Lancaster County Commissioner Craig Lehman (copy)

Lancaster County Commissioner Craig Lehman

Lancaster County Commissioner Craig Lehman has jumped into a crowded and growing field of Democrats who are hoping to unseat embattled Lt. Gov. Mike Stack in 2018.

Lehman, 54, said his 10 years of experience in county government and 15 years prior as a budget analyst in the state House makes him qualified to help move Pennsylvania onto “more sound fiscal footing.”

He joins four other Democrats who have launched campaigns or said they are considering running for the position held by Stack, a Philadelphia Democrat who is being investigated for his alleged abuse of state resources.

Stack announced his re-election bid on Tuesday but has not secured an endorsement from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who ran with Stack in 2014 and will be seeking a second term next year.

Earlier this year, Wolf took the unprecedented step of removing Stack’s state-provided security detail after allegations that Stack and his wife, Tonya, verbally abused them and the staff at their state-funded lieutenant governor’s mansion.

A House committee is also looking into Stack’s grocery bills after The Caucus, a publication of LNP Media Group, reported that Stack spent $34,000 on groceries since taking office in 2015.

Lehman, when asked for his thoughts on Stack’s situation, said his “campaign is not going to be about any one person or any one thing.”

The Lancaster city resident said he would focus on his own personal “five rules” that he tries to abide by as a commissioner — “don’t make yourself the issue,” be professional, be prepared, be principled and “set a good example, because tone matters.”

“Today more than ever, given the political environment, I want to be part of a positive change and I think that can only be done if someone is willing to try to set the right example and try to work for all of Pennsylvania,” Lehman said.

If elected, he said he would continue to live in Lancaster rather than moving into the lieutenant governor’s mansion in Fort Indiantown Gap.

A lifelong Lancaster County resident, Lehman grew up in Mount Joy and went to Donegal High School. He spent four years in the Navy before getting a degree in public administration at Shippensburg University and a master’s degree in policy analysis from Penn State University.

He started in the state House in 1991 as a research analyst before soon becoming a budget analyst, a position he held while serving as a Lancaster city councilman and then controller before being elected a county commissioner in 2007.

Spending some time as president of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and visiting all 67 counties led him to think about eventually running for lieutenant governor, he said.

With his fiscal analyst background and his work to produce structurally balanced budgets for the county, Lehman said he would be valuable to a state government that repeatedly faces structural deficits and “kicks the can down the road.”

Other Democrats challenging Stack include former 16th Congressional District candidate Aryanna Berringer, Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone and Braddock Borough Mayor John Fetterman. State Rep. Madeleine Dean, of Montgomery County, has said she is also considering running.

Fetterman, who gained statewide name-recognition while running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2016, announced on Tuesday he raised $100,000 in the week since he announced his new campaign.

The only declared Republican candidate is Jeff Bartos, who is running on an unofficial ticket with gubernatorial candidate Sen. Scott Wagner.

Former state Rep. Gordon Denlinger, of Caernarvon Township, is also considering a bid. Denlinger said last week that he was sending a “letter of interest” to the state Republican Party and would make a final decision in December.

This story was originally posted Nov. 22 and updated to include expanded comments from Lehman.

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