Exclusive: Castor Mulling Primary Challenge to Corbett

Castor (right) and Corbett face off in a 2004 debate for Pa. Attorney General.

Bruce Castor is considering challenging Governor Tom Corbett in the 2014 Republican primary, the Montgomery County Commissioner told PoliticsPA.

“I am considering the possibility of becoming a candidate for Governor,” Castor said. “I believe that Governor Corbett is vulnerable.”

For months, murmurs of a possible primary challenge have circulated among Republican insiders. Castor is the first person to say he’s pondering a run and he’s among the top tier of potential candidates.

“It looks to me like Governor Corbett has not fulfilled the promise he came into office with,” Castor said. “That could change and everything could end up being terrific a year from now. But if it’s not I want to be in a position where I haven’t sat on my hands.”

His chief criticism of the Governor is leadership style. As far as policy differences, Castor said Corbett hasn’t been sufficiently aggressive dealing with public sector unions or with privatizing the state liquor stores.

PoliticsPA is seeking comment from Corbett.

The two men have a history. Castor lost to Corbett by 5 points in the 2004 primary for Pa. Attorney General. Corbett was endorsed by the Republican State Committee in that contest – much to Castor’s chagrin.

Ousting an incumbent is tough in almost any circumstance. Corbett has proven to be a tough campaigner and a strong fundraiser; his latest campaign committee finance report for year end 2011 showed he had $2.05 million on hand.

Former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger is the only announced Democrat although Pa. Treasurer Rob McCord is also interested in the race.

But there’s an X-factor: Corbett’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky case. One Republican operative who said he would support a Castor bid argued that Sandusky makes Corbett a liability for the GOP in a general election.

“Governor Corbett is not well-liked by the Republican legislature. They don’t view him as a good leader,” the operative said. But moreso, “They view him as damaged beyond repair on the Sandusky scandal and they think he would lose a general.”

A former prosecutor, Castor deferred on the issue. He said he was eagerly awaiting Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane’s findings on the subject.

“I used a grand jury when I thought it was necessary to obtain evidence that I couldn’t get any other way,” he said. “But the big question on everybody’s mind is, was the decision to move the Sandusky case into the grand jury done for the purpose of making it go slower. There is not yet enough information in the public domain to render an opinion on that.”

Castor, 51, was twice elected Montgomery County District Attorney from 2000 to 2008. He was elected as County Commissioner in 2007 when, because of an unexpected power-sharing deal between Republican Jim Matthews and Democrat Joe Hoeffel, he was locked out of county governance. However, when Democrats Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards swept into office in 2011, he went from cantankerous opposition to constructive partner and many of his complaints about his previous colleagues were vindicated.

He presently works at the Blue Bell office of the law firm Elliott Greenleaf and lives in Lower Salford Township with his wife and two children.

The timing of Castor’s now-public consideration is not a coincidence. This weekend is Pennsylvania Society, when the state’s political movers and shakers get together for an annual dinner in New York City. It’s an ideal opportunity generate buzz.

25 thoughts on “Exclusive: Castor Mulling Primary Challenge to Corbett

  1. If Tom Corbett had a viable Primary challenger, every Republican Hack in Harrisburg would wet his bed.

    Even the talk of a real primary challenge has driven up sales of DEPENDS in the Harrisburg market. :-)

  2. Corbett certainly needs to be primaried for sure, but the primary challenge should come from the right, not the left.

    He has so disappointed the constitutional conservatives that made up his base that a viable alternative will be able mount a truly winnable campaign based on his failures to enact meaningful reform. His failure to lead on right to work, liquor control, state pensions and a host of other issues will expose him as vulnerable to a primary challenge from the right.

  3. Castor will use this weekend to gain traction in a primary bid for Gov. and then get Corbett to convince Castille to not run for reelection and support Castor’s bid for judgeship.

  4. Corbett has not accomplished the changes that he promised – most especially, reform of the public pensions and privatizing the liquor stores. If not addressed and resolved, he is done. Pennsylvania loves Penn State and the anger about this is enormous.

  5. The press this has generated is staggering. Why is that? Maybe some folks like this guy Castor, but I’m betting the media senses a big anti-Corbett feeling out there.

  6. In addition to keeping his promise of budgeting with no tax increases the Governor needs to do something that no other Governor has been able to accomplish that is very visible to the people. The Governor’s voter goodwill can be activated with cooperative legislature action to privatize the state stores. He can solidify support by saving money for education by reining in the out of control public worker costs i.e. pensions and ensuring the public’s right to not collect union dues for public employees.

  7. Bruce Castor may have an outsized ego, but he’s not stupid. If he’s making noise, that means Republicans (at least in SEPA) are afraid that Corbett is weak going into the general.

  8. After two years of hiding it’s very disappointing that he finally opens up and slags the House and Senate over WAMS. Corbett is NOT a team player and choses to vilify the R’s as they are the BAD guys.
    As a former Corbett supporter, he has become a HUGH disappointment and I for one will encourage any R to knock him off in the Primary if we stand any chance of maintaining a R for Governor!
    Good Bye One term Tom!

  9. I don’t know much about Mr. Castor, but I know plenty about Mr. Guzzardi. ANYONE who Mr. Guzzardi trashes to this extent must be a truly high quality guy. Absolutely the last person on Earth any political candidate wants on his side and who hopes to win, is Bob Guzzardi.

  10. Personally, I would like to know how many times a Grand Jury was used to investigate a single pedophile, particularly, where the pedophile had a history with law enforcement.

  11. As I think about this, there is only one issue that could make Bruce Castor credible.

    If Bruce Castor runs as a Trial Lawyer making the case against the Union Tax Takers who are destroying The Forgotten Taxpayer’s finances and stagnating the economic vitality of Pennsylvania’s independent business people, he could be formidable. The Unions are the prime drivers of the Pension Bomb. If Bruce goes Simon Campbell on the Union issue, he could make the unions the overriding issue. Pennsylvania’s Scott Walker.

    It will mean he will have to take on the entire Republican Establishment, particularly, in the southeast starting with Bucks County. The Tom Murt Scott Petri Gene DiGirolamo Bernie O’Neill and their Union Republican coalition will work against any pro-taxpayer who challenges union hegemony in Penna.

    Bruce Castor could turn his trial lawyer’s arrogance to a positive by running as the candidate of the Taxpayer Party and purge union influence from the Republican party which is undermining real pension reform, obstructing liquor store privatization, blocking Right to Work and protecting Prevailing Wage laws, Bruce Castor might be viable.

  12. It should be noted that Bruce Castor’s affiliation with the very liberal Trial Lawyer Sen. Stewart Greenleaf will not help Bruce Castor even in MontCo. Bruce Castor is not a conservative, Tea Party or otherwise. Bruce Castor is a liberal Republican and has no record of shrinking the size and cost of government.

    Despite the results of the Nov 6 election, fiscal issues and the economy are high priority.

  13. It is highly unlikely that Bruce Castor will win his home county of Montgomery. Not only won’t the ever more numerous Democrats not vote for a Republican, there are few Republicans who will.

    The Commissioners’ campaign of 2011 revealed a lot about Bruce Castor’s political abilities as well as his abilities to inspire and lead.

    While Jim Matthews may not be everyone’s favorite Republican, he did not deserved to be indicted and publicly arrested and humiliated by the MontCo DA. There is a lot of reason to think it was Bruce Castor’s insistence that resulted in this politicized prosecution. Anyone and everyone is vulnerable when prosecutions are politicized.

    Bruce Castor is, as far as I know, an outstanding Trial Lawyer with an outstanding arrogance that does not play well outside a courtroom and a litigation venue. He is not a likeable guy.

    There is no reason for a Republican to support Bruce Castor over Tom Corbett.

    In another year, Pennsylvania’s fiscal and economic situation is likely to worsen. An outsider without entanglements with the Republican Establishment Insiders and with fiscal common sense credentials and who can raise money and who does not have excessive amount of negatives is the best challenger. At the present, I don’t know anyone with that profile.

  14. Corbett as been a huge disappointment for me as governor, using his political capital on things like voter ID, greasing the skids for shale, etc. as opposed to foremost, adressing the pension bomb, as well as getting rid of our prohibition-era liquor laws, and shrinking government.

    Having said that, this is real high stikes poker for Castor here, despite his political skillset, far better than Corbett’s IMO, the Gleason/Asher organization is formidable, and will really circle the wagons around Castor. If Castor loses to Corbett, as is likely, he stands a great chance of weakening him enough to help put a Dem over the top in 2014 (still a decent chance unless Corbett rights the ship), and that would likely end Castor’s career.

  15. Gov. Corbett is too extreme for the state of PA. He might lose a primary challenge to Castor. Even though Corbett does not say it, he is Tea Party. Corbett is completely partisan to the far right.

    The only time Corbett is aggressive is when he is hurting the middle class.

  16. Governor Corbett needs to stop acting like an Attorney General, and act like a Governor of a state with nearly 13 million people.

    No more Undercover Governor.

    He should have 4 B’s on his mind going forward:

    Be Seen, Be Heard, Be Available, Be Aggressive.

    Then, this grousing will end.

  17. Governor Corbett has invited a possible primary challenge due to the perception that he is a weak leader–especially on issues which conservatives have deep concerns.

    One way Corbett could diminish potential opposition from the right is to return the $33 million his administration took from the federal government to setup a healthcare exchange–and, even more importantly, support Matt Baker’s bill to completely opt out of ObamaCare.

    Don Adams
    Independence Hall Tea Party

  18. Castor raised taxes 17%.
    Corbett raised taxes 0%.

    Matthews for Lt. Gov 2006
    Hoeffel for Gov 2010
    Castor for Gov 2014

    The delusional Montco Commissioner gubernatorial tour continues!

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