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Pennsylvania

'Powerhouse' state Republican Party pairing urged

| Saturday, June 6, 2009

HARRISBURG -- Allegheny County Republican Chairman Jim Roddey is urging former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan, a possible candidate for governor, to run for lieutenant governor as Attorney General Tom Corbett's running mate in 2010.

"It would be a powerhouse Republican ticket," said G. Terry Madonna, political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College. "The likelihood remains to be seen."

Virginia Davis, a spokeswoman for Meehan, said Meehan is "flattered by the encouragement to look at other races but his focus is on this race for governor." She said Meehan of Delaware County received a letter from Roddey dated May 18, urging him to team up with Corbett.

Meehan, the prosecutor who prepared the indictment of former state Senate power broker Vincent Fumo, has been encouraged by others to run for either the U.S. House or Senate, Davis said. But he hasn't taken his eyes off a gubernatorial bid, she said.

Fumo was convicted in March of defrauding the Senate, a seaport museum and a nonprofit of $3.5 million.

Corbett, a likely candidate for governor in 2010, could not be reached for comment. But his campaign manager, Brian Nutt, said: "That's a decision Pat Meehan would have to make."

"There's a whole list of candidates considering running for lieutenant governor. It's kind of early to say," Nutt added.

"It would have an East-West element to it which is always good in state politics," said Christopher Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. "It would also be a classic law-and-order ticket with appeal to the GOP."

The problem is that Meehan appears to have other ideas, Borick said.

In the letter made public Friday, Roddey said: "I strongly believe the two of you would make a winning ticket -- two tough prosecutors to clean up and reform state government. Based on Tom's ability to win in a tough political environment, I am asking you to consider refocusing your efforts and running with him for lieutenant governor."

Both candidates have geographic bases and records as prosecutors, but Roddey noted Corbett twice won statewide elections, including his 380,000-vote victory in November during a Democratic sweep.

In light of Sen. Arlen Specter's "disappointing decision" to switch from the GOP to the Democratic Party, it's important for Republicans to have a "strong and unified ticket" for governor and lieutenant governor, Roddey said.

Roddey could not be reached for comment.

In Pennsylvania, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately in the primary and the winners are yoked together for the general election. But some gubernatorial candidates choose running mates for primaries.

Former Republican Gov. Tom Ridge teamed with former Lt. Gov. Mark Schweiker in the 1994 primary. Former Democratic Gov. Robert P. Casey picked former Lt. Gov. Mark Singel as his running mate in 1986. Former Republican Gov. Dick Thornburgh chose former Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton in 1978.

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