The flags at the Capitol flapped frantically in a cold, stiff breeze Thursday morning; a fitting backdrop for John Hanger, who announced he could no longer fight through the political headwinds in his quest to be Pennsylvania's governor.
Hanger, of Hershey, was the first Democrat in the race in November 2011. He withdrew during a news conference saying he no longer believed he had a path to victory.
“We have no path to victory because, to put it bluntly, Tom Wolf's television campaign has been startlingly effective,” he said.
Hanger's exit leaves five Democrats in the hunt: Wolf, Allyson Schwartz, Rob McCord, Katie McGinty, and Jack Wagner.
But Hanger says Wolf is alone at the head of the pack.
“Tom Wolf has taken this race by the neck,” he said.
“That shows the power of TV advertising if you have a good message,” said Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling & Research.
A good message is good. Millions of dollars to get that message out is even better and Wolf has both. He was trailing the field late last year but then did a statewide TV blitz with commercials and he's zoomed to a commanding lead in the polls.
Susquehanna Polling & Research released its latest numbers Thursday and they show Wolf in front with 40 percent.
Schwartz is second with 12 percent, followed by Wagner at 10 percent, McCord at six percent and McGinty at four percent.
“That to me is very intimidating if you're any other candidate in this race,” Lee said.
Lee suspects that political consultants for every candidate not named Wolf is advising to go negative on the York businessman – or go home.
“We gotta make people think differently of Tom Wolf than they do right now because it's been a one-candidate race,” he said.
But Hanger urged the remaining Democrats to keep it positive and keep the focus on beating Tom Corbett in November.
“He is on course for an historic defeat because he's governed as a right-wing extremist and he's governed incompetently,” Hanger said of Corbett.
The primary election is May 20.