GOP governors punting on Swann campaign?

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HARRISBURG -- The Republican Governors Association is targeting gubernatorial campaigns in six states for a get-out-the-vote effort on Nov. 7.

But Pennsylvania isn't one of them. The GOP group is focusing on races for governor in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Michigan and Oregon.

Republicans will pay for airfare and hotel lodging for volunteers willing to travel to one of those states to work on Election Day, turning out voters for the Republican candidate for governor.

Does this mean that national Republicans have given up on Pennsylvania gubernatorial hopeful Lynn Swann, who has consistently trailed by double digits in his race against incumbent Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell?

Harrisburg-based pollster and political analyst Michael Young thinks it does.

"It's an indication they have pulled the plug, that the air is coming out of the balloon for Swann and Republicans in Pennsylvania," he said.

The list of targeted states "is a blueprint of areas where Republicans think they can still win,'' Mr. Young added.

Pittsburgh-based political consultant William J. Green agreed. "It looks like the RGA doesn't have faith in a successful Swann effort,'' he said. "The bottom line is, they've given money to other states for their gubernatorial candidates. Why haven't they given to Swann?"

Rendell spokesman Dan Fee said, with glee, "The RGA's refusal to bail out Swann is not surprising" in light of recent polls showing the GOP candidate trailing badly.

RGA Executive Director Phil Musser and Swann campaign spokesman Leonardo Alcivar denounced those comments as "laughable and ludicrous,'' as well as incorrect.

Mr. Alcivar said the RGA has given nearly $300,000 to Mr. Swann.

"Mike Young doesn't know what on earth he's talking about, and Dan Fee is grasping at straws," Mr. Alcivar said. "The RGA hasn't just given money, but logistical and administrative support from Day One.''

Mr. Musser said that Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, head of the RGA, is coming to Philadelphia on Thursday to campaign for Mr. Swann, which he said is another show of faith in the campaign.

The GOP group "is proud of Lynn Swann's campaign," Mr. Musser said. The claim that the RGA isn't helping Mr. Swann "is a laughable, last-minute attempt to change the discussion'' from Mr. Swann's criticism of the Rendell administration.

Mr. Musser said national Republicans are focusing on the "top tier Senate race" of Sen. Rick Santorum, and plan to mount a strong "ground game" Nov. 7, meaning turning out voters for both Mr. Santorum and Mr. Swann.


Bureau Chief Tom Barnes can be reached at tbarnes@post-gazette.com or 717-787-4254.


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