Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"The Big Pawlowski"

There's a new entrant in the 2014 PA Democratic race for governor. The question is did he already peak?

"The Big Pawlowski"

Ed Pawlowski, the two-term mayor of Allentown, has jumped into the 2014 race for governor in Pennsylvania.
Ed Pawlowski, the two-term mayor of Allentown, has jumped into the 2014 race for governor in Pennsylvania. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski is the latest Democrat to officially announce a run for governor in 2014.

Three things.

1) He's running for governor as he runs for reelection as mayor. He's seeking a third term; candidates generally finish one campaign before starting another.

2) His gubernatorial bid begins with an old-fashioned statewide swing during which it appears he'll actually take questions from reporters. This is in contrast to most of the "name" candidates already in the field whose campaigns were kicked off with digital announcements.

3) And the big question for "The Big Pawlowski" is whether he peaked back in March.

Allow me to explain #3.

In a Quinnipiac University poll released in mid-March, Pawlowski topped all announced candidates in head-to-head numbers against incumbent Republican Gov. Corbett.

Yep. He was "the man."

While it's true that former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak had the best numbers against Corbett (47-38), Sestak was not and is not a gubernatorial challenger.

But the "top tier" Democrats -- Allyson Schwartz, Rob McCord, Tom Wolf -- did worse than Pawlowski when pitted against Corbett.

You can read the full March findings here.

The poll showed Schwartz beating Corbett 42-39. It had McCord losing to Corbett 42-38. And it showed Wolf tied with Corbett 39-39.

And Pawlowski? He beat Corbett 44-38, a decisive six-point "win."

That poll might suggest voters like the idea of someone who actually ran something governmental (in this case, a city) as opposed to serving in Congress, running a state agency or operating a business.

I say that because it's pretty clear Pawlowski's pull wasn't based on his personality or his name ID. See, 87 percent of those polled didn't know enough about the mayor to form any opinion of him.

Of course, a majority of the 1,116 registered voters polled back in March didn't know much about Schwartz (67 percent), McCord (83 percent) or Wolf (85 percent) either.

All that will change when the money starts to flow and these names become better known statewide. Then we'll see whether voters still like the idea of a mayor (assuming he wins reelection this year) facing Corbett next year -- or whether Pawlowski peaked way too soon.

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 baerj@phillynews.com.

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 baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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