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Swann looks to be GOP frontrunner in governor's race

February 09, 2006|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - With William Scranton out of the picture for the GOP nomination for governor of Pennsylvania, the November election now comes down to a race between the favorites from the Steel City and the City of Brotherly Love.

"I never looked at Scranton as a contender," said state Sen. Terry Punt, R-Pa. "He's been out of the picture for 20 years," he said of Scranton, who had been lieutenant governor under Dick Thornburgh from 1979 to 1987.

That leaves former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann as the only major candidate remaining for the GOP nomination in the May primary and Punt said Swann can put the time to good use.

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"With the other principals out of the picture, it gives Swann the ability to raise funds that will be much-needed in November," said Punt, who remarked on Gov. Ed Rendell's own prodigious fundraising abilities.

State Rep. Patrick Fleagle said he was somewhat surprised by Scranton's announcement, but "I think you're seeing a Lynn Swann groundswell among Republicans."

Swann is expected to poll well in Pittsburgh, usually a Democratic stronghold, Punt said.

Swann, whose former team just won its first Super Bowl since his playing days, will be in Chambersburg on Feb. 21 for the Franklin County Republican Committee's Lincoln Day Dinner. Committee Chairman Roger Beckner said committee members met Tuesday to conduct a straw poll on which gubernatorial candidate to support at this weekend's state committee meeting, but Scranton's announcement rendered the discussion moot.

"Swann was the hands-down favorite" among county committee members, Beckner said.

The committee will not be making primary endorsements for any of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives contests for this area, he said.

"The party hasn't endorsed (in primaries) for a long, long time," said Beckner. "I like to see an open primary," he said.

Primary candidates can circulate petitions to appear on the ballot beginning Tuesday.

Punt noted that Swann, a college football sportscaster for ABC, will be running against a governor and former Philadelphia mayor who was a regular on Eagles post-game shows.

"I think he'd make a great full-time sportscaster," Punt said of Rendell.

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