Monday, January 09, 2006

A Coronation For Swann?

Buried in stories about the Lynn Swann for Governor campaign is the news that one candidate for the Republican nomination, State Senator Jeff Piccola, has dropped out of the race.

HARRISBURG -- Former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann got a surprisingly big win in a Republican Party caucus vote yesterday, which chased one of his challengers from the GOP gubernatorial race and gave a big boost to his five-day-old candidacy.

Two hours after state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, told the Republican State Committee's Central Caucus that he was ending his struggling campaign for the GOP nomination for governor, Mr. Swann trounced his major remaining competitor, former Lt. Gov. William Scranton, in a bid for the caucus's endorsement.

Mr. Swann got 77 votes from the regional caucus, which represents 28 counties in the central part of the state, while Mr. Scranton got only 32 votes.

It's hard to determine from this how the state as a whole is going to vote in the election. The caucus vote is about as establishment as you can get, and hardly reflects the preferences of the grass roots level of the party. On the other hand, Piccola is about as establishment as you can get right now, considering that he is the only one of the four candidates who is currently serving time in the state capital. Is the party sending a message about the legislature's conduct of the past year, with Jeff Piccola as the scapegoat?

Or are caucus members just crazy about football?
"We're not going to beat Ed Rendell without someone with star power, someone with pizzazz, and Lynn Swann has that kind of magnetism," said [Cumberland County lawyer Dick] Stewart.
Whatever. When it comes to a serious, credible platform, Jim Panyard has the better-known candidates at a disadvantage. In the primary, I always vote for the candidate whom I would prefer to see win over the one whom I think is actually going to see win. If Panyard does well enough on Election Day, the winner (Swann or Scranton) could be influenced to move to the right.

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