Yesterday was not a good one for Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. First of all, the former Philadelphia mayor (and Eagles fan) had to attend a victory parade in Pittsburgh for the Super Bowl champion Steelers. Still, Governor Rendell, consummate politician that he is, was on hand for the parade, a strained smile on his face.
Governor Rendell's day took a turn for the worse with some news from Harrisburg. Former Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Scranton announced he was dropping out of the governor's race, ending the possibility of a bruising primary fight against the GOP front-runner, fomer Steeler wide receiver Lynn Swann. Scranton's withdrawal allows the Swann campaign to funnel its resources toward the general election and challenging Ed Rendell.
Speaking of Mr. Swann, he was front-and-center in the Steelers' victory celebration on Tuesday. He was the first speaker to take the stage, greeted by chants of "governor, governor" from the crowd. While he quickly hushed the political talk, saying that "this day isn't about anything but the black and gold," the chants were a reminder of Mr. Swann's extreme popularity in Pennsylvania, more than two decades after he retired from pro football. It was also a reminder to Rendell that he faces a formidable candidate in Mr. Swann.
Alexander McClure at Polipundit has additional thoughts on Rendell's re-election battle. But it would be a serious mistake to dismiss Rendell at this early juncture. He's a skilled politician, with the full resources of the state and national Democratic parties behind him. But the fight against Lynn Swamm will be anything but a cakewalk, as Governor Rendell is discovering.