Bradley C Bower  /  AP file
Lynn Swann, the former football star and gubernatorial aspirant, at a Nov. 21 luncheon at the Pennsylvania Press Club in Harrisburg, Pa.
updated 1/4/2006 4:56:27 PM ET 2006-01-04T21:56:27

Former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann declared his candidacy for Pennsylvania governor Wednesday in the city where he made his name in professional football.

He told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday afternoon that he made up his mind to run in the fall after spending months weighing support at events around the state.

Swann, a Hall of Fame receiver and longtime TV football commentator, faces three other candidates in seeking the Republican nomination for governor — his first run for political office. The winner of the May 16 primary would likely face Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, who is expected to seek a second four-year term.

Swann planned to kick off his campaign with a Wednesday night rally in Pittsburgh, followed by appearances in Altoona and Scranton on Thursday, and in Philadelphia, Allentown and Lancaster on Friday.

Swann, 53, was a wide receiver for the Steelers who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

Swann’s political committee — Team 88, after his jersey number — has been raising money for 11 months. Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell is expected to seek re-election, and three other Republicans previously announced their campaigns.

Independent polls have consistently shown former Lt. Gov. William Scranton III and Swann ahead of the two other Republican candidates, state Sen. Jeffrey E. Piccola and retired business advocate Jim Panyard. Those polls have shown Rendell ahead of Scranton and Swann by more than 10 percentage points.

The primary election is in May, but the eventual GOP nominee could get a big boost Feb. 11, when the Republican State Committee meets to consider endorsing a candidate. On Wednesday, Scranton wrote Swann to ask him to participate in several debates before the meeting.

Swann lives outside of Pittsburgh in Sewickley with his wife and two sons.

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