John Hanger: A Different Candidate, The People’s Candidate

Billboard I-81, near Drinker Street Exit, Scranton, PA, now.  For those not familiar with the area, I have driven it hundreds of times. I am not a traffic expert, but I am confident this stretch of road may be the most heavily traveled in northeastern PA. It is definitely near gridlocked every rush hour, and both lanes heavy both ways almost 24/7.

Billboard I-81, near Drinker Street Exit, Scranton, PA, now. For those not familiar with the area, I have driven it hundreds of times. I am not a traffic expert, but I am confident this stretch of road may be the most heavily traveled in northeastern PA. It is definitely near gridlocked every rush hour, and both lanes heavy both ways almost 24/7.

Former PA Gov Ed Rendell has said candidate John Hanger, alone among a crowded Democratic Primary field, has “been the most substantive in responding to Gov. Corbett.” At the Jan. 24 PA Assoc for Justice Gubernatorial Forum at the Harrisburg Hilton Hotel, Hanger easily proved why Rendell would voice such praise, while still studiously avoiding endorsing any candidate for Governor.

Each spoke in all the right sound bites for this largely Democratic audience.  Hanger added more.

Each spoke in all the right sound bites for this largely Democratic audience. Hanger added more.

Hanger, noted that “I am running a different campaign of active people without big dollar donors.” He then explained a populist platform, fueled mainly by citizen activists, and how it can bring more voters to polls than any other candidate.

The other candidates were…well, political candidates. Each of the Democrats, of course, agreed that current PA Governor Tom Corbett must go. Each spoke in all the right sound bites for this largely Democratic audience. Alluding to everything, promising nothing and phrasing every response as to not risk ticking anyone off, none of Rob McCord, Katie McGinty, Ed Pawlowski or Tom Wolf was as prepared as Hanger. This is perhaps expected, as Hanger has by all media accounts been campaigning for the office the longest, and has had detailed positions posted on line for many months, at www.HangerForGovernor.com

Naming Pope Francis and Barack Obama as living people he admires most, and citing that both are groundbreakers, Hanger revealed a sharing of focus on social equality, with both populist leaders:

“I will lead the charge on social issues.” While all but pro-life Pawlowski said they are pro-choice and pro-marriage equality, only Hanger promised “I will veto any restriction on woman’s choice,” and to vigorously promote marriage equality.

Perhaps realizing that economic and social injustice usually start at the top, Hanger reiterated his promise to restore the executive gift ban, which all recent PA governors, except Governor Corbett, have honored.

Hanger reiterated a key point of his economic and social justice focus: stating emphatically that PA must stop prosecuting for pot possession. The other candidates have been stone silent on this issue, until very recently. While Hanger has always featured marijuana reform prominently in his plan, only now did the others specifically state their positions…and only in response to the moderator’s request to know.

Again, Hanger was not afraid of this contentious issue. Knowing how badly the status quo treats both our citizens’ health and our economy, only Hanger enumerated a well thought out and detailed plan to legalize and tax marijuana. Rob McCord promised to study the issue. Katie McGinty said she would legalize it for medicinal use only; Ed Pawloski & Tom Wolf: will decriminalize recreational use and would also legalize it for medicinal use.

Noting that states can raise the minimum wage, without awaiting the US government, and noting how desperately our working poor need it, Hanger was the only candidate to promise to work to raise PA’s to $10.10 per hour. He notes that the US “economy is growing, but the slices of the pie for all but the proverbial 1% are not.”

Hanger touched on his plan to pay for 2 years of college for all, and then loan more to those who wish to continue. He would set up a revolving fund, with manageable paycheck deductions.

In that vein, he stood alone as the only candidate who would not raise auto insurance premiums, citing the harm it would do to low wage earners. While all others correctly noted the insufficient coverage that the current PA mandated minimum provides, none had a solution when Hanger pointed out that the working poor can’t afford more, so “all this will do is make you have more uninsured on the road.” Others quickly added that there would have to be assistance for those workers, but offered no funding or specific source for such assistance.

Hanger alone notes that gas drilling will not bring wide-spread prosperity to PA, perhaps offering a welcome break from the relentless “drill, baby drill ” from both the major political parties. Unlike Corbett, neither Hanger’s energy nor jobs strategies will rest predominantly on gas drilling. He stated the gas industry will provide just 2% of our jobs, something the others appeared surprised to learn.

While all candidates promise to meet existing public worker pension obligations, only Hanger stated that pensions must not be allowed to be defaulted, adding: “the courts won’t allow it.”  Some others looked like this was news to them too.

While all candidates promise to expand medicaid, only Hanger promised to fight for the single payer option. He explained that a public option is desperately needed in the mix, to ensure affordable coverage for all.

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About steventodd

Both parties are broken by big money...what to do? I'm a dad, husband, son, taxpayer, voter, civil engineer, reporter, blogger, rabble-rouser and honest guy.
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10 Responses to John Hanger: A Different Candidate, The People’s Candidate

  1. Roger Cohen says:

    Thank you, Steve. Cogent and smart, as always.
    PS: has Allyson Schwartz dropped out of the race?

    Like

    • steventodd says:

      Thanks, Roger. No Schwartz is in the race. She was invited but did not attend, the moderator cited a ‘scheduling conflict’. Litz was not invited, but I saw her in audience. Myers was not invited, and I did not see him there.

      Like

  2. Anne says:

    Hey, it’s populist, not populous. As recently as Sept. 21, 2013, in Monroe County speaking to a Dem women’s group, McGinty said she opposed medical marijuana because it needed more research. She must have smelled the smoke.

    Like

  3. happy to hear his remarks about gas drilling and how it’s not bringing the prosperity many hope for or the jobs…!

    Like

    • steventodd says:

      Yes, Vera that caught me pleasantly surprised too. It is the one major area I disagree with John on. If he is straight forward enough to admit that, I know he is more forthcoming than the rest of the competitive field.

      Like

  4. chris says:

    Im voying hanger

    Like

  5. Good job, Steve. I saw this penchant for policy and specifics on display in Pittsburgh yesterday at the candidates forum, and then again with John at a meet-and-greet at Bicycle Heaven afterwards. You describe him well. Too many of my friends cannot see this side of him – he’s smart, compassionate and more deeply experienced on (and specific about) policies than all the others. Katie MGinty got better at that, but her view on the fracking issue is all too vague about how she would bring it under control. Allyson Schwartz more than any of them talked in pleasant generalities, appearing to play it as safe as possible.

    I did ask John two questions about gas-drilling: 1) If a Governor wanted to stop all new permits for a while, could a Governor do so? Answer: No. Only the legislature can change the law that gives the companies the right to get a permit if they meet the qualifications and submit a valid permit. So when anyone says they support a “moratorium” as Max Myers does, the question remains how does he make it happen. The Senator Ferlo bill for a moratorium is a start toward that, but it is unrealistic to think that the Governor can make it happen. Only the people can make it happen by changing those they send to Harrisburg. As you know, I have written about six good reasons for a moratorium on new permits, but we’ll need to press in the streets and in the State Capitol building to make that happen. I’ll send this to Senator Ferlo as an expression of support. Perhaps he will find these arguments useful with some colleagues.
    http://angerandcourage.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/six-reasonable-reasons-a-democratic-governor-of-pa-should-enact-a-2-year-moratorium-on-new-permits-for-shale-gas-drilling-in-2015/

    Second question: Can the Governor stop the export of PA gas to other states or overseas? Answer – No. That is a federal area of law. The Governor might advocate to keep more gas in PA, but the gas companies have the law and the upper hand on this issue. New York, with its moratorium on drilling, is a major customer of PA natural gas. Again, the people have to band together in the streets and in the halls of Congress to stop exports. A very tough road ahead on that.

    Once again, thanks for your report.

    Like

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