The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

A sit-down with John Brown, the local councilman running for lieutenant governor

John Brown was elected to the Northampton County Council last November. (Photo courtesy Northampton County)

The party nominees for three statewide races will be decided on May 17, and while the Democratic primaries have whittled down to a few candidates, their Republican counterparts remain free-for-alls. Although dozens are jockeying for the Republican nods for U.S. Senate, Governor and Lieutenant Governor, with leading candidates in the former two races, only one person from the Lehigh Valley is running in the crowded competition to be Pennsylvania’s second in command: John Brown, a Bangor-based Northampton County Councilman. No Democrats vying for statewide office reside in the area.

For Brown, the lieutenant governor’s race is not his first foray into statewide electoral politics. He was the Republican Party’s nominee for Auditor General in 2016, losing to Democrat Eugene DePasquale by five points. Brown says that his race six years ago has contributed to name recognition, something which differentiates him from some of his primary rivals.

“I’ve been active at state-level politics for the last four years, so it’s really taking advantage of that base and just refreshing it and going out and doing what you have to do in order to get your name out there,” Brown said.

Brown added that while it is “hard to get anyone to care about the Lieutenant Governor race” due to the more high profile competitions, coming from Northampton County benefits him statewide, being that it is often a bellwether in statewide races; indeed, Brown recently won a county-wide election to its council, based in downtown Easton. 

“I think those types of things have given me an optimistic look that I could be successful,” Brown said.

Brown’s most recent campaign filings show him with less than $400 on hand, a far cry from the nearly $25,000 he raised in the first cycle of his 2016 race, a primary he ran in unopposed. The councilman also has no endorsements nor online presence, save for a slew of inactive Facebook and Twitter accounts. Brown explains that rather than spending on advertising or web presence, he has been engaging in retail politics.

“I had the specific intention to just run, show up in meetings, talk to people and kind of use the grassroots kind of approach,” Brown said. “I’ve been crisscrossing the state, shaking hands with any group that I can get in front of. I think there’s something almost every day where you can be in front of a group of people.”

Brown added that a campaign on Facebook would be coming “soon.”

A May victory would not be the first time Brown came from behind. In 2013, the then-Bangor mayor won the County Executive race against an opponent who splurged nearly half a million dollars more than he, though the Republican would be ousted by Lamont McClure four years later.

“Even with the amount of money [my opponents] have, it’s very hard to really move the name recognition across the Commonwealth,” Brown said.

According to Brown, serving as a “bridge” between local and state government is a top priority, stating that his county-wide governing experience would compliment the eventual Republican gubernatorial nominee who likely will not have had executive experience beyond the town level; gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial candidates are elected separately in the primary then run together in the general election in Pennsylvania.

“I think my approach has always been to take care of the taxpayer, to really look through their lens,” Brown said. “Obviously, the last several years have seen a lot of noise about the cost of education, ability to secure good-paying jobs upon graduation, those kinds of things that I think most college students would care about. And that’s where I would have you take a look at my record of what I’ve been able to do with the various programs overall.”

Though “campaigning is one thing” for Brown, he says he hopes to yield results in Harrisburg.

“Anybody can stand up on a platform and say, ‘I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that,'” Brown said. “And then there’s the practical aspect of getting it done. That’s called governing, and governing is a very different animal.”

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About the Contributor
Trebor Maitin
Trebor Maitin, Managing Editor
Pennsylvania enthusiast.

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