PHILLY, MEET Scott Wagner.

He's a 59-year old first-term Republican state senator from (Gov. Wolf's home) York County who's loathed by unions, loved by conservatives and a growing force in the GOP Legislature.

He wants to cut government costs, government pensions, taxes and regulations.

He's a self-described rough-edged "garbage man who never graduated college."

But he's also a wealthy biz-guy - owns trucking and trash firms - who made Pennsylvania political history.

Last year, he won a special election as a write-in. No one in the state has done that before.

He's a strong, often strident voice of the right. And now, after helping increase GOP seats with donations to candidates, he's chairman of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee.

You should know about him because almost all his views are opposite those of Philly's elected officials in Harrisburg. And many of his views mirror the views of many running the Legislature.

When I ask, for example, how many of 30 Republicans controlling the 50-member Senate share his beliefs, Wagner says, "22 to 25."

I believe he's right.

So to help you understand why Democratic Gov. Wolf faces challenges getting a budget with more taxes and spending without cutting pensions, here's a sense of GOP thinking.

Wagner says there's no part of Wolf's plans he can support.

He believes unions should be barred from deducting dues from wages and compares union leaders' use of power to Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany.

How much do unions dislike Wagner?

They made a poster of him and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as a mock-up of the movie "Dumb and Dumber."

What did Wagner do with it?

He took it to the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Philly last week and had Gov. Walker autograph it.

There's more.

After elected to a full four-year term last November, Wagner helped toss moderate GOP Sen. Dominic Pileggi out of leadership and promised to brandish a baseball bat to ensure the Senate does things Pennsylvania needs.

Such as becoming a right-to-work state, cutting public-sector benefits, cutting workplace regulations and stopping any "dump" of more money into public education.

If you suggest he's a bit of a bully he says, "I guess in a way you're probably right."

He says "from what I see," Philadelphia should not get more money for schools, though he concedes he's never visited a Philadelphia school.

He did charter a helicopter to fly a Central Pennsylvania TV anchor over some mid-state schools with large complexes, athletic fields and tennis courts to argue public education is not in the crisis Wolf claims.

And sounding a little like Donald Trump, he says he takes helicopters like others take taxis.

He also sports a populist, "taxpayers first" side and wants to increase the minimum wage.

He says he won the election because people are tired of excuses from Harrisburg, tired of "arrogance and extravagance" in the Capitol and wondering, "Who over there is representing me?"

He takes no expenses, no health care coverage, no pension.

And while he doesn't laugh or even smile easily, he sometimes shows a sense of humor.

Just prior to speaking at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in Harrisburg Monday, he was asked if he was on his best behavior: "I took my Ritalin, had two cocktails already. I'm calmed down. I don't have my baseball bat today."

And to a question during Q&A ("What's in York County water that produced Tom Wolf and you?"): "I live closer to the York water company pumping station . . . [so] I'm probably getting cleaner, more pure water."

Many, including senior members of the Wolf administration, dismiss Wagner as a non-factor, a Pennsylvania version of a mini-Trump or a Ted Cruz.

But he's helping shape the debate, helping grow the GOP brand and helping elevate himself to someone who bears watching.

Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

Columns: ph.ly/JohnBaer