Young Statewide Hopefuls Release New Ads

By John Celock

With the calendar speeding to the May 20 primary, two candidates for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor have released new ads.

Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith on Wednesday unveiled two short 15 second commercials, both cut from footage used in a February YouTube video. State Rep. Brandon Neuman also on Wednesday unveiled a 90-second YouTube video outlining his vision for the lieutenant governor’s office. Smith, 35, and Neumann, 32, are two of the youngest candidates for statewide office in the country this year.

“As your lieutenant governor, I will help a governor govern from day one,” Neuman said in the video.

Neuman’s video centered briefly on his biography, noting he is a western Pennsylvania native, but then dived into him explaining his record in four years in the state Legislature. Among the items he touched on were his work on economic development, belief in education and roundtable discussions on STEM education. He also stressed that he was the son of an educator.

Neuman noted he wanted to use Pennsylvania’s second highest office to work on protecting children, fighting corruption and helping consumers. Neumann has been playing up his western Pennsylvania base as being helpful to a gubernatorial nominee in November. The leading gubernatorial candidates on the Democratic side all hail from eastern Pennsylvania.

Smith focused his commercials on his life story, similar to the theme of the YouTube video he released in February. He highlighted growing up in a trailer in Bradford County as the son of a single father in one ad and then focused on his tenure as a county commissioner in the second ad.

Smith did not dive into policy positions in the ad, preferring the focus on his life story. He also did not touch on fracking, which has been largely centered in Bradford County and surrounding parts of the state. While popular in his home region, the issue has not been as popular with progressive voters who will likely make up the primary voting base.

“I’m Mark Smith and I’m on your side,” Smith said in both commercials.

The two are locked in a competitive five-way race for the lieutenant governor’s nomination that has largely flown under the radar, with attention focused on the competitive battle for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. In addition to Smith and Neuman, state Sen. Mark Swift, former U.S. Rep. Mark Critz and Harrisburg Councilman Brad Koplinski. There has been little public polling done on the lieutenant governor primary.

The lieutenant governor’s race was also marked this week by Equality PA taking the step to specifically issue an anti-endorsement of Critz in the race. While the group did not endorse a candidate, it noted that Critz did not have a record of supporting the LGBT community.

“We believe that Mark Critz does not deserve the vote of any LGBT person or ally in the commonwealth,” the group posted on it’s website. “Mark Critz’s record of voting against the LGBT community and women is clear.”

Among the votes cited were voting against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and funding for the Violence Against Women Act, along with voting not to use federal funds against the Defense of Marriage Act.

Neuman and Smith rank as two of the youngest statewide candidates this year, but not the youngest seeking a lieutenant governorship this year. South Carolina state Rep. Bakari Sellers, 29, the presumptive Democratic nominee in his state, is the youngest lieutenant governor hopeful in the country this year. Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D), 32, is currently the nation’s youngest statewide elected official.

In Pennsylvania, the lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate and the Board of Pardons, along with chairing committees focused on local government and emergency management. Current Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley (R) has also been tasked with leading the state’s fracking policy. The lieutenant governor is provided with an official residence at Fort Indiantown Gap outside of Harrisburg during their term.

The winner of the lieutenant governor primary will be paired with the winner of the gubernatorial primary in November. The Democratic ticket will face Gov. Tom Corbett (R) and Cawley.

Neuman Video

Smith Commercial One

Smith Commercial Two