Scott Wagner

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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 64)
York Township, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)(He has been married four times)
EducationPennsylvania College of Technology
WebsiteState Senate website

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.

Early life and education[edit]

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]


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 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] He also owns three other companies, including a trucking company called KBS Trucking.[6]

Pennsylvania Senate (2014–2018)[edit]

Wagner ran in a March 2014 special election for the 28th district in the Pennsylvania Senate.[7] 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.[8] 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,[9] and Wagner chose to run in the special election as a write-in candidate against Miller and Linda Small, the Democratic Party nominee.[10] 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.[6] 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.[11] He was sworn in on April 2, 2014.[12]

In office, Wagner has 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 used his own money in campaigns to help Republicans win seats in various parts of the state.[5] He resigned in June 2018 after winning the Republican nomination for the gubernatorial election.[5]

2018 gubernatorial campaign[edit]

Wagner ran as a Republican candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania in the 2018 election and became the Republican nominee after winning the primary on May 15, 2018.[13][14][15]

Wagner contracted Red Mavericks, a media, strategy and fundraising firm led by Harrisburg political operative and lobbyist Ray Zaborney. He previously decried the use of political consultants.[16] Wagner resigned from the State Senate on June 4, 2018, to focus on his gubernatorial campaign.[17]

As of September 26, 2018, Wagner's campaign had spent $3.4 million over the prior three months. His campaign has $1.8 million in the bank.[18]

On October 2, 2018, Wagner and Democratic candidate Tom Wolf had a gubernatorial debate with TV host Alex Trebek as the moderator.[19]

Wagner originally asked to hold debates in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania.[20] He called Wolf a "chicken" for not having more debates.[21]

The Wawa convenience chain's political action committee (PAC) gave $12,500 to Wagner's gubernatorial campaign.[22]

On October 12, 2018 Wagner threatened in a gubernatorial campaign video to stomp on the face of the incumbent governor, Tom Wolf, while wearing golf cleats. “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 of his stomping threat, "I may have chosen a poor metaphor. I may have had poor choice of words. I shouldn't have said what I said."[23][24][25]

Political views[edit]

A lifelong member of the Republican Party, Wagner has donated more than $3.2 million to state and local campaigns since 2007.[1][26]


In 2017, Wagner denounced billionaire businessman George Soros (a U.S. citizen since 1961) as a "Hungarian Jew" who has a "hatred for America."[27] 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.[28][29]

On September 12, 2018, Wagner approvingly cited an anonymous anecdote circulating on white-supremacist websites 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,"[30]


Wagner supports partial reform of the bail system, stating that he supports "clear sentencing and bail guidelines" so that punishments are in proportion to crimes. He has not endorsed the elimination of cash bail, such as happened in New Jersey and California.[31]

Death penalty[edit]

Wagner supports mandatory death sentences for school shooters and those who murder police officers.[32]

Donald Trump[edit]

Wagner is a supporter of President Donald Trump.[27] Wagner received the endorsement of President Donald Trump for his gubernatorial campaign on August 3, 2018. [1][33]

Trump held a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, on October 10, 2018, featuring Scott Wagner and the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Lou Barletta.[34]


Wagner supports state universities providing trade school classes. He proposed having every state-run school have a vocational program, citing a "200,000 to 400,000 skilled labor position crisis.”[35]

On the issue of bullying, Wagner told elementary school students in October 2018 that for bullying, he favored one warning and then expulsion, in a “zero tolerance” policy, as he put it. He mentioned his own childhood and being picked on. During the campaign, both Wolf and Wagner have accused each other of wanting to cut school funding.[36]

Wagner favors uniforms for all students. He favors rules that prohibit using a cell phone in class. He also spoke out against standardized testing.[37] He pledged to increase education funding by over $1 billion each year if elected governor.[38]


In 2014, Wagner said he wanted to establish a process that would replace coal plants with renewable energy.[39]

He supports natural gas drilling on state lands. In 2017, the state government expected around $80 million in royalties from drilling in state forests. Wagner said, "There’s a huge difference between an active environmentalist and an environmental activist. I love the outdoors, I grew up around the outdoors, I love fishing–I am in favor of drilling on state lands.” Wagner believes that the state has too many redundant restrictions on the oil and gas industry that need to be "studied and pared down."[40]


Wagner erroneously 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: "The Earth moves closer to the Sun every year. We have more people. You know, humans have warm bodies so is heat coming off? We're just going through a lot of change, but I think we are, as a society, doing the best we can."[40] PolitiFact rated the claims as "false" and added "that movement closer to the sun, scientists say, wouldn't have an impact on climate change... Also, there's no evidence to suggest human body heat is at all related to global climate change." The scientific consensus is that humans are primarily causing climate change through the production of carbon dioxide which exacerbates the Earth's greenhouse effect.[41][42]

On July 18, 2018, student Rose Strauss challenged Scott Wagner's controversial argument that climate change is being caused by human body heat.[43] She pressed him, asking if his belief is the result of the money he has received from the fossil fuel industry. Wagner called Strauss "young and naive" and stated that Pennsylvanians are trying to elect a governor, not a scientist.[44][45]


During his primary campaign, Wagner said that he would roll back the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid. In 2015, Wolf expanded Medicaid by 700,000 people.[31]

Labor unions[edit]

Wagner has been critical of labor unions, and has stated that he supports right to work legislation.[46] In 2014, he compared public sector unions to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Putin, later apologizing for the "unfortunate analogy."[47][48]

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.[46][49][50] Wagner's company Penn Waste, which reported $75 million in revenue in 2017, is non-unionized.[1][46][50]

LGBT rights[edit]

Wagner supports same-sex marriage rights and has said that, as governor of Pennsylvania, he would veto any bill that restricts marriage rights for same-sex couples.[51]

Opioid epidemic[edit]

To combat the opioid epidemic, Wagner supports holding a one-day summit with approximately 700 people such as prosecutors, coroners, law enforcement, and county leaders.[21] Wagner said he would hold the opioid summit on November 27 if he wins election, which would be before he would be sworn-in as governor. He said the crisis is too important to wait for the swearing-in ceremony.[52] With such a summit's associated action plan, Wagner has pledged he would be "bringing the hammer down on things that they say we need to move on."[21]

Wagner criticized Governor Wolf for not doing enough to fix the problem, mentioning that Wolf has taken campaign contributions from drug companies.[52]

Poverty and urban assistance[edit]

During his campaign, Wagner proposed starting a fund of money to give loans to people, especially those in poor communities, to start new businesses. He has been critical of the state's public assistance programs. He said he would "overhaul any program that is not providing a pathway to financial independence or adequately supporting our most needy." Wagner supports using the private sector for solutions to poverty.[31]

Reproductive care[edit]

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, and has committed to vetoing similar bills in the future. Wagner has made no such commitment.[53][54] Wagner later came out in support of a U.S. House bill that would ban abortion as soon as the fetus has a heartbeat.[55]

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.[56]

Second Amendment[edit]

On October 2, 2018, the National Rifle Association endorsed Wagner in his bid for governor.[57] The NRA had given him an A rating in the past.[58]

State-owned liquor industry[edit]

Wagner supports leasing the state's wholesale liquor industry. He also supports privatizing the sale of alcohol. He wants to use the $500 million in projected savings for education programs.[59]

Taxes and budget[edit]

Wagner supports eliminating property taxes statewide. He made a pledge to get rid of school taxes on everyone's home. As part of his fiscal plan during his campaign, Wagner proposed using what is known as "zero-based budgeting." This is a system "in which every expense must be justified and approved for a new spending period," according to the Pennsylvania's Tribune-Democrat.[21]

Wagner plans to cut the Keystone Opportunity Zone and Keystone Innovation Zone tax incentive programs. Pennsylvania spends $15 million each year in tax credits through these programs, and overall spends $700 million each year on economic incentive programs. Wagner supports getting rid of tax incentive programs that "do not have a positive economic impact" on the state.[59] He also wants to lower the tax rate on employers so that they can use the money to hire more people.[38]


Wagner said that one potential barrier to employment was access to transportation. He supports the creation of a new mass transit advisory board to partner with Uber and Lyft to develop new solutions to mass transit.[31]

Personal life[edit]

Wagner has been married four times, including to legal secretary Candy Overlander, and receptionist Ellen Beecher.[4] He and translator Silvia Rodriguez divorced in 2012 and he married former trucking company owner Tracy Higgs in 2014.[1][60] He has two daughters, Katharine and Cristina.[61] 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 history[edit]

2014 Special Election 28th Senatorial District[62]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ron Miller 5,951 26.54
Democratic Linda E. Small 5,744 25.61
Write-in Scott Wagner 10,654 47.51
2018 Gubernatorial Primary Election[63]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Scott Wagner 326,612 44.30
Republican Paul Mango 271,857 36.87
Republican Laura Ellsworth 138,843 18.83
Pennsylvania gubernatorial election, 2018[64]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tom Wolf (incumbent) 2,850,210 57.7
Republican Scott Wagner 2,015,266 40.8
Other Other 75,916 1.5
Total votes 4,941,342 100
Democratic hold


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Governor-hopeful Scott Wagner: The man unions hate, conservatives love". Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  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 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. ^ a b Murphy, Jan (March 18, 2014). "Scott Wagner makes history with his win in York County Senate race". Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  7. ^ "Lt. Gov calls special election to fill vacant Senate seat". Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  8. ^ "Rep. Ron Miller's candidacy for Senate seat strikes opponent Scott Wagner as dirty pool". January 14, 2014. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  9. ^ Ed Mahon (January 23, 2014). "York County Republicans pick Ron Miller for state Senate". York Daily Record. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Scott Wagner the presumed winner in 28th Senate". York Dispatch. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  12. ^ "Scott Wagner Sworn In As State Senator". PA Senate Republicans. April 2, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
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  18. ^ Seidman, Andrew. "Gov. Wolf's campaign advertising budget: $10M since June". Retrieved September 26, 2018.
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  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ a b c d Sutor, Dave (October 7, 2018). "Wagner stresses job creation, school taxes as main objectives". The Tribune-Democrat. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
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  24. ^ CNN, Caroline Kelly,. "PA candidate says he'll 'stomp all over' rival's 'face with golf spikes'". CNN. Retrieved October 13, 2018.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  25. ^ "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.
  26. ^ Central Pennsylvania (May 13, 2010). "Penn Waste owner Scott Wagner pays for campaign touting 'pro business' candidates". Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ "Sen. Scott Wagner gets some religious heat for dissing George Soros". The York Daily Record. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  29. ^ "GOP governor hopeful refuses to apologize for saying George Soros has 'Hatred for America'". Fox News. August 29, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  30. ^ "'We are being invaded': Republican Scott Wagner repeats anecdote from white nationalist site". Harrisburg Patriot-News.
  31. ^ a b c d Seidman, Andrew. "'What do you have to lose?' Republican Scott Wagner makes Philly pitch in Pa. governor's race". Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  32. ^ Seidman, Andrew. "With Alex Trebek moderating, Gov. Wolf and GOP opponent Scott Wagner debate Pa.'s future". Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  33. ^ Central Pennsylvania (August 3, 2018). "Trump gives backing to Wagner in governor's race". Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  34. ^ "Atmosphere of excitement awaiting Trump rally". The Bradford Era. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  35. ^ Sutor, Dave. "WATCH VIDEO | Wagner stresses job creation, school taxes as main objectives". The Tribune-Democrat. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  36. ^ "Wagner, Wolf face questions from elementary students at school district forum". KYW. October 10, 2018. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  37. ^ "Wolf, Wagner field education questions from students at Philly forum". WHYY. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  38. ^ a b "Wagner Releases Plan To Support Pennsylvania's Veterans - Scott Wagner for Governor". Scott Wagner for Governor. September 25, 2018. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  39. ^ "Scott Wagner on the Issues". Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  40. ^ a b "Wagner keynotes for natural gas advocates in Harrisburg | StateImpact Pennsylvania". March 28, 2017. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  41. ^ "Climate change theory debunked: Not getting closer to sun". @politifact. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  42. ^ 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.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  43. ^ "'Young and naive' teen to Wagner: You need to know science | News |". Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  44. ^ Dan Levin (July 25, 2018). "A Politician Called Her 'Young and Naïve.' Now She's Striking Back". The New York Times. p. A17.
  45. ^ Scott Wagner, Republican candidate for Pa. governor, calls teen 'young and naive'. York Daily Record. July 19, 2018.
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  47. ^ "Sen. Scott Wagner on being a bully, Wolf, gift ban and more". Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  48. ^ "Sen. Scott Wagner apologizes for 'unfortunate analogy' in his attack on unions". Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  49. ^ "Candidate Wagner Doesn't Want Workers Knowing What He Makes". NBC 10 Philadelphia. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  50. ^ a b Venteicher, Wes. "Wagner says his tax returns could be used by unions to recruit his employees". Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  51. ^ "Wagner Issues Clarification, Says He Would Veto Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Bill". August 21, 2018. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  52. ^ a b "Scott Wagner says he'll restore death penalty, sue pharmaceutical companies in opioid fight". The York Daily Record. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  53. ^ "Scott Wagner on Abortion". Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  54. ^ Press, Marc Levy | Associated. "Abortion Politics May Shadow Final Weeks Of Governor's Race". Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  55. ^ "Just in time for primary, Wagner takes tough abortion stance | News |". Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  56. ^ "Pennsylvania Bill Defunding Planned Parenthood (SB 300)". Rewire News Legislative Tracker. April 13, 2017. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  57. ^ NRA-ILA. "NRA-ILA | NRA Endorses Scott Wagner for Governor of Pennsylvania". NRA-ILA. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  58. ^ McDaniel, Justine. "Here's where the Republicans running for Pa. governor stand on gun issues". Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  59. ^ a b Seidman, Maddie. "A closer look at school funding in Pa. governor race | Analysis". Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  60. ^ Murphy, Jan (January 5, 2017). "Governor-hopeful Scott Wagner: The man unions hate, conservatives love". Penn Live. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  61. ^ 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.
  62. ^ "2014 Special Election 28th Senatorial District". Pennsylvania Elections. Pennsylvania Department of State. March 18, 2014. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  63. ^ "2018 General Primary". Pennsylvania Elections. Pennsylvania Department of State. May 15, 2018. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  64. ^ "Pennsylvania Governor Election Results 2018". Politico. Politico. November 27, 2018.

External links[edit]

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