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June 1, 2013

Wozniak may eye lt. gov.: Touts connections in the Legislature

— State Sen. John Wozniak, D-Westmont, said he feels he’s been caught up in the rush to fill the 2014 ballot for the state’s lieutenant governor race.

With several hats being thrown in – Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski and Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith are both confirmed, and state Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-Washington, and Johnstown’s own Mark Critz, a former U.S. representative, are eyeing the seat – Wozniak said his connections in both state legislative wings could make him a strong contender.

At the very least, he said, he wanted to get his name out there.

“It’s pretty premature. I’m just looking at it,” he said, remarking about the pressure he’s been feeling to make a commitment to the race.

“Used to be, the Christmas cards didn’t come until after Thanksgiving, but now they come when Little Johnny needs new shoes for September.”

But there’s a roughly $40 million entrance fee that comes with the lieutenant governor’s race, at Wozniak’s estimate. He told Capitolwire that the figure could be tough to nail down, but told The Tribune-Democrat his relationships with the state Legislature will separate him from the pack.

“I know all the leaders in the House and the Senate,” he said. “That’s a different asset than any governor’s brought to the table before.”

His support in the labor sector closely mirrors Critz’s own base, and Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale told Capitolwire that a contest between the two would likely come down to name recognition.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said of Critz’s potential involvement.

Wozniak said he’d like the playing field to settle before he takes “the plunge,” however. He wants to be sure a strong Democratic candidate that he feels can secure Gov. Tom Corbett’s seat will come forth.

“All indicators are a Democratic gubernatorial candidate is going to come from the East,” he said. “He’ll need a running mate from the West. I just want to make sure it’s not too far west.”

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