Wednesday, July 06, 2005

What's It All About, Swanee?

This morning's Trib profiles possible gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann, a pro football Hall of Famer but a novice in the world of politics. Swann has greater name recognition that any of the other candidates, but he has had little to say regarding his political views on specific issues. Swann did not speak to the reporter, but others did. Concerns expressed by people interviewed include:

  • The celebrity factor: People know who he is, and may support him without knowing what he stands for.
  • He isn't actually a candidate yet. Despite holding fundraisers, starting up a campaign office and a website, and holding news conferences, Swann has not made an official announcement that he is going to run for the office.
  • Two other Republicans with a long record of public service are also running for Governor. Swann needs to defeat a former Lieutenant Governor and the State Senate Majority Whip before he can lock horns with Ed Rendell.
  • Swann donated a bunch of money to none other than John Kerry during the mid-1990s. This may have something to do with the fact that he is on the Heinz board of directors. In any event, he campaigned for George Bush at a counter-rally here in Pittsburgh when Kerry was in town last year. Perhaps he was atoning for past "sins"?
  • "Race" may be an issue in the minds of some voters, if not in the campaign itself. Of course, it was a Democrat who brought this up. Only the Left would be so divisive as to start a debate on this topic.
  • Swann is pro-life on the abortion issue. This is a good, Republican stance on a hot, controversial issue. Keep in mind though that Pennsylvania is a weird, anomalous state in many ways. In other words: ARLEN SPECTER.
  • Swann doesn't return calls from important lobbying groups. Getting involved with lobbyists can get a politician's hands dirty, so it may be wise of him to forego involvement with some of these groups. Voters, however, may look at "he has not returned my calls" as indifference towards anyone who wishes to approach him. He'd better stock up on political hand soap.
Will any of this hurt him in the long run? Possibly. The primary election is still ten months away, so he has some time to work things out. The best thing he can do is take strong stands on the issues. Make the electorate judge you not on what you were, but on what you are.

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