Jack Wagner (politician)

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Jack Wagner
Jack Wagner Veteran Council.jpg
50th Auditor General of Pennsylvania
In office
January 18, 2005 – January 15, 2013
GovernorEd Rendell
Tom Corbett
Preceded byBob Casey Jr.
Succeeded byEugene DePasquale
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 42nd district
In office
May 24, 1994 – January 18, 2005[1]
Preceded byEugene Scanlon
Succeeded byWayne Fontana
President of the Pittsburgh City Council
In office
November 6, 1989 – January 3, 1994
Acting: November 6, 1989 – January 1, 1990
Preceded byBen Woods (Acting)
Succeeded byJim Ferlo
Member of the Pittsburgh City Council
from the 4th district
In office
January 2, 1984 – January 3, 1994[2]
Preceded byThomas Flaherty
Succeeded byJoe Cusick
Personal details
Born (1948-01-04) January 4, 1948 (age 72)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Nancy Wagner
Alma materIndiana University of Pennsylvania
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1966–1968
Battles/warsVietnam War

Jack E. Wagner (born January 4, 1948)[3] is an American Democratic politician from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He served as Pennsylvania Auditor General, and prior served in the State Senate and Pittsburgh City Council.

Early life, education, and military service[edit]

Seal of Jack Wagner as Auditor General

Wagner is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recipient of the Purple Heart and other military commendations for service in the Vietnam War from 1966 to 1968. "In the demilitarized zone between North and South Vietnam, Wagner's squad got caught in an ambush." Wagner was among three wounded, twelve others died.[4] After being discharged from the Marines, he attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) where he graduated in 1974 with a degree in Safety Management. While a student at IUP, Wagner worked as a paramedic with Citizens Ambulance Service serving Indiana County and taught evening emergency responder courses at Admiral Peary Area Vocational Technical School in Ebensburg. Wagner received IUP's Distinguished Alumni Award for service to the community and the university in 1994.

Wagner was running a restaurant in 1980 when his community experienced serious water problems. He organized a community meeting which no public officials attended, prompting him to make the decision to seek political office that evening.[4]

Pittsburgh City Council[edit]


He originally sought a seat on the Pittsburgh City Council in 1981, but was unsuccessful. In 1983, he again ran for City Council, and this time he was successful, winning election to the at-large seat being vacated by Tom Flaherty, who was elected City Controller. Wagner was originally elected to Flaherty's at-large seat, but won re-election after a voter-approved referendum divided City Council seats into districts.[5][6][7][8] Wagner won re-election to the at-large seat in 1987, and again in 1989, in a divisive election triggered by the reorganization of City Council seats into numbered districts.

Leadership positions[edit]

In May 1988, Mayor Richard Caliguiri died, and Council President Sophie Masloff ascended to the office of Mayor. The Council's President Pro Tempore, Ben Woods declared himself Acting Council President.[9] Woods served as Acting President from the date of Masloff's swearing-in on May 6, 1988, until he resigned on November 6, 1989, after being indicted on charges of racketeering and extortion.[10] Wagner ascended to the office of Acting Council President following Wood's resignation, and remained in the position until he was formally elected Council President the following January.

1993 Pittsburgh mayoral election[edit]

Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff decided not to seek re-election to a second term. Wagner and four other Democrats ran. State Representative Tom Murphy won the Democratic primary with 72% of the vote. Wagner was a distant second place with 28% of the vote.[11]

Pennsylvania Senate[edit]


Wagner did not seek re-election to City Council in 1993, and originally sought instead to run for mayor. In 1994, however, he instead decided to run in the special election triggered by the death of Democrat State Senator Eugene Scanlon. In March, Wagner won the state party endorsement by winning 58% of the vote from the State Democratic Committee. Dan Onorato placed second with 40% of the vote.[12] In May, Wagner won the Democratic primary with a plurality of 46% of the vote, beating Onorato by six points.[13] In November, he won the general election unopposed.[14]

In 1998, he won re-election to a second term unopposed.[15] In 2002, he won re-election to a third term with 72% of the vote.[16]


He was Chairman of the Democratic Caucus.

Committee assignments[edit]

  • Appropriations
  • Banking and Insurance (Chair)
  • Policy
  • Rules and Executive Nominations
  • Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness

2002 gubernatorial election[edit]

Wagner ran for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania in the 2002 Democratic primary on a ticket with then-Auditor General Bob Casey Jr. Eight other candidates decided to run in the Democratic primary. Despite Democratic State Committee endorsement, he lost to former State Treasurer Catherine Baker Knoll, 25–22 percent.[17] She became the running mate of the party's gubernatorial nominee, former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell.

Auditor General[edit]



In 2004, Wagner ran to succeed Casey as Auditor General. He won the Democratic primary unopposed. In November, he defeated Republican Joe Peters 52–45 percent.[18]


Wagner won re-election by defeating Republican businessman Chet Beiler 59–38 percent.[19][20] Wagner outpolled Beiler 59–38 percent. He earned the most votes of any candidate in Pennsylvania (3.26 million), including Presidential candidate Barack Obama.[21]


He became Pennsylvania's 50th elected Auditor General on January 18, 2005. He was responsible for auditing school districts, executive agencies, and state commissions to ensure fiscal responsibility. The legislature is exempt from the Auditor General's purview. The Auditor General also serves as an ex officio commissioner of the Delaware River Port Authority.

2010 gubernatorial election[edit]

On July 20, 2009, Wagner announced his candidacy for Governor, becoming the first Democrat to publicly declare his candidacy for the office.[22] Wagner had been considered a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania in 2010, prior to his gubernatorial announcement.[23]

Despite earning the endorsement[24] of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the state's largest newspaper, Wagner finished second in the four person Democratic primary field. Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato defeated Wagner 45–24 percent. Onorato won Allegheny County, home to both candidates, with 79 percent of the vote. Wagner won only three counties in the state.[25]

2013 Pittsburgh mayoral election[edit]

After incumbent Mayor Luke Ravenstahl decided not to run for re-election, Wagner decided to run again for mayor in March 2013.[26] On March 28, Wagner picked up the endorsements from four labor unions, representing about 60% of the city's 3,000 workers, including its police officers and firefighters.[27] In the end, however, he was defeated in the May 21, 2013, Democratic primary election by City Councilman Bill Peduto.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Wagner is married to Nancy. The couple has two children: Luke and Sara.[29] His niece, Chelsa, is the Allegheny County Controller, and a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from the 22nd District. He is a Roman Catholic.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cox, Harold (2004). "Pennsylvania Senate - 1993-1994" (PDF). Wilkes University Election Statistics Project. Wilkes University.
  2. ^ Schmitz, Jon (January 2, 1990). "Looking to new era". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b Elaine Jacobs Smith, "The Long Shot," IUP Magazine (Winter 2008), 3.
  5. ^ Uhl, Sherley (May 17, 1987). "Election to test city image". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
  6. ^ Barnes, Tom (April 20, 1989). "Wagner faces spirited challenge". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
  7. ^ Barnes, Tom (May 20, 1987). "Council by district wins". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 31, 2011.
  8. ^ Barnes, Tom (January 5, 1988). "Apportionment to begin in Pittsburgh". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 31, 2011.
  9. ^ "Pittsburgh Council Embroiled in Power Play". The Philadelphia Inquirer. May 14, 1988. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
  10. ^ "Pittsburgh Council Leader Resigns". The Philadelphia Inquirer. November 7, 1989. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
  11. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=513325
  12. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=774715
  13. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=774714
  14. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=228874
  15. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=187896
  16. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=38122
  17. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=141297
  18. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=6942
  19. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=324135
  20. ^ "Wagner wins second term as auditor general". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2008-11-05.
  21. ^ The Pennsylvania Department of State website http://www.electionreturns.state.pa.us/ .
  22. ^ "Auditor Gen. Wagner: 'I'm Running For Governor'". KDKA Radio. 2009-07-20. Archived from the original on 2009-07-24.
  23. ^ Cillizza, Chris (2009-01-01). "Who Runs for Senate if Voinovich Retires?". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
  24. ^ "Wagner for Governor". The Philadelphia Inquirer. May 15, 2010.
  25. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=333372
  26. ^ http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/03/08/jack-wagner-running-for-mayor/
  27. ^ http://www.wpxi.com/news/news/local/wagner-picks-union-nods-mayor-harris-drops-out-rac/nW6Q5/
  28. ^ Magee, Bryan (22 May 2013). "Peduto Wins Pittsburgh Mayor Primary". PoliticsPA. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  29. ^ Auditor General Jack Wagner, Official Biography, Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General. http://www.auditorgen.state.pa.us/about/bioWagner.html (20 January 2008).

External links[edit]

Media related to Jack Wagner (politician) at Wikimedia Commons

Pittsburgh City Council
Preceded by
Thomas Flaherty
Member of the Pittsburgh City Council
from the 4th district

Succeeded by
Joe Cusick
Preceded by
Ben Woods
President of the Pittsburgh City Council
Succeeded by
Jim Ferlo
Pennsylvania State Senate
Preceded by
Eugene Scanlon
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 42nd district

Succeeded by
Wayne Fontana
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bob Casey
Democratic nominee for Auditor General of Pennsylvania
2004, 2008
Succeeded by
Eugene DePasquale
Political offices
Preceded by
Bob Casey
Auditor General of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Eugene DePasquale