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So I've written a lot about Senate races for both the past election cycle and this upcoming election cycle and I've covered a few house races from time to time.  This is my first Governor diary and I plan on writing more diaries about the Pennsylvania Governor race in 2014 soon.  I am a Pennsylvanian, born and raised in Pittsburgh and received my college degree from Temple University in Philadelphia.  I live and work in Los Angeles now but I visit Pennsylvania a lot and it's still my home.  I also still care about Pennsylvania politics and since a large number of my relatives went to Penn State, they are hungry to get rid of Tom "Corrupt" Corbett (R).  I'll have a bigger diary about that soon.  But I wanted to report this particular story because it could be something big or nothing at all.

So we've heard about Senate and Congressional incumbents get challenged and defeated in their party's primaries.  But no one has tried to primary challenge a sitting governor.  Well that might change this year:

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

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“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. - Politics PA, 12/5/12

Castor has been highly critical of Corbett's handling of public unions in Pennsylvania and Castor has attacked Corbett for doing nothing about privatizing the state liquor stores.  Castor challenged Corbett in 2004 for the nominee for Attorney General.  Corbett defeated Castor by five points.  

Castor has publicly stated that he is against President Obama's plan to raise taxes on the wealthy:

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“I’m not on board with President Obama’s idea about taxes,” said Republican Bruce Castor, a Montgomery County commissioner. “I’m on board with the idea of reaching a result that everyone can live with.” - Bucks County Courier Times, 11/30/12

That should be surprising to no one since Montgomery County is rated the 51st most affluent county in America by the U.S. Census Bureau.  Now Corbett has proven to be a tough campaigner and a great fundraiser.  He currently has a little over $2 million in the bank.  But even all his money and campaigning can't save him from these two words: Jerry Sandusky:

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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. - Politics PA, 12/5/12

Corbett is not just unpopular with PA Democrats but also with his own party.  He tried to rig the Presidential election by eliminating the winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes:

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Gov. Tom Corbett and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi are proposing that the state divide up its Electoral College votes according to which candidates carried each Congressional district, plus two votes for the statewide winner. The system is used by Maine — which, despite the system, has never actually split its four electoral votes — and by Nebraska, which gave one of its five votes to Barack Obama in 2008. [...]

Had this proposed system been in place in 2008, when Obama won the state by a ten-point margin, he in fact would have only taken 11 out of the state’s 21 electoral votes at the time — due to a combination of past Republican-led redistricting efforts to maximize their district strength, and Obama’s votes being especially concentrated within urban areas. - Think Progress, 9/14/11

The plan was very unpopular and none of the PA-based Congressional Republicans in D.C. supported it.  Now Corbett's loyal sidekick, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi is trying to bring back the proposal:

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Pileggi's new proposal is, at its core, similar to the one he and Gov. Corbett championed last fall, in that it would do away with Pennsylvania's winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes.

This time, Pileggi wants to have electoral votes awarded "proportionately," based on the popular vote.

"The major goal remains the same - to more closely align our electoral vote with our popular vote," said Pileggi spokesman Erik Arneson, adding that the senator plans to formally introduce the bill early next year.

Pileggi's new plan would award two votes to the winner of the popular vote statewide and then divide the remaining 18 based on the percentage of the popular vote each presidential candidate received. - Philadelphia Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau, 12/4/12

Hardcore conservative voters are also still angry at Corbett for endorsing Republican-turne-Democrat-turne Republican again moderate candidate, Steve Welch in the GOP U.S. Senate primary over Tea Party Tom Smith:

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Governor Tom Corbett called southeast Pennsylvania GOP leaders Wednesday afternoon to ask for their support for U.S. Senate hopeful Steve Welch, several county chairmen and Republican state committee members told PoliticsPA.

It follows weeks of speculation over who, if anyone, Corbett would support in the crowded primary.

But his decision to back Welch – made the same day as the southeast Pa. caucus meeting – was too fast for many state committee members in the region. The caucus declined to hold a straw poll vote during their meeting Wednesday night. - Politics PA, 1/19/12

Welch became a Democrat in 2006 raising money for progressive Democratic Congressman and decorated Admiral, Joe Sestak.

So Corbett has quite a few reasons to fear a primary challenger from the right and here's a sign he's taking the primary threat seriously.  From the conservative-leaning Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

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With Pennsylvania facing a crisis from spiraling public pension costs, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett on Tuesday outlined potential fixes he will offer to legislative leaders in January before presenting his 2013 state budget.

Corbett told the Tribune-Review, sister paper of The Valley Independent, that options include increasing the state retirement age, which varies by agency, and changing how pension benefits are calculated by not including overtime and adding lower-salaried years into the formula.

Any changes would start with new employees but, if he can get lawmakers to agree, could include workers who haven’t put in the 10 years required to become vested in the system. - Pittsburgh Triune-Review, 12/5/12

So Democrats hate Corbett for his cuts education and services to the poor and for trying to push the voter ID laws to prevent "voter fraud" but we all know the real purpose behind those idea laws:

Now Corbett is going to get tough on public union workers so he can make the right happy.  Pennsylvania has a very high AFL-CIO membership.  Corbett knew early on not to mess with the unions and make himself out to be like Scott Walker or John Kasich.  But now that he's desperate not to get beaten in the primary, he's going after them and you know it will rile up organized labor.  Unions will be at the polls in 2014 to punish Corbett.  But with newly elected Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) looking into Corbett's decision to stretch out the Penn State sex scandal, things don't look good for Tommy boy:

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Gov. Tom Corbett said Thursday that he probably would agree to meet with investigators as part of state Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane's promised probe of that office's handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse case.

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"If I believe it's a political game, no. If I believe that they want to know exactly what was going on when I was there and my thought process, sure," Corbett told reporters.

The topic of Kane's planned investigation cropped up during a year-end interview of Corbett by reporters from several news organizations.

Corbett was attorney general when the state took over the investigation of Sandusky in early 2009 and continued through his 2010 election campaign. He had been governor for nearly a year when the ex-Penn State assistant football coach was charged in November 2011.

The Republican governor's political adversaries have repeatedly suggested that he stretched out the investigation to ensure that it did not become public during the campaign and — theoretically — prompt Penn State loyalists to vote against him. - The Republic, 11/29/12

Also Adam Bonin wrote an excellent diary earlier this year how even local conservative media has turned on Corbett:

Here's the best part of the article Adam Bonin highlights:

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Based on a decade’s worth of evidence of Sandusky’s predatory activities, why did it take the Attorney General’s Office three years to arrest him? I fully understand that it takes time to conduct an investigation, but as numerous prosecutors have stated, you could have arrested him quickly and continued building the case.

Tragically, it is probable that Sandusky continued to molest victims during your epic investigation, as predators do not stop preying unless forced to do so. Had he been arrested early, (standard procedure in many cases with a lot less evidence), Sandusky would have had to post bail, had restrictions placed upon him, and, most important, been under an ultra-intense media and community spotlight - every minute of every day until his trial.

In short, children would finally have been safe. And contrary to your assessment, this would have created a much more favorable environment for additional witnesses to come forward, knowing their bigger-than-life demon could hurt them no more. Arresting Sandusky quickly would have in no way jeopardized the strength of the case.

One of two things seems to be true, as there is no third option. Either A) you were an incompetent attorney general, which virtually no one believes, or B) the investigation was deliberately understaffed and drawn out because you did not wish to be the gubernatorial candidate who took down fabled Penn State - with its massive and intensely loyal alumni network - and the beloved Joe Paterno. Since doing so would have presented difficult campaign challenges, many are asking if politics was placed above children’s safety.

As governor, why did you personally approve a $3 million taxpayer-funded grant to Sandusky’s Second Mile charity, given your knowledge that Sandusky was under investigation for multiple child rapes? - Delaware County Times, 11/16/12

Emphasis Adam's.

It's clear that Corbett is one of the most vulnerable governors this coming election cycle and Democrats are eager to give Corbett the boot.  So far Former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger is the only announced Democrat but expect more Democrats to throw their hat into the race.  

Who knows if Castor will make it official and jump in.  Who knows if he'll even be successful at unseating Corbett.  But if I was a Pennsylvania Republican, I wouldn't want Corbett to be the nominee in 2014.

Originally posted to pdc on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 03:18 PM PST.

Also republished by DKos Pennsylvania, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Pittsburgh Area Kossacks.

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