Aug 5, 2014

Scranton tests waters for possible run for governor

September 3, 2004
Allentown Morning Call (PA), 
By John M. R. Bull

But former lieutenant governor will have to earn backing, state Senate leader says.

NEW YORK | Former Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. William Scranton spent a day at the Republican National Convention this week, testing the waters for a possible run for governor in two or six years.

''Absolutely he has shown an interest in a gubernatorial bid in '06 or '10,'' said Bob Asher, a suburban Philadelphian who sits on the Republican National Committee.

''We fortunately have a number of people who are interested, but it's early. I'm sure people will give him a fair look,'' Asher said.

Scranton held a party for the Pennsylvania delegation at a Manhattan cigar bar. More than 400 people attended, and Scranton used the forum Monday to hobnob and gain exposure with movers and shakers in the state party hierarchy.

For Scranton, the soiree was his most visible effort to date to gain support for a possible candidacy. The party, however, may not have been a complete success for him.

Some convention delegates said they didn't even know the party was thrown by Scranton, with help from former congressman Don Sherwood, and they went only because it was on their list of free parties they were invited to attend during the convention.

Other delegates said the party was a shrewd move, albeit premature, by a former lieutenant governor who wants another shot at the state's top executive post.

Bob Casey defeated Scranton, the Republican nominee for governor in the mid-80s, with a devastating last-minute television attack campaign based on Scranton's youthful days as a long-haired adherent to the philosophy of transcendental meditation.

The so-called ''guru ad'' became the stuff of Pennsylvania political legend, and almost two decades later Scranton still finds himself trying to polish his image.

''Bill Scranton has cleaned himself up, is remarried, and is a serious man,'' said state Sen. President Pro Tem Robert Jubelirer, who as a delegate attended Scranton's party. ''I don't think he makes any bones about it that he's testing the water. Scranton is still a magical name'' in Pennsylvania politics.

Some delegates said Scranton has been absent from party business for so long that he's been mostly forgotten by party officials and has become an unknown to voters.

''I think the name has been pretty much forgotten as far as the voters go and he's going to have a crowded field,'' said convention delegate Bill Choby, a Latrobe dentist. ''He'd pretty much have to start from scratch'' to get the party endorsement.

U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey, R-15th District, is another potential challenger to Gov. Ed Rendell in two years. Toomey, whose district spans the Lehigh Valley, said he's given thought to a run but won't make a decision until after November.

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., also is mentioned, on the theory the post would give him executive experience for an eventual White House bid. Santorum on Thursday flatly squashed the idea, however, saying he has no intention of running for governor.

One sure Republican candidate for the 2006 gubernatorial race is state Sen. Jeff Piccola of Harrisburg, a conservative who has been positioning himself for more than a year to gain the party's endorsement and who posted campaign literature that says ''Pick Piccola'' in the delegation hospitality suite. Pick him for what, however, wasn't specified.

Piccola attended no Pennsylvania delegation functions here this week, and some delegates thought Scranton's presence, although for only one day, was smart politics.

''This is the time for everyone to test the water,'' said Renee Amoore of King of Prussia, who chairs the Pennsylvania delegation.

''They come see where they stand, to see if the grass-roots people remember you. This is the place to be. We're open to listen to anybody,'' Amoore said.

Scranton might have taken the first steps to gain party support for a gubernatorial candidacy, but he has a long way to go to get an endorsement, cautioned Jubelirer.

''If he's going to run, it's not going to be handed to him,'' Jubelirer said. ''He'll have to earn it.''