that poverty will never let you see. Unlike many in my party, I recognize the need to increase the minimum wage — and place individuals on the path toward greater earning power — is long overdue. And unlike many in the other party, I know we need to lower the taxes that kill so many small, minority- and women-owned businesses before they even get started.”
According to campaign finance records released in early September, Steele is running neck-and-neck with his rival, Rep. Ben Cardin, who became the Democratic nominee after defeating former NAACP head Kweisi Mfume in the primary. But Steele appears to have managed his cash more efficiently. At press time, records reveal that he’s raised roughly $5.2 million, spending only $2.1 million and holding about $3.1 million in reserve. He has received as much as $4 million in individual contributions and has received significant support from small businesses. On the other hand, Cardin, who raised $5.4 million, has already spent about $4 million and has only $1.6 million in cash on hand.
Steele’s goal is to turn those campaign funds into votes. Through a well-coordinated ad blitz, he is seeking to get his message to voters and capture the crossover bloc needed to oust Cardin. His strategy may be working: a recent three-poll average by pollster.com indicates a close race, with Steele behind Cardin by only 6 points — 48% to 42%.
SCRAMBLING FOR SUPPORT
When Swann decided to run for office, Pennsylvania Republicans greeted the news with the same euphoria as the Pittsburgh Steelers fans who watched him make touchdowns. Despite being a political novice, the GOP felt Swann could give Democratic incumbent Ed Rendell a run for his money. His celebrity — Swann played in four Super Bowl victories and was named MVP in Super Bowl X in 1976 — would make him attractive to Pennsylvania voters. In fact, State Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer called Swann “the best communicator” since Ronald Reagan and “Ed Rendell’s worst nightmare.”
Using the slogan “Winning Starts Here,” Swann developed a platform that focused on property tax relief, reduced government spending, and welfare reform. But his campaign failed to gain traction. Three consecutive Rasmussen Reports polls have given Rendell a double-digit lead. The latest survey shows the Democrat with 50% of the vote to Swann’s 40%. Moreover, Swann has reportedly raised $3.7 million, compared to Rendell’s war chest of $26 million.
Political analysts maintain that Swann will need a Hail Mary play to win this race. Throughout Pennsylvania’s political history, challengers have never unseated an incumbent governor. It doesn’t look likely to happen now. For one, Rendell’s political machine is just too powerful. And, offers David Bositis, senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies: “Swann’s running on traditional Republican issues — pro-business, lower taxes — and has no unique set of issues of his own.”
CREDENTIALS AND CONTROVERSY
Blackwell has solid credentials — former Cincinnati mayor, ex-diplomat, former undersecretary of HUD, state treasurer, secretary of state — that, some say, should have made him a shoo-in for the governor’s seat.