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Wolf extends an early olive branch

HARRISBURG - There are no doubt partisan battles ahead, but for now, Gov.-elect Tom Wolf is trying to set a positive tone with Republicans who control the state legislature.

Tom Wolf ( MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer )
Tom Wolf ( MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer )Read more

HARRISBURG - There are no doubt partisan battles ahead, but for now, Gov.-elect Tom Wolf is trying to set a positive tone with Republicans who control the state legislature.

Wolf, a Democrat, surprised some legislative leaders on the other side of the aisle with a phone call shortly after his election.

Then he sent a handwritten introductory note that was read aloud to Republican and Democrats in both chambers during caucus meetings.

Then he called some top lawmakers a second time.

Leaders of both parties said they appreciated the overtures, which some said amounted to more communication than they got from Gov. Corbett before or even after he took office four years ago.

Wolf, who is set to be sworn in on Jan. 20, said Thursday that he made the informal gestures to let House and Senate members know he hoped they could work together in the coming months.

"There'll be times I disagree with members of my own party, but everybody signaled a willingness to be cordial," he said. "The truth is, we all recognize the challenges Pennsylvania faces."

The Independent Fiscal Office released a report last week indicating that Wolf and the legislature could be faced with fixing a $2.2 billion budget hole.

"The conversation was really about pleasantries," said newly elected Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre).

Steve Miskin, spokesman for House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny), who has been nominated as speaker, and incoming House Majority Leader David Reed (R., Indiana) said Wolf called both leaders twice.

"It was a smart move to try and reach out early," said Miskin.