Hanger’s early bid as gubernatorial candidate smart move, analysts say

    Political analysts say the first declared candidate in the 2014 Pennsylvania’s governor’s race may be smart to throw his hat in the ring early.

    Democrat John Hanger has announced he’s running against Gov. Tom Corbett, who has hinted he’ll seek a second term.

    Christopher Borick, a political science professor and pollster at Muhlenberg College, says given that the field could be crowded for the Democratic nomination in the gubernatorial race, it might be a good strategy for Hanger to define himself now.

    “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,” Borick said.

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    Terry Madonna, pollster and political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College, says it’s prudent to get a head start when all rumors point to a deep Democratic bench for the gubernatorial race.

    “What Hanger is attempting to do is to come … 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.

    Other political analysts point out that Hanger’s reputation is relatively limited to political circles. He was secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection and sat on the Public Utility Commission.

    The 2014 general election is still two years out.

    But the primary is just a year and a half away, and Hanger would have to circulate petitions even earlier to get his name on the ballot.

    Hanger himself 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.

    For a candidate with low name-recognition and a lot of money to raise, one political analyst says the only thing Hanger risks by announcing early is that he’ll try the patience of voters still recovering from the November election.

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