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Politically Uncorrected: The Other Race for Governor

GOPIt may surprise some to hear that not one but two gubernatorial campaigns are under way in the Keystone state. One of them, of course, is the red hot Democratic race now featuring four candidates, anyone of which could win the primary, and all of whom would be formidable nominees in the fall. The other race for governor, flying well under the radar screen, is Republican incumbent Tom Corbett’s primary “race.”

The Democratic race is getting most of the attention, but the Republican race may be more crucial. Democrats need only to select a nominee to run against Corbett; Republican’s already have a nominee – now they need to make him a contender.

True, at the moment, Corbett may have a nominal primary opponent (petition challenges now pending will decide that). But whether a nominal opponent or not, his real primary opponent is someone he knows very well – one Gov. Tom Corbett. In effect, Corbett is running against himself and his first term tenure in office.

Elections involving incumbents are always and everywhere a referendum on how the incumbent has done the past four years. Corbett at this point isn’t doing well in that referendum. A large majority of voters don’t believe he deserves to be re-elected. That, more than anything, is something he must reverse and soon.

This recognition that Corbett is in deep trouble with the electorate is no dark secret. In fact, he is widely considered to be the most endangered gubernatorial incumbent in the country. Not so well understood, however, is that Corbett is in as nearly much trouble with his own GOP party. Some 30 percent of Republicans don’t believe he deserves re-election. Corbett has to win back his own “base” if he is to have any chance to win in November.

In order to do that his first task should be to refurbish his image within his own party. Now that voters are beginning to pay attention, the Corbett campaign is trying to do precisely that.

Primarily, they are doing so with media advertising. Corbett now has been on the air since February, running commercials reminding voters of his “promises kept.”

The ads clearly have a major objective – to remind Republicans why they voted for him in 2010. If he can’t do that nothing else matters much. Corbett cannot win a second term without solid support from Republican voters. Right now, he doesn’t have it.

Corbett’s problems, of course, don’t stop with Republican voters. Winning back Republicans doesn’t guarantee him reelection; it just guarantees the fall campaign won’t be a one sided event. To make the general election a contest, Corbett has more work to do – a lot more work.

Even Corbett’s harshest critics acknowledge that he has faced daunting challenges during his first term. He inherited Pennsylvania’s unsolved pension problem, one that poses the state’s biggest fiscal threat since the 1970’s. In addition, he has struggled against a weak economy and high unemployment through much of his term. And now he joins a long line of Republican governors that tried and failed to achieve liquor privatization.

The question looms critical for Corbett: how will voters evaluate his leadership given his modest list of legislative accomplishments. And leadership looms as a fundamental element in gubernatorial re-elections.

Adding to his woes is Corbett’s polling performance with women voters. Corbett generally does not do well with women in match-ups with likely Democratic opponents. This is a critical deficit that he must address, if he is to win re-election.

One possible bright spot is the still unsettled Democratic primary. It certainly would help if Democrats oblige Corbett by nominating someone he can beat. Bereft of a good crystal ball, naming that candidate isn’t possible. But clearly the Corbett campaign prefers to run against Allyson Schwartz, perceiving that her long past and many votes as a state and federal lawmaker making her the most vulnerable of the leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

At the end of the day, however, the vital question remains: can Corbett recover from his steep slide? Far down in the polls, losing decisively to most of his Democratic challengers, contending with an economy that has not produced large state surpluses, faced with an electorate that overwhelmingly thinks the state is moving in the wrong direction – can Corbett convince voters to take a second look?

Pennsylvania’s other race for governor is all about getting the right answer to that question.

11 Responses

  1. By all means vote Corbett out and let another one of these miserable lying liberals get back in so they can screw things up faster and jack up taxes faster. Both political parties are infested with liars and frauds. You will continue to see higher taxes, less and less employment and more slums. Pa is already one big slum especially the southwestern Pa area. Vote for me and I will bring change to Pa just like Obamacare!

  2. @ DD:

    Your luke-warm reheat of Dem talking-points is astoudingly transparent; decry “some” existing plans if will [because no reader can vet your opinion], but don’t try to impugn all of them via a broad-brush aloof dismissal of what millions claim they liked.

    @ Marc

    Read Guzzardi’s websites, for they are replete with action-items; by claiming he’s tangential, you only reveal your own superficiality [both in not having done basic-research before posting a comment, and in having mirrored reflexly what you know to be the standard-GOP “line”].

    @ DD & Marc

    Can’t you PRETEND to harbor independent thoughts???

  3. Bob Guzzardi is a positive alternative to Tom Corbett. He is not a career politician and he can give the Republican party back to its true base. To me it looks like Bob will automatically get that 30% of the Republican vote that disapproves of TC. If he does a little campaigning he should easily get that 21% needed to win. Then the grass roots Republican party will have a candidate they can get excited about.

  4. Marc – I want you to do something for me – it’s pretty simple, but it’s really important – I want you to actually read the article you just commented on. Mr. Guzzardi’s name isn’t mentioned once – in fact, he’s barely eluded to and largely dismissed; the headline is referring to how Governor Corbett is also running against himself. Deep breath… RTFA.

  5. “The nsa is fully complying with the law”
    “When it comes to you guys on wall street, I am the guy standing between you and the pitchforks.”
    “Our policies will reduce income inequality in this country”
    “Guantanamo Bay will be closed and prisoners will be tried in court.”

  6. Its amazing that you are one of the few outlets to pretend this is an actually story. You get most of your readers from mainstream political circles so not sure why you keep writing about fringe candidates who should not even be on the ballot. This man has nothing to offer other then he hates the Republican party. At least the Democrats are talking about other ideas- even if I disagree with them they are waging a campaign. All Guzzardi offers is what he thinks is wrong with Corbett and the PA GOP. He offers nothing to solve an actual issue or does he explain how he would work with the very people he attacks daily on his only real platform social media. Please stop giving the fringe attention they dont deserve. Thanks

  7. I always know when I get you b/c you go off on a diatribe.

    Your credibility stinks because you drop the most hypocritical statements and then back them up by trying to change the topic. It’s transparent and sad.

    Your problem’s not me or the GOP. It’s Politifact’s “lie of the year.”

  8. Unsanctioned R-

    Many of the plans that were dropped as a result of ACA were because they weren’t good enough to deserve the term “plans”. They offered inadequate coverage and some were such a farce they were essentially insurance fraud. (Which was one of the reasons the ACA was needed to establish standards.) The people claiming to like their old plan better seem to dumb to realize that their old plans were worthless. So, far, all the “poster child” complainers touted by the GOP have been investigate by reporters and revealed to be better off with ACA, despite their claims to the contrary.

    My own Blue Cross “existing plan” got “dropped”, but was replaced with a better plan that filled in gaps in the old plan, and costs me about $70 less per month.

    Thank you, Obama. 🙂

  9. “This is pretty typical for two-faced liars.”

    “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”
    “the average family premium will drop by $2500.”
    “You can keep your doctor.”

    Anyone can surprise you.

  10. Corbett must go. All Democrats need to do is vote for Wolf, or maybe McCord and Corbett is done. Republicans know he was a bad Governor, even they are not happy. This has nothing to do with his party, becuase there were some Governor Candidate he could have beat, but not sure about that anymore.

  11. “In effect, Corbett is running against himself and his first term tenure in office”

    This is pretty typical for two-faced liars.

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