HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Jay Paterno, son of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he is seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for lieutenant governor in Pennsylvania.
Paterno said he is beginning to circulate petitions to get on the May 20 primary ballot, the first campaign for public office for a longtime assistant football coach.
Party officials had expected Paterno might run for Congress in north-central Pennsylvania, but Paterno said he believes he can serve Pennsylvanians better by staying in the state.
"What it really came down to for me is, where does my family come from?" Paterno said.
Paterno was an assistant coach under his father through 2011, has been working on a book and runs a nonprofit aimed at eradicating malaria in Africa. He has been active in Democratic Party politics, campaigning for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
He said he will be a forceful advocate for public schools and universities, and views himself as someone who is adept at building bridges after growing up in a mixed family of Democrats and Republicans, among them his father.
Scott Paterno, another son of the Hall of Fame coach, ran for Congress in 2004 as a Republican but lost handily to the Democratic incumbent, Tim Holden.
The Democratic field in the lieutenant governor's race is big, with six declared candidates, but none has Paterno's name recognition. Paterno touted himself as someone who can bring new ideas to the state Capitol because he comes from outside the world of politics.