HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Donald Trump is the latest businessman turned politician.
But he’s not the first.
“I’m gonna give you a different spin here. Donald Trump is actually a mini-Scott Wagner,” said Senator Scott Wagner (R-York) when asked about the recent trend of successful businessmen seeking elected office.
Wagner owns Penn Waste and won as a write-in in March, 2014. Wagner says he contributed to politicians for years and they never delivered on their promises.
“I got sick of it, so I decided to run,” Wagner said.
He won and was the first of several dominoes to fall across the Midstate. York’s Tom Wolf, of Wolf Cabinets, became governor. Greg Rothman, of RSR Realty, became a state representative in Cumberland County and most recently Triple Crown Corporation’s John DiSanto captured a senate seat in Dauphin County.
“We need business people who understand finances,” Wagner said. “People who make decisions every day.”
“I was always told, ‘you can’t run government like a business,’ and it turns out you can’t because we have all these archaic laws that won’t allow you to,” Rothman said.
Unable to beat government, many business people decided to join government, promising to change government.
“Rich people in America dominate politics as donors or as self-funded candidates more than ever before,” said economist Stephen Herzenberg, Executive Director of the left-leaning Keystone Research Center.
He agrees there’s a trend of business person choosing politics but says it has more to do with big bucks than big business experience.
“To the extent that this is a symptom of the fact that you have to have a lot of money to even play in the political game, that’s a problem,” Herzenberg said.
But that problem isn’t disappearing anytime soon. More business people are being recruited and they have been successful on Election Day across the state.
“I think you’re gonna see more and more business people saying we’ve had enough,” Wagner said.
“If we want to complain about government being in our business, we need to get involved and business needs to get back in government,” said Rothman.