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Mass. Gov. Swift to run on her own

Oct. 18, 2001 at 2:02 PM   |   Comments

GARDNER, Mass., Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Acting Gov. Jane Swift, the first woman governor in Massachusetts and the only governor in the nation to give birth while in office, said Thursday she will run for a full four-year term in her own right next year.

Swift, 36, confirmed reports about her decision to run at a send-off gathering for National Guard troops called to active duty for homeland security. Aides had leaked her decision to the media Wednesday night.

She said a formal announcement "will wait until a more appropriate time," considering the gravity of troops being activated as the nation reacts to a crisis of terrorism.

"I don't think, as this morning's ceremony points out, that this is the time for partisan politics," she told reporters. "There are a lot of important issues, not the least of which are our country and our state security."

Swift is a member of the Republican Party, which has controlled the governor's office in the overwhelmingly Democratic state for a dozen years. At least five Democrats are expected to vie in a primary next September for the chance to challenge Swift.

Her decision to seek to become the first woman elected governor in the state had been expected to be made public early in September, but that was delayed by the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11.

Since those attacks, Swift's political popularity has soared due to her steps to beef up security at Boston's Logan International Airport and the Port of Boston. A recent Boston Herald poll showed her approval rating, perilously low a year ago when she was the state's lieutenant governor, rose to 66 percent.

Aides said she felt now was the time to disclose her decision to run.

"She made her decision out of a sense of obligation to the party, her supporters and other potential candidates," one aide said. The adviser said that with the election a little less than a year away, "it's important that the party know what her plans are."

Swift became governor in April when Gov. Paul Cellucci became ambassador to Canada and she was seven months pregnant.

Swift gained national attention in mid-May when she gave birth to twins. She and her husband, Chuck Hunt, also have a toddler at home in Williamstown.

Aides said that after she returned from a 3-month maternity leave, Swift became convinced she could handle running the state while undertaking a campaign and fulfilling her duties as a parent.

"Shortly after the birth of the children, she wanted to see how well she could juggle the schedule, and she's handling her time well," an aide told the Herald. "It's working for her and her family."

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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