PITTSBURGH -- Former Steelers star Lynn Swann declared his
candidacy for Pennsylvania governor Wednesday in the city where he
made his name in professional football.
He told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday afternoon
that he made up his mind to run in the fall, after spending months
weighing support at events around the state.
Swann, a Hall of Fame receiver and longtime TV football
commentator, faces three other candidates in seeking the Republican
nomination for governor -- his first run for political office. The
winner of the May 16 primary would likely face Democratic Gov. Ed
Rendell, who is expected to seek a second four-year term.
If successful in his first bid for political office, Swann would
become Pennsylvania's first black governor. His announcement was no
surprise: His political committee has been raising money for his
campaign for nearly a year.
Swann, 53, kicked off his campaign with a rally Wednesday night
in Pittsburgh. Former Steelers teammate Mel Blount introduced
Swann, accompanied by his wife and two sons.
Tossing a Pro Football Hall of Fame cap into a cheering crowd of
500, Swann said, "Tonight Lynn Swann is running for governor, and
that hat is in the ring."
He plans appearances in five other cities Thursday and Friday.
The Steelers won four Super Bowls during Swann's nine-year pro
career with the team. He has worked for ABC Sports since his
retirement from football in 1983.
Swann said he put off a formal announcement until now to avoid
conflicts with his ABC Sports duties.
If elected, he said he would not resume his broadcasting career
even on a part-time basis. Rendell moonlights as a Philadelphia
Eagles post-game analyst for Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia.
"I think the people of Pennsylvania would rather have a
governor who is committed to being there," Swann said.
Swann has so far revealed little about his political philosophy
or the initiatives he would pursue as governor. He has advocated
reducing certain business taxes and said he opposes abortion
In independent polling, former Lt. Gov. William Scranton III and
Swann are running ahead of the other two GOP candidates, but behind
Swann said Wednesday that he hopes to convince blacks that he is
a better candidate than Rendell, the former Philadelphia mayor. The
Democratic Party has "taken the African American vote for
granted," Swann said.
G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and professor at Franklin &
Marshall College in Lancaster, said Swann needs to convince voters
that he has ideas and the leadership ability necessary to turn them
into policy. He could benefit from disenchantment with the state
and national governments, Madonna said.
"Voters are looking for fresh faces," Madonna said. Swann
"has a personal story to tell that's compelling."
The eventual GOP nominee could get a big boost Feb. 11, when the
Republican State Committee meets to consider endorsing a candidate.
On Wednesday, Scranton wrote Swann to ask him to participate in
several debates before the meeting. Swann said he would be happy to
participate in debates.