Pennsylvania Candidate Says Dem Programs Helped Raise Him From Rural Trailer

By John Celock

A candidate for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor is using a new web ad to tout Democratic programs as helping him grow up as the son of a single father in a rural trailer.

Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith used the ad released earlier this week to tout his life story as he attempts to stand out in a seven-way race. The ad comes the same week as a new poll shows most Democrats are undecided in the lieutenant governor’s race.

“We always had help. Public school, the free lunch program, even the food bank,” Smith said in the ad, noting that his father raised him and his sisters after his mother died. “The only reason I’m here today is Democrats fought for kids like me. Governor Corbett we lead by picking people up not by leaving them behind.”

Smith, the youngest county commissioner in Bradford County history, also touted his record in county government, including a stint as the commission’s chairman. Among the issues he cited were job creation and balanced budgets. Smith did not directly mention hydrofracking, which has become a top job creator in his rural county close to the New York State border.

Smith attempts to use the ad to cater to progressive Democrats likely to dominate the primary, by stressing progressive issues including Pre-K expansion and being pro-choice.

“I grew up in hunting household but I believe in common sense gun laws like background checks,” Smith said in the ad.

A Harper’s Poll released Thursday shows Smith trailing at the back of the field with two-percent. Jay Paterno, the son of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, leads the field with 17 percent. Former U.S. Rep. Mike Critz finished second with 16 percent, state Rep. Brandon Neuman seven percent, state Sen. Mike Stack six percent and Harrisburg Councilman Brad Koplinski at four percent. Harrisburg Parks, Recreation and Enrichment Director Brenda Alton was not included in the poll.

The winner of May’s lieutenant governor primary will be paired on a ticket with the winner of the competitive eight-way gubernatorial primary to take on Gov. Tom Corbett (R) and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley (R) in the fall.