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And the first one bites the dust.
After just four months in the running for the Democratic ticket of the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski withdrew his candidacy and endorsed gubernatorial candidate Rob McCord.
Pawlowski, who was re-elected as Allentown’s mayor in November, cited fundraising troubles as the reason he dropped his gubernatorial bid. Prior to withdrawing, the Pawlowski campaign said they had raised about $360,000. Some front-runners in the race have raised more than $10 million.
“The truth is that it takes a lot of money to run for a state leadership position, and raising that money takes a lot of time,” Pawlowski said during a joint press conference with McCord Monday. “Because of my duties as mayor of the third largest city in the state, I simply was finding it difficult to run a city and spend the eight to 10 hours a day fundraising that is needed to run an effective campaign. Stepping down will allow me to focus all of my energy on the job that I really love: being the mayor of Allentown.”
The campaign began in early September, despite comments from the mayor in late March 2013 that he would not seek a gubernatorial nod.
“It has been a good campaign, and we have accomplished several of our key objectives, most importantly drawing attention to the need for economic development and more jobs for Pennsylvanians,” Pawlowski said.
Pawlowski’s campaign was run through Fleck Consulting by his longtime adviser Mike Fleck and Fleck’s wife, Alison, who own the Allentown consulting firm. Chad Proudlock and Will Serio, of the D.C.-based Solvency Group, ran the financial operation.
Prior to dropping out, Pawlowski was endorsed by several union groups. Former Gov. Ed Rendell held a late- September fundraiser for Pawlowski but did not officially endorse the then-candidate.
He also released an agriculture and education plan. Pawlowski was the first Democratic candidate for the gubernatorial race to release a plan for agriculture.
Although Pawlowski was never considered a front-running candidate for the race, analysts did not expect him to be the first candidate to withdraw.
An October PoliticsPA reader poll had Jo Ellen Litz as the first candidate to drop out. Other analysts thought that Max Myers would be the first candidate to withdraw.
With one candidate removed from the race, the candidates are now Rep. Allyson Schwartz (PA-13), former department of environmental protection secretaries John Hanger and Katie McGinty, Litz, Myers, McCord and Tom Wolf.
In endorsing McCord, Pawlowski said that he trusted the state treasurer with the ability to push for family-sustaining jobs and economic development to help Pennsylvania get ahead.
McCord, in response to the endorsement, released a statement to the press echoing their shared vision for the future of the Commonwealth.
“Mayor Pawlowski and I share a common vision for the future of Pennsylvania. We both believe in the power of education and economic development and the core need for safe neighborhoods,” McCord said. “And we both know that, with appropriate innovation and investments, the best days of our Commonwealth are ahead of us.”
Even with the crowded Democratic field, which will be narrowed to one after the May 20 primary election, Pawlowski urged his supporters, and the rest of the Democratic base, to get behind McCord.
“We have had some very good talks, and I believe this is the person who can lead Pennsylvania to a new and brighter future,” Pawlowski said. “The most important thing now is to bring strong, effective leadership back to Pennsylvania. I am confident that Rob can do that, and I urge Democrats to get behind him.”