For a guy whose campaign has yet to leave the starting line, Speaker of the House Mike Turzai is getting a lot of political mileage.
Mr. Turzai has long been expected to launch a gubernatorial bid after this year's state budget is finalized. But while he's said nothing official about those plans, he's attracted a lot of headlines just by "considering" it, including a spate of stories in April surrounding a speech Mr. Turzai gave to conservative activists. The latest round of publicity comes courtesy of the Associated Press, which reported on a four-page letter Mr. Turzai's campaign sent out to Republican committee people advising them that he is "seriously considering a run for Governor of Pennsylvania."
In the letter, a copy of which the Post-Gazette obtained late last week, Mr. Turzai offers what amounts to a primary-season stump speech. He touts both political and policy successes, noting that the GOP's House majority has grown by 11 members to 121 (out of 203) since 2010: "Even as then Gov. Tom Corbett was losing by 10 percentage points, the Republicans picked up eight seats in the house without losing a single incumbent member," he wrote.
The letter also boasts of fighting against taxes and government spending, while checking off a list Republican wish-list policy wins, like expanding gun-rights while restricting abortion access: Thanks to Republicans in the legislature, he said, "Today, an abortion facility must be subject to the same regulatory oversight governing hospitals and birthing centers; numerous centers have closed.”
The letter's timing is notable: It went out last week, days before Pittsburgh-area businessman Paul Mango is set to announce his own bid for governor on Wednesday. Mr. Mango is largely an unknown quantity, having never run for office before and with almost no record of public pronouncements on policy issues. And Mr. Turzai's letter concludes with an apparent effort to cast some shade at Mr. Mango.
"Unlike others, I have been carrying the Republican agenda for more than a decade," the letter asserts. "I don’t need focus groups to tell me where my principles are. And I’m not trying to buy this election with my own money. I have a history of winning, not just elections, but important policy battles. Ultimately, results are what matter and we need a Governor focused on results."
Mr. Mango, a consultant with expertise in health policy, has also been seeking to quietly build enthusiasm for his run. He attracted headlines by telling a gathering of Republican county leaders that he would run, for example. In March, he also gave $25,000 to the state Republican Committee. That was his first state-level expenditure since 2010, a year in which he sent $750 to a guy named ... Mike Turzai.