HARRISBURG, Pa. – Former Steelers star Lynn Swann, who declared his candidacy for Pennsylvania governor, says he is confident he will win the state GOP committee's endorsement.
However, if the committee endorses one of his three competitors next month, Swann said Wednesday he may contest the party's candidate in the May 16 primary.
"If I need a primary to win, then I would have to take a serious look at being in the primary," he said.
Swann, 53, declared his candidacy in the city where he made his name in professional football. His announcement was no surprise: Swann's political committee has been raising money for his campaign for nearly a year.
He told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday afternoon that he made up his mind to run in the fall after spending months weighing support at events around the state.
Swann, a Hall of Fame receiver and longtime TV football commentator, faces three other candidates in seeking the Republican nomination for governor — his first run for political office. The winner of the May 16 primary likely would face Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, who is expected to seek a second four-year term.
If successful in his first bid for political office, Swann would become Pennsylvania's first black governor.
Swann kicked off his campaign with a rally Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. Former Steelers teammate Mel Blount introduced Swann, accompanied by his wife and two sons. He plans appearances in five other cities Thursday and Friday.
The Steelers won four Super Bowls during Swann's nine-year pro career with the team. He has worked for ABC Sports since his retirement from football in 1983.
Swann said he had put off a formal announcement until Wednesday to avoid conflicts with his ABC Sports duties.
"I think the people of Pennsylvania would rather have a governor who is committed to being there," Swann said.
Swann has so far revealed little about his political philosophy or the initiatives he would pursue as governor. He has advocated reducing certain business taxes and said he opposes abortion rights.
The other candidates are former Lt. Gov. William Scranton III, state Sen. Jeffrey E. Piccola and Jim Panyard, former director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association. In independent polling, Scranton III and Swann are running ahead of the other two GOP candidates, but behind Rendell.
Swann said Wednesday he hopes to convince blacks that he is a better candidate than Rendell, the former Philadelphia mayor.
The Democratic Party has "taken the African-American vote for granted," he said.