By The Philly Public Record
- Thomas Westerman “Tom” Wolf is an American businessman and politician who Tuesday will become Pennsylvania’s 47th Governor. He did so by defeating Republican incumbent Tom Corbett in the 2014 gubernatorial election.
This was his return to government responsibility after serving as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Revenue from April 2007 until November 2008.
Wolf was chairman of his family-owned business, the Wolf Organization Inc., a building-product company specializing in kitchen cabinets. He stepped down as CEO at the end of December 2013 to focus on his gubernatorial campaign. Following his election as Governor, Wolf stepped down from the board altogether on Dec. 31, 2014.
He is a born and bred Pennsylvanian. Born on Nov. 17, 1948, in York, Pa., the son of Cornelia Rohlman (née Westerman) and William Trout “Bill” Wolf, a business executive, he was raised in Mount Wolf, Pa., which was named after his ancestor, the town’s postmaster and reared as a Methodist.
Gov. Wolf received an AB magna cum laude from Dartmouth College in 1972, an MPhil from the University of London in 1978 and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. While a student, Wolf joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in India. He met his wife Frances at school and married her in 1975. They have two adult daughters.
After graduating, Wolf began working for the Wolf Organization as a forklift operator, until purchasing the company in 1985 with two business partners. During the administration of Gov. Robert P. Casey, Wolf served on an economic-development board and on the Pennsylvania Legislative Commission on Urban Schools.
After selling his company to a private equity firm in 2006, Wolf was nominated in January 2007 by then-Gov. 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. 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.
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.
On Apr. 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, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, and Max Myers, a minister from Cumberland County; but he knew at least four others were expected to join the race.
He was hardly considered a frontrunner when he appeared at the first forum for Democratic gubernatorial candidates held by progressives at Temple University.
But by early March 2014, several polls suggested Wolf was the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination, following an extensive television and radio advertising campaign. A Franklin & Marshall College poll conducted in late February 2014 showed Wolf with a 27-point lead over his nearest competitor, Allyson Schwartz, and a Harper poll showed him leading Schwartz by 26 percentage points, as did an additional Franklin & Marshall poll in late March 2014.
In late April and early May, Wolf faced attacks from fellow candidate Rob McCord over his relationship with controversial former York, Pa. Mayor Charlie Robertson. Allyson Schwartz also accused Wolf’s campaign of plagiarizing his “Fresh Start” plan from an energy-equipment company. Despite the attacks, a Muhlenberg College/Morning Call poll suggested Wolf continued to lead with 38% to Allyson Schwartz’s and Rob McCord’s respective 13% and 11%.
In the May 20 primary, Wolf defeated Schwartz, McCord, and Katie McGinty to win the Democratic nomination for Governor. As such, he faced incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett in the November general election. 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.
On Nov. 4, 2014, Wolf was elected Governor with 54.9% of the vote. As of next Tuesday he will be our 47th Governor.