Williams enters the Democratic primary

State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams is officially running for governor. “I’m out of the closet,” he joked at the Pennsylvania Press Club today.

Williams says he’s hired three staffers, opened up a Philadelphia office, and has already raised nearly two million dollars. Referencing recent polls showing single-digit and low-teen name recognition for the other Democrats, Williams said he’s confident his campaign will make up for lost time. “72 percent of the folks in Pennsylvania don’t even know there’s a gubernatorial race. I’m very comfortable if I’m on television they’ll at least notice there’s another guy running.”

Williams remains evasive on the source of his fundraising, saying only that his donors “come from a variety of backgrounds. Who are interested in, obviously in controlling costs, controlling spending in government, educational choice, people who are concerned about unions in Pennsylvania.” He acknowledged several Republicans have contributed to his campaign.

Moderator John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News asked Williams about a range of topics during his lunchtime appearance at the Harrisburg Hilton. Williams said he’s hesitant about the impact of natural gas drilling, but wouldn’t support a moratorium on permitting or the leasing of state forest land. He’s against gay marriage, saying “a civil contract is adequate. I have no problem if somebody wants to use a religious sanctuary for a ceremony.” Williams doesn’t think lawmakers should have been allowed to recoup lost pay after last year’s 101-day budget impasse.

Williams says his strategy will be an intense focus on southeastern Pennsylvania. He pointed to the 2002 Democratic primary, where Bob Casey carried 57 counties, but lost to Ed Rendell due to strong turnout in Philadelphia and its suburbs.

The announcement brings the Democratic primary field back up to four candidates. Williams joins Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, Auditor General Jack Wagner and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel in the race.

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

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