Ex-candidate tells other Democrats to back Onorato in race governor
Share with others:
Tom Knox urged other contenders to follow his example in dropping out of the Democratic race for governor and backing Dan Onorato, but there was no indication that anyone else was taking his advice.
The three other announced candidates rejected his characterization of the Allegheny County executive as the only other candidate with "the wherewithal" to win the nomination. And with weeks to go before the filing deadline, the possibility remained that one or more candidates would join the Democratic field. But for the moment, it appeared that Mr. Onorato was the winner of this round as, in contrast to the Philadelphia millionaire, none of the remaining or potential candidates has demonstrated the potential to come close to matching him in fundraising.
Mr. Onorato understandably welcomed the announcement that had been prefaced with two private meetings between the two candidates over the last week.
In a conference call Friday, Mr. Knox told reporters that their conversations didn't include any suggestions of a quid pro quo.
"I never asked and he didn't offer ... I don't need a job," said the millionaire businessman.
While he trailed in preliminary polling in the race, Mr. Knox said he was convinced he had a genuine opportunity to capture the nomination but said that it would come at the expense of more than money.
"We were going to beat each other up," he said, referring to Mr. Onorato. "That's not appropriate for a Democratic primary."
Mr. Knox said he came to his decision for "family reasons," that he considered in conversations with his wife and two grown sons. Money he said, was not a factor, suggesting that the $10 million to $15 million that he was prepared to spend on the primary would have made only a modest dent in his net worth.
Now he said, he was prepared to do his part to see that the Onorato campaign, which has already announced that it raised more than $8 million in 2009, would have adequate resources.
Auditor General Jack Wagner, Mr. Onorato's Pittsburgh rival in the nomination battle, shrugged off the Knox suggestion that other candidates should rally round Mr. Onorato.
"It amazes me ... what happened to transparency and to choice, to giving people the opportunity to vote in the primary and say who they think is the real reformer of government?" Mr. Wagner said.
"This election is going to be won by the candidate who has the best ideas for creating jobs and getting Pennsylvania's economy back on track," said Mark Nevins, a strategist for Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty. "There's nothing that's happened today that changes our view that Chris Doherty is the best person for that job."
The campaign of remaining announced contender, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel, argued that he would be the chief, if unintended beneficiary of the Knox decision as it left him as the only hopeful from the state's populous southeast. Mr. Hoeffel has also contended that his record established him as the most "progressive" candidate in the race.
In the political context of a deep recession, all of the candidates have emphasized their plans for jobs and the economy. But Mr. Hoeffel has, in addition, been the most intent on reminding Democratic voters of social issues such as abortion. That emphasis will be on display next Tuesday, when he courts votes in a statewide tour including a stop in Pittsburgh. At two of his appearances, though not in the morning Pittsburgh event, he will be accompanied by Kate Michelman, past president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights activist who has endorsed the former congressman.
The potential remains for more flux in the Democratic field. Former Allegheny County commissioner and coroner Dr. Cyril H. Wecht said he is still considering a gubernatorial bid and would make a decision within weeks. And The Allentown Call reported that a Philadelphia state senator, Anthony Williams, was also considering a late entry into the race. Mr. Williams could not immediately be reached for comment.
First Published January 23, 2010 12:00 am