- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2006

All about winning

Pittsburgh Steelers football great Lynn Swann has earned an amazing four Super Bowl rings.

“This one is for the thumb,” Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor and first Homeland Security secretary, told Mr. Swann not long ago, flashing an equally large ring that Mr. Ridge often wears bearing Pennsylvania’s official state seal.

These days, Mr. Ridge is keeping busy as honorary chairman of the Lynn Swann for Governor campaign. After all, as widely popular as the professional football hall-of-famer is in Pennsylvania (he played his entire career for the Steelers, from 1974 to 1982), he faces an extremely entrenched opponent — Democratic incumbent Gov. Edward G. Rendell.

“It’s tough to knock out an incumbent, but people want change,” Mr. Ridge tells Inside the Beltway. “Lynn has generated a lot of excitement in the state. The debates and dollars will be critical between now and November, and you’ll see Lynn start chipping away … until the margin of support [separating the two candidates] will be only four to six percentage points by October 1.”

No matter what corner of Pennsylvania Mr. Swann visits during his campaign, he is met by crowds of adoring fans. But Mr. Rendell, a former mayor of Philadelphia, remains highly popular in Pennsylvania’s largest city, as well as in the other urban communities in the southeastern part of the state.

In fact, one recent poll gave Mr. Rendell a double-digit lead over his opponent.

“Lynn hasn’t done any TV yet — Ed has spent $5 million since April,” Mr. Ridge says. “If Lynn can get 20, 22, 25 percent of the black vote [in Philadelphia], this will become an entirely different race. It’s a steep climb, but not as steep as some might think. This race is about winning, overcoming obstacles.”

Brotherly love

Yes, it’s true: Jim Matthews, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania running alongside Lynn Swann, is the brother of Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball” fame.

Who’s comatose?

The outspoken Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, the six-term Georgia Democrat who lost her bid for re-election last week (most famous of late for slugging a U.S. Capitol Police officer), is now claiming that the “black body politic is near comatose.”

She should try telling that to Maryland lieutenant governor turned senatorial candidate Michael S. Steele, Ohio secretary of state and gubernatorial hopeful Ken Blackwell and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate and professional football hall-of-famer Lynn Swann — all blacks (and each a Republican, by golly) who are running enthusiastic, hard-driven campaigns for higher office.

For that matter, try telling Hank Johnson, the Democrat who defeated Mrs. McKinney in the Democratic runoff — 59 percent to 41 percent — that he’s comatose. He, also, is black.

Time flies

Here’s wishing a happy 60th birthday tomorrow to former President Bill Clinton, who was born William Jefferson Blythe III on Aug. 19, 1946, in Hope, Ark.

Mr. Clinton was barely 46 when he began his first term in the White House. Now, as he puts it, instead of Republicans, he’s suddenly fighting “Father Time.”

News to us

“Who knew B. Smith once sang in an R&B act with a young backup singer named Freddie Jackson?” Washington publicist Kathy King tells Inside the Beltway. “Yes, the guy who would later top the charts with hits like, ‘You are My Lady.’”

Here in Washington last night, the popular lifestyle maven and restaurant owner (besides Union Station on Capitol Hill, she has restaurants bearing her name in New York City and Sag Harbor in the Hamptons) was scheduled to reunite with Mr. Jackson for the Radio One Silver Anniversary at the J.W. Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Before she went into television and started her own line of products, B. Smith during the late 1970s sang professionally, mainly in New York nightclubs such as the 5’s, the Bushes and the Playboy Club. At the same time, she worked as a model for the Wilhelmina Agency.

As for the 25-year-old Radio One, it’s based in nearby Lanham and is now the nation’s seventh largest radio broadcasting company.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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