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Clout: Wagner (again) tangles with tracker in Pa. race for governor

State Sen. Scott Wagner, a York County Republican running for governor, verbally sparred with a video "tracker" from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party Saturday, calling billionaire George Soros a "Hungarian Jew" with a "hatred for America."

State Sen. Scott Wagner, a York County Republican running for governor, is followed by a video tracker from the state Democratic Party at the Pittston Tomato Festival in Luzerne County.
State Sen. Scott Wagner, a York County Republican running for governor, is followed by a video tracker from the state Democratic Party at the Pittston Tomato Festival in Luzerne County.Read morePennsylvania Democratic Party

Have you heard that old rule about never going to the supermarket when you're hungry?

The same concept applies to political candidates speaking to opposition "trackers" while annoyed.

State Sen. Scott Wagner, a York County Republican running for governor, was attending the Pittston Tomato Festival in Luzerne County on Saturday when a tracker from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party started filming him in the crowd.

Wagner, who just that day had published an op-ed on, knocking Democrats for suggesting he was too slow to respond to the violence sparked by a white-supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, started talking about George Soros, the billionaire conservatives love to hate for making major financial donations to liberal political campaigns.

Wagner, in the video, called Soros a "Hungarian Jew" who "made a fortune" but has a "hatred for America."

The tracker tried to keep Wagner talking, but his campaign staff intervened.

"This is exactly what they want," a staffer told Wagner. "You're just feeding into his bull–."

This is not Wagner's first tangle with a tracker. He snatched a camera from a tracker from American Bridge 21st Century in May, setting off a controversy.

Wagner said that tracker was trespassing in a private country club. American Bridge said Wagner assaulted its tracker. The state Attorney General's Office said "both men acted inappropriately" and dropped the matter.

The liberal-leaning American Bridge received $4 million from Soros from 2012 to 2015 and $80,000 two weeks after Wagner's run-in with the group's tracker.

We asked Wagner why he engages with trackers, who are always on the lookout for a slipup.

"This can be really vicious and brutal," Wagner said. "I'm trying to bring a little humor into it."

By calling Soros a Hungarian Jew?  How often does Wagner, a millionaire who runs a trucking and waste-hauling company, get called a York County German American?

Wagner, 61, offered plenty of evidence that he is not anti-Semitic, describing his decades of involvement in and financial donations to a York Jewish community center, where he learned to swim when he was 5.

He came up short on explaining why he claims Soros, an American citizen since 1961, hates this country.

Wagner, who said he has made more than $1 million in political donations, acknowledged that he and Soros both came from humble beginnings, became wealthy, and now use their money to support people for public office.

Wagner, a big fan of President Trump, even conceded that the arc of his business success more closely matches Soros' career than that of Trump, born to a wealthy New York family running a real estate business.

But why claim Soros hates America?

"We have very different, polar-opposite beliefs," Wagner finally offered.

Pence for president 2017?

The next presidential election is more than three years away, but Bob Curley has already planted his lawn sign.

"Had enough yet?" the custom-made sign asks. "Pence for president 2017."

Below, in smaller print, it states: "Paid for by a veteran with SSI entitlement dollars."

Clout has a soft spot for political rebels – current president excluded – so we called Curley at his Richboro, Bucks County, home to chat him up. Below is a condensed transcript of our 3-minute, 56-second phone conversation.

Clout: Where'd you get the idea for the sign?

Bob: I came up with the idea because I've been disgusted with this idiot in the White House from the get-go and the Charlottesville, Va., thing just pushed it over the edge. I'm 70 years old and I'm worried about my kids and grandchildren with this lunatic in there. Who knows what's going to happen.

C: Where is the sign now?

B: It's on my front lawn, driving my neighbors crazy.

C: Did you vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

B: I'm anti-both. I voted for Gary Johnson. There's no way I could pull the lever for Hillary or Trump. If that's the best we got, we're in deep sh–.

C: So you paid for the sign with your Social Security income?

B: Yeah, I'm getting entitlement on money I paid to those sons of b–s for 50 years. Yeah, they're giving me a gift. S–. Sorry, I'm a bit sarcastic.

C: Thanks for your time, Bob.

B: You're not going to put my name in the paper, are you? Knowing the bozos in this country, I'm likely to get firebombed.

C: Nah, that probably won't happen.

B: Well, whatever. I don't care.

Curley, who served as a boilerman in the Navy, followed up with an email a couple of hours later to let us know he doesn't particularly care for Pence, either, but says it's the only alternative to the increasingly unhinged Trump.

So what are the odds that Trump gets impeached? Not bad, according to Paddy Power, an Irish online bookmaker, and other betting sites.

"ALL the money is for the Donald to be impeached," Paddy Power spokesman Lee Price emailed Thursday. "As in literally no one has bet against the Donald being impeached in his first term."

That is unusual at Paddy Power, where folks have even bet on the White House being painted gold, at ridiculous 500-1 odds.

"From this side of the pond, it seems like a matter of time before Trump is ousted," Lee said. "Though, for a man with such an ego, he'd surely jump before he was pushed."


"Ah- ha. No such thing. Never, ever. I'd tear it down myself." — Mayor Kenney, after Clout made a (Freudian?) slip, asking this week if we could talk to him about "the Kenney Statue" while meaning to inquire about the controversy swirling around the statue of the late Mayor Frank Rizzo.

Staff writers Chris Brennan and William Bender contributed to this column.