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Thomas Westerman Wolf[1] (born November 17, 1948) is an American businessman and politician who is the 47th and current Governor of Pennsylvania, since taking office on January 20, 2015. A Democrat, he defeated Republican incumbent Tom Corbett in the 2014 gubernatorial election. Previously, Wolf served as the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue from April 2007 until November 2008 and as an executive in his family-owned business.

Tom Wolf
Governor Tom Wolf official portrait 2015.jpg
47th Governor of Pennsylvania
Assumed office
January 20, 2015
Lieutenant Mike Stack
Preceded by Tom Corbett
Secretary of Revenue of Pennsylvania
In office
April 25, 2007 – November 30, 2008
Governor Ed Rendell
Preceded by Gregory Fajt
Succeeded by Stephen Stetler
Personal details
Born Thomas Westerman Wolf
(1948-11-17) November 17, 1948 (age 69)
Mount Wolf, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Frances Donnelly (m. 1975)
Children 2
Residence Mount Wolf
Education Dartmouth College (BA)
University of London (MPhil)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD)
Website Government website


Early life and educationEdit

Wolf was born on November 17, 1948, in Mount Wolf, Pennsylvania, the son of Cornelia Rohlman (née Westerman) and William Trout "Bill" Wolf, a business executive.[2][3][4] He was raised in Mount Wolf, Pennsylvania, which was named after his ancestor, the town's postmaster.[5]

He was raised Methodist[6] but is now affiliated with the Episcopal Church.[7]

Frances Donnelly Wolf, First Lady of Pennsylvania

Wolf graduated from The Hill School, a boarding school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, in 1967.[8] He went on to receive an A.B. in government,[9] magna cum laude, from Dartmouth College in 1972, an M.Phil. from the University of London in 1978, and a Ph.D. in political science[10] from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981.[11] While a student at Dartmouth, Wolf joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in India.[12][13][14]

After earning his Ph.D., his dissertation on the United States House of Representatives was named the best of 1981 by the American Political Science Association.[15] Wolf turned down an opportunity to interview for a tenure-track faculty position at Harvard University to begin his career at The Wolf Organization as manager of a True Value store owned by the company.[15]

He met his wife, Frances, at school and married her in 1975. They have two adult daughters.[16]

Business and early political careerEdit

After graduating,[clarification needed] Wolf returned to York to work for his family's building materials company, the Wolf Organization Inc., as a forklift operator.[citation needed] He purchased the company in 1985 with two partners. During the administration of Governor Robert P. Casey, Wolf served on an economic development board and on the Pennsylvania Legislative Commission on Urban Schools.[17]

After selling his company to a private equity firm in 2006, Wolf was nominated in January 2007 by then-Governor Ed Rendell to be the Secretary of Revenue of Pennsylvania. He served in that position on Rendell's cabinet from his April 2007 confirmation by the Pennsylvania State Senate until resigning in November 2008.[10][11][13] He had planned to run for Governor of Pennsylvania in the 2010 election, but ultimately did not in order to repurchase the Wolf Organization, which was facing bankruptcy.[10][13][17] Wolf continued to serve as an executive in The Wolf Organization until his election as governor. He served as chairman and chief executive officer until stepping down from the latter position in December 2013 to focus on his gubernatorial campaign[18] and from the board altogether in December 2014 following his election.[19]

Wolf serves as chair of the York County United Way, the York County Community Foundation, the York College board of trustees, and as chairman of the York County Chamber of Commerce. He has also been active in the York Jewish Community Center, the Memorial Hospital of York, and a regional public television system.[20]

Governor of PennsylvaniaEdit

2014 electionEdit

On April 2, 2013, Wolf announced his candidacy for Governor of Pennsylvania in the 2014 election. He pledged $10 million of his personal wealth toward the primary election, with an intent to raise at least $5 million from supporters throughout the state. He was the third person to announce candidacy, following John Hanger of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Max Meyers, a minister from Cumberland County, but at least four others were expected to join the race.[21]

By March 2014, several polls suggested Wolf was the front-runner in the race for the Democratic nomination following an extensive television campaign as well as field operative Brendan Murray's effort in traditionally Republican central Pennsylvania.[22][23][24] A Franklin & Marshall College poll conducted in late February 2014 showed Wolf with a 27-point lead over his nearest competitor, Allyson Schwartz,[25] and a Harper poll showed him leading Schwartz by 26 percentage points,[26] as did an additional Franklin & Marshall poll in late March 2014.[27]

In late April and early May, Wolf faced attacks from fellow candidate Rob McCord over his association with controversial former York, Pennsylvania, mayor Charlie Robertson.[28] Allyson Schwartz also accused Wolf's campaign of plagiarizing his "Fresh Start" plan from an energy equipment company.[29] Despite the attacks, a Muhlenberg College/Morning Call poll suggested Wolf continued to lead with 38% to Allyson Schwartz's 13% and Rob McCord's 11%.[30]

Wolf takes the oath of office as Governor on January 20, 2015

In the May 20 primary, Wolf defeated Schwartz, McCord, and Katie McGinty, to win the Democratic nomination for governor. As such, he faced incumbent Governor Tom Corbett in the November general election.[31] Heading into the final two months of the campaign, a number of polls indicated a varying but consistent advantage for Wolf over Corbett. Although Corbett slightly narrowed the deficit as the election approached, Wolf maintained a persistent lead in the race.[32][33][34][35] On November 4, Wolf was elected Governor with 54.9% of the vote.[36][37] He was the first challenger to oust a sitting governor since governors became eligible for immediate reelection in 1968.


Governor Wolf as he signs an executive order to ban fracking in state parks on January 29, 2015 while others look on

Wolf assumed office as the 47th Governor of Pennsylvania upon the expiration of Tom Corbett's term on January 20, 2015, with the inaugural ceremony occurring in front of the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg.[38] Upon taking office, Wolf opted not to move into the Pennsylvania Governor's Residence, instead commuting from his home in York; however, a spokesman for Wolf indicated that the residence would still be used for official events and other functions.[39] Shortly after being sworn in, Wolf signed two executive orders banning gifts to state employees and requiring a bidding process for outside legal contracts.[40] Wolf also restored a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", in state parks[41] and placed a moratorium on the death penalty within Pennsylvania.[42] His most significant executive action in his first days in office was his move to fully expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Wolf proposed the first budget of his tenure in March 2015, which includes an increase in education spending, reductions in property taxes and the corporate tax, and a new severance tax on natural gas.[43] Six months into his tenure, in July 2015, Wolf was named by the websites OnTheIssues and InsideGov as the most liberal incumbent governor in the United States based on a rating of public statements and press releases among other measures; Wolf rejected this assessment, arguing that his policies are directed by practicality rather than ideology.[44][45]

On July 1, 2015, Wolf vetoed a budget submitted to him by the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania General Assembly, ensuring a budget dispute between the governor's office and the legislature during Wolf's first year in office. This marked the first time a Pennsylvania Governor vetoed a budget bill in its entirety since Milton Shapp did so in 1976.[46] Wolf argued the budget was not balanced, disputing a claim by Republicans that the budget would provide increased funding in certain areas without raising taxes.[47][48] A point of dispute in the budget process was the proposed privatization of Pennsylvania's wine and liquor sales, which Wolf opposes.[49] The state operated without a full budget for 267 days—the longest period without a full budget in Pennsylvania history–until the 2015-16 budget became law without Wolf's signature in March 2016.[50][51]

In January 2016, Wolf announced the launch of the "It's On Us PA" campaign which aims to expand awareness of sexual assault in schools and on college campuses.[52] Wolf made the announcement at Elizabethtown College.[53] This announcement made Pennsylvania the first state to implement a statewide campaign that called for a collaboration of schools, law enforcement, victim services organizations, and other community members to promote awareness, education, and bystander intervention of sexual violence specifically on school campuses.[54] Several schools, including Franklin and Marshall College, Butler County Community College, as well as the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Chancellor Frank Brogan signed on to the initiative. On November 30, 2016, Wolf announced the awarding of "It's On Us PA" grants of one million dollars to thirty-six post-secondary schools in the state to combat sexual violence on their campuses. Programs considered for funding included but were not limited to those that enhanced awareness of available resources as well as the rights of students and, most importantly, to increase mechanisms for anonymous reporting.[55]

Governor Wolf has previously expressed his opposition to targeting countries with economic sanctions or boycotts stating "We ... will not encourage economic punishment in place of peaceful solutions to challenging conflicts."[56]

In his tenure as governor, he has signed into law bills that legalized medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, reformed pensions, and expanded the number of offenses former criminal defendants could get sealed, among other legislation enacted.

On February 24, 2016, Wolf announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was diagnosed early, so he stated that it would not hinder his ability to govern Pennsylvania.[57] Following treatment, Wolf's spokesperson announced in January 2017 that Wolf had been given a "clean bill of health" from his physician.[58]

Wolf declared Pennsylvania's heroin and opioid addiction crisis a statewide emergency in January 2018. Pennsylvania became the eighth state to do so. Such a declaration would let Pennsylvania officials "override any current rules or regulations they perceive as hampering the state's ability to address the opioid epidemic".[59]

Electoral historyEdit

Democratic gubernatorial primary results, 2014[60]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tom Wolf 488,917 57.86
Democratic Allyson Schwartz 149,027 17.64
Democratic Rob McCord 142,311 16.84
Democratic Kathleen McGinty 64,754 7.66
Total votes 845,009 100
Pennsylvania gubernatorial election, 2014[61]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tom Wolf 1,920,355 54.93
Republican Tom Corbett (incumbent) 1,575,511 45.07
Total votes 3,495,866 100
Democratic gain from Republican


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  37. ^ "NBC News Projects: PA's Corbett Ousted by Democrat Tom Wolf". NBC News. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  38. ^ Jackson, Peter (20 January 2015). "WOLF TO TAKE AS PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR; STACK SWORN IN AS LT. GOVERNOR". Associated Press. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  39. ^ McKelvey, Wallace (9 December 2014). "Governor's Residence to remain open, even as Tom Wolf plans commute to Harrisburg". Harrisburg Patriot-News. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  40. ^ McKelvey, Wallace (20 January 2015). "Wolf's first actions include gift ban, required bidding on legal contracts". Harrisburg Patriot-News. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  41. ^ Finley, Ben (31 January 2015). "Wolf restores fracking ban in state parkland". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  42. ^ Slobodzian, Joseph (13 February 2015). "Wolf halts death penalty in Pa". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
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  52. ^ Printz v. United States
  53. ^
  54. ^ Garcia, Deanna. "Pennsylvania Implements National 'It's On Us' Sexual Assault Initiative". Retrieved 2016-12-09. 
  55. ^ "Wolf Administration Awards First-ever 'It's On Us PA' Grants to Combat Campus Sexual Assault |". Retrieved 2016-12-09. 
  56. ^ "Governor Wolf Signs Bill Prohibiting State from Contracting with Businesses that Boycott Israel". 
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External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Dan Onorato
Democratic nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Tom Corbett
Governor of Pennsylvania
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Mike Pence
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
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Otherwise Paul Ryan
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
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as Governor of Delaware
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside Pennsylvania
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Phil Murphy
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