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Jack Wagner weighs possible 2014 bid for Pa. governor

| Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, 3:00 p.m.
Former Pa. Auditor General Jack Wagner is considering a run for Pennsylvania's governorship.

Former Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner said on Monday that he has a desire to stay in public life and is considering a run for governor.

Three months removed from his defeat in Pittsburgh's Democratic mayoral primary, Wagner, 65, of Beechview said he will decide within the next few months whether to jump into a crowded 2014 Democratic race for governor. The winner would challenge Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in the general election.

“I haven't seriously looked at it yet, but I'm in the process of doing so,” Wagner said. “It's not too late, especially with a crowded field.”

Wagner would be the only Western Pennsylvanian in a field of at least six other likely or committed Democratic candidates.

State Treasurer Rob McCord has set up a political committee to raise money for his widely expected campaign.

Other challengers include former state environmental protection secretaries John Hanger and Kathleen McGinty, Philadelphia-area Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz and former state revenue secretary Tom Wolf. Max Myers, a minister and political newcomer, also has declared his candidacy.

Corbett's approval rating remains below 40 percent. A Quinnipiac University poll in June found Schwartz and McCord leading Corbett by 10 and 8 percentage points in head-to-head matchups, respectively.

Wagner won two terms as auditor general and unsuccessfully sought the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, losing to former Allegheny County executive Dan Onorato.

Prior to that, he served for 16 years as a state senator.

“Right now, he's just putting up a trial balloon. When he ran last time, he got into the race too late. He had trouble raising money, and key Democratic support was already committed elsewhere,” said Jerry Shuster, professor of political communication at the University of Pittsburgh. “He's seeing what kind of support he can garner. If he sees a modicum of support, especially from people with money, he'll give it serious interest.”

Shuster said Wagner's defeat in the mayoral race by Bill Peduto is not a good indicator of Wagner's statewide support.

“The mayoral primary is kind of like a family fight. It's different on a statewide basis,” Shuster said. “I don't think any one (of the Democrats) has better name recognition than (Wagner). After McCord and Schwartz, no one comes close to that level of recognition.”

Wagner said he can offer solutions to problems such as K-12 education and the state's aging infrastructure.

The Associated Press contributed. Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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