Nine times out of 10, the candidate with the most money wins, and the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Pennsylvania is shaping up to be no exception. The question heading into Tuesday's primary isn't whether self-funded candidate Tom Wolf will win, but by how much.
The businessman and former state revenue secretary pledged to put $10 million of his own money toward his bid early on, beating his rivals to the airwaves when he aired his first television ad in late January. Since then, he's kept up a persistent drumbeat of media buys, tackling topics from his personal narrative to education.
Wolf's spending advantage has proven particularly useful in a primary where few issues divide the candidates. Wolf's TV ads left his rivals with little wiggle room to stake claims on voters, and heading into primary day they're slated to suffer because of it. The most recent poll from Muhlenberg College gave Wolf a 23-percentage-point lead over Philadelphia-area Rep. Allyson Schwartz, while state Treasurer Rob McCord and former state Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty trailed farther behind.
"They agree on 93 percent of the issues that matter most to voters," said Terry Madonna, the director of the Franklin & Marshall College poll. He has tracked the gubernatorial race since it got underway and also moderated two Democratic candidate forums in the spring. "The nuances are so minute that I'm having trouble figuring out what they are."