Today's Scranton Times Tribune is reporting that gubernatorial candidate Chris Doherty -- who was just in Pittsburgh for a candidates' forum yesterday -- may be dropping out. Citing anonymous sources, the paper is reporting that Gov. Ed Rendell is trying to broker a deal in which Doherty would take a run at lieutenant governor instead, while backing Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato.
Doherty, currently the mayor of Scranton, has denied the rumors. So has a representative of Rendell, who is publicly neutral in the race though said to be quietly backing Onorato. In any case, no deal is immiment, the paper says.
Statewide polling shows that none of the four Democratic hopefuls have anything close to a lead among voters. But as the Times Tribune notes, Onorato has millions on hand, while none of his rivals has cracked seven-digits in previous reports. And Onorato's lead in fundraising is said to be growing. We'll know more when the candidates file annual fundraising reports from 2009 today.
Assuming this news is true, for progressives there would be an upside to Doherty dropping out: As I noted yesterday, Doherty was emphasizing a progressive platform ... his departure from the race would, in theory, help solidify progressive voters behind Joe Hoeffel, the Montgomery County Commissioner who has been the most strident voice on the left so far. Onorato and Auditor General Jack Wagner would be left to fight over moderate-to-conservative Dems in the western part of the state.
That said, the stars seem to be aligning in Onorato's favor lately.