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Cranmer lays down a sacrifice

Wednesday, April 07, 1999

By Robert Dvorchak

Bob Cranmer raised $500,000 to run for the new office of Allegheny County executive. But his ambitions died before his candidacy got off the ground.

His negative numbers were so huge following his split with fellow Republican Larry Dunn and his support of Plan B that he never entered the race.

"Even though I'm a casualty, what an honor to be a key player in having a whole new city. I didn't get into this to have a political career," Cranmer said.

A former company commander in the U.S. Army's 101st Air Assault (Airborne) Division, the first-term county commissioner often uses military terms to talk about his governing philosophy.

"You get to your objective. It becomes part of your being," said Cranmer. He also likes to quote from Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, whose philosophy was: "Never let up in the pursuit.

Dunn and the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy have their own military comparison. The Republicans call Cranmer a Benedict Arnold, and a political corpse, for his about-face on stadiums.

Cranmer, a former Brentwood councilman and county GOP leader, campaigned steadfastly against using public money for stadiums when he was elected with Dunn in 1995 as the first Republican majority in the county in 60 years.

But he broke with Dunn over the direction of county government in 1997 and became a proponent of Plan B. Describing his original thinking as myopic, he said he was converted by the economic benefits of saving the Pirates and Steelers.

Cranmer acknowledged his views are unpopular - "It's like trying to get your kids to take their medicine," he said - but he also said he got tired of the cynicism and negativism.

"If 10-year-olds could vote, Larry Dunn would be against broccoli and cough syrup," Cranmer said.

Cranmer actually forged a working relationship with Mayor Murphy, a Democrat, when the two started jogging together in September 1995.

He joined forces with Democratic commissioner Mike Dawida when the county's $80 million surplus turned into a $40 million deficit and the county's bond rating dropped like a stone.

"In public life, the hardest thing to do is change your mind. Bob Cranmer did that," said U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.

Cranmer said he has no regrets.

"What I want to do is the right thing so that my four kids will have a future here and they won't have to move to New Jersey, like I did, to find a job," Cranmer said

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