It’s not exactly a secret that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has struggled badly in his first term, but I didn’t realize things had deteriorated to this point.
Beset by legislative failures and bleak poll numbers, the Republican looks like the country’s most vulnerable governor heading into the 2014 election. And Republicans are questioning whether they should let Corbett face a near-certain defeat when they could find a ready replacement with a much better chance of winning.
Already, speculation among GOP operatives has shifted to a quartet of candidates the party might turn to, including several Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation. Fearful of alienating a sitting governor, they’ve done little to publicly jockey for the potential opening. But all are said to be keeping a close eye on Corbett.
The National Journal report said a GOP primary challenge to the sitting governor is unlikely, but speculation about replacing Corbett is “rampant,” and several Pennsylvania Republicans have already been identified by party officials as strong candidates if the governor is convinced he can’t win and needs forgo his re-election bid.
A GOP source told National Journal, “The problem is, you need a path to victory. I think they have trouble right now with activists and donors showing them a path to victory. If that doesn’t improve in the next couple of months, they’ll close their wallets and shut their front doors, and activists and donors will make up their mind for him.”
In 2010, Corbett cruised to a nine-point victory. In 2013, polls show him trailing likely Democratic rivals by double digits, while a majority of voters believe the governor hasn’t earned a second term.
With Corbett, it’s never been just one thing that drags him down, but rather, a cumulative effect after he slow-walked the Jerry Sandusky investigation and approved medically unnecessary ultrasounds and backed a ridiculous voter-ID scheme and alienated minorities and blamed high unemployment on Pennsylvanians’ difficulties in passing drug tests.
Regardless, the sharks appear to be circling. Rep. Jim Gerlach’s (R) office said the congressman “fully expects” Corbett to run for a second term, but added, “If the situation were to change, Congressman Gerlach wound give careful consideration to his options.”