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Hillman supporting Hafer bid for governor

Friday, August 24, 2001

By James O'Toole, Politics Editor, Post-Gazette

State Treasurer Barbara Hafer has announced that Elsie Hillman, a former Republican national committeewoman from Pennsylvania, will serve as honorary chair of her campaign for the Republican nomination for governor.

Hillman's support for Hafer was expected, but the heralding of her title with the campaign is timed to demonstrate that the treasurer remains a credible candidate despite Gov. Tom Ridge's decision to endorse Attorney General Mike Fisher as his successor.

The influential Hillman was a key supporter of Ridge when he captured the governor's mansion seven years ago.

"My endorsement of Barbara Hafer as a candidate has nothing to do with Gov. Ridge's endorsement," Hillman said in a statement released by the campaign. "Rather, it has a lot to do with Barbara Hafer's superior qualifications and fitness to serve."

"It's an honor to run with Elsie Hillman's support and friendship," Hafer said in a companion statement.

"Elsie is the first and most prominent in a long line of Republican stalwarts -- people Ronald Reagan called by name -- who will help me take my campaign to the GOP grass roots over the coming weeks," she said.

The Fisher campaign had a low-key reaction to the development. Kent Gates, Fisher's campaign manager, said that he respected Hillman's decision and looked forward to her support for his candidate after the May primary.

Hillman and Hafer have a long political association dating to Hafer's campaigns for county commissioner in Allegheny County. On high-profile social issues, both are in the GOP's moderate wing. Most notably, both are in favor of abortion rights.



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