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No gubernatorial candidate gets endorsement from Pa. Democratic Party

| Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, 4:36 p.m.

HERSHEY — The Pennsylvania Democratic Party on Saturday failed to endorse any of six nominated candidates in the governor's race, in effect making the contest an open primary on May 20.

State Treasurer Rob McCord of Montgomery County garnered the most votes, but failed to meet the two-thirds hurdle necessary for an endorsement.

“I thought it was a great win for our campaign … and for the party,” McCord said.

Many committee members “wanted their voices heard.”

“We have an open primary in the contest for governor,” Chairman Jim Burn said.

The gubernatorial candidates nominated for the endorsement are among seven seeking the office. The Rev. Max Myers of Mechanicsburg was not nominated.

“By all means,” Myers said when he was asked if he is still running.

He had said on Friday he was not seeking the endorsement.

The other candidates are U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Montgomery County; former Department of Environmental Protection chiefs Katie McGinty of Montgomery County and John Hanger of Harrisburg; Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz; and businessman Tom Wolf of York County.

The winner of the May primary will take on Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in November.

On the first vote, with 209 of 314 votes required for endorsement, the results were: McCord, 146; Schwartz, 75; Wolf, 52; Hanger, 22; McGinty, 19; and Litz, none.

The rules required a second vote and dropping the candidate with the lowest total even though Litz received no votes.

On the second vote, with 214 of 321 votes needed for endorsement, McCord had 154; Schwartz, 77; Wolf, 59, Hanger, 16; and McGinty, 15.

Wolf, in large part financing his own campaign, “doesn't need it and doesn't want it,” said JosephDiSarro, chairman of the political science department at Washington & Jefferson College, said about the endorsement.

The value of the endorsement is debated among political scientists. Former Gov. Ed Rendell won the 2002 Democratic primary despite the party endorsing Bob Casey, now a U.S. Senator. Former Democratic Gov. Milton Shapp was elected in 1966 and 1970, running against the party as “man against the machine,” said G. Terry Madonna, political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College.

Democrats also did not endorse a candidate for lieutenant governor, Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski got the most votes but he fell short of the two-thirds needed. Other candidates for this office included: state Sen. Mike Stack of Philadelphia; former U.S. Rep. Mark Critz of Johnstown; state Rep. Brandon Neuman of Washington County; Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith and former Harrisburg parks and recreations director Brenda Alton.

Burn of Millvale used the meeting to pump up the troops, calling Corbett “the worst governor in the United States of America.”

Republican Chairman Rob Gleason of Johnstown has been portraying the Democratic candidates as competing in a contest to show who is the most liberal.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach himat 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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