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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cunningham Bows Out of Governor's Race

For the last three years, Northampton County Exec John Stoffa has called him "Governor." He'll have to wait a bit longer. Thanks to a report from The Morning Call's Darryl Isherwood, we now know that Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham has dropped his gubernatorial ambitions, at least for now. Don explained his reasons in an email to supporters this afternoon. I'll let Don speak for himself.

"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.


A.J.C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

He's Rendell with a different bad accent.

Anonymous said...

"like Stoffa", Dude! Really! Cunningham actually "does" work with both parties and gets things done. Stoffa has accomplished nothing and after four years still hasn't put out his comprehensive plan.

You would be better off comparing Stoffa to a rock, they both sit there and get about the same accomplished.

Donald said...

Wise choice - I agree he is very talented - he has a bright future but timing is everything.

Anon 11:12 PM - Is that a bad thing?

Anonymous said...

Bernie, what will he do with all the money he raised? Isn't it almost $1,000,000? What's the protocol for that?

A.J.C. said...

I deleted my comment. I quoted the wrong person.

Rising Sun said...

Anon 12:27,

He can keep it for his county exec race. He can use it for any PA race in the future too.

It's a sad day for a lot of folks. Having a local governor would have been great for our area.

michael molovinsky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Damn! That's going to be a heluva County Executive race with that pot of gold!

Anonymous said...


Don Cunningham does have some talents but those in close will tell you he is a Rendell type politician. His fake sincerity and the Bethlehem Gomer Pyler routine are charming/amusing but not the stuff of real leadership. His "skills" are political. He administers the county by allowing the professionals to do their jobs. I give him credit for this. When he does intrude he more often than not makes problems for the tax payers(courthouse, card checked union elections).
This man is a politician through and through. By that I mean he will do what is in his interest first and always rather than serve the public good. Both parties a full of these sorts of elected officials, that explains a lot.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

I'll bet Dahn has skeleton; not necessarily Argentina, but skeletons just the same.

Anonymous said...

HAH He doesn't want Ed Spendell's mess either:):):):)

Anonymous said...

Translation (short and sweet version) to DC's statement:

"I don't have enough money. My grasp exceeded my reach. I'll play it safe."

DC would be gone in a flash IF he had even a remote chance to become governor, but the powers that be have spoken. He has no chance on a statewide level.

Some facts: He bailed on Bethlehem before completing his second term because he believed all that "rising young star" crap. He bailed on the governor after a relatively short time in Harrisburg, perhaps because he was not really suited to such enormous responsibility. I am still waiting to see if this guy has what it really takes to complete any political job he undertakes. It's as though he has a short attention span. The grass always seems greener in the other pasture to DC.

He definitely is a "politician", which could also be a convenient way of saying that he doesn't have what it takes to do real work in the real world. The "boy wonder" routine is old, please stop! Current "Boy Wonder" in training pants is John Callahan, who seems cut from the same cloth in most every way, from politics to personal habits. Before long, he too will follow the call as a "rising star" to greener pastures, leaving the electorate high and dry.

Bernie O'Hare said...

MM, An anonymous source lacks credibility. That claim may be made any time any one of us uses an anonymus source. When the source purports to be an engineerung expert, it really lacks credibility. I have no desire to continue that debate, several months old, with you.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, since you dug into the my deleted comment, here's the deal; recently, with your blog with the three blind mice about robo calls, you said, "privately, insiders say..." (that pawlowski is responsible) that is no different than saying "somebody, informed about the project" in my case i was only saying a bridge and money could have been saved. in your case you're referring to political shenanigans.
apparently if i criticize cunningham's bridge project i need notary sealed documents, but you can use terms such as "insider" when insinuating about pawlowski? please!

Bernie O'Hare said...


When I cite an anonymous source, it is subject to anyone's claim that it is spurious. That's why I try to make sure any anonymous source I use is accurate. Even if I were batting 1000, that claim could still be made against me.

You apparently think that bc you are MM, you can use an anonymous source to express an engineering opinion and not exect to have it challenged. You can't.

The subject of this post is Cunninghma's decision to drop out of the governor's race. It has nothing to do with some bridge or your engineeering opinion or reliance on an anonymus surce for an expert opinion. You are attempting to resurrect a months old argument that is OT and that did become personal.

Please stick to the subject. If you can't, you will be deleted.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, we both had sources we trust.

Rising Sun said...


Don Cunningham is as good of a public official as the Valley has had in my lifetime. You're out in right-field here, being the typical Republican who wants to make Don out to be a lightweight. This man took Ken Smith's successes in Bethlehem and pushed them to the next level, making Bethlehem the jewel of the Valley in the process. His time as county exec has been marked by fiscal responsibility that your party's last exec couldn't match, and relative calm in county government, something we all can appreciate.

Anon 7:50am, way to carry the Dent water. I find it amusing that you Republicans think it's awful that Cunningham and Callahan seek higher office while in office, yet you support Charlie who ran for Congress while in the State Senate, and ran for the State Senate while in the State House. As on most issues, your kind are hypocrites. And if you're going to suggest there are personal issues for these men, grow a pair, take off the anonymous label you carry, and say what they are.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:13 - An "Ed Rendell type" is a bad thing? Yeah, OK.

Anonymous said...

"Rising Sun"-

I'm a registered super Democrat since 1969.

Mr. O'Hare allows anonymous postings as long as there are no personal attacks. I'll assume you are taking exception to the comment I made about certain personal habits. You will notice as I am certain Bernie did that no mention was made of which habits, just "personal habits". Just about everyone who follows these men knows about this and I pulled up short of mentioning precisely which habits those are. No need to do that, unless of course, as you stated, you "have a pair" and wish to put it in writing.

BTW, I noticed that you don't sign your name. Sounds a bit disingenuous to me.

Anonymous said...

Rising Sun-

As far as you know, the personal habits could be that they don't brush or floss after meals...or do you know something we don't know?

Rising Sun said...

Anon 3:42,

Anyone who's been on here since 2007 knows my name, I never made any effort to hide it. Feel free to look on my blogger profile too, my blog address gives it away. More importantly, i'm not implying any sort of negative behavior from a public official, you are, so I'm saying grow a set and put yourself out there to do it. You're going to question the "personal habits" of someone, then show more guts, otherwise, hush up, you have no credibility. There's a huge line between saying a public official has an awful voting record, and saying they are personally flawed, in whatever sense you mean. 90% of what is said about the personal lives of politicians is nothing more than innuendo, and should not be repeated in writing. If you know something more than innuendo about any politician, write it, and sign your name.

Anon 4:25,

I think the innuendo from the anonymous poster was clear. They just confirmed it.

Anonymous said...

Smart move,

He can keep the money he raised and wait and see in 2014. The GOP has a good chance in 2010. Since they are republicans they will royally screw everything up and leave it open for a challenger in 2014.

Wee Willie Weber said...

I don't see Rising Sun's name anywhere on his blog or his profile. Seems pretty hidden to me.

Anonymous said...

Who even cares who “rising Sun” is? His posts are predictable. Yawner.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

By the way, I was told that if the city and the county had been willing to wait a year the state would have picked up the entire tab for the Linden Street bridge project. I think this is a fact but can’t recall the details, anyone know?

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:43
Re the Linden St bridge. It was not on the list of "shovel-ready" bridge and road projects recently selected by the state to be paid for by Fed. stimulus money. That might be what you're thinking of.

Rising Sun said...


Predictable? You're as partisan as they come pal, don't throw stones from your glass house.

Wee Willie,

My url includes my name. Don't be so foolish.

michael molovinsky said...

scott, this comment may not survive long, bernie has threatened to delete me:

this post deal with cunningham bowing out of the race. back in early april bernie had a post about donnie getting into the race. i commented then that i had heard from an informed source that both the old bridge and of course much taxpayer money could have been saved. bernie, perceiving it as a slight on donnie boy, said the comment was spurious without me submitting properly documented engineering verification, etc. etc. early yesterday i sent the following comment, which i later deleted. bernie dug it out of the deleted archive, and again said i was wrong. here's the deleted comment;

the primary reasons he cited for not running, having a commitment to the residents of lehigh county and his kids, existed before he considered running for governor; bernie, he smiles easy, the rest is your perception. last time you mentioned his race, i mentioned that an informed source told me that the linden street bridge could have been saved and in doing so, much money for the taxpayer. you claimed my accusation was "spurious". the other day you said an informed source told you that pawlowski was behind the robo call about hershman. how come my statement about an engineering opinion is "spurious" and your statement about a nefarious under-dealing is not?

i had deleted the comment for two reasons, bernie used the term " privately, insiders say", not "informed source",
secondly i know that bernie, although claiming he will admit being wrong when he is, in actually, never thinks he is. bernie, either delete this or explain in 2345 words ......

Bernie O'Hare said...

MM, Your comment is OT, petty, raises questions I have already been answered and concludes w/ a personal attack. You resurrect a months old argument in which you got personal. You give me every reason to delete you. But I'll allow your "explanation" to stand, even though it fails to answer Armstrong.

I did not delete your previous comments. You did that yourself. I will delete you from this point forward.

Oh no! It's Mr. Alex! said...


When Jesus was casting out demons, the authorities were asking under what power does this man cast out demons.

They claimed he was using his power to cast out demons in the name of the beast.

But Jesus in all his wisdom, expressed, if he was casting out demons in the name of the devil; wouldn't that cause satan's house to be a house divided?

He then told them, he would tell them under what authority he casts out demons, if they would answer his question. - 'Under what authority did John baptize?'

The authorities, in all their cunningness, realized that if they say it was God, why didn't they listen to him. And if they say it was from Man, the gathering crowd would give them a hard time.

So they answered Jesus' question with an, "We do not know."

With that Jesus said, if you will not answer my question, I will not answer yours.

I say these previous paragraphs as tongue-in-cheek. It is my chance to evangelize. But I throw them out there as points to ponder. At the end of the day, we, here on Earth, are all the same.

This is the truth,
Peace be with you, ~~Alex

Anonymous said...

Angry Priest, if you are even hinting at a comparison between the wisdon of Jesus and O'Hater, we can all go ice skating in Hell!

Oh no! Not again! said...

My dear friend,

If that is the assumption that you made out of my post, your outlook must be quite different than mine. I will take your post with a grain of salt, especially since you marginalize yourself by calling me, "Angry priest."

But if The Spirit truly moved you to your assumption; then who am I to question your revelation?

But my paraphase of this passage, is just another way to show you that Jesus was in fact human (especially with his humor, sarcasm, and anger) and God. Giving even the weakest of human beings (like myself) a role model strive towards.

By the way, I take a size 11 EEEE in ice skates.

Peace, ~~Alex

Anonymous said...

I asked Ron Heckman and he doesn't care who Rising SUn is either.

Anonymous said...

Bernie said.."The subject of this post is Cunninghma's decision to drop out of the governor's race. It has nothing to do with some bridge or your engineeering opinion or reliance on an anonymus surce for an expert opinion. You are attempting to resurrect a months old argument that is OT and that did become personal." B.O. I feel you are burning all of your bridges. It seems like any comment you don't like you take as a personal hate mail. Sad but true and use spellcheck or something .

Anonymous said...

If anyone gets close on one of O'Haters mancrushes he turns on you. You can write all the snarks and cheap shots you want at folks like Dertinger, joe Long or Powlowski. He is just fine with all the "alleged" stuff there.

If you touch one of his pinups you will get the O'Hater treatment.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have no problem w/ anyone who wants to criticize Cunninghman here. What I do have a problem with is resurrecting a months old argument that got personal and ended on a sour note. It was unnecessary and petty. It only succeeds in bringing out trolls like the last two commenters.

Anonymous said...

blah blah blah... same old broken record

Anonymous said...

Thank god! Now we might a chance to keep our form of state government and wildlife.

We currently have to worry about the locals politicians centralizing our form of government and stop poisoning our food and water supply.

Anonymous said...

Bernie's right. When the whackos start to post, you have to deal harshly with them, or the whole blog site gets ruined.

It isn't always easy or glamorous being an admin.

Thanks, Bernie. We love you.

Anonymous said...

Your welcome Bernie.

Anonymous said...

Why doesnt Cunningham run for congress with all that loot?