This could explain Ed Rendell's commanding lead in the polls despite a shabby record as governor.
I'm not buying the excuse that voters don't know Lynn Swann. It's not like Swann has been hiding for the last 20 years. He's a legendary football player who is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, having led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl victories in his nine years with the team.
After retiring from football, Swann stayed in the Pittsburgh area and began a successful career as a broadcaster for ABC television. He has toured the country as a motivational speaker. Since 1980, Lynn Swann has been the national spokesman for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Whatever you need to know about Swann can be found at his Web site, www.swannforgovernor.com. Swann's campaign even put together a 143-page paperback book about the candidate and his position on the major issues: "A New Direction: My Plan for a Better Pennsylvania." (They'll send you the book for a $10 donation or you can download it yourself from the Web site for free.)
Swann makes no secret of why he wants to be governor: "Our party needs a principled conservative with a vision to get government under control, lower the tax burden on our working families and job creators, and make sure that our children have the opportunity for a quality education that will give them the skills they need to succeed," Swann states on his Web site. "In short, we need a governor who offers fresh and energetic leadership and a vision that offers opportunities for Pennsylvanians."
What will Swann do for Pennsylvania if he's elected governor? He wants to cut property taxes, reform state government, create more economic opportunities, preserve Pennsylvania farms, pass medical malpractice reforms, get people off welfare and improve education.
Have you noticed that Ed Rendell hasn't given a single reason why he wants another four years as governor other than to keep doing more of the same.
The same things Rendell gave us in his first four years? Higher taxes, runaway spending, unregulated gambling, crumbling roads and bridges, congested highways, failing schools, secret deals with legislative leaders in the middle of the night and rising violent crime?
The choice we make Nov. 7 will determine Pennsylvania's future. Will you choose a burned-out career politician who has broken most of his promises or a political newcomer who has a vision for a better Pennsylvania?
We're running out of time to turn things around in Pennsylvania. We don't have the luxury of four more years of a mediocre governor whose only goal is to enrich his friends and political cronies. (See previous post: "Why Ed Rendell lost my vote.")
Ed Rendell has spent $10 million so far on television commercials designed to fool voters into thinking he's accomplished something since taking office. Why does an incumbent governor have to spend so much money on propaganda? Why is Rendell trying so hard to hide his record?
For those who say that Swann doesn't have the experience to be governor, consider this. How did Pennsylvania get into the mess it's in? Professional politicians like Ed Rendell got us into this hole. And the first rule of holes is: "If you're in a hole, stop digging."
If you're still thinking about voting for Rendell because you don't know enough about Lynn Swann, here's all you need to know:
Lynn Swann did not sign the July 2005 pay raise that gave the governor, judges and legislators pay raises of 16 percent to 54 percent. Rendell did. Rendell could have stopped the pay raise, but he joined the rest of the Harrisburg Hogs in raiding the public treasury and he even praised the pay raise vote.
Lynn Swann did not promise to cut property taxes for every Pennsylvania homeowner by 30 percent while running for the office in 2002, only to break that promise four years in a row. Rendell did.
Since Ed Rendell was sworn into office, property taxes in Pennsylvania have risen by $2 billion. Ed Rendell never met a tax hike he didn't like. Rendell also signed the largest increase in the state income tax in the state's history in 2003. Rendell signed the $52 EMS tax and raised fees for state permits and licenses.
If re-elected, Rendell will raise the state income tax again and will probably raise the state's gasoline tax, already one of the highest in the nation.
The Nov. 7 election is a referendum on Ed Rendell, a limousine liberal who will continue to pick your pockets until he's out of office. That's all you need to know about the race for governor.
Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. E-mail him at email@example.com