Wolf prepares to start second term as Pennsylvania governor
In this Feb. 9, 2016, file photo, Gov. Tom Wolf, center, delivers his budget address for the 2016-17 fiscal year to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate, as the speaker of the state House of Representatives, state Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, left, and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, right, listen at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Wolf will be sworn-in to a second term today, giving the Democrat another four years after a first term sharing power with the Republican-controlled Legislature. AP PHOTO/CHRIS KNIGHT, FILE
HARRISBURG — A second term kicks off today for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a battle-tested and perhaps more pragmatic politician who overcame tough first-term budget fights to regain voters’ confidence and sweep to an easy re-election win.
The Democrat, no longer the outsider who spent $10 million of his own money in winning his first run for the governor’s office, still faces substantial Republican majorities in the Legislature that have proven hostile to large elements of his agenda.
The November election left him with more Democratic allies in the Legislature than he has had and he seems happy with his new lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, after a first term spent barely speaking with outgoing Lt. Gov. Mike Stack.
Wolf plans to push for policies to fight climate change, improve public education, fix inequities in Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system and make voting easier and more secure.
From all appearances, Wolf has emerged from his first term as a changed policy strategist. In his first year, he fought — and lost — a record nine-month budget stalemate over his proposal for a multibillion-dollar tax increase. He has since emphasized the benefits of fiscal austerity, restoring trust in government and getting things done with bipartisan agreement.
Flush with over $32 million in campaign contributions, Wolf trounced Republican Scott Wagner in November’s election by 17 points after leading polls by double digits the whole way. He was backed by a unified Democratic Party and aided by a grassroots backlash to President Donald Trump.
Wolf, 70, spent most of his adulthood running a family building supply company in York County and was prominent in civic affairs in York. He was a longtime donor to Democratic political causes and served as then-Gov. Ed Rendell’s revenue secretary during 2007-08.
The mild-mannered Wolf attended Dartmouth College before earning a doctorate in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He lives in Mount Wolf, a town named for his forebears about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of the Capitol, and has continued to live there while serving as governor, not in the state’s official gubernatorial residence along the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg.
Fetterman, 49, made his name as the mayor of the down-on-its-luck steel town of Braddock, near Pittsburgh, and became a minor media darling for his efforts to help revive it. Fetterman beat Stack in the Democratic primary last year and was elected along with Wolf in November.
Inauguration Day will begin with Fetterman taking the oath of office in the Senate chamber in a private ceremony, two hours before Wolf takes the oath in a public ceremony at noon behind the state Capitol.
Chief Justice Thomas Saylor of the state Supreme Court will administer Wolf’s oath of office, using a 19th century Bible from Wolf’s family. A survivor of the October massacre in a Pittsburgh synagogue, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, will give an invocation.
An inauguration night celebration will follow at the Farm Show Complex, featuring music by The Roots and Pennsylvania-made food and drinks.
Tickets are required for the noon swearing-in and the evening celebration, but not for an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. at the governor’s residence.