Trump's Pennsylvania doppelganger
Few Pennsylvania GOP pols are full-throated supporters of Donald Trump, but one up and coming state Senators now on board, realizing hes lots like The Donald.
CLEVELAND - When it comes to Donald Trump, Scott Wagner's seen the light - in the mirror.
You know how lots of Republican candidates and incumbents duck The Donald or shy away or work up weasel words such as, well, I support the ticket?
And how they do so in order to keep some distance twixt themselves and the nutsy things Trump's inclined to say?
(I'm looking at you, Pat Toomey, Pat Meehan, Brian Fitzpatrick.)
Heck, House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke to Pennsylvania's convention delegates on Monday for, as a colleague noted, 13 minutes before even mentioning Trump's name. This in 15 minutes' worth of remarks.
Well, you can take Wagner off any squishy list.
After sitting on the sidelines, Wagner's now all in, ready to do "everything I can" to help Trump win Pennsylvania and the White House.
Last week, he chartered a plane and flew here for a 45-minute meeting with Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to talk about Pennsylvania, which increasingly is seen as the possible decider-state in November.
He even asked Manafort for 20,000 yard signs.
"We're going to get them," Wagner tells me, "and probably more."
On Monday, he chartered a plane to bring Bob Dole, who's endorsed Trump, here from Washington.
And it's all because, as Trump pushes for unity and fuller support in the face of obvious ongoing resistance, Wagner's found a strong reason to embrace him: "I think Donald Trump is similar in many ways to me."
Basically, Wagner is Trump. OK, a less-wealthy version (millions instead of billions), a younger version (60 instead of 70), with arguably a better haircut.
Still, similarities are striking.
Like Trump, Wagner's a brash successful businessman who made political history. He won a Pennsylvania state Senate seat as a write-in candidate. Never been done before.
Like Trump, he entered politics against the will of his party; and, like Trump, not because he needed a job (he owns trash and trucking firms in York County), but because he's fed up with government, its regulations, and how it spends your money.
Like Trump, he speaks plainly, directly, calling himself "a garbage man who never graduated college."
Like Trump, he can be a bully. He vowed to bring a baseball bat to the Senate to encourage leaders to get things done; he was instrumental in ousting former Senate GOP chief Dominic Pileggi in favor of more conservative leadership.
And, like Trump, he's a counterpuncher. After unions gibed him (you maybe guessed he's antiunion), putting his face and the face of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on a movie poster of Dumb and Dumber, Wagner took it to a GOP conference and had Walker sign it.
Now he's pushing Trump because "we need change," and Trump is "not part of the entrenched system that's not serving Pennsylvania or America well."
He says, "We need people inside who don't need the job, who don't need the money, and who are in it for the right reason, to get things done."
As a freshman lawmaker - and this is extremely rare in Pennsylvania - Wagner already is a force in state politics. This year, he's chairman of the GOP Senate Campaign Committee, recruiting candidates and raising money. It's the very committee that worked against him when he was a candidate in 2014.
If Trump carries Pennsylvania, Wagner's clout can increase further and help launch what Wagner admits is a possible run for governor in 2018.
If that happens and you notice any likeness to the run now waged by Trump, well, you'll know why - doppelgänger.