Campaign manager fired for Swann comments

Updated: January 26, 2006, 5:24 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A gubernatorial candidate challenging pro football Hall of Famer Lynn Swann in the Republican primary fired his campaign manager after the man told a televised call-in show: "The rich white guy in this campaign is Lynn Swann."

Bill Scranton, a former lieutenant governor who is white and comes from a wealthy family, also issued an apology to Swann after his campaign manager's comments Wednesday.

The remarks by James Seif "in no way whatsoever reflect my views or those of my campaign," Scranton said. "I want to apologize to Lynn Swann, his family, supporters and PCN viewers for the offensive and disturbing comments made on my behalf."

Swann, a former Pittsburgh Steelers star, is seeking to become Pennsylvania's first black governor.

His campaign spokeswoman, Melissa Walters, declined to comment about the remarks Thursday morning.

Seif, who is white and previously served in Gov. Tom Ridge's cabinet, made the comment while trying to portray Scranton as a political outsider and Swann as the candidate favored by the GOP establishment.

Seif took no umbrage at being fired. Instead, he commended Scranton for acting "quickly, decisively and correctly," and added: "That's one of the reasons he'll be a great governor."

Swann campaign official Ray Zaborney also appeared on the show and called Seif's comment "one of the most ridiculous and insulting things I've ever heard in politics."

Swann was a wide receiver for the Steelers from 1974-1983, and led his team to four Super Bowls. He spent several years as a sports commentator for ABC, which along with ESPN is owned by Disney, and serves on the boards of the H.J. Heinz Co., Wyndham International Inc., and Hershey Entertainment and Resorts.

Scranton was lieutenant governor for two terms under former Gov. Dick Thornburgh. Seif quit his job as a vice president of energy company PPL Corp. to lead Scranton's campaign.

The primary is May 16.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.