Since there is no longer a path to victory in the Democratic primary, I am withdrawing my candidacy for Governor of Pennsylvania. This decision disappoints my great campaign team and me, as well as thousands of our supporters. But we have tried every possible means to find a way to win and so avoid the necessity of making this decision. With no path to victory, to press on could cause damage to the issues and people for which we campaigned.
At its outset, in November 2012, this campaign had three goals. First, propose bold, transformational policies to strengthen education, create good-paying jobs, protect our environment, produce clean energy, and bring forth a new birth of freedom for all Pennsylvanians. Our second and third goals were to win the Democratic Primary and end the long nightmare of the Corbett Administration in November.
As to the goal of defeating Governor Corbett, the Democratic candidates today are in a great position to hand Governor Corbett his eviction papers from the Governor's office. Governor Corbett is headed toward an historic defeat both because of the strength of the Democratic gubernatorial field and his incredible political weakness.
The Corbett Administration' political weakness is rooted in its incompetence and right-wing extremism. The Governor's economic incompetence and failed austerity policy caused jobs growth in Pennsylvania to fall from 87,000 in 2010 to just 18,000 in 2013, with New York State creating five times as many jobs, without drilling one shale gas well. Just a few examples of the Administration's deep and broad extremism include its opposition to a drilling tax, even as Pennsylvania becomes America's second biggest gas producer; its refusal to support medical marijuana, even for desperate, sick children and veterans; its attacks on public education from kindergarten to college, with a sickening vendetta against Penn State University; and its numerous assaults on the vulnerable, like the refusal to expand Medicaid on January 1, 2014. For those and other numerous reasons, Governor Corbett is on the way to a landslide defeat to the Democratic nominee that may rival the size of Senator Santorum's loss in 2006.
Despite today's disappointment, we have achieved much in this campaign, like making the most substantive case for Corbett’s defeat, according to Governor Rendell. We also achieved our first, and most important, goal of proposing numerous, detailed policy solutions that will rebuild Pennsylvania. We have driven the debate on issue after issue, such as charter school accountability, reforming our cruel marijuana policies that harm patients and ruin the lives of good people, as well as energy and environmental policy.
We have offered innovative policies. Just two examples are the Citizens Gas Drilling Complaint Office to investigate professionally and fully complaints against the gas industry and the College Affordability Plan that would allow all Pennsylvanians to attend two years of community college or one year of state university without incurring debt. We know that the public support for these two proposals is strong and hope both will be implemented.
Our positions on reform of marijuana laws and charter school accountability have fundamentally altered the political discussion in the state. We are especially pleased that the Democratic candidates now recognize the immediate necessity to stop the cruel denial of medical cannabis to sick people as well as, at least, to decriminalize marijuana, by reducing the penalties for possession to the equivalent of a traffic ticket. We also are encouraged that there is now growing understanding of the huge costs of the cruel and unjust marijuana laws which that keep the schools-to-jail pipeline full -- primarily with people of color -- and waste $350 million annually in law enforcement, criminal justice and correctional resources that can be put to so much better use in our state.
We have brought to the fore other issues as well, like the need to rebuild unions and raise the minimum wage to address income inequality; protection of our fundamental freedoms of marriage equality, non-discrimination based on sexual orientation, and voting; responsible and effective stewardship of our Commonwealth's environment and resources, including tough regulation and full taxation of gas drilling; the reinvigoration of our sustainable energy sector and implementation of the 2009 Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan; a meaningful plan and strategy to revitalize the economy and restart job creation; and recommitting ourselves to quality public schools for all, by fighting off the privatization of our schools.
These solutions are now part of the vernacular of the Democratic campaign, and they will be part of the policy package that will persuade Pennsylvanians to elect a Democrat as Governor in November.
Our second goal of winning the Democratic primary simply slipped beyond our reach. Tom Wolf's television campaign has been startlingly effective, and he has taken a commanding lead, having reached support of 40% or more. His strong rise in the polls impacted the campaigns of all his competitors and stopped momentum that we had in January, though we alone among the competing campaigns did not lose ground in some polls.
Tom Wolf's surge that stalled our January momentum meant that our recent polling was not strong enough for us to raise the funds for television and radio advertising needed for victory at the end of this campaign. Furthermore, and crucially for our campaign, it is now probable that winner of the Democratic primary will get considerably more than 30% of the primary vote, a target we cannot reach.
At this moment of disappointment, I thank profusely our many supporters. Ours has been a People's Campaign powered by the energy, commitment and creativity of what became an army of volunteers who have a shared vision of changing Pennsylvania for the better. Nothing gives me greater confidence that those changes are indeed coming than the tide of good will and determination of the thousands of people who I have met on the campaign trail, and the hundreds of friends I have made along this route with whom I will remain close to and work with in the years ahead.
My primary opponents are excellent candidates and are conducting their campaigns well and honorably, never losing focus on the ultimate goal. It was a privilege to compete with them, and I count them all as friends. I am confident that our third objective, Mr. Corbett's defeat, remains clearly in sight, and I have never been more optimistic that we will be toasting that victory the evening of November 4.
I owe a special debt of gratitude to a tremendous campaign team that includes Ed Boito, Jan Jarrett, Roger Cohen, Kathleen Daugherty, Kelly McEntee, Gary Broderick, Doug Neidich, David Rolka, Zach Karenchak, Jake Derrick, Anthony Ottaviano, Carl Goodman, Lee Tolbert and Carl Feldman.
I want, in conclusion, to direct remarks to our friends and supporters who have made this not just a campaign for John Hanger for Governor, but a real People's Campaign, and in a very real sense, a movement.
Our messages of “Schools, Not Jails, Jobs Not Jails," Legalize, Tax and regulate Marijuana," and "A New Birth of Freedom" in Pennsylvania are more than slogans. They mean something to our supporters in The People's Campaign; they mean something to Pennsylvanians.
We won't stop talking about these issues, we won't stop working for them. The movement will carry on. So will the fight. I will be there for it.
I know that this is a deep blow for the team and you would have had a real chance to be the next governor if Tom Wolf did not use his own family fortune to buy awareness of his name with ads.
I HOPE THAT THE REMAINING CANDIDATES ADOPT YOUR ISSUES AND DON’T PLAY IT SAFE.
PENNSYLVANIA NEEDS ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP AND POLICIES THAT GROW AND SAFEGUARD THE MIDDLE CLASS SO THAT THERE IS UPWARD MOBILITY.