A politician who can’t stop running

August 20, 2013

There’s a Todd Rundgren song called “Can’t Stop Running” that Jack Wagner might want to consider adopting as his own unofficial theme song.

Months after the former auditor general, former state senator and former member of Pittsburgh City Council was soundly defeated in Pittsburgh’s Democratic mayoral primary at the hands of veteran Councilman Bill Peduto, Wagner is pondering jumping into the crowded Democratic field to take on Gov. Tom Corbett next year. He’ll be competing for attention with the likes of U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, former state revenue secretary Tom Wolf and Rob McCord, the state treasurer and nominal frontrunner who has yet to formally announce his candidacy.

Wagner is no stranger to the governor’s race – he was a candidate for the 2010 Democratic nomination, but was defeated by Allegheny County’s executive Dan Onorato, and tried for the No. 2 spot in the state eight years before that, but was defeated by Catherine Baker Knoll in the race to be lieutenant governor.

“I’ve proven I can win in this state,” Wagner told the Associated Press Monday, a tad unconvincingly. “I know the people. I’m not a partisan politician.”

But attempting to win an office as prized as the commonwealth’s governorship seems a leap so soon after losing a primary race for mayor in his own hometown. It’s akin to moving a show to Broadway even after the out-of-town tryout bombs. If he can’t make it there, can he make it anywhere?

After having turned 65 earlier this year, Wagner is at a point in his life where he could grab a few quick bucks in the private sector before settling into retirement. But there’s a nomination that’s open and a campaign to be waged, and Wagner knows the tune.

From all appearances, he simply can’t stop running.



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