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Wolf declares independence from Dem state committee

When some in the Democratic state committee balked at gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf's choice for chair, he went and formed an independent PAC.

Tom Wolf, the Democratic nominee for governor, is sidestepping a potentially nasty fight for chair of the state party by naming his choice for that job, Katie McGinty, to head a new independent campaign committee.

Sources said The Campaign for a Fresh Start, the new PAC, will be a parallel organization to the Democratic State Committee, mobilizing support among Democrats, independents and Republicans for Wolf and the party's legislative candidates.

Wolf had named McGinty, a former rival for the nomination, as his choice for state party chairman. But the incumbent, Chairman Jim Burn of Allegheny County, announced he would contest the election at Saturday's meeting of the state committee in Camp Hill, Pa.

"Tom Wolf is a different kind of leader, and this will be a different kind of campaign," McGinty said in a statement. "We need to shake up the status quo, and that goes from everything to changing the way we campaign to changing the way we govern. We need to bring together and mobilize all Pennsylvanians concerned with jobs, education, and health care to and who know that Pennsylvania needs a fresh start."

Advisers described the decision as a liberating one for Wolf, and a political benefit in that it will enable him to avoid seeming beholden to party bosses – as well as preventing a potentially distracting fight.