"I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for governor of Pennsylvania in 2010.
"For the last 18 months I have explored the idea of being a candidate. I’ve travelled to many parts of the state, visited with leaders in the business, labor and political communities. I’ve attended many events, both public and private, and have raised financial support toward that effort. I’ve met hundreds and hundreds of wonderful people all of whom have been very gracious and warm to me.
"Today, however, I conclude that effort. Neither the time nor the circumstances are right for me at this time to take that effort to the higher level that is required to ultimately succeed. In fairness to those who support me, encourage me and give of their time and treasure, I have moved up the timetable of my final decision.
"In modern politics, the successful pursuit of higher office demands a complete and consuming devotion of time and energy often at the expense of all current commitments and responsibilities, both personal and professional.
"I am very fortunate to hold a position that I enjoy and find rewarding in my community. The people of Lehigh County made a commitment to me and I have a responsibility to them. This year I seek a second and final term as their county executive. These are particularly challenging times for all local and county governments and I’ve decided it’s not the time to have an 'absentee' county executive.
"I am also blessed to have three teenage children, the youngest of which is 13 years old. This summer I often found myself at Little League baseball games when my political staff wanted me on the road or making fundraising calls. But, I’ve learned, there are some things you don’t get back. And, I’m fortunate that despite being teenagers, they still seem to want dad around.
"I am 43-years-old. I’ve been blessed to serve as a city councilman and a two-term mayor of Bethlehem, the president of the Pennsylvania League of Cities, a state cabinet secretary and now one of just four elected county executives in Pennsylvania. I hope to be re-elected to that position this November.
"I will miss the opportunity to actually engage in a discussion with regular Pennsylvanians regarding the vision, values and future that we want for our state. This is a very critical time for our nation and our state. The challenges we face are greater than any that I’ve seen in my lifetime.
"I exit this race seeking no deals from nor pledging support to any other candidate. I am not seeking the position of lieutenant governor.
"The timetable of politics is earlier and earlier. Now is the time for anyone that wants to run for governor to go 'live on the road' and, frankly, to focus almost exclusively on raising money. We have come to know that money is the only real prerequisite for the media, the punditry and the insider community to assess candidates. Personal wealth and/or access to wealthy donors are more important than a textbook full of ideas in the insider world. Those are simply the ground rules of the game.
"My current responsibilities and commitments here in the Lehigh Valley, both personal and professional, require me to be here more than 'out there.' Someday, that may change.
"But, for now, I can only thank all those that I met, that I spoke to, that offered me support and encouragement and showed me and taught me more about all the cities, towns and regions of Pennsylvania. While I regret being unable to proceed, I am personally richer for my experience of exploration."
Often called "lucky," Cunningham is actually a very talented administrator who makes a very difficult job look easy. Like John Stoffa in Northampton County, part of the reason for his success has been his willingness to work with both parties. Bur as an old fart, I can tell him those moments with his kids are the ones he will remember. Everything else is bullshit.
With Cunningham's departure, the leading contenders on the Democratic side of the ticket are Allegheny County Exec Dan Onorato, Auditor general Jack Wagner, and Philadelphia gazillionaire Tom Knox. The may be facing a combined Tom Corbett-Pat Meehan GOP ticket.