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January 19, 2006
Swann Takes Flight In PA

Former Pittsburgh Steeler great Lynn Swann has overtaken Governor Ed Rendell in the Rassmussen poll by two percentage points, after being down to Rendell by two touchdowns last November. This provides an ill omen for Democrats and their national strategy over the next two years if the Swann momentum continues:

Our latest poll of the race for Pennsylvania governor shows Republican Lynn Swann, the former receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, narrowly leading Democratic Governor Ed Rendell 45% to 43%.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters view Swann favorably; 47% view Rendell favorably.

Swann formally declared his candidacy just two weeks ago, on January 4. But he has enjoyed early success in securing endorsements from two of six regional caucuses in his quest for the party nomination. The Republican state Committee will endorse a candidate on February 11. ...

Although Swann has just announced his candidacy in a formal sense, he has been visibly preparing for a run for close to a year. If elected, he would be the first black to serve as Pennsylvania's governor.

Governor Rendell has often been regarded as a potential candidate for President. Many believe his popularity helped John Kerry win the state in 2004.

The Democrats have a number of their hopes pinned on Pennsylvania, and almost all of them depend on the electoral success of their stalwart, Ed Rendell. Rendell, as Rassmussen notes, allowed John Kerry to barely take Pennsylvania away from George Bush by less than the gap in the supposedly disputed state of Ohio. Since then, RNC chair Ken Mehlman has made a point of conducting outreach missions into Philadelphia, Rendell's power base. Mehlman convinced Swann to run for governor and has converted prominent African-American figures to the GOP. Last week, Justice Sunday III took place in a predominantly black church in North Philly, where white and black Christians united to defend their rights to celebrate their faith publicly -- and to express their political views, which increasingly converge these days.

Mehlman's efforts have begun paying dividends. Rendell, who could have been excused for thinking his re-election was a slam dunk just a few weeks ago, now appears to be sinking visibly against the popular Swann. (The Steelers' Cinderella run in the playoffs can't be hurting Swann, either.) If Rendell can't hold the governor's chair in November, it opens the possibility that Swann may carry Rick Santorum along with him, a Senate seat that the Democrats had calculated as their best opportunity for a takeaway from the GOP this cycle. Worse yet, it means that Swann will run Pennsylvania in 2008, when the state and its 20 electoral votes play a critical role in another contentious presidential race. If the race gets close and the Democrats come up one big state shy of a return to the White House, it may come down to the GOP stealing a march on the Keystone State.

(via Redstate)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 19, 2006 9:04 PM

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