State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

A crowded race might be a dark horse's delight

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 9, 2013 9:44 PM
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Photo by Mary Wilson / witf


Another day, another Democratic candidate throws his hat in the ring for the 2014 race for governor.

The official field of Democratic candidates eyeing Tom Corbett's job has swelled to seven. The latest entrant, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, announced his candidacy over the weekend, and stopped by Harrisburg before lighting out for the rest of a 23-county tour.

"We're going to be continuing going across the state, the western part of the state," Pawlowski said Monday afternoon. "I've been out in the western part of the state many, many times. It is a challenge, no doubt, but we have a plan to obviously increase name ID."

Thomas Baldino, a political science professor at Wilkes University in Luzerne County, said with every additional entry into the Democratic race for governor, dark horse candidates like Pawlowski see better odds for pulling ahead.

"Is it likely to happen? Probably not," Baldino said. "But the proliferation of candidates certainly contributes to the possibility that a lesser-known candidate could unseat or displace a lesser-known candidate."

Pawlowski has another advantage, Baldino added: concentrated support in the northeastern part of the state. No one else among the declared or rumored candidates in the Democratic primary hail from that region. Unlike candidates carving up Democratic strongholds in the southeast or south central parts of the state, no one is competing with Pawlowski for northeastern Pennsylvania voters.

"He has a base in the Allentown area. He has name recognition there," Baldino said. "If he can raise sufficient funds so he can make inroads in another part of the state, he could eke out a victory, assuming the rest of the state is divided."

Baldino notes, however, that statewide support for Democratic candidates isn't so fractured as to make campaign fundraising and statewide name recognition irrelevant. On that front, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz is trying to stake a claim as the frontrunner, and many await an official candidacy announcement from state Treasurer Rob McCord. Also hailing from the southeast is former state Department of Environmental Protection Kathleen McGinty.

From the south central part of the state comes another former DEP secretary, John Hanger. Other central Pennsylvania candidates include York County businessman Tom Wolf, Cumberland County pastor Max Myers, and Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz.

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