Okay, we all know that Senator Santorum is in for a tough fight next year, and there are lots of people, Pennsylvanians and non-Pennsylvanians alike, who either want to see him go down or keep his seat. As a western Pennsylvania native, I still feel like I’ve got a personal stake in this, and I hope to God he loses.
But also of interest is the gubernatorial election that Pennsylvania is having next year. Democratic Governor Ed Rendell is up for a second term, and nearly everyone I’ve talked to about him doesn’t seem to be a fan. Granted, most Pennsylvanians I talk to are from western Pennsylvania, and the east/west thing plays at least a partial role, since there’s an instinctive lack of love for any mayor of Philadelphia. Property taxes are soaring, due largely to the national tax cuts we’ve recently seen, and governors are taking the fire for it—with Rendell being no exception. Rendell has also legalized gambling, which was a bad move, according to most Pennsylvanians I know. I agree with them.
However, will the Republicans manage to mount much of a challenge next year? As far as I know, there are only three Republicans out there who are challenging Rendell.
Bill Scranton III—Former Lt. Governor Scranton was the 1986 Republican candidate who lost in a squeaker to Governor Bob Casey, Sr. Scranton lost the election, some say, by a comment he made about western Pennsylvania “being more like Ohio” or something like that. Having grown up six miles east of the Ohio border I have to say I agree with him, but regardless, some cite that remark as the source of Casey’s margin of victory. It annoys me that I can’t find a cite for that, though I do remember hearing about this in the Sharon Herald at the time. Anyway, Scranton has supported abortion rights in the past, which could cause him trouble among Toomey Republicans in the primaries.
State Senator Jeff Piccola is also seeking the nomination. He’s a serious guy, and I don’t know a whole lot about him yet.
Former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann, who headed up Bush efforts in Pennsylvania during the 2004 presidential election, will probably have the blessing of the White House in this one, which could help or hurt him, depending on the state of the White House come next year. Swann could play on the east/west schism, but it’s hard to say if he’s really got what it takes. While Pittsburghers regard their Steelers as a religion of sorts, this won’t do him much good in Philadelphia, where he’d need to win back the suburban Republicans there. Further, central Pennsylvania is a Republican stronghold, and I have to wonder how well a black man would do there. I’ve lived in central Pennsylvania and have traveled around in quite a bit, and race is a big deal to a lot of these social conservatives.
It looks like the Pennsylvania gubernatorial election is shaping up to be a bit of a dud, since none of the likely Republican candidates seem to have much to offer, and Rendell kinda sucks, too. You occasionally hear Rendell mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate, but I’m sure anyone who says that is only thinking that it would make good strategic sense for a presidential candidate to have the governor of Pennsylvania on his or her ticket. While that’s true, someone like Rendell isn’t exactly an asset, when you consider how tepid a lot of Pennsylvanians feel about him… or am I completely misreading feelings toward Rendell? I’m sure at least some Philadelphians would be delighted to set me straight on that…
And for 2010, when there’s either a Republican governor or a term-limited Governor Rendell: I like Barbara Hafer. Anyone with me on that?