In January, I had the opportunity to meet all of Pennsylvania's Democratic gubernatorial candidates except for Rob McCord. At that time there was a whole herd of them about to stampede to the primary election in May, and it was pretty easy to see that a few were definitely going to fall by the wayside. At that time McCord was considered the front runner, the one to beat.
At that first meeting, in which I got to speak personally with the candidates, I was most impressed by Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz. She is the epitome of the strong, professional woman who has made it her life's work to provide services for women, children and families.
One of the people who did not impress me at all was Tom Wolf. Wolf has perfected the art of withdrawing behind a calm facade, which made it impossible to get a feel for the real man. He is a wealthy businessman who clearly is closer to the "1 percent" than than 99 percent the Democrats say they want to represent.
Then all of us were bombarded with a series of television commercials that depicted Tom Wolf as this really nice guy who drove an old Jeep and loved his mom and his daughters and had volunteered for the Peace Corps. And the crowds went wild.
I liked this new Tom Wolf a lot better, but something inside me kept saying, "Just wait. This man did not get to be that rich -- rich enough to spend $10 million of his own money on television commercials -- without burying a few skeletons that will surface sooner or later."
And they did.
Turns out Tom Wolf's only experience in government amounts to less than two years as treasury secretary for Gov. Ed Rendell, a position he received after donating $200,000 to Rendell's election coffers.
Turns out he made at least 20 of his millions by tanking his own family business, leaving it ill-equipped to face a recession. I'll give him credit for having enough of a conscience to buy the company back, but that's only because we haven't found out yet what kind of profit he made from that move.
Turns out Tom Wolf has some questionable taste in friends, with 0ne of them implicated in a public corruption case, and one indicted as an accessory to murder. And that's where Tom Wolf lost me for good.
In 1969, Charles Robertson was a police officer in York, PA. During what has been described as a race riot, Robertson apparently handed out bullets to people and screamed "White power." A young African American woman was killed that day.
Robertson walked away from the tragedy apparently unscathed enough that he eventually was elected mayor of York. It was during his reelectiuon campaign that he called on Tom Wolf to be his campaign manager. Wolf agreed. Wolf even paid off Robertson's campaign debts after his candidate was indicted in 2001.
Wolf now wants to paint the Robertson matter as a long-ago tragedy that is far in the past of York, which has grown past its problems with race relations. I'm going to hazard a guess that not everyone in York feels the same way, or there never would have been an indictment just a few years ago for events that occurred in 1969.
Robertson withdrew from the mayoral race, Wolf resigned as campaign chairman, and Robertson eventually was acquitted, as might be expected given the facts of the case. He should have been indicted on federal civil rights charges, not as an accessory to murder, and the outcome may have been very different.But that's one for the law professors to study now.
If Tom Wolf had stood up and said, "I made a mistake," I possibly could have gotten past this skeleton. If Tom Wolf had said he didn't know, or should have known, or actually cared, I might have been able to understand how Wolf became involved with this man.
But, to this day, Tom Wolf has yet to publicly acknowledge that what is at issue here isn't whether Tom Wolf is a racist, it's whether Tom Wolfe has the ability to admit mistakes, learn from them, and make strong statements accepting responsibility and denouncing injustice.
That's what I want to see from this state's next governor, and it's what I do not see from Tom Wolf.
So, for the first time in a long time, I really don't know who I'm going to vote for on May 20. I only know who I will not be voting for.