PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Democrat Dan Onorato and Republican Tom Corbett the 2010 nominees for governor say Pennsylvanians voted for change, even though the candidates have different ideas about what that means.
Onorato, Allegheny County's elected chief executive, won a four-way race in Tuesday's primary with 45 percent of the vote, according to returns from 99 percent of the state's 9,233 precincts.
"We're ready to turn our economy around. We're ready to clean up the mess in Harrisburg, and we're ready to get our state fiscal house in order," Onorato said at a celebration at a union hall in Pittsburgh late Tuesday night.
Corbett, the state attorney general, attracted 69 percent of the vote to defeat state Rep. Sam Rohrer.
Corbett said the voters' mandate is clear.
"They want to win in November. They want change in Harrisburg," he said late Tuesday night in a telephone interview from a Pittsburgh hotel where he was celebrating with supporters.
Although the two men generally agree on some issues the need for ethical reforms in the Legislature, for example they disagree on others. Onorato supports a severance tax on natural-gas drilling and has not ruled out other tax increases, while Corbett opposes a severance tax and has signed a written pledge to oppose any tax increases if elected.
In Tuesday's balloting, voters also picked Corbett's running mate Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley, who won 25 percent of the vote in a nine-way race for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor.
No winner was apparent in the three-way Democratic contest that will decide who will be Onorato's running mate.
Onorato's closest competitor state Auditor General Jack Wagner garnered only 24 percent of the vote, while state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams of Philadelphia and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel each attracted less than 20 percent.
Onorato and Corbett both Pittsburgh-area residents had been expected to prevail in the race to succeed Gov. Ed Rendell in the state's highest elected office.
Rendell, a Democrat, is barred by the state constitution from serving beyond his second term, which ends in January.
Onorato, at 49 the youngest of the gubernatorial candidates, was the best-financed.
He carried forward $6.5 million from past campaigns and early fundraising for his 2010 bid, and added about $2 million this year enabling him to put up TV ads before any other candidate and build name recognition.
A product of Allegheny County's rough-and-tumble politics, Onorato is an accountant and lawyer who was a Pittsburgh city councilor and county controller before winning the county's top elected job in 2003.
Corbett, 60, entered the campaign with built-in name recognition from his ongoing prosecution of corruption in the Legislature.
He previously served as U.S. attorney for western Pennsylvania and was appointed by then-Gov. Tom Ridge to serve as state attorney general from 1995 to 1997.