Thursday, January 05, 2006

Welcome To The Governor's Race, Lynn Swann

Lynn Swann has been such a big part of the 2006 race for Governor of Pennsylvania for so many months that it comes as a shock when one realizes that he hadn't even formally announce his candidacy until yesterday:

Lynn Swann, whose acrobatic receptions took him to four Super Bowls and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, made another leap last night as he formally launched his campaign for the Republican nomination for governor.

Before a cheering crowd of about 500 at the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, the former Steelers receiver promised to bring leadership and change to his adopted state.

"I was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1974, and tonight, I'm drafted by Pennsylvania to be governor," Mr Swann said, shortly after making his entrance to the strains of Van Halen's "Right Now."

I guess Lynn Swann prefers Sammy Hagar era VH to the original David Lee Roth version. This shows that Swanny is not a purist and is open to reform where necessary. Or maybe he just happened to hear DLR's new radio show and decided that it sucked, and selected his soundtrack accordingly.

Swann continues to frustrate those of us who would like to vote for him because he is LYNN SWANN. The name recognition and celebrity are a good start, but in response to questioning he summed up his policy positions with this remark:

"I don't think this is the time to roll out the details," he added while saying that he would provide more policy specifics as the campaign moves forward.
You got away with this a year ago, but the election is less than half a year away. Tell us what you stand for. Please! We need to know more about you, not just what you think of your prospective opponent:

While acknowledging that no incumbent governor in Pennsylvania has ever lost a race for re-election, Mr Swann said, to the crowd's whooping assent, "No incumbent governor has ever been as bad as Ed Rendell.''
If you limit yourself to speaking before supportive audiences, you can expect to hear plenty of "whooping assent" (or whoop ass for short). How many times has Lynn Swann spoken before crowds in the "Republican T", i.e. the mostly conservative part of Pennsylvania that excludes the Democrat strongholds of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Erie? Take a few questions from the folks out there and we'll see what you're made of. You won't get any "whooping assent" there unless you prove that you really can whoop ass.

In an interview, Mr. Swann said that when he first registered to vote, it was as a Democrat, as his parents still are. He said he switched his registration to Republican after he moved to Pittsburgh, where he was active in civic affairs, including serving on the board of the Pittsburgh Ballet and as a spokesman for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America.
I would like to know what motivated his change. Most people who move to Pittsburgh become Democrats because there's usually no one else to vote for. It's the whole "local yokel" mentality. Really. When in high school, I asked a classmate which party he was going to join now that he had turned eighteen, and he replied, "I dunno. Local yokels." Then there was the guy I met in college who was interested in politics and current affairs. He switched from Independent to Democrat in 1993 so he could vote for Tom Murphy for mayor because Murphy's daughter came to the door campaining for her dad, and my friend thought she was cute.

You know, if enough people make their political choices based on criteria like that, then maybe Swann can be elected just by being a Pittsburgh Steelers legend. Did Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger win elections based on the issues? No, they got elected because people thought it was cool to vote for Jesse or Arnold.

And, although it shouldn't be an issue, there's always the ethnic factor:

If elected, Mr. Swann would be the first African American to serve as Pennsylvania governor. His former Steelers teammate Mel Blount, one of the introductory speakers at last night's rally, said, "As a black man, it's important that we have representation in all parties.''
Well said. In fact, Lynn Swann's popularity as a football star may help attract more blacks to the Republican party in the coming months. There are plenty of blacks Democrats who complain "what has our party ever done for us?" and choose to sit out elections. Having Lynn Swann in the race may well bring out a lot of apathetic voters, and even convince them to switch sides.

At this point, I'm still leaning Panyard, though I believe that Scranton is likely to win. The next few months are going to get very interesting around here.

1 comment:

jipzeecab said...

It'll be fascinating to watch if Swannee can survive the nomination process and go up against Rendell.
What makes the Philadelphia area such a "Democratic stronghold" is tight bloc voting by masses of people of color. One lesson I learned in politics in the South was that mass of vote wasn't available if a black candidate was running..that when in the voting booth blacks won't vote in a partisan manner against a black..Rendell's worse nightmare.
That doesn't transmit however to massive defections to the Republican Party in other or future races.