With a sharp critique of the man he wants to replace, state Treasurer Rob McCord unveiled his campaign for governor Tuesday as he officially joined the crowded Democratic field lured by Gov. Tom Corbett's lagging popularity.
Speaking at the South Side headquarters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the second-term treasurer mixed his indictment of the GOP administration with his own biography, recounting his parents' breakup when he was 4 years old. After the rocky emotional and economic effects of that disruption, he went on to earn an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania.
He worked on Capitol Hill for former U.S. Rep. and later Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, who represented a district in northern California. Later he headed a think tank, the Congressional Institute for the Future, formed by former Sens. John Heinz and Al Gore. He went on to a private sector career heading venture capital funds, years that earned him the personal wealth and fundraising connections that helped fuel his two successful runs for treasurer and remain as key assets in the looming primary fight.
Mr. McCord described the race as "a competition with a lot of people I think of as friends."
The early Democratic field includes former state Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, former state DEP secretaries John Hanger and Katie McGinty, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz, and Max Myers, an evangelical minister from Cumberland County. His two statewide victories and his fundraising ability seem to put Mr. McCord in the front ranks of that competition -- one that, at this early stage, has not highlighted many major ideological or issue distinctions among the leading Democrats.
One thing they share are the sharp criticisms they have leveled at the Corbett administration.
"The first move you make -- and you make it fast -- you repeal these cuts to education," Mr. McCord said as he spoke to about 20 supporters at the IBEW training facility.
In a brief interview after his remarks, Mr. McCord did not offer a specific blueprint for boosting education funding. He said he would work with lawmakers to identify savings in other areas of the budget as part of "a blend of answers" and steer more resources to schools.
"I don't think you'd be wise at all to take taxes off the table," he said.
He sees Marcellus Shale industry as one source of new revenue, suggesting that the impact fee on drillers enacted under Mr. Corbett's leadership should be repealed and replaced by another, broader levy on gas production.
Mr. McCord's campaign debut mixed high- and low-tech flourishes. He broadcast the widely anticipated news overnight with a video-embedded email before heading out for a statewide announcement tour. He had appeared in Blue Bell, Montgomery County, earlier in the day and planned to hit events in Johnstown and Harrisburg today.
IBEW officials gave him a tour of their high-tech facility -- but not an endorsement -- during his Pittsburgh stop with his wife, Leigh Jackson. Mr. McCord nonetheless predicted that he would emerge with "the most support in the labor world," as the campaign develops.
The smattering of supporters who greeted him at the IBEW event included Cliff Levine, the prominent Democratic activist and fundraiser, and several senior Beaver County Democrats, including county commissioners Tony Amadio and Joe Spanik, and former county Commissioner Dan Donatella.