Scranton Democratic Mayor Chris Doherty might just have his eye on the big prize, running for Governor of Pennsylvania in the 2010 gubernatorial election.
Doherty is a proven fundraiser, raising approximately $1.5 million for his two re-election campaigns (2005 & 2009).
Should Doherty seek election to the governor’s mansion, that will effectively leave Scranton without a Mayor for his first year of his new term since he would have to travel the state to campaign. Should he win, the President of Scranton’s City Council would assume the mayor’s position until such time as a duly elected successor is elected.
Despite his fundraising prowess, his organizational skills seem to be lacking. In a recent straw poll of Democrats, Doherty came in dead last. The results were Onorato with 591 votes, Wagner with 215, Knox with 207, Hoeffel with 160, and Doherty with 103.
This could suggest a rather large obstacle…Doherty probably isn’t known outside of Northeast Pennsylvania. One of the papers that covered the story didn’t even spell his name correctly. Should he decide that he is in fact going to run for Pennsylvania’s top executive, he has a lot of work ahead of him. Not only will he have to deal with the issue of name identification, but he will also have to deal with Scranton.
Scranton has been a distressed municipality since the early 90’s. Doherty has not been able to escape that delineation. The city is buried in mountains of debt despite attacking his opponent former opponent, Mayor James Connors, for the amount of debt the city had at that time. He has a very troubled relationship with some of the city’s labor unions…a key democratic core group. So much so that at least one of the state’s major labor organizations entered the primary election and donated to his opponent. He has also raised taxes as Mayor despite running on an initial platform of reducing taxes.
On the positive side, Scranton’s voters looked beyond all of that and this year voted him in for a third term, capturing both the Republican and Democratic nomination. If nothing else, that demonstrates his ability to forge relationships and build coalitions in his home town. It remains to be seen if he can perform this feat statewide.