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PA FOP endorses Wolf over Corbett

Call Harrisburg Bureau

It appears pensions are thicker than the thin-the-blue-line of law enforcement in the Nov. 4 gubernatorial election.

The 40,000-member state chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed Democrat Tom Wolf over incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett who served more than two terms as the state’s top prosecutor.

Wolf was chosen by FOP delegates in a vote Wednesday at their biennial state conference in the Poconos after both campaigns gave presentations.

“When we consider making endorsements, it is not simply a rubber stamp process,” PA FOP President Les Neri said in a statement. “Our delegates evaluate each candidates' actions as well as their platforms. For our delegates, the choice seemed clear and the FOP is proud to endorse Tom Wolf for governor in the 2014 general election.”

Neri, a retired detective from Chester County’s Tredyffrin Township Police Department, didn’t say it in its statement. But its clear Wolf was picked in part because he opposes Corbett’s plans to overhaul state pension systems and as a Democrat would object to bills aimed at reducing union clout.

The FOP’s Pennsylvania State Lodge was a constant presence in the halls of the state Capitol during budget talks in June, lobbying against bills to change the pension systems even though lawmakers who backed the bills had excluded police from pension changes.

Corbett has toured the state promoting a pension bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Tobash, R-Schuylkill, that would put the first $50,000 of an employee’s salary in a traditional taxpayer-backed pension and the rest in a private-sector like 401(k). Tobash’s bill was amended to remove state troopers because they, like local law enforcement and fire departments, do not pay Social Security taxes.

Corbett has not been as vocal in his support of other GOP-backed bills that would preclude the state from deducting union dues from state workers’ paychecks.

“Our organization is facing serious assaults on both our ability to collectively bargain as well as our pensions,” said state FOP Vice President Roosevelt Poplar, a Philadelphia police officer. “We have confidence that as governor, Mr. Wolf will stand up for law enforcement officers by providing us with a real and meaningful seat at the table when these issues are discussed.”

The state FOP represents municipal and state police across Pennsylvania. 

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