The 2014 gubernatorial race is officially on, with Democrat John Hanger as the first officially declared candidate. But is it too early?
The short answer according to Terry Madonna, pollster and political science professor at Franklin and Marshall College, is, "no."
The general election is two years away, but Democrats considering a run have to get their act together for the primary, scheduled in May 2014. Candidates will have to pass around petitions for getting their name on the ballot even sooner.
Madonna said it’s prudent to get a head start when all rumors point to a deep Democratic field for the gubernatorial race.
“What Hanger is attempting to do is to come out of the – off the starting blocks early to get out, to begin to build some name recognition in order to develop a sense that he’s serious," Madonna said.
Christopher Borick, a political science professor and pollster at Muhlenberg College, said given that the field could be pretty crowded for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination it might be a good strategy for Hanger to define himself early.
“Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why someone like John Hanger, who is known in political circles, but not particularly known among the general electorate, to establish himself as a name that will be mentioned over and over as the field starts to form.”
Hanger was Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection from 2008-11 during the Rendell administration and was founding president in 1998 of the environmental group Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, a position he held for 10 years.
He is stressing his need to raise a lot of money, and even included a plea for donations in one of his campaign kick-off events.