GOV. RENDELL and Kirstin Snow, a former beauty queen who heads the state's Commonwealth Media Services, deny rumors that they are having an affair, according to a story in the July issue of Philadelphia magazine.

The story by the magazine's features editor, Robert Huber, doesn't do much more than announce the rumors publicly and then allow Rendell and Snow to deny them. The story says "several prominent people" think Rendell is having an affair, but they declined to be quoted by name.

Rendell and Snow, who were interviewed for the story, declined to comment about it yesterday.

The three-page article includes a full-page portrait of a grinning Rendell seated with a smiling Snow standing behind him, resting her arms on his shoulders.

The photo was taken in October at the Commonwealth Media Services studio, in Harrisburg, when Rendell posed for the magazine's November "Power" issue. Rendell appeared alone on the cover of that issue.

Some key points in the story, which hits newsstands tomorrow:

_ "Absolutely not," Snow replied when asked if they were having an affair. "No way. And if I had a nickel for everybody who told me that, or told me they heard that, I wouldn't have to come to my job."

_ Snow says she was surprised it took this long for the rumors to become public, and she worries about the gossip hurting Rendell's wife, Midge, a federal judge.

_ Snow seems surprised to hear that people are claiming that Rendell is describing her as his "soulmate" and "the love of his life."

_ Rendell says he values Snow's media insight on political issues and that her attractiveness helps add some "pizzazz" when he brings her to fundraisers. He says his recent weight loss - he's down 60 pounds - has nothing to do with a new romance.

_ "You know, like a lot of people in politics, I get hit on by women all the time," Rendell says. "There are political groupies just like there are sports groupies. I got hit on when I was 260 every bit as much as when I'm 200."

_ Rendell scoffs at the notion that he would ever use the phrase"the love of my life." He speculates that people probably heard him joking about Snow, saying something like: "Oh, yeah, she's great. She's hot as can be; she's the cat's meow."

Commonwealth Media Services provides communications products and services to commonwealth departments. Snow has a doctorate in business administration. She was Miss Pennsylvania in 1994, Mrs. Pennsylvania in 2005 and Mrs. American Dream in 2007, and used pageant prizes to help fund her education. Snow, who is twice divorced, has also appeared in an infomercial for DivorceDoneRight.com.