HARRISBURG — A majority of Senate Democrats on Wednesday endorsed Mike Stack — whose term as lieutenant governor has been marked by controversy — for reelection, citing his work on the pardons board and commitment to issues important to the party.
"Nobody has been a stronger advocate for Democratic ideals than Lt. Gov. Mike Stack," said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D., Allegheny).
"He's ready to continue to do the job and, more importantly, he's ready to be called upon, if ever needed, to do the position of governor if that occurs," Costa added later.
At least 11 of the 16 Democrats in the state Senate appeared at the news conference in the Capitol Rotunda, many popping in and out as they attended committee meetings being held at the same time.
Stack, a Democrat and former state senator from the Philadelphia area, is running in a crowded Democratic primary. One of his competitors, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, has received an endorsement from another prominent Philadelphia-area politician, former Gov. Ed Rendell.
Wednesday's news conference came one day after Democratic Gov. Wolf, in response to a question from a television reporter, said he would not release the inspector general's report looking into complaints that Stack and his wife, Tonya, had mistreated members of their State Police security detail and employees at their official residence. Wolf said that he already had scaled back the Stacks' staffing and believes that Tonya Stack is under mental-health treatment.
Wolf's office said the governor was unaware of the endorsement news conference when he made his remarks Tuesday.
Mike Stack reiterated his appreciation for the governor's decision not to release the report, calling it a "private family matter." He said he had not seen a final report by the Inspector General's Office.
At least one candidate in the lieutenant governor's race, self-described "underdog" Aryanna Berringer of Westmoreland County, said she worried the decision to withhold the report's contents would harm all candidates in the Democratic primary.
"It causes us not to be able to talk about the issues and what's really important," she said. "The Republicans are going to absolutely use this against us."