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Who Was the Big Winner Last night?

Steelers’ coach Bill Cowher (who has certainly paid his dues) and Jerome Bettis (who likely ended his career in his hometown of Detroit) were big winners, last night.  

But the person who benefited the most didn’t even suit up.  

Steelers’ legend (and gubernatorial candidate) Lynn Swann probably gained as much last night as anyone on the field.

Most political candidates would kill for the kind of free national publicity he received. I’m not just talking about the pre-game introduction. I’m talking about a weekend of ESPN shows chronicling "Super Bowl greats." Lynn Swann was once again a rock star.

But aside from the publicity, there’s an even more important reason Swann benefits from this; The Steelers’ Super Bowl victory (for the first time since the 1970s), makes Swann’s campaign seem "destined" for success.  

I don’t want to overemphasize this. It doesn’t escape me that John Kerry also lost his election the same year the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. But Swann obviously has a greater connection to the Steelers than Kerry has to the Red Sox.  

Clearly, Lynn Swann has gotten a shot in the arm from this. It’s too bad the general election is still nine months away. Just as the NFL season is a long season, a gubernatorial campaign is a long game. It doesn’t matter if you are winning in the first quarter; the score at the end of the game is what matters. To win, Swann will have to run like he’s never run before.    

It seems like Swann will do pretty well in the Pittsburgh area. Of course, Philly is always a problematic area for Republicans. Who knows? Maybe Swann will look to the Philadelphia Eagles for an L.G. candidate (Mr. Swann, I would stay away from T.O. if it were me)?

There are plenty of sports figures in politics. But I can’t think of any political candidate who has benefited more from a single sports game than Lynn Swann did last night.

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Written By

Mr. Lewis has managed political campaigns and served as director of grassroots for the Leadership Institute, as well as political director for GOPAC. In 2002, Campaigns & Elections magazine selected him as a "Rising Star of Politics." He is the author of "Teaching Elephants to Talk." His blog can be read at MattLewis.org.

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