Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Swann Explores Running for Pa. Governor - Yahoo! News - Looks Like A Winner!

Swann Explores Running for Pa. Governor - Yahoo! News: "Swann Explores Running for Pa. Governor By PETER JACKSON, Associated Press Writer
Mon Nov 21, 8:58 PM ET

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann told a crowd of business leaders, lobbyists and journalists Monday that Pennsylvania would be a better place if he were governor, but said he has not yet declared his candidacy and eluded some questions the way he once dodged tacklers.

"I am still in the process of exploring" a candidacy, Swann said when asked about his political status at a downtown Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon. "But some people say if it walks like a swan, looks like a swan ... ."

Swann has been raising money for a prospective campaign since he formed a political committee in February. Independent polls show him running neck-and-neck with former Lt. Gov. William Scranton III and ahead of two other prospective candidates for the 2006 Republican nomination, but trailing first-term Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell by more than 10 percentage points.

Swann left open, if only slightly, the possibility that he would compete in next spring's GOP primary even if he loses the endorsement of the Republican State Committee in February. Scranton has also refused to rule out running without the committee's endorsement.

"I'd like to take a look at the process and see how it goes," Swann said, then added, "It is not my inclination to do anything that would be divisive to the party."

Swann, 53, a former star wide receiver for the Steelers who now works as a college football analyst for ABC, appeared self-assured as he fielded questions from the audience of about 200 people, but was often short on specifics other than calling for a rollback in the corporate net income tax and some other business levies.

For example, he advocated abolishing property taxes in Pennsylvania without shifting the burden of financing public schools onto another tax, such as the sales tax, as some Republican legislators are proposing. Asked how he would make up the more than $8 billion generated by property taxes, however, he declined to reveal his plan, saying it is still being refined.

"I'm not going to give it to you only because I want to see if it's going to work first," he said. "We want new thinking that's outside the box."

Swann also declined to take a stand on alternatives to public schools, saying only that state officials must constantly strive to ensure that taxpayers are getting the most out of their investment in education.

Asked if he was avoiding addressing issues because "as a sideline reporter, you've learned that a few cliches are all that make it on the TV anyway," he steered the focus toward Rendell, who moonlights as a Philadelphia Eagles post-game analyst for Comcast SportsNet.

"Let me consult with Ed Rendell after the post-game show for the Eagles," he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Swann, who lives in the Pittsburgh suburbs with his wife and two sons and who would be Pennsylvania's first black governor, said he expects to declare his candidacy early next year and played down speculation that his timing is driven by the end of the college football season.

"It's a time slot that I think will be better," he said. "There are other obligations I have and, while I can continue to do those even as a declared candidate, I'm choosing to wait."

In addition to Scranton, Swann faces likely opposition in the GOP primary from state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, and Jim Panyard, the former director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association."

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