Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Phila., was in Pittsburgh Friday, hoping to establish a cross-state beachhead in his late-starting campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor.
He had a few policy-related stops _ checking out the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Institute and discussing Marcellus Shale issues at a Range Resources site _ as well as a round of interviews. Mr. Williams' recent entry into the race hasn’t given him time to gain much statewide name recognition _ but in that, he has plenty of company. In this extraordinarily late developing contest, polls show that the vast majority of Democratic voters don’t have much of a sense of any of the candidates. Don’t Know continues to dominate the field in trial heats conducted so far among his rivals, County Executive Dan Onorato, Auditor General Jack Wagner, and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel.
In that shared anonymity, Mr. Williams sees his opportunity.
No one, he argues, has established a clear lead yet and he has some resources that make plausible the idea of a late-breaking candidacy. He says his message will attract attention because he’s not afraid to stray form Democratic orthodoxy. He’s says he intent on driving down taxes for business. And, in a view at odds with many Democrats, he is an outspoken advocate of school choice, vouchers, and charter schools.
Mr. Williams predicts that he’ll have the ability to spread that message with a robust fund-raising effort. And he sees the state’s political geography as another asset, with his base in the county with the largest number of Democrats.
The day before, Mr. Williams’ candidacy got an infusion of support and credibility as he was endorsed by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Rep. Dwight Evans, the powerful chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee. Mr. Williams also has the backing of Rep. Bob Brady, the veteran chairman of Philadelphia’s Democratic Party.
Those endorsements are particular obstacles for Mr. Hoeffel, who briefly held the advantage of being the only Eastern candidate in a contest in which the largest share of votes are expected to be cast in Philadelphia and its suburbs.