  2. ^ Segelbaum, Dylan (May 15, 2018).
  3. ^ Ydr (May 15, 2018). "Today's primary in Pa. will decide if it will be Tom Wolf vs. Scott Wagner for governor". Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Otterbein, Holly (April 20, 2018). "Can You Run Pennsylvania the Way You Run a Garbage Company?". Philadelphia Magazine. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e Mahon, Ed (May 31, 2018). "2018 Pa. governor's race: Who is Scott Wagner?". York Daily Record. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  6. ^ David Wenner, Scott Wagner sells Penn Waste to Canadian company, PennLive (January 16, 2020).
  7. ^ Logan Hullinger, Scott Wagner's Penn Waste sold to company with Canada, Texas ties, York Dispatch (January 16, 2020).
  8. ^ a b Murphy, Jan (March 18, 2014). "Scott Wagner makes history with his win in York County Senate race". Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  9. ^ "Lt. Gov calls special election to fill vacant Senate seat". Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  10. ^ "Rep. Ron Miller's candidacy for Senate seat strikes opponent Scott Wagner as dirty pool". January 14, 2014. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  11. ^ Ed Mahon (January 23, 2014). "York County Republicans pick Ron Miller for state Senate". York Daily Record. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  12. ^ Ed Mahon (February 17, 2014). "What Scott Wagner's write-in campaign will mean for March 18 special election". York Daily Record. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  13. ^ "Scott Wagner the presumed winner in 28th Senate". York Dispatch. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
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  17. ^ "Roll Call Vote - SB 1307". Pennsylvania State Senate. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
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  19. ^ "House Bill 1419 of 2017". Pennsylvania General Assembly. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  20. ^ a b "Wagner keynotes for natural gas advocates in Harrisburg | StateImpact Pennsylvania". March 28, 2017. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  21. ^ "Climate change theory debunked: Not getting closer to sun". PolitiFact. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  22. ^ Meyer, Katie (March 28, 2017). "Wagner keynotes for natural gas advocates in Harrisburg". StateImpact. NPR. WITF-FM. Retrieved April 4, 2017. I haven't been in a science class in a long time, but the earth moves closer to the sun every year–you know the rotation of the earth," Wagner said. "We're moving closer to the sun." He added, "We have more people. You know, humans have warm bodies. So is heat coming off? Things are changing, but I think we are, as a society, doing the best we can.
  23. ^ "Scott Wagner on Abortion". Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  24. ^ Marc Levy. "Abortion Politics May Shadow Final Weeks Of Governor's Race". Associated Press. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  25. ^ "Just in time for primary, Wagner takes tough abortion stance". WITF. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  26. ^ "Pennsylvania Bill Defunding Planned Parenthood (SB 300)". Rewire News Legislative Tracker. April 13, 2017. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  27. ^ a b c Levy, Marc (August 21, 2018). "Wagner Says He Doesn't Want Workers Knowing What He Makes". US News. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  28. ^ "Sen. Scott Wagner on being a bully, Wolf, gift ban and more". Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  29. ^ "Sen. Scott Wagner apologizes for 'unfortunate analogy' in his attack on unions". Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  30. ^ Owens, Dennis (January 11, 2017). "GOP Senator Scott Wagner of York running for governor". ABC 27. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  31. ^ Murphy, Jan (January 11, 2017). "Scott Wagner says he's running for election because 'Wolf is a failed governor'". Penn Live. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  32. ^ Prose, J. D. (January 11, 2017). "York County Republican state Senator Scott Wagner enters governor's race". The Beaver County Times. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  33. ^ "Eyeing a 2018 victory, Wagner retains type of firm he once blasted". City & State PA. July 6, 2017. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  34. ^ Murphy, Jan (May 31, 2018). "Scott Wagner to resign from Senate to focus on bid to be Pa.'s next governor". The Patriot-News. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  35. ^ "Candidate Wagner Doesn't Want Workers Knowing What He Makes". NBC 10 Philadelphia. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  36. ^ a b Venteicher, Wes. "Wagner says his tax returns could be used by unions to recruit his employees". Retrieved September 14, 2018.
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  38. ^ Woodall, Candy. "In the only debate between Tom Wolf and Scott Wagner, Pa. voters didn't hear much new". The York Daily Record. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  39. ^ a b Sutor, Dave (October 7, 2018). "Wagner stresses job creation, school taxes as main objectives". The Tribune-Democrat. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  40. ^ Esack, Steve (October 12, 2018). "Scott Wagner backtracks from threat to stomp Gov. Tom Wolf's face with golf spikes". Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  41. ^ Kelly, Caroline (October 12, 2018). "PA candidate Wagner says he'll 'stomp all over' Gov. Wolf's 'face with golf spikes'". CNN. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  42. ^ Woodall, Candy (October 12, 2018). "Scott Wagner to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf: 'I'm going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes'". USA TODAY. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  43. ^ NRA-ILA. "NRA-ILA | NRA Endorses Scott Wagner for Governor of Pennsylvania". NRA-ILA. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  44. ^ McDaniel, Justine. "Here's where the Republicans running for Pa. governor stand on gun issues". Retrieved October 3, 2018.
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  46. ^ "Wagner Issues Clarification, Says He Would Veto Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Bill". August 21, 2018. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  47. ^ "Wagner, Wolf face questions from elementary students at school district forum". KYW. October 10, 2018. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  48. ^ a b "Wolf, Wagner field education questions from students at Philly forum". WHYY. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  49. ^ Seidman, Maddie. "A closer look at school funding in Pa. governor race | Analysis". Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  50. ^ Woodall, Candy (September 12, 2018). "Scott Wagner Says He'll Restore Death Penalty, Sue Pharmaceutical Companies in Opioid Fight". USA Today Network. York Daily Record. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  51. ^ Sutor, Dave (November 1, 2018). "Wagner Calls for Return of Death Penalty during Richland Campaign Stop". The Tribune-Democrat. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
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  53. ^ a b "Scott Wagner says he'll restore death penalty, sue pharmaceutical companies in opioid fight". The York Daily Record. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  54. ^ "'Young and naive' teen to Wagner: You need to know science". WITF. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  55. ^ Levin, Dan (July 25, 2018). "A Politician Called Her 'Young and Naïve.' Now She's Striking Back". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 3, 2021.
  56. ^ Scott Wagner, Republican candidate for Pa. governor, calls teen 'young and naive'. York Daily Record. July 19, 2018.
  57. ^ Dylan Segelbaum & Candy Woodall, 'Back to work': Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf easily wins re-election over Republican Scott Wagner, York Daily Record (November 6, 2018).
  58. ^ Ron Southwick, Gov. Tom Wolf wins second term, defeats Scott Wagner, PennLive (November 6, 2018).
  59. ^ Cost of governor’s race topped $64M, shy of state record, Associated Press (December 10, 2018).
  60. ^ Despite having three millionaires as candidates, Pa. governor's race didn't break any spending records, PennLive (December 6, 2018).
  61. ^ Central Pennsylvania (May 13, 2010). "Penn Waste owner Scott Wagner pays for campaign touting 'pro business' candidates". Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  62. ^ a b Clout: Wagner (again) tangles with tracker in Pa. race for governor, Philadelphia Inquirer (August 25, 2017); also republished by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
  63. ^ Central Pennsylvania (August 3, 2018). "Trump gives backing to Wagner in governor's race". Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  64. ^ "Atmosphere of excitement awaiting Trump rally". The Bradford Era. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  65. ^ "Sen. Scott Wagner gets some religious heat for dissing George Soros". The York Daily Record. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  66. ^ "GOP governor hopeful refuses to apologize for saying George Soros has 'Hatred for America'". Fox News. August 29, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  67. ^ John L. Micek. "'We are being invaded': Republican Scott Wagner repeats anecdote from white nationalist site". Harrisburg Patriot-News.
  68. ^ Murphy, Jan (January 5, 2017). "Governor-hopeful Scott Wagner: The man unions hate, conservatives love". Penn Live. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  69. ^ Murphy, Jan (April 2, 2014). "Taking the oath of office, Scott Wagner now officially part of the state Senate". Penn Live. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
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  71. ^ "2014 Primary Election 28th Senatorial District" (PDF). York County Elections. York County, Pennsylvania. May 20, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
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  73. ^ "2018 General Election Official Returns". Pennsylvania Department of State. November 6, 2018. Retrieved October 3, 2019.

External linksEdit

Pennsylvania State Senate
Preceded by
Mike Waugh
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 28th district

Party political offices
Preceded by
Tom Corbett
Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
Most recent