Allentown's mayor has jumped into a crowded field for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania governor.
Ed Pawlowski said he can bring bipartisan cooperation to Harrisburg, where he said Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has struggled, even with fellow Republicans running the Legislature.
More than a half-dozen Democratic hopefuls are expected to compete in the May 20 primary. They include U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, former state revenue secretary Tom Wolf and two former environmental protection secretaries, Katie McGinty and John Hanger.
No sitting governor has lost a bid for a second term, but Corbett is widely considered vulnerable.
Pawlowski, who has been mayor for nearly eight years, rallied his supporters at 7th and Hamilton streets in downtown Allentown on Monday, a day after making his announcement.
"I'm announcing here in Allentown my candidacy for governor in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania," Pawlowski said.
The announcement was made in the shadow of perhaps Pawlowski's crowning achievement, the downtown hockey arena complex.
"This, the story of Allentown, shows that by working together, we can overcome any challenges," he said.
Signs, cheers and local political leaders led the way during the rally.
"Pennsylvania needs a leader who can step in, work with all the interests across the state and get the job done for all of us," said city Councilman Peter Schweyer.
During his speech, Pawlowski pointed to his success in helping to lead Allentown's renaissance.
Candida Affa is a 33-year downtown business owner.
"Look at this. Look at what he has done. I'll support him, even if it's to the White House," Affa said.
After the rally, Pawlowski plowed ahead to Harrisburg, embarking on the first leg of his 20-county RV campaign tour.
Not everyone, however, is on board. Former Allentown Councilman Michael Donovan, who is challenging Pawlowski for mayor in November, is critical of Pawlowski for stepping away from the city to campaign. Donovan said there's more to Allentown than just the downtown.
"Have to have jobs for people in the city working here, not just of individuals coming in from the suburbs," Donovan said.
Pawlowski said his job as mayor is still his priority.
He also campaigned in Philadelphia and planned stops in Reading and York on Tuesday.