Thursday, February 09, 2006

Looks like it's Ed Rendell vs. Lynn Swann in Pennsylvania

So it looks like Bill Scranton is giving up on the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race. He holds that the Pennsylvania Republicans are coagulating around former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann, who seems to have the nomination locked up now.

I've been hearing Republicans cheering about Swann because he's black, the reasoning apparently being that if a black guy is running for an office, all the blacks will automatically vote for that black guy. I haven't heard anyone successfully defend or even explain Swann's politics; he's pretty much an empty suit who calls himself a conservative without stating too much in the way of actual positions. A discussion I got into with a Republican on a message board pretty much sums things up, sadly enough. (If you check that link, you can call me Chance.)

Rendell's sort of hit the skids, popularity-wise. I have to wonder if he'll be able to manage reëlection, but I'm not as worried about him as I am of other candidates in other races in 2006. He's not likely to galvanize western Pennsylvania, but then, he's not really popular out that way, anyway.

The question is: will Swann galvanize western Pennsylvania? I'm not sure. While the Pittsburgh Steelers are little short of a religion out there, I'm not convinced that running one of their former players is a guaranteed win. It certainly won't help in the Philadelphia area.

Another point is that a Republican's natural base is central Pennsylvania and, to put it bluntly, Swann is black. I lived in central Pennsylvania for a number of years, and have traveled extensively in the region. From what I recall of the attitude there, a black candidate would dampen the enthusiasm of the voters there. With Rendell relatively safe in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Erie, Swann would have to really scramble to overtake him. Not being encumbered by a platform or positions will probably help Swann, but I really don't see him getting it together to win this election. He's not even a cinch to pick up the Pittsburgh vote. Rendell is not loved in western Pennsylvania, but if Swann can’t compete statewide, he doesn’t have a chance.

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