Jay Paterno says he’s not thinking about another political run

Jay Paterno talks about inspiring voters to get to the polls in May during the Centre County Democratic Committee spring breakfast on Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the Mountain View Country Club. Paterno received a standing ovation for his speech.
Jay Paterno talks about inspiring voters to get to the polls in May during the Centre County Democratic Committee spring breakfast on Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the Mountain View Country Club. Paterno received a standing ovation for his speech. CDT file photo

Former lieutenant governor candidate Jay Paterno said he’s not thinking about running for another political office just yet after dropping out of the race late last month.

He said Saturday at the annual Centre County Democrats spring breakfast at Mountain View Country Club that it was a personal decision.

“It was going to get into a very long, drawn-out process, and I didn’t think it was going to benefit the party or myself,” Paterno said. “Sometimes you have to give personal ambitions to the other team, and so I thought that’s what I needed to do.”

He faced a court challenge to his nomination petitions. But rumors have been circling the area regarding his name at a different spot on the ballot.

“That’s something other people are talking about. … I haven’t given that thought,” Paterno said.

“Right when you come out of something like that, your first thought isn’t, ‘I want to get back in this.’ ”

Before he spoke about his advocacy for greater education funding, some local politicians said they would like to see Paterno back on the political scene.

State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, said because of his last name, Paterno faces similar challenges as state Sen. Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, who ran for his father’s seat. Conklin said he thinks Paterno would be a good leader.

“As soon as he announced he was going to run for lieutenant governor, you had people who were supporters because of his name and individuals who were against him because of his name, and in any case whether it’s Jake Corman, who had the same criticism, you just have to give the individual a chance,” Conklin said. “You see how (Paterno)’s interacted, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with him politically. I would like to see him one day hold political office, no matter where it may be, and I would like to see it because he’s shown he was able to step out of the family name and show a true passion for helping individuals.”

Conklin was one of about 200 guests at the breakfast that honored keynote speaker, gubernatorial candidate and state Treasurer Rob McCord. A group of other state leaders running for office took the podium with talk of improving the economy and increasing education funding.

“I’ve had discussions with all of the candidates running and they ask about the local area, and I tell them that Centre County is like the state of Pennsylvania,” Conklin said. “You have different pockets of individuals. You have the very progressive to the very conservative, and each area has different needs, and had some great opportunities to speak with the candidates that can help State College to Snow Shoe.”

McCord said he’s running on a platform of increasing opportunities and economic security by investing in job creation and education through innovation and tax reform.

“I take it as serious as a heart attack when I talk about doing more with less,” McCord said. “With regard to tax reform, it starts with repealing and replacing the local (Marcellus Shale gas) impact fee and putting in a reasonable drillers tax, a 10 percent tax (of the net value of natural gas), that protects the people of Pennsylvania instead of ripping them off.”

Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith, who’s running for lieutenant governor, said he agrees with McCord’s message.

“Those are the things people seemed to be most concerned about and likewise with myself,” Smith said. “We need to make sure we’re there for people, making opportunities for kids and anything we can do to help families, and create opportunities for our residents and children.”

Gregg Township Supervisor Pat Leary said he’s looking for friendliness and a progressive attitude in terms of farm market activity.

Leary said he’s stressed an agricultural agenda, especially on behalf of small farmers, when encountering candidates.

McCord said he has a plan to explore ways to fix agricultural tax codes that would improve outcomes for small farming enterprises.

“It’s not just to push agriculture, but to think about lower-input agriculture and smaller farms,” McCord said. “A lot of the time, people kind of push together all agricultural interests with interests that are working hard, playing by the rules and suffering economic insecurity.”

He also aims to enhance the “buy more Pennsylvania locally grown products” campaigns and look at long-term sustainable agriculture approaches that are better for the environment.

But his whole message for voters is to think smart no matter which way they vote.

“When they vote for you as a nominee, they’re hiring you for two jobs: to defeat Tom Corbett, and to govern well and fight damaging gridlock that’s taking place in state government,” McCord said. “So that reputation of the ‘Corbett slayer’ reminds people that this, as the chatter clears, is the best person to defeat Corbett and get things done.”