A LAWYER FRIEND who follows politics recently asked me who Tom Corbett's running mate is in the upcoming race for governor.

I had to think.

Well, if you don't know, says the lawyer, how do any of us?

So here goes. It's Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley, the Republican-endorsed candidate for lieutenant governor who won a nine-way spring primary with 26 percent of the vote.

(Yes, a nine-way primary. And there were three Democrats. So 12 people ran for an office that almost nobody cares about.)

Anyway, Cawley, 41, was born in Bristol, grew up in Levittown and lives in Langhorne. His father was a letter carrier, his mother a secretary. He went to Temple University for undergrad and law school.

He was, for a decade, a top aide to state Sen. Bob "Tommy" Tomlinson, R-Bucks County, before being elected county commissioner, a post he's held since 2005. He also does some real-estate law with the Philly mega-firm Saul Ewing.

He's married and has an adopted child. As commissioner, he's pushed for and gotten no new taxes for the last four years, and cut the size of the county budget.

Like Corbett, he's pro-life and a "strong supporter" of the Second Amendment.

Like Corbett, he supports a no-tax pledge: "The best economic policy is to allow people to keep their money and spend it how they choose."

If he wins, he'd use the office to play a role in "how to support and grow the Marcellus Shale industry," which he says holds "lots of potential" for improving the state economy. He'd also work for zero-based budgeting, which requires justifying all spending, not just increases.

In other words, a traditional GOP statewide candidate in the mold of former Lt. Gov. (and Bucks County Commissioner) Mark Schweiker (both went to then-Bishop Egan High School), but with a law degree.

The Democrat running with Pittsburgh's Dan Onorato is not so much a traditional Democratic statewide candidate.

State Rep. Scott Conklin, of Centre County, won a three-way primary with 35.3 percent of the vote, beating two Philadelphians: Jonathan Saidel, who finished with 34.9 percent and Doris Smith-Ribner, who received 29.8 percent.

Conklin is 51 but looks younger. He's married with a son at Lock Haven University. He was born in Philipsburg, attended trade school and for 18 years owned a building company that did homes, solariums and energy-efficiency work. He and his wife now own Conklin's Corner Antique and Gift Barn, on Route 350 outside Philipsburg.

He was a Centre County commissioner for seven years and was elected to the House in '06 pushing a reform agenda in the aftermath of the '05 legislative-pay grab.

His upbringing is all blue-collar: grandfather was a carpenter, father was a carpenter and had a bread route; mother scrubbed floors at a local hospital. He says he didn't attend college because "I could never afford it."

As a House member, he's pushed pre-K education funding, environmental safety and reform issues such as limiting political-campaign contributions.

Conklin opposes a state no-tax pledge, contending that it only means "raising local taxes." He's pro-life and pro-gun. "I only own 12," he says. "I'm an embarrassment to my neighborhood."

(Onorato's position on abortion is that he'd veto any change to current law; on guns, he supports "common-sense" change such as requiring reporting of lost or stolen handguns and allowing local gun-control ordinances.)

Conklin's also running to retain his House seat but, if elected to both, says he'd serve as LG. His principal goal as LG is closing the gulf between the executive and legislative branches by working closely with lawmakers on policy. He says governors often forget that executive and legislative branches are, under law, coequal.

LGs normally get lost in the shuffle of campaigns and administrations, but three recent ones made news when: a) Gov. Casey was ill and LG Mark Singel was acting governor, b) Gov. Ridge went to Washington and LG Schweiker became governor, and c) LG Catherine Baker Knoll died in office and GOP Senate President Joe Scarnati became LG.

The gig pays $146,926 and includes a great stone home with a pool and staff. I mention all this in the event that anybody cares.

Send e-mail to baerj@phillynews.com.

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