Allentown Mayor announces for Pa. governor

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski joined the stampede of Democrats running for governor of Pennsylvania Sunday, via an announcement on the left-leaning national cable network MSNBC.

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He touted economic development progress during his two terms as mayor of the state’s third-largest city and a reduction in crime as qualifications, asserting that Gov. Corbett, a Republican, had damaged the state with ineffective leadership.

“I have the best story to tell” among the Democratic challengers, Pawlowski said in a brief interview with The Inquirer. “I am the only executive in this race, the only one who has run a government.” He noted that at least four of the announced candidates for governor so far have never even run for office.

Pawlowski said in a news release that he would formally kick off his candidacy on Monday with a rally at 7th and Hamilton streets in Allentown, where the PPL Arena is under construction, intended as the home of the American Hockey League’s Phantoms, minor league affiliate of the Flyers.

That project, which includes state and local funds, is part of the $1 billion that has been poured into the revitalization of Allentown’s downtown, Pawlowski said, including an upscale hotel, more than a dozen restaurants and almost a half-dozen new office buildings. The mayor also cited a deal to lease the city’s water and sewer plant to a county authority, generating $214 million to fully fund its pension obligations.

Pawlowski joins a crowded field that includes U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Montgomery County, York businessman Tom Wolf, as well as former state environmental protection secretaries Katie McGinty and John Hanger. State Treasurer Rob McCord also is expected to run, though he has not yet announced.

Corbett’s low approval ratings in polls has made the race attractive to the Democrats. After the first event Monday, Pawlowski will make stops in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, where he will hold a 5:30 p.m. event at City Hall, according to a news release. He plans to visit Reading, Lancaster and York Tuesday and State College, Pittsburgh and Butler on Thursday.

Pawlowski plans to run for a third term as mayor in 2014 while competing in the Democratic primary for governor.