The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Jim Scofield

February 6, 2014

Critz hoping for lt. gov. endorsement

JOHNSTOWN — Mark Critz does not think the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee will actually make an endorsement in this year’s lieutenant governor race during its meeting on Saturday in Hershey.

But, if one is given, the Johnstown resident definitely hopes he gets the nod.

There seem to be six Democrats seeking the office, including Critz. With such a big field, the former congressman feels it is unlikely anybody will receive the two-thirds majority vote needed from the nomination recommendation committee to gain the party’s official backing.

“I think it’s going to be split enough that I don’t think there will be an endorsement,” said Critz, who recently won the Democratic State Committee’s Southwest Caucus straw poll.

Critz further discussed the uncertainty by saying, “I really have gone back and forth on whether I should push for strong numbers or release my people to push for an open endorsement.”

The gubernatorial field is crowded, too, with seven Democrats officially in the race.

Critz believes none of those contenders will get the two-thirds needed to earn the endorsement, as does gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf, who visited Johnstown on Thursday.

“It’s too crowded,” said Wolf. “But I think, more than that, I think I see a lot of people saying it’s a good field of candidates, there are really good people in this race. The voters are going to decide anyway. Let’s just say ‘let the voters decide.’ ”

G. Terry Madonna, director of Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Politics and Public Affairs, also doubts any endorsements will occur.

“It’s inconceivable to me that somebody’s going to get the (gubernatorial) endorsement,” said Madonna. “It’s hard for me to believe they would endorse a lieutenant governor, but fail to endorse a governor.”

Until Wednesday, Critz was the only candidate from western Pennsylvania who had publicly confirmed plans to run for lieutenant governor. Then, state Rep. Brandon Neuman, from Washington County, announced his intention to seek the nomination.

The other declared candidates are Harrisburg Councilman Brad Koplinski, state Sen. Mike Stack, Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith and Harrisburg parks and recreation director Brenda Alton.

“We are proud our of strong field of lieutenant governor candidates,” said state party Chairman Jim Burn.

“We know that our eventual governor and lieutenant governor team will work hand-in-hand to make sure that Tom Corbett is a one-term governor. Tom Corbett cut education by $1 billion, dropped Pennsylvania to 48th in the nation in job creation, and has refused to accept Medicaid expansion and Pennsylvanians will elect a Democratic governor and lieutenant governor this November who will once again make the commonwealth a leader in job creation and education.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.

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