Bill Scranton dropped out of the governor's race yesterday, four days before state Republican leaders were expected to endorse former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann in the GOP primary.

In a statement, Scranton said he determined his chances of success were minimal.

"While I am confident in our hopeful message of reform and renewal, I am less convinced in our ability to win with the all-important precinct-by-precinct battles against the operational resources of the state party," he said. "Our campaign is
strong, but not strong enough to defeat a candidate who has received the near unanimous backing of state and national party leaders."

Scranton also said he is committed to support the nominee who emerges in the May 16 primary.

"I think that I'm not surprised," said Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township. "I thought (Scranton's withdrawal) would happen when the Republican committee decided on the endorsement. I think this is good because it would unify the party behind Lynn Swann.

"Now we can get behind one dynamic candidate instead of trying to decide between two dynamic can-didates."

Scranton's exit leaves Swann uncontested for the Republican State Committee's endorsement. Another Republican candidate, Jim Panyard, is not competing for the party's backing. Also seeking the governorship is York attorney and Green Party candidate Marakay Rogers.

Disappointment: Rep. Ron Miller, R-Jacobus, said he is more disappointed in Scranton's withdrawal than surprised.


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Though it was clear that Swann would get the endorsement, he said, Scranton's campaign could have helped keep the Republican candidates' names in the forefront.

"Whenever you're trying to garner a race against an incumbent, you need to get name recognition," Miller said. "Having a primary race would have helped the challenger keep his name in front of the voters. It gives more reason for the media to cover them.

"(Swann) will have to work harder to get his message out there."

However, Rep. Bev Mackereth, R-Spring Grove, said she did not expect Scranton to call it quits. She said the last she heard was that Scranton wouldn't end his campaign.

"I thought he was a very good candidate," she said. "He's a very bright man, and he does know the issues. With property tax reform, he knows how it affects different regions and what's needed to be done to correct it. He also knew about the business climate and the economy."

Rep. Keith Gillespie said he didn't recall that Scranton or Swann had presented a solution to property tax issues. However, he said Scranton was an articulate candidate who was abreast of some of the issues.

"I guess maybe he thought it wasn't his time," Gillespie said. "It sounds like the table has been set for Mr. Swann. This would be an opportunity for him to unite all the committee people and move forward."

Formidable: Scranton would have been a "very formidable opponent" for incumbent Gov. Ed Rendell, said Rep. Steve Stetler, D-York City. He said he was surprised that Scranton quit, considering the Republican candidate's political history.

Scranton, the son of a former state governor, served two terms as Gov. Dick Thornburgh's lieutenant governor, from 1979 to 1986.

"He's a moderate Republican, and I truly believe that the Republicans need some moderates," Stetler said. "He brings a lot of experience and talent. I think that any challenger to the governor has an uphill battle."

Last month, Scranton held a town hall meeting in Dallastown, where he discussed his "Road to Reform" policy agenda, including his plans for property taxes, economic and small business growth, and education reform.

The event marked the beginning of Scranton's campaign's statewide town hall meeting tour.

Campaign trouble: His campaign ran into trouble two weeks ago when he fired his campaign manager for saying Swann is "the rich white guy in this campaign."

Scranton, who is white, fired James Seif -- an old friend who was a member of former Gov. Tom Ridge's cabinet -- shortly after Seif made the comment on a televised call-in show.

Scranton has tremendous courage and clarity of convictions, two qualities needed for running for statewide office, said Republican State Committee Chair Eileen Melvin in a news release.

"His dedication to the people of Pennsylvania and his commitment to improving life in this state were beyond reproach," she said.

Scranton is an honorable man who ran an admirable campaign, said U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum in a news release.

"I believe that his message of reform not only resonated with many Pennsylvanians, but will also have a positive impact on our state for many years to come," he said.

Santorum also said he looks forward to campaigning with Swann.

The state representatives said they are eager to hear more from Swann about his plans for the state.

Saylor said Swann -- who was criticized by Scranton for declining to participate in a debate prior to the Republican endorsement meeting Saturday -- now has an opportunity to develop his policy initiatives on various legislative issues. Both Gillespie and Mackereth said they're interested in Swann's ideas for property tax reform.

"We hope to work with him and educate him about the issues affecting our area, York County," Mackereth said. "He's from Allegheny County, and different areas are affected in different ways."

-- Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 854-1575 or emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.

The Associated Press con tributed to this report.