Steeler Legend Lynn Swann Running for Pennsylvania Governor
Pittsburgh Steeler legend Lynn Swann has all but announced his run for Governor of Pennsylvania in 2006. Some believe he has his eyes on the White House.
He is a man of many accomplishments: A member of the 1972 national championship football team at the University of Southern California. A Hall of Fame wide receiver with the Pittsburgh Steelers and owner of four Super Bowl rings. A family man and father of two boys, who lives in a million-dollar home in the plush Pittsburgh suburb of Sewickley. A respected broadcaster at ABC Sports for more than a quarter century. An entrepreneur who commands between $20,000 and $50,000 for speaking engagements. A recognized philanthropist, who has served on the boards of numerous charities.
If anyone can navigate his way through the sometimes Byzantine, 67-county Pennsylvania political system, it’s probably Swann. He has a 500-watt smile, a formidable work ethic, a firm handshake and a degree in public relations from USC’s School of Journalism.
Swann is a rare creature, indeed. The son of Democrats is an African-American Republican, something once thought to be an oxymoron. His potential ability to excite both suburban conservatives and urban African-Americans intrigues national GOP operatives. A year from November, Swann arguably could be the nation’s highest ranking elected Republican African-American — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was, of course, selected by President George Bush. From that platform, it would not be inconceivable to imagine a run at the presidency in 2012.
But that’s getting ahead of the game. Way ahead. Officially, Swann hasn’t even decided to run for governor yet, but those close to him say the announcement is likely to come at the beginning of 2006. It is likely to be a three-man race for the Republican nomination that also features former lieutenant governor William W. Scranton III and state Senate majority whip Jeff Piccola, who is considered less of a threat. The winner would then take on incumbent Democrat Ed Rendell — an unabashed Eagles fan.
The article is quite detailed and goes into the pros and cons of being a “celebrity candidate.” And, of course, there’s the race issue:
Black Republicans are currently being groomed to run for governor or U.S. Senate in Ohio, Michigan, Maryland — and now, Pennsylvania. In 2006 a number of similarly ascendant black Republicans are expected to contest statewide elections in Ohio, Missouri, Vermont and Texas. Swann is the perfect vehicle for Republicans who are trying to access new voters. Republican candidates have not historically resonated among African-Americans. According to exit polls, George Bush won 11 percent of the black vote in the 2004 presidential race.
“I don’t see it as a delicate balancing act,” Swann said. “Some people are under the misconception that because you’re an African-American you’re not a conservative. In many cases, there are similar conservative values in the African-American community, consistent with the Republican party.”
“The Republican party is about opportunities,” said Smith, the House majority leader. “Lynn Swann has worked hard to succeed, and that is a good, positive image he could bring to the African-American community. Obviously, that’s one of the things that makes him attractive from a national perspective. This would give us the opportunity to expand our base in counties where we’ve struggled.”
Swann would become the first African-American to be nominated for governor in state history.
One hopes that the day will come when a black man running for office, even as a Republican, will no longer be noteworthy. Swann has an opportunity to help make that day come a little faster.