Friday, July 31, 2015

A "Western" PA Dem for Guv?

The eight announced Democrats for governor might yet become nine, or even 10. Rep. Scott Conklin says he still could get in the race.

A "Western" PA Dem for Guv?


You may have heard that all eight announced Democrats running for governor next year are bunched in Eastern PA leaving open the possibility that a Western candidate enters the race and carries the day in May.

You perhaps remember Scott Conklin. He was the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in 2010, running with Pittsburgh's Dan Onorato.

No? Let me remind you. Conklin is a state House member from Centre County who was mentioned early, as in last spring, as a maybe running for the top of the ticket this time out.

But he never announced and quickly fell off the list.

Well, last weekened he showed up at a Democratic State Committee Southwest Caucus event in Westmoreland County with six of the eight announced candidates (only Allyson Schwartz and Max Myers did not make the trip to the Lamplighter restaurant in Delmont).

I spoke with Conklin this week and he said he's "absolutely" still lookiing at the race, adding, "I'm the only candidate west of Harrisburg."

This actually is not the case. Minister Max Myers lives in Cumberland County which is just west of Harrisburg.

But Conklin stresses he's been around the state, especially during his contested 2010 LG primary (he narrowly beat Philly's Jonathan Saidel) and during that year's General Election. He says he's now being encouraged by supporters to formally get in the running for governor.

He is not a typical Dem. He's pro-life and pro-gun.

He's not well-heeled. He and his wife own an antiques store in Philipsburg near State College. Dad was a carpenter. Mom scrubbed hospital floors. He never went to college because he couldn't afford it.

But he served as a Centre County commissioner for seven years and was elected to the House in 2006 as a reform candidate in the wake of the 2005 legislative pay grab.

So, the eight could become nine and Conklin could be the MOST western candidate -- unless, of course, former state Auditor General Jack Wagner of Pittsburgh, who's said to be still considering, also gets in.

Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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