Ed Rendell

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Ed Rendell
Governor of Pennsylvania
Retired Officeholder
In office
January 21, 2003 – January 18, 2011
Bachelor'sUniversity of Pennsylvania (1965)
J.D.Villanova Law School (1968)
Military service
Service/branchU.S. Army Reserve
Years of service1968-1974
Date of birthJanuary 5, 1944
Place of birthNew York, New York
Office website
Edward Gene "Ed" Rendell (born January 5 1944) is a politician, a former Governor of Pennsylvania, and member of the Democratic Party. He was elected Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2002, and his term of office began January 21, 2003. He has been the Campaign Chair for the Democratic Governors Association, and also served as General Chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the 2000 presidential election.


Rendell was born in New York City to Jewish American parents Jesse T. Rendell and Emma Sloat; all four of his grandparents were immigrants from Russia. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1965 and a Juris Doctor from Villanova Law School in 1968. He served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1968 to 1974.

Rendell teaches a class on elections--entitled "The Science of Politics: Who Gets Elected and Why"--at the University of Pennsylvania every fall.


  • Bachelor's degree - University of Pennsylvania (1965)
  • Juris Doctor - Villanova Law School (1968)

Political career

Governor of Pennsylvania (2003-2011)

Rendell was elected the 45th Governor of Pennsylvania in November 2002, and first assumed office on January 21, 2003. He won re-election in 2006. Rendell was succeeded by Republican Tom Corbett in January of 2007. When Rendell 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 6 out of 67 counties: Philadelphia County, the Philadelphia Suburban counties of Bucks, Berks, Chester, Montgomery and Delaware, and Allegheny County (home of Pittsburgh). In the November 2002 gubernatorial election, he defeated Mike Fisher (R) 53% to 45%. Rendell won not only Philadelphia County, 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.[1]


The Plan for a New Pennsylvania

The first piece of legislation Rendell initiated was The Plan for a New Pennsylvania.[2] 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.[3]

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


Rendell was heavily criticized for his stubbornness in passing his first fiscal year budget. Pennsylvania did operate without a budget for over six months due to difficulties in negotiations with the state legislature.

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[4] (dead link) and a quadrupling of Pennsylvania's minority and women owned business participation rate.

Property taxes

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 was 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.

Following Act 72, Rendell and the Pennsylvania legislature looked at other proposals to reduce property taxes, a key component of his 2002 campaign. The governor said he was willing to consider legislation that changed Act 72. Legislative proposals were made to force school districts to accept the money. Other proposed legislation would have required 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 were issues of great controversy and were the subject of political gridlock.

Legislative salary raise

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. 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 a questionable effort to leverage PHEAA's profits from federal student loan revenues to help finance the Commonwealth'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.

Shale drilling ban

Gov. Rendell signed an executive order October 26, 2010 that banned any further leasing of state lands for Marcellus shale drilling. He said concerns over the certification of an environmentally stable forest justified the moratorium. He also cited a report from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), which suggested any additional leases for Marcellus shale gas drilling could endanger the “quality and character of these tracts.”

The DCNR report calculated that Pennsylvania managing its forests in a sustainable manner is worth about $6 billion to the forest products industry.

"Drilling companies’ rush to grab private lands across the state has left few areas untouched by this widespread industrial activity," said Mr. Rendell. "We need to protect our un-leased public lands from this rush because they are the most significant tracts of undisturbed forest remaining in the state. The House led the way to protect these lands, but the Senate failed to do so. That’s why it’s clear we need this executive order."

The moratorium did not affect any drilling on state lands already leased, which included approximately 700,000 of Pennsylvanian's 2.2 million acres of forest land.[5]

$45 Million For Pittsburgh Mass Transit

On December 2, 2010, Gov. Rendell said he found $45 million in federal taxpayer funds and wanted to give it to the bankrupt Allegheny County Port Authority so it could keep its regional public transit network running at full capacity for another six months.

The authority announced a 35 percent cut in service in March and a significant fare increases on Jan. 1. They were projected to lay off 500 workers in an effort to cope with a $47 million shortfall in its operating budget. The newly redirected federal funding allowed the authority to maintain existing operations through the end of June, Rendell said.[6]

RACP funding

With two weeks left in his term, Rendell topped the $2 billion mark in taxpayer funds distributed through the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP).

The money comes through state bond issues, so taxpayers will ultimately offer nearly $3 billion to pay off the debt over the next 22 to 30 years.

RACP funds require a matching amount from project developers, which are frequently taxpayer-funded bond issues from lower levels of government.

In early December 2010, Rendell committed to 19 projects in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County for $84 million. At the same time, Warren and Erie counties took in $45 million the governor claimed would leverage $68 million in additional private funding in the state's northwestern corner.

Later in December 2010, Rendell pushed about $100 million into the stockings of businesses and developers in the Philadelphia region, bringing RACP funding to at least $2.11 billion between 2003 and 2010.[7]

Governor-elect Tom Corbett's transition team said Corbett was facing a $4 to $5 billion operating shortfall in the spring and would examine all outstanding projects that have not been “signed, sealed and delivered.”[8]

Mayor of Philadelphia (1992-2000)

Rendell was the first Jewish Mayor of Philadelphia. He was first elected in 1991, his second mayoral campaign. In 1987, he ran for the Democratic nomination against the incumbent Mayor, W. Wilson Goode—a race in which some of the Philadelphia Black Clergy charged that Rendell reneged on a promise not to run against Goode. The fallout hung over Rendell as he entered the 1991 campaign, but he benefited from a multi-candidate primary. In the Republican primary, the notable former Philadelphia Mayor, Frank L. Rizzo, won in a rough campaign against Ron Castille, who had resigned his office as District Attorney in order to run for mayor . There were rumors that Rizzo would play political hardball with Rendell (Rizzo was, in fact, the source of a derisive nickname for Rendell, "Fast Eddie"), the way Rizzo had done with Castille. Rizzo, however, died in the summer of 1991; in November, Rendell won by more than a 2-1 margin against Joseph M. Egan, Jr., Rizzo's replacement on the Republican ticket.[9]

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. Rendell's cost-cutting policies brought him strong opposition from labor unions; however, he was re-elected in 1995, defeating Republican Joe Rocks with 80 percent 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), and former Philadelphia City Council chairman (and mayor elect) John Street became mayor three weeks early.

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 as "the most stunning turnaround in recent urban history."[10] (dead link) Rendell was nicknamed "America's Mayor" by Al Gore and chaired the DNC during the 2000 presidential election.

District Attorney of Philadelphia (1977-1986)

Rendell was elected District Attorney of Philadelphia 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. He served two terms, leaving in 1986 to run for Pennsylvania Governor. He was defeated in the Democratic primary for Governor by Robert P. Casey, Sr.



Rendell was prevented by term limits from seeking re-election in 2010, although he had already announced during his re-election campaign in 2006, that it would be the last one of his career. If he changed his mind, Governors in Pennsylvania are restricted to serving two consecutive terms, so Rendell would have had to wait until 2014 to run again for the top office.


Rendell's political savvy and problem-solving abilities along with an easy-going personality and speaking style put him on the long list of possible future Presidential candidates. However, he said that he was "not really" interested in running for either President or Vice President in 2008.[11] (dead link) "I like to be my own boss," said Rendell.[12] On February 25, 2007, Rendell appeared on Fox News Sunday and dismissed any speculation that he might run for the presidency or the vice presidency and outright denied any wish to be the vice-presidential running mate of the eventual Democratic nominee. Nevertheless, he drew considerable attention. His service as district attorney and Mayor demonstrated a law enforcement focus that could be a positive campaign asset, as could his military service. On MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthew repeatedly compared former New York City mayor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani's overtly successful mayoral tenure in NYC to Rendell's largely successful run as Philadelphia's mayor. Both Giuliani and Rendell have previously been dubbed "America's Mayor."

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 cost him support among Democrats who are against Social Security privatization.

Rendell announced that his re-election campaign in 2006 would be the last one of his career.


Rendell won re-election on November 7, 2006.[13] His Republican opponent in November was Lynn Swann, a former football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rendell had 60% of the vote or 2,415,572 votes, to Swann's 1,593,277 or 40% of the vote.

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


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 "wing states" in the 2004 presidential election.


Rendell was first elected Governor of Pennsylvania in November 2002.


His wife, Marjorie Rendell, a Catholic, is a federal judge. They married on July 10 1971, and have one son, Jesse, a 2002 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, who was the bassist for the defunct southern New Jersey punk rock band Don't Look Down.

The Eric Baker character on television series The West Wing, played by Ed O'Neill, is said to be based on Rendell. Baker is the Governor of Pennsylvania on the show.

See also

External links

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Political offices
Preceded by
Mark Schweiker
Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Tom Corbett