Who am I?

I grew up in a small south central Pennsylvania town and still live in the house I was brought home to from the hospital.

I attended Dartmouth (BA), the University of London (MA) and MIT (PhD), but I interrupted my studies to join the Peace Corps and served two years in a small village in India where I worked on water and agricultural projects.

While writing my dissertation, I worked as a forklift operator and warehouse worker in the family business, a distributor of lumber and other building products. Later, with my two cousins, I took a risk by securing a loan to buy my family’s cabinet and building materials business, where I grew it, more than doubling its size.

In 2006, Governor Ed Rendell appointed me to serve in his cabinet as Secretary of Revenue. As Revenue Secretary, I turned down the perks. I donated my salary to charity. And I drove my own Jeep Wrangler all across Pennsylvania to meet with 2,000+ workers and learn more about their jobs. Together, we strengthened the state lottery and laid the foundation for millions of dollars in additional benefits for Pennsylvania seniors.

In early 2009, I received an urgent phone call. The business I sold three years earlier -- a company I spent twenty-five years building and growing -- was on the brink of going bankrupt and closing.

Rather than walking away and leaving my former employees --people I grew up with and who helped make me successful -- to join the ranks of the unemployed, I knew I had to act. My wife Frances and I put our life savings into re-purchasing the business and turning it around.

We turned it around by investing in our workers and encouraging them to help us think about the future differently.

It wasn't easy, but by working together we changed the business from a wholesale distributor to a company that sources our own American-made products that compete directly with foreign imports.

That's why my company pays its workers a living wage, provides good healthcare and retirement benefits, and shares 20-30% of its profits with the workers who help make the business successful.

I’ve succeeded because I believes in investing in people. I know that a failure to change and innovate condemns a company -- or a state -- to seeing the same, unacceptable results. As governor, I will use all of my life’s experiences to build a strong middle class and a brighter future for Pennsylvania.

Why am I running?

We can turn Pennsylvania around starting with a stronger and fairer economy. We’re the Keystone state: we have two great cities and access to the biggest markets in the world. We should be driver of economic growth and job creation for America, but unfortunately today there are half a million Pennsylvanians out of a job and looking for work.

We have a tax system that seems to be focused on cronyism instead of on encouraging entrepreneurship, job growth and fairness. Right now we have the second highest corporate taxes in the nation but 70% of companies don’t pay it. Let’s level the playing field, close the loopholes, and make all companies pay their fair share but lower rates across the board to help small businesses and job creation.

Speaking of paying their fair share, it is not right that we are the only state in the nation that doesn’t have a tax on oil and gas extraction. A severance tax on the Marcellus Shale will allow us to invest in our future and do it right with more local control and better environmental oversight.

If we’re going to have a 21st century economy we can’t have a 20th century infrastructure. The debate right now is about do we fix our roads and bridges—of course! My company relies on moving products, trust me I know how bad our roads and bridges are and the cost that adds to families and business. But we also need to think bigger. What does a real 21st century infrastructure look like that’s the backbone for economic growth…high speed rail, mass transit, broadband and telecommunications…Governor Corbett isn't even talking about those things.

There isn’t a better example of Governor Corbett’s failures and misplaced priorities than education. There isn’t a business person I know that thinks you help the economy and build a future by cutting education. A good education equals good jobs, opportunity, a stronger middle class.

It is shameful to cut $1 billion from education which has led to 20,000 teachers laid off, increased class sizes, property tax increases. We need to invest in education but we also need to have an equitable and fair funding formula so no matter where you live every child in Pennsylvania has the same opportunity.

We’ve got a lot of work to do to build a brighter future. Yes, we need to defeat Corbett but it’s about more than that. We need to think differently about the problems we face and recognize the same traditional approach isn’t going to get us different results.

I’ve created hundreds of jobs of good middle class jobs, invested in people, innovated and see the potential in our great Commonwealth. I’d be honored to have Democracy for America’s support so we can work together to give Pennsylvania a fresh start and build a stronger middle class.

My Goals

For me, creating jobs is job one. As governor, I will work to lift Pennsylvania’s middle class up through innovative policies that help attract the high-tech, high-wage jobs of the future.

Four years ago I received word that the business I had sold earlier in the decade was about to go under, leaving my former employees to join the ranks of the unemployed. While I could have walked away, I instead sank every penny I had into saving the company, buying it back at full market value and investing in its workforce while reinventing its business model.

My company is growing and thriving by sourcing its own American-made products, competing directly with products made overseas in low wage countries. And I know that in order for the middle-class to thrive, businesses must invest in their workforce.

That's why my company pays its workers a living wage, provides good healthcare and retirement benefits, and shares 20-30% of its profits with the workers who help make the business successful.

Treating workers fairly isn’t just right, it’s smart business and good for our economy.

I also know that to rebuild our middle class and strengthen Pennsylvania's economy, we must provide every child with a world-class education that equips them with the skills to succeed in the 21st century.

I am a major supporter of our state's public education system. My two daughters attended York County public schools, where they developed a strong academic foundation that prepared them to go on to top-notch colleges and build successful careers.

As governor, I will fight everyday to ensure Pennsylvania has a world-class public education system by restoring funding, instituting a fair funding formula, and by making educators and parents the drivers of innovation in the classroom.

According to PennDOT, Pennsylvania ranks third in the number of bridges but leads the nation in the number of structurally deficient bridges. Of the 25,344 state owned bridges, 4,449 are structurally deficient. At the county level, there are 6,352 county owned bridges, of which 2,234 are structurally deficient. Collectively, 21 percent of the bridges in the state are structurally deficient.

Governor Corbett's failure to act on transportation costed Pennsylvania taxpayers an additional $1 million each day. Our roads are in such disrepair that driving in our state costs the average family an additional $341 per year in car repairs. The Pennsylvania Highway Information Association recently put the funding gap at $4.5 billion.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that for every $1 billion invested in transportation infrastructure, 30,000 good-paying jobs can be created or sustained in Pennsylvania.

The question facing Governor Corbett and the Republicans in the legislature seems to have elided into should we fix our bridges or not? Of course we should fix our bridges -- but that's not really the question. The question is what should a 21st Century transportation system look like in Pennsylvania that builds a thriving economy and a strong middle class for generations to come?

My DFA Values

I strongly believe that the playing field isn’t fair for the majority of people in Pennslyvania. Under Governor Corbett, the wealthy and corporations get all the breaks, while hardworking families all across the Commonwealth struggle to get by. We must work to give all Pennsylvanians equal opportunity for jobs, economic security, and happiness regardless of where they live, the connections of their lobbyist, or who they love.

It’s not fair that many corporations in Pennsylvania pay no income tax while the middle class struggles to make ends meet. Governor Corbett has taken care of the corporations and wealthy who fund his campaigns, but not the middle-class. I’m different. I’ve created hundreds of middle class jobs with good wages, good health insurance, and good retirement benefits.

It’s not fair for the government to try to tell a woman what health care choices she can make. I strongly support a woman’s right to choose.

It’s not fair for the government to tell two people that love each other they can’t enter into a marriage and enjoy the love and benefits that come with it. I’m a proud to be a supporter of marriage equality and LGBT rights.

William Penn founded Pennsylvania on a foundation of fairness and tolerance. Our Commonwealth must continue to be a place that pays faithful tribute to those good values.

My Campaign is People Powered!

My candidacy is grounded in the idea that I am a different kind of leader -- a non-traditional candidate -- a businessman who has never run for public office.

I've always believed in the power of bringing people together to come up with creative solutions to complex problems.

And I know it works from my own business experience. When Frances and I bought back our kitchen, bath, and home products company in 2009, we turned it around by investing in our workers and encouraging them to help us think about the future differently.

It wasn't easy, but by working together we changed the business from a wholesale distributor to a company that sources our own American-made products that compete directly with foreign imports.

So I've seen what can happen when Pennsylvanians come together to solve a tough problem.

Two examples of how this campaign has engaged the progressive grassroots are the Twitter Town Hall discussion on jobs and the economy, and my entry on DailyKos:



The challenges that face Pennsylvania are too big for any one person to solve on their own -- and the only way that we're going to defeat Governor Corbett is if progressives come together in this campaign.

I plan to continue blogging on DailyKos -- and I'll continue to engage progressives online and offline through a variety of grassroots events.

Voice support


  • Lester Wigington
  • Seth Lounsbury

About the Endorsement Process

The driving force behind all DFA endorsements is our members. We recognize that all politics is local and that what is considered progressive in Los Angeles may be very different from what's considered progressive in Louisville. For this reason, DFA does not have a litmus test of specific progressive positions for which a candidate must stand. Our endorsement is heavily weighted based on these questions:

• Will the candidate move the progressive movement forward in their community?
• Does the candidate have substantial support from our local members?
• Do the candidate's positions and policies fit into the broader progressive movement?
• Is the campaign people-powered and the candidate working to win?

If you have questions, or want to let us know about a candidate in your neighborhood, please call us at (802) 651-3200 or email us at [email protected] .

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