Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Lynn Swann: A Future in GOP?

"I believe Pennsylvania needs leadership from outside the box."

Swann is a rare creature, indeed. The son of Democrats is an African-American Republican, something once thought to be an oxymoron. His potential ability to excite both suburban conservatives and urban African-Americans intrigues national GOP operatives. A year from November, Swann arguably could be the nation's highest ranking elected Republican African-American -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was, of course, selected by President George Bush. From that platform, it would not be inconceivable to imagine a run at the presidency in 2012.


Swann's staff includes some of the same experts that got Tom Ridge, a once-obscure congressman from Erie, in the northwestern corner of the state, elected governor in 1995. Ridge served during 1995-2001, before becoming Bush's first Office of Homeland Security advisor. Ray Zaborney, who helped engineer Ridge's victory, is executive director of Team 88. Mark Holman, Ridge's former chief of staff, is a consultant.


In a September 2004 Web chat organized by the Bush campaign, Swann addressed the issue of his diversity: "I am always somewhat amused by the fact that some people would ask, 'Why as an African-American am I a Republican?' In many cases, my response is, 'Why not a Republican?' Why is it such a grand assumption that African-Americans should be Democrats when historically the Republican Party has been a leader on issues important to African-Americans?"

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