First-time gubernatorial candidate Paul Mango is asking Republicans to turn out for him in the 2018 primary -- the kind of race he has typically skipped as a voter.
According to Allegheny County voter records dating back to 1988, the Pittsburgh business consultant has failed to vote in every primary contest through 2015. (He did vote in the 2016 and 2017 primaries.) He has also frequently failed to vote in the November general election in odd-numbered years: He has voted only in four such elections out of 15 that have been held since 1988.
"I wish I would have been more active politically earlier in my life," Mr. Mango said in a statement issued by his campaign. "I did vote in every general election and have supported Republicans here in our state and nationally. I want for my family what every Pennsylvanian wants for theirs, a chance at the American dream, and that dream is fading here in our Commonwealth."
But voting records suggest that Mr. Mango did not vote in every general election.In addition to the odd-numbered "off year" elections he skipped, he appears not to have cast a general-election ballot in 1990 or 1996, when President Bill Clinton won re-election over Republican Bob Dole, or in 2002. That was a gubernatorial election, in which Democrat Ed Rendell won the office Mr. Mango is now seeking.
It's not unusual for everyday voters to skip elections, especially in odd-numbered years when the ballot largely consists of low-wattage local and school board races. And in some years, Mr. Mango's vote would have made no difference. In 2014, for example, there were no competitive races on the GOP primary ballot.
Even so, "As Ricky Ricardo would say, 'You've got some 'splainin' to do,'" said Charlie Gerow, a Harrisburg political consultant and a fixture in Republican state politics.
"This may be not that interesting to general-election voters, but to the audience he is talking to right now -- party activists and committeepeople -- voting is very, very important," Mr. Gerow said. "These are the kind of things that can -- and I underline 'can' -- sink a candidate."
Mr. Gerow noted tha Mr. Mango apparently sat out primary contests that helped shape the face of the state's GOP.
In 2012, for example, Republicans picked Mitt Romney as their presidential nominee from a field of four contenders: Businessman Tom Smith, an outside businessman candidate like Mr. Mango, won a hotly contested five-way race to challenge Bob Casey's re-election to the U.S. Senate.
Mr. Gerow said 2010 was "a sea-change election," in which then-Attorney General Tom Corbett won the gubernatorial nomination Mr. Mango is now seeking, and ultimately the governship. "Any gubernatorial year is important," Mr. Gerow said, "because the governor's office is the building block of future campaigns."
Mr. Mango is expected to face at least one Republican rival, state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York, in the bid to replace Gov. Tom Wolf next year. Another Allegheny County Republican, state House Speaker Mike Turzai, is widely expected to enter the race this summer. Mr. Wagner's campaign did not return a call for comment Tuesday afternoon, and York County voting records were not immediately available Tuesday.