Stack and Schwartz contemplate bids for governor

Why has state Sen. Mike Stack made re­cent trips to west­ern Pennsylvania and the Le­high Val­ley and even held baby pigs at the Farm Show in Har­ris­burg?

Stack (D-5th dist.) is mulling a bid for gov­ernor in 2014, and wants to show polit­ic­al and labor lead­ers and every­day cit­izens that a “city slick­er” shares their val­ues and con­cerns.

“A lot more has to be done in this state,” he said. “We’re clearly go­ing in the wrong dir­ec­tion. We have to get the state back on track.”

Stack isn’t the only loc­al law­maker said to be mulling a run for gov­ernor.

At last week­end’s Demo­crat­ic State Com­mit­tee meet­ing in Her­shey, there was all kinds of buzz about U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13th dist.) con­sid­er­ing the race.

Schwartz wasn’t even at the meet­ing, but she has more than $3 mil­lion in her con­gres­sion­al cam­paign ac­count, which she can trans­fer to a run for gov­ernor.

Rachel Mag­nuson, the con­gress­wo­man’s chief of staff, said Schwartz was “very ser­i­ously” con­tem­plat­ing a run.

Still, the 64-year-old con­gress­wo­man is busy with oth­er du­ties. She is fin­ance chair­wo­man for the Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee and sits on the House Budget and Ways and Means com­mit­tees.

Many ob­serv­ers ex­pect Schwartz to wait to chal­lenge Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Pat Toomey in 2016.

Mag­nuson did not know a timetable for a de­cision and de­clined to pre­dict wheth­er her boss would in­deed run for gov­ernor.

Stack, 49, is a law­yer who was elec­ted to the Sen­ate in 2000, oust­ing Re­pub­lic­an in­cum­bent Hank Sal­vatore. The out­come was a bit of an up­set, as Stack had lost twice pre­vi­ously to Sal­vatore and failed in a bid to win an at-large City Coun­cil seat in 1999.

After the ini­tial vic­tory, Stack won easy re-elec­tion cam­paigns in 2004, ’08 and ’12.

If he runs for gov­ernor next year, he won’t have to give up his Sen­ate seat be­cause the term doesn’t ex­pire un­til 2016.

Stack dis­coun­ted talk that he is ac­tu­ally pur­su­ing the job of lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor.

“I’m not run­ning for lieu­ten­ant any­thing,” he said.

A Somer­ton res­id­ent, Stack is Demo­crat­ic lead­er of the 58th Ward. He has tried to move in­to Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic lead­er­ship, but has lost bids for minor­ity lead­er and ap­pro­pri­ations chair­man.

Gov. Tom Corbett, a Re­pub­lic­an, .is ex­pec­ted to seek a second term next year. His poll num­bers aren’t too im­press­ive these days, but Stack notes that former Govs. Ed Rendell and Tom Ridge had sim­il­ar woes dur­ing their first terms, so he knows it won’t be easy to topple the in­cum­bent.

“I wel­come chal­lenges,” he said.

Two Demo­crats have an­nounced cam­paigns: John Hanger, former sec­ret­ary of the De­part­ment of En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion, and Max My­ers, a pas­tor, busi­ness­man and au­thor from Cum­ber­land County.

Oth­er Demo­crats said to be in­ter­ested in the race in­clude former con­gress­man Joe Ses­tak, of Delaware County; State Treas­urer Rob Mc­Cord, of Mont­gomery County; and Tom Wolf, former sec­ret­ary of the state De­part­ment of Rev­en­ue.

Stack said he has told people he’s met across Pennsylvania that he wants to make the state a bet­ter place to live and provide eco­nom­ic se­cur­ity.

“I’ve had a very pos­it­ive re­ac­tion,” he said.

One is­sue at or near the top of Stack’s agenda is in­creased fund­ing for pub­lic edu­ca­tion.

“We’re not in­vest­ing in our fu­ture,” he said.

The state and na­tion­al un­em­ploy­ment rates have been hov­er­ing around 8 per­cent, and Stack sees that as too high.

Now is not a good time, he said, to be talk­ing about privat­iz­ing the Pennsylvania Lot­tery and li­quor stores.

“You’re cut­ting jobs of hard-work­ing folks,” he said, adding that both agen­cies have good track re­cords.

In Stack’s opin­ion, it is “out­rageous” that Corbett wants to have a Brit­ish-based firm run the Lot­tery. If it has to be privat­ized, Stack fa­vors a Pennsylvania com­pany as man­ager.

Stack has no set timetable for a fi­nal de­cision on the race for gov­ernor, but hopes party lead­ers and voters find his pro­file at­tract­ive. That pro­file in­cludes be­ing from the voter-rich south­east­ern part of the state, which is es­pe­cially cru­cial in Demo­crat­ic primar­ies.

“This is the re­gion that de­liv­ers the votes statewide,” he said. ••

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