Update 2:00pm: Koplinski officially kicked off his bid in the Capitol, emphasizing his desire to be an advocate for Pa. municipalities and taking direct aim at Gov. Tom Corbett.
“I’ve served as a Harrisburg City Councilman and I’ve had the opportunity to see first hand the effects this morally bankrupt administration has had on our local governments,” he said.
“His promises to the people of the Commonwealth were broken in favor of back room deals with out-of-state frackers, English lottery hucksters and Wall Street bankers.”
He said he’d like to use LG’s role as Chair to expand the Local Government Advisory Committee.
Why start the campaign so early? Koplinski said he intends to visit all 67 counties and that cementing relationships with politicos around the state takes time.
Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski will become the first Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor today. He’ll officially kick off his bid in the Capitol at noon.
He’s running on a platform of advocacy for municipal governments.
“Pennsylvania’s municipalities are in trouble. They are spending more money than they are taking in. Their infrastructures are crumbling. They are not allowed to generate their own revenue without asking for permission from the Governor and the Legislature,” he said in a release. “Having fought Governor Corbett in determining the best course for Harrisburg, I want to be able to continue that fight on behalf of all of our cities, towns and boroughs.”
Koplinski, 43, was elected to Harrisburg City Council in 2007 and re-elected in 2011. He’s been Mayor Linda Thompson’s chief critic on Council and has vocally opposed state-imposed plans to deal with the City’s debt.
He was considering a run for Mayor as recently as 2012.
Unlike, say, Vice President, the LG isn’t chosen by the top of the ticket. Candidates run independently from those running for Governor.
Campaigns for LG tend to be below the radar affairs, where the county listed under a candidate’s name is about as valuable as any money that gets spent on advertising. Shoe leather politics matters more for LG than in a higher-profile race, too, as state Rep. Scott Conklin (D-Centre) proved in 2010 when he eked out a win over two Philadelphians.
Koplinski has his rolodex to his advantage. He’s managed either finance or political outreach for numerous Democratic candidates running statewide, including Arlen Specter in 2010, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008, John Kerry in 2004. In between he’s worked for the state Democratic party.
For that work, PoliticsPA named Koplinski one of PA’s Top Political Operatives in 2010.
An attorney, he previously worked in Washington, DC at the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the Internal Revenue Service Office of Chief Counsel. He was also a Policy Analyst at the Pa. Auditor General’s office.
State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montco) has also floated his name as a possible LG candidate.
Though Gov. Tom Corbett has yet to kick off his re-election campaign officially, every indication is that his LG Jim Cawley will seek a second term as well.
Full disclosure: Koplinski and I worked together on Sen. Specter’s campaign.