|Ed Rendell (Democrat)|
Ed Rendell, the former two-term Philadelphia mayor, hopes to win back the governor's office for the Democratic party this Nov. 5. The moderate Democrat currently holds a wide lead over GOP candidate Mike Fisher, the state attorney general, for the governor's post.
Rendell is considered a natural political salesman, with an inexhaustible determination to achieve his goals. John Baer, a political columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, said in September that Rendell is "among the best retail campaigners in the business. A machine. A pol with an instinct to connect."
Former Vice President Al Gore in 1999, citing Rendell's immense popularity in Philadelphia, dubbed Rendell "America's Mayor." His supporters credit him for jumpstarting the city's economy, reversing job loss and revamping its historical tourist attractions and its tourism industry.
When Rendell became mayor in 1992, his administration faced a city near bankruptcy, and saddled with rising crime rates and unemployment. Rendell boasts that despite those troubles, he balanced the city's budget for the first time in seven years, and set up a fiscal plan to wipe out the city's projected $1.4 billion budget deficit.
In his efforts to stabilize the city's nearly bankrupted economy, Rendell often clashed with the city's union workers. Though his supporters say his tough fiscal moves saved the city around $400 million during his first term alone, Rendell, in the process, strained his relationship with state and municipal labor unions -- a situation that could hinder Rendell as individual union workers go to the voting booths on Nov. 5.
Rendell's uneasy relations with unions became evident during this year's acrimonious Democrat primary. The state's unions declared their support for his opponent, State Auditor Bob Casey Jr., citing the sweeping employee cutbacks Rendell implemented during his tenure as Philadelphia's mayor.
Even after Rendell's win, union leaders hesitated to give him their stamp of approval. Rendell eventually received endorsements from the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state's largest teachers union by late August. But Pennsylvania's largest union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, snubbed Rendell and backed Fisher for governor instead.
The professional firefighters union and the fraternal order of police (FOP) also endorsed the Republican candidate, defying political tradition. Rendell completed a political science degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1965. Three years later, earned a law degree from Villanova Law School.
Shortly after passing the Pennsylvania bar in 1968, Rendell joined the Philadelphia District Attorney's office, where he was promoted to Chief of Homicide in 1972. Rendell also served as 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1968 to 1974.
In 1977, Rendell staged a successful bid to become the Philadelphia's youngest district attorney, entering the office at the age of 33. He went on to win re-election by a landslide 75 percent of the vote.
Rendell decided not to seek a third district attorney term in 1986, instead attempting a run for governor. Despite his energetic efforts on the campaign trail, he lost the Democratic primary to Bob Casey Sr., who went on to win the governor's race.
The next year, Rendell funneled his energies back into Philadelphia with a bid for the mayor's office, but again lost in the Democratic primary. Another mayoral run in 1991 proved more fruitful, however - and Rendell scored a re-election victory in 1995. In 1999, while retiring from his second term as mayor, Rendell announced he planned to try again for the governor's office, raising some $2 million to invest in his political future.
In mid-September 1999, Rendell discussed his political goals with Insidepolitics.org, saying his bid for Pennsylvania's top job stemmed from a desire to help people. "As a district attorney for Philadelphia] I had a burning desire to...govern in a position that could be more impactful in helping people's lives...I ran for governor in 1986 and lost. I ran for mayor in 1987 and lost. Probably a wiser person would not have run again after those two difficult losses. But I ran again because I really believed I could make a difference and I wanted to try and do it," Rendell said.
That same year, Rendell became chairman of the Democratic National Committee, earning a reputation as a powerhouse fundraiser and helping Vice President Al Gore win Pennsylvania in the 2000 election.
After stepping down from his DNC role in 2000, Rendell joined the Philadelphia-based law firm of Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll LLP and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. Rendell has been married to Marjorie O. Rendell, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, for over thirty years. Their son, Jesse, is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, Rendell's alma mater.
--By Liz Harper, Online NewsHour