Day By Day

Monday, June 12, 2006

Pennsylvania Politics -- "Swanny..., How We Luv Ya...."

The WaPo runs a puff piece on Lynn Swann. An excerpt:

Novice politicians need to pass a few basic tests. First is the ability to work a room, dominate it, if possible -- or, at the very least, convey a sense that you relish being there, meeting everyone and hearing the stories about how this guy met you at a banquet in Pittsburgh 20 years ago and you were nice enough to sign an autograph that he still has, by the way, in a scrapbook somewhere . . .

Lynn Swann aces this test with an ease and grace that befit his status both as a Hall of Fame wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers and as a dancer who began studying ballet when he was 8.

Swann, 54, doesn't so much work a room as prance through it: His double-pump handshakes are brisk and authoritative, his grin and eye contact unrelenting. He stutter-steps in and out of conversations in 15 seconds or less, but never seems in a rush. Swann has mastered the art of Being a Famous Guy....

Read it here.

To be sure the story revisits the major criticisms of Swann's candidacy -- that he's a political novice, that he is just a stooge for the Bush outreach program. etc., and cites the George Stephanopolis ineterview in which Swann seemed to be out of touch with the legal convolutions of the abortion issue.

But these criticisms are pretty small beer. Being anti-abortion, though it may shock Steffi's buddies at ABC, is not going to hurt a Republican in Pennsylvania. Efforts on the part of Republicans to broaden their base are a good, not a bad, thing. And Swann is turning the issue of his inexperience to his advantage by attacking the cynicism of "professional politicians." That scores with double effect because Ed Rendell is practically the epitome of a cynicial political pro and Pennsylvania voters are in a resentful mood this year.

And it is clear from the article how immensely stoked the Swanniacs are. They love this guy, and in a mid-term election where bringing out the base is all-important that is a very important thing -- something that the opinion polls don't measure.

If the WaPo is right, the Pa governor's race could be a lot closer than it seems and Fast Eddie may need every one of those mega-millions he has piled up. However the Washington Times has a contrary view. Ralph Hallow writes:
Political fumbles by the White House, the Pennsylvania GOP and gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann are turning the NFL Hall of Famer's campaign into a bad joke, Republicans in the state say.

Republicans thought they could knock off Gov. Edward G. Rendell this fall by running a famous athlete against the former Philadelphia mayor. But now they say the Swann campaign is looking like a loser.
Read it here.

Of course, that is the view of the professional politicians who have largely been shut out of the Swann campaign. Can a group of starry-eyed amateurs really wrest control of the Governor's mansion from the pros? In this year of anti-incumbent fervor the possibility has to be taken seriously.

Stay tuned.... Things are getting interesting.

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