2009-07-30 / Local & State

Pa. Gov's Race Still Taking Shape

By Peter Jackson ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A statewide survey released this week by Quinnipiac University shows state Attorney General Tom Corbett leading the Republican field in the bid for governor, but with only 38 percent support - about the same proportion as voters who are undecided. U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach attracted 15 percent and former U.S. attorney Pat Meehan had 9 percent.

The Democratic field appears even more volatile, with more than half of party members saying they did not know whom they would support.

Only two candidates - Gerlach and Knox - have declared their candidacy.

A poll confirmed that Corbett is the best-known of all the hopefuls. More than 40 percent of the poll respondents expressed opinions about Corbett - most of them favorable.

From his office overlooking the Capitol, Corbett is directing the high-profile probe of alleged legislative corruption that began more than two years ago, and he continues to aggressively prosecute child sex predators on the Internet.

Meehan, as the federal prosecutor for Pennsylvania's Eastern District, oversaw a four-year investigation that produced the March corruption conviction of former state Sen. Vincent Fumo of Philadelphia.

Corbett also has won two statewide elections, while the governor's race would be the first statewide bids by Meehan and Gerlach, a congressman and former state legislator from the Philadelphia suburbs.

Among the Democrats, only Wagner has run statewide - both times for his present office. But he initially wavered between running for governor and running for U.S. Senate, and he has struggled to raise money.

Fundraising pressures are especially intense in gubernatorial campaigns, and Gov. Ed Rendell single-handedly upped the stakes in Pennsylvania when he raised more than $32 million in his 2006 re-election bid, and more than $42 million in his 2002 campaign.

Onorato, with the help of some of Rendell's major backers, has accumulated a war chest of more than $4 million already.

A wild card for the Democrats is Knox, who spent $12 million of his own money on an unsuccessful 2007 bid for Democratic nomination for Philadelphia mayor, and he has signaled his intention to bankroll a large portion of this campaign as well.

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