By Alex Roarty
Update, Wednesday, 7:15 p.m.:
Corbett’s first ad is on air statewide on broadcast stations right now appears in dispute,
At a press conference Wednesday, Onorato was asked how he would respond to Corbett’s statewide TV campaign. The candidate quickly shot back that that the spot isn’t on air in the Philadelphia or Harrisburg media markets while dismissing concerns Corbett could stretch his lead while being the only gubernatorial candidate to have TV ads.
“We will be very well-known by November 2,” Onorato said.
Corbett’s spokesman Kevin Harley said the spot is playing statewide on the Fox News Channel, but wasn’t clear if it was airing on broadcast stations across Pennsylvania.
Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Corbett is on the air with the first ad of the race between himself and Democrat Dan Onorato, a 30-second spot that mocks opponents who doubt he can keep his pledge not to raise any taxes in office while reminding voters of his office’s “Bonusgate” investigation.
The ad will run statewide on broadcast and cable, according to Corbett Campaign Manager Brian Nutt, who wouldn’t disclose when it will begin running.
“When I announced my pledge that as governor I would oppose all new tax increases, the response from the politicians was quite predictable,” Corbett says as he looks into the camera against a white background.
The ad segues to criticism from Governor Ed Rendell, and Corbett, who narrated the entire ad, reads a quote from the governor when he said the attorney general “needed to have his head examined” over the pledge.
The ad then pivots to criticism from Onorato, who called it a “gimmick.”
Putting Rendell and Onorato back-to-back is no accident. The Corbett campaign has dedicated itself to running as much against Rendell, whose poll numbers have sagged badly this year, as Onorato, whom the Republican’s campaign says would continue the incumbent’s tax-and-spend policies.
What the ad doesn’t mention is that Corbett’s no-tax pledge has also been derided by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware), who has said he doesn’t see any way to balance next year’s budget, with a projected $4 billion shortfall, without raising taxes.
The attorney general compares those who doubt his no-tax pledge to those who doubted he wouldn’t investigate corruption in the Capitol, implicitly reminding voters of his office’s “Bonusgate” investigation, which has indicted 25 people part of or connected to the state House. The investigation led to the conviction of former House leader Mike Veon earlier this year, and two former speakers of the House, Democrat Bill DeWeese and Republican John Perzel, also await trial.
“The politicians were just as skeptical when I promised to fight corruption in Pennsylvania,” Corbett says. “Boy, were they wrong.”
He adds, “So if any of them truly believe we can’t stop Harrisburg’s reckless spending and high taxes, just watch me.”
A Franklin & Marshall poll released last week reported Corbett has an 11-point lead over Onorato among likely voters.
Update: 11:45 a.m.,
Brian Herman, Onorato spokesman, said the ad contains the same “empty promises” that Corbett has made on the campaign trail.
“Tom Corbett can make all the promises he wants in a TV ad, but his record speaks for itself,” the spokesman said. “He has requested more tax dollars for his office every year since being elected Attorney General, refuses to cut his current office budget by just two percent and the one time he voted on a budget he chose to raise taxes rather than cut spending. He contradicts himself at every turn, suggesting that he doesn’t even understand his own economic policies; but, the one area where he is consistent is his support for big business over average Pennsylvanians.
He added: “Our state faces major challenges, and Dan Onorato is the only candidate with proven experience turning around an economy, controlling spending and balancing a budget without raising property taxes. Tom Corbett named his ad “Predictable” – an appropriate description for thirty seconds of the same empty promises he lacks the experience to fulfill.”