Rob McCord spoke today at his second inauguration as state treasurer, but his remarks sounded as if he has a different office in mind.
Speculation abounds about which Democrat will challenge Gov. Tom Corbett in 2014. John Hanger, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection in the Rendell administration, is the only announced candidate.
At his swearing-in today McCord spoke less of the business of the Pennsylvania Treasury -- though he did mention investment returns, spending stopped and money returned -- than of a broad vision of state government, one that emphasizes action and investment over living-within-our-means and which brought his audience to its feet.
After describing the life stories of his mother-in-law, who grew up in a working-class black household and attended college despite her own family’s expectations, and his stepmother, who as a young girl was imprisoned because of her Japanese ancestry but went on to earn a doctorate, McCord spoke of the role government has played since their childhoods in righting wrongs.
"All of us here need to remind people there can be something magnificent about government and politics," he said. "It's great to celebrate being a business leader, but it's also great to celebrate what's right and good about political leadership."
He said Pennsylvania can do a better job investing in roads, bridges and clean water systems, in creating jobs and supporting public education.
"We can do far better, and the time is coming when we need to replace a pinched pessimism with optimistic innovation," he said, as applause drowned him out from the Democrats crowding the room. "Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now, let's go get 'em."
Speaking with reporters afterward, he laughed when told his speech sounded like it was delivered from the campaign stump. (“Did it? I don’t know about that.”)
"I'm not the most coy guy in the world," he said. "I obviously disagree with some of the things going on in the current administration, and I will take a serious look at this. I've got to think more about it."
“You’re sort of seeing this evolve in a direction that makes it feel more probable,” he said a few minutes later.
McCord said he likely will make his 2014 decision within the next six months.