Candidate completes sweep of all 67 Pennsylvania counties in governor race

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Jo Ellen Litz crossed one finish line just before noon on Monday.

At a small news conference on the steps of the Allegheny County Courthouse, the Lebanon County commissioner and Democratic gubernatorial candidate brushed aside a tape decorated with her campaign bumper stickers, as she symbolically completed an electioneering lap around the commonwealth.

Ms. Litz said that Monday's event marked the fact that she had made campaign visits to each of the state's 67 counties in her long-shot bid to win the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Tom Corbett next year.

"I think people are looking for somebody with a background in business, a background in conservation, a background in local government because it's those three items we can bring together in order to make common sense decisions that will benefit the people," the four-term commissioner said. "My motto has always been 'people above politics,' and I truly try to live that."

Whether she will be able to cross the next finish line she's aiming for is a daunting question. She faces a crowded field of fellow Democrats in the May 2014 primary. Despite that fact that her rivals include several candidates with bigger name recognition and fundraising prowess, she predicted that she would capture the nomination and go on to oust Mr. Corbett.

Ms. Litz is in her fourth term as the Democratic member of a Republican-controlled board of commissioners. In 2010, a tough year for Democrats at every level, she lost in a challenge to Republican state Sen. Mike Folmer.

"This is a grass-roots campaign; my contributions are going to come mostly from average citizens," she said when asked how she planned to compete with the resources of some of the better known and funded candidates vying for the nomination.

Also seeking the nomination are John Hanger, a former secretary of environmental protection; state Treasurer Rob McCord; former DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty; Max Myers, a minister; Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski; Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Montgomery County; and Tom Wolf, a businessman and former state revenue secretary.

Ms. Litz pointed to her record as the longtime head of the Swatara Watershed Association, and a background in small business as assets in her bid. She owned a Lebanon auto body shop for two decades and currently helps operate a commercial rental business in addition to her civic work.

The Lebanon native, 62, is a graduate of Lebanon Valley College. She and her husband have two grown children and two grandchildren.


Politics Editor James O'Toole: or 412-263-1562. First Published October 14, 2013 8:00 PM


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