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Edward Gene "Ed" Rendell (born January 5, 1944) is an American politician and Governor of Pennsylvania. Rendell, a member of the Democratic Party, was elected Governor of Pennsylvaniamarker in 2002, and his term of office began January 21, 2003. He is currently a Member of the Democratic Governors Association Executive Committee, and also served as General Chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the 2000 presidential election. From 2008 to 2009, Governor Rendell was Chairman of the National Governors Association. He is married to Marjorie Rendell, a Federal judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Early life

Rendell was born in New York Citymarker to Jewish American parents Jesse T. Rendell and Emma Sloat; all four of his grandparents were immigrants from Russiamarker. He attended Riverdale Country School before the University of Pennsylvaniamarker, B.A. degree, 1965, and Villanova Law Schoolmarker, Juris Doctor, 1968. He served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1968 to 1974.

Philadelphia District Attorney

Rendell was elected District Attorney of Philadelphiamarker in 1977, defeating the incumbent Democratic DA, F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, in the primary election. Rendell ran a campaign that emphasized that he was new to the political scene and not tainted by corruption. In 1980, Rendell received 28 delegate votes for Vice President of the United States at the Democratic National Convention, although he was not a candidate. He served two terms as DA before leaving in 1986 to run for Governor of Pennsylvania. He was defeated in the Democratic gubernatorial primary by Robert P. Casey, Sr.

The 1985 police confrontation and bombing of MOVE, an African-American commune, occurred during Rendell's tenure as District Attorney.

Mayor of Philadelphia

In 1987, Rendell ran for the Democratic nomination against the incumbent mayor, W. Wilson Goode and lost. Rendell ran successfully four years later, in 1991. His opponent was Democrat-turned-Republican former Philadelphia Mayor, Frank L. Rizzo. Rizzo, however, died in the summer of 1991; in November 1991, Rendell won by more than a 2-1 margin against Joseph M. Egan, Jr., Rizzo's replacement on the Republican ticket.

As mayor, Rendell inherited massive fiscal problems. The state legislature established a fiscal oversight board to monitor the City of Philadelphia's fiscal issues. During his career as mayor, Rendell cut a $250 million deficit; balanced Philadelphia's budget and oversaw five consecutive years of budget surpluses; reduced business and wage taxes for four consecutive years; implemented new revenue-generating initiatives, and dramatically improved services to Philadelphia neighborhoods. He also appointed Philadelphia's first ever Latino deputy mayors, with the naming of Benjamin Ramos and Manuel Ortiz. Rendell's cost-cutting policies brought him strong opposition from labor union; however, he was re-elected in 1995, defeating Republican Joe Rocks with 80% of the vote. He resigned on December 21, 1999, shortly before the end of his term, to take up the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Rendell's first term as mayor was chronicled in a best-selling book A Prayer for the City by Buzz Bissinger. The author, a former journalist, was given practically unlimited access to the Mayor during that term. The New York Times called Rendell's job as mayor "the most stunning turnaround in recent urban history." On MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews has repeatedly compared former New York Citymarker mayor Rudy Giuliani's successful mayoral tenure in NYC to Rendell's successful run as Philadelphia's mayor. Both Giuliani and Rendell have previously been dubbed "America's Mayor." Rendell was nicknamed "America's Mayor" by Al Gore and chaired the DNC during the 2000 presidential election.

Governor of Pennsylvania

2002 primary

When he announced his intent to run for the Democratic Nomination for Governor of Pennsylvania, he did so without the backing of the state party. The Pennsylvania Democratic Party threw their support behind Bob Casey whom they saw as a more electable candidate against the liberal Rendell. In a bitter primary, Rendell won the nomination by winning only 10 out of 67 counties: Philadelphia and its suburbs: Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, and Delaware; its Lehigh Valley exurbs: Berks, Lehigh and Northampton; and Centre County, the home of Penn State Universitymarker.

2002 general election

In the November 2002 gubernatorial election, he defeated Mike Fisher (R) 53% to 44%. Rendell won not only Philadelphia Countymarker, which is heavily Democratic, but also traditionally Republican suburbs of Philadelphia, largely due to his popularity as mayor of Philadelphia. These traditionally Republican voters who backed Rendell were dubbed Rendellicans by the media and were a key part of the success of his campaign.

In a 2002 PoliticsPA feature story designating politicians with yearbook superlatives, he was named the "Most Likely to Succeed." Rendell's campaign website was described as having "cutting edge in design for a political site."

First term

The first piece of legislation Rendell initiated was The Plan for a New Pennsylvania. The Plan proposed using slot machine revenue to reduce taxes by $1.5 billion (an average 30% decrease for homeowners) and included $687 million in increased education funding. The plan was to be paid for with a proposed income tax increase from 2.80% to 3.75% plus increased taxes on utilities and beer. The governor's plan passed but with a smaller tax increase to only 3.07% and increased education funding of $450 million. The final budget deal included additional taxes on cigarettes and utilities.

Later that year, the Rendell administration also passed a prescription drug plan that covered older Pennsylvanians.

In his first year, Rendell created the Office of Management and Productivity with the goal of cutting $1 billion in administrative expenses by the end of his first term. One of the most widely touted successes from Rendell's productivity initiative was strategic sourcing in which he overhauled the Commonwealth's antiquated procurement system, leading to $180 million in annual savings and a quadrupling of Pennsylvania's minority and women owned business participation rate.
Rendell and Knoll
In 2004, Rendell persuaded the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass measures to legalize and tax slot machine parlors, with the revenues from these measures to be used to reduce property taxes. Prior to this legislation, the only legal forms of gambling in Pennsylvania were horse racing and the state-run lottery. Rendell has been criticized by many opponents of legalized gambling.

In a compromise with the legislature, Rendell accepted a provision requiring that tax reductions only occur in areas where local school boards voted to accept the funding. Act 72 funding, as it came to be known, was accepted by only one fifth of Pennsylvania's school districts. Rendell was criticized when he commented that PA voters were "misguided" when the overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians voted against Act 72 in their districts.

Following Act 72, Rendell and the Pennsylvania legislature are looking at other proposals to reduce property taxes, a key component of his 2002 campaign. The governor has said he is willing to consider legislation that changes Act 72. Legislative proposals have been made to force school districts to accept the money. Other proposed legislation would require the issue to be voted on in each district as a ballot question, rather than decided by school boards. Property tax relief and Act 72 are issues of great controversy and have been subject to political gridlock, so it is unclear when changes will be made or what is likely to happen next.

In early 2005, Rendell made statements that seemed to support President George W. Bush's Social Security privatization proposal. Rendell addressed this issue in later speeches, saying that he opposes social security privatization, and that his previous comments were meant to show admiration for President Bush for taking on a politically risky subject. Nevertheless, Rendell's initial statements have cost him support among Democrats who are against Social Security privatization.

In 2005, Rendell received much criticism from the public and press for signing a controversial pay raise for legislators. Later, he signed the measure's repeal.

Rendell's first term was rife with political manipulation, including withholding funds for the expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center over a spout with the authority and their management appointments. Rendell insisted he have a role in the appointments for funding to be released, which stemmed from his disapproval of the appointment of non-Philadelphia political insider Dittie Guise as the authority's Chief Operating Officer.

2006 general election

Rendell won re-election on November 7, 2006, after facing another weak opponent. His Republican opponent in November was Lynn Swann, a former professional football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rendell had 60% of the vote or 2,470,517 votes to Swann's 1,622,135 or 40% of the vote.

Rendell was sworn into his second term as governor of Pennsylvania on January 16, 2007.

During his re-election campaign, Rendell was also instrumental in the successful Senate candidacy of Bob Casey, Jr. who had run against him for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2002.

Second term

In 2007, as a residual effect of the potent political power the pay raise issue had in central and western Pennsylvania, Rendell stepped up criticism of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) and its executive salaries and expenses, following published newspaper reports, in an effort to leverage PHEAA's profits from federal student loan revenues to help finance the Commonwealh's need-based state grant program for undergraduate post-secondary education (both for grants and for the administration of the program). PHEAA, however, is not a direct state government department, created as a quasi-governmental agency in the 1960s by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and which is governed by a Board comprised primarily of members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate.

In July 2007, Rendell ordered a partial government shutdown following a dispute with the state legislature over legislative initiatives unrelated to the state budget. Approximately 25,000 state workers were furloughed. The shutdown was resolved within 24 hours.

Governor Rendell, a capital punishment supporter, has signed 78 execution warrants during his term, but none of them were enforced due to stays.

In December 2008, Rendell received criticism for stating that Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano was "perfect" for the role of Secretary of Homeland Security because, "...for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19, 20 hours a day to it."

Rendell drew some criticism following a late January 2009 preview of his budget proposal that would eliminate 100 budget line items, including programs such as the Pennsylvania Governor's Schools of Excellence and Drug Abuse Resistance Education ("D.A.R.E."). These program cuts are part of Rendell's proposal to cut state expenditures to a level 1 percent below the 2002-2003 budget in response to an expected 2.3 billion dollar budget shortfall. As a result of the budget crisis, Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo resigned.

Rendell called for reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in the wake of a police shootingmarker in Pittsburghmarker.

Presidential politics

Rendell was a potential candidate to serve as Senator John Kerry's running mate in the 2004 presidential campaign. Rendell's popularity, particularly in the suburban ring of counties around Philadelphia, was a key to Kerry's victory in Pennsylvania, one of the most hotly contested swing states in the 2004 presidential election.

On February 25, 2007, Rendell appeared on Fox News Sunday and dismissed any speculation that he might run for the presidency. Ed Rendell denied interest in running for vice president in 2008, saying "I like to be my own boss."

On August 30, 2007, The Wall Street Journal reported that while Hillary Clinton and other high-profile Democratic politicians were returning contributions from tainted political fundraiser Norman Hsu, Rendell said he intended to keep the $40,000 he had received from Hsu's fund-raising network. The newspaper also noted that last year Hsu hosted a 10-course dinner for Rendell at Per se in New York City, where meals cost $250 per person.

On January 24, 2008, Rendell announced his endorsement of Senator Clinton in the latter's race for the White House. He stated that, "[Hillary] really cares about moving this country forward. She also has the best health-care plan for America."

As one of Hillary Clinton's staunchest supporters, Rendell has argued that most media outlets coverage of her campaign have been biased. On March 31, 2008 he congratulated Fox News on what he considered to be the best campaign coverage. Addressing Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy, he said, "I think during this entire primary coverage, starting in Iowa and up to the present, Fox has done the fairest job, has remained the most objective of all the cable networks." Rendell continued, "You actually have done a very balanced job of reporting the news, and some of the other stations are just caught up with Senator Obama, who is a great guy, but Senator Obama can do no wrong, and Senator Clinton can do no right."

Rendell endorsed Senator Barack Obama in June 2008 and has made several campaign appearances on his behalf.

As state governor, Rendell was one of the 768 superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention.

Obama cabinet speculation

After Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, Rendell was often mentioned as a possible Obama pick for Secretary of Energyor Secretary of Transportation.

However, Steven Chu was selected for Energy Secretary while Congressman Ray LaHood was selected as Transportation Secretary.

Sports fan

Rendell's love of sports is well-known. Rendell is a Philadelphia Eagles fan and is part of the panel on the Comcast Sportsnet show "Post Game Live", which airs after every Eagles regular and post-season game. He even made a friendly wager on the outcome of Super Bowl XXXIX, promising to wear a New England Patriots jersey and sing the National Anthem at a Philadelphia 76ers/Boston Celtics game if the Eagles lost, which they did. In 2006, he won a bet with the Governor of Washington, Christine Gregoire in supporting the Pittsburgh Steelers in their quest to win Super Bowl XL over the Seahawks 21 - 10.

As a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Rendell frequently supports the Penn basketball team and can be seen at games at the Palestramarker.

He has also assisted in finding new corporate sponsorship for Philadelphia International Championship, a 21-year-old Philadelphia bicycle race.

Also a Phillies fan, he spoke at a memorial service for hall of fame announcer Harry Kalas in 2009.

Family

His wife, Marjorie Rendell, a Catholic, is a Federal judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit who was appointed by President Bill Clinton. They married on July 10, 1971 and have one son, Jesse.Jesse was the bassist for punk/post hardcore band Don't Look Down who were signed to the prominent indie label Nitro Records. They have since disbanded.

Gubernatorial Electoral history

Footnotes

  1. Ancestry of Ed Rendell
  2. Our Campaigns - US Vice President - D Convention Race - Aug 11, 1980
  3. Dead Men Can Vote
  4. Democratic Governors Association: Governor Edward G. Rendell
  5. Commonwealth of PA - Elections Information
  6. Commonwealth of PA - Elections Information
  7. Commonwealth of PA - Elections Information
  8. 'Rendellicans' cross party lines - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  9. http://www.pahouse.com/budget2003PART2/index.asp
  10. PA Login: GOVERNOR EDWARD G. RENDELL PRAISES HOUSE FOR COMPLETING FISCAL YEAR 2003-04 BUDGET
  11. http://www.governor.state.pa.us/governor/cwp/view.asp?a=3&q=437328
  12. Welcome | Casino-Free Philadelphia
  13. Biz Journals, "New convention center COO takes the direct approach", Retrieved August 19, 2009.
  14. CNN.com - Elections 2006
  15. Commonwealth of PA - Elections Information
  16. Governor Rendell Endorses Bob Casey for U.S. Senate
  17. [1]
  18. kdka.com - Legislators, Gov. Reach Deal To End Budget Impasse
  19. Ed Rendell on Crime
  20. Execution Warrants Issued by Governor (1985 to Present)
  21. http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/515622.html
  22. Penn Live, "Rendell's spokesman will resign after budget is passed", Retrieved August 19, 2009.
  23. Mayor, chief: Ban assault weapons
  24. Who Will it Be?
  25. Govs. Rick Perry, Ed Rendell: No V.P. Interest
  26. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Clinton receives Rendell backing January 24, 2008
  27. Clinton Surrogate Ed Rendell Praises Fox News For "Most Objective," "Balanced" Coverage - Media on The Huffington Post
  28. Lehigh Valley Live Breaking News: Search
  29. The Raw Story | Rendell: Obama hasn't changed his mind on telecom immunity
  30. http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2008/06/obama_philadelphia_fundraiser.html Obama holds Philadelphia Fundraiser with Gov. Rendell
  31. First Lady


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