Wagner circulating petitions for governor

Former state Auditor General Jack Wagner apparently is going to run for the Democratic nomination for governor after all.

Following months of mixed signals from the Pittsburgh pol, several party sources say that Wagner is now circulating nominating petitions for the May 20 primary, and has been asking for help in his effort from prominent activist Democrats in the west.

Wagner has not yet responded to a message for comment, though the Associated Press’ Pete Jackson reported Thursday afternoon that Wagner told the wire service he is seeking the nomination.

Wagner, 66, ran for the 2010 Democratic nomination for governor but lost in the primary. He ran in the party primary for mayor of Pittsburgh last year and, despite starting with a lead in the polls, was soundly defeated.

It’s a crowded race. Seven other people are running for the Democratic nomination for governor, and they have already raised more than $25 million among them. Wagner has less than $100,000 in his campaign account.

He would likely be outspent but he does have one advantage: He would be the only westerner in the primary.

First Wagner must meet the not-insignificant challenge of gathering the 2,000 signatures required to get on the ballot. Aspirants also must collect at least 100 signatures from 10 different counties. Nominating petitions are due March. 11.

Former Gov. Ed Rendell (D) told reporters on a conference call that Wagner's success is all about the Benjamins. Wagner has sometimes had trouble raising cash.

“Wagner has every right to run," Rendell said, according to Tent colleague Amy Worden. But the former governor predicted Wagner could be successful only if he "can raise enough funds to go on media in the Southwest. If he doesn’t raise funds to go on media hardly anyone will hear about him - - if he doesn’t have funds to advertise at a significant level he won’t be able to mount a successful campaign."

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