In what may be the best-yet test of what the Paterno name now means in central Pennsylvania, Jay Paterno is considering a run for congress.
So reports PennLive.com, which cites Democratic figures in Centre County, Penn., as saying Paterno, son of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, has expressed interest in challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Glenn "G.T." Thompson in next year’s race.
“Jay is a smart, capable leader who really wants to help people,” said state treasurer Rob McCord, who is running for governor. “I believe he would win that congressional seat and make a great member of Congress. I’d love to see him get in that race.”
Jay Paterno became the Paterno family’s strongest voice during the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal that cost the legendary coach his job and his reputation. Sandusky, a longtime assistant coach under Paterno, was convicted last year on 45 counts of sex abuse of young boys. A 2011 investigation by Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI, concluded Paterno participated in a coverup and in November of that year Penn State fired Paterno. He died two months later at age 85.
Throughout the ordeal, Jay acted as his father’s spokesman, challenging Freeh’s investigation and news reports about the scandal.
Politically, however, Jay would not be representing his father. Joe Paterno was a well-known Republican, but Jay has been active in the Democratic party since 2008, PennLive.com reported.
“He came into the [county party] headquarters when Obama first ran and made phone calls like any other volunteer,” said Diane Gregg, a Centre County Democratic operative. “He worked hard, made a lot of friends, and demonstrated that he’ll do the work. There are a lot of people in this county that would be very happy to see him run for it.”