Tom Corbett just won reelection.
No. This is not an embargoed, just-in-case story for Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014.
Nor is this a Republican’s wet dream.
Corbett did the impossible. He has set the stage for an upset victory in the most vulnerable governor’s race in America.
Taking a lesson from Muhammad Ali’s playbook, Pennsylvania’s slumping governor has successfully employed the Rope-a-dope strategy that allowed Ali to surprisingly defeat world heavyweight champion George Foreman in the classic 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” match. With “Rope-a-dope,” Ali purposely put himself in what appeared to be a losing position, attempting to tire out Foreman and become the eventual victor.
It will work for Corbett, as well.
No one following Pennsylvania politics will disagree that Corbett has only himself to blame for his losing position. Whether it was his off-color comments about gay marriage and incest, his drastic education cuts or his quixotic push to make Voter ID the law of the land, Corbett encouraged the Democrats (and some Republicans) to create a new and popular acronym: ABC (Anybody But Corbett).
And certainly, the numbers didn’t lie. Last November, Corbett was polled as the worst governor in America.
If you told me a month ago that Corbett had a snowball’s chance in hell to win this election, I’d ask you if you were smoking dope.
But wait – Corbett does support pot now – well, kinda sorta.
And those education cuts?
Corbett is now proposing $387 million in additional state education funding.
Voter ID? You know – that dread GOP-driven voter suppression tool.
Only two weeks ago, Corbett surprised everyone by saying he won’t appeal the ruling against the Voter ID law.
"After spending millions of dollars on a confusing and expensive ad campaign, and to defend the law in court, the governor finally opened his eyes and saw the light," said House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, in a statement on his website.
Don’t forget, Corbett was once labeled “the Grinch” for dropping children off the medical assistance rolls.
Not this year, folks. Corbett raised eyebrows by extending the CHIP health insurance program to 30,000 children in Pennsylvania.
And now, after swiftly deciding that a challenge to yesterday’s federal smackdown of the ban on same-sex marriage was “extremely unlikely” to succeed, Corbett said he won’t appeal the decision.
Same-sex marriage? No Voter ID? Increased educational funding? Extended CHIP coverage? Medicinal marijuana for kids?
If it sounds like a Democrat’s platform, it is. It really is!
But this is an election year – a year in which the Republican governor has magically gravitated to the center.
This is an election year in which even Punxsutawney Phil told Corbett to hibernate for a while.
But Corbett didn’t hibernate.
Instead of throwing punches, Corbett allowed his four Democratic opponents to beat up each other, deplete their resources and get tired.
All the meanwhile, Corbett was just waiting … waiting for the final candidate to emerge from the fray.
And without missing a beat, Corbett’s decision to take government out of the gay marriage debate just sucked out all the air from the Wolf campaign.
And with bad blood felt from Wolf’s competitors, don’t expect the super loyal Schwartz or McCord activists to rally around the newly crowned Democratic nominee.
Sure, some newly elected Democratic state committeepeople are saying they are committed to defeating Corbett, but, with rare exception, almost none of them are passionately expressing their commitment to helping Wolf win.
Big difference. Just like someone saying, “I will miss you" vs. "you will be missed.”
How can you go from accusing the Democratic nominee of enabling a racist to now kissing his ass?
It simply is not conceivable.
Not in Pennsylvania where battle scars are not forgotten.
In 2010, Democrat Dan Onorato defeated some pretty big names in his governor’s primary -- State Senator Anthony Williams, Auditor General Jack Wagner, and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel. And while they pledged their support, their people somehow didn’t make it to the polls, allowing Tom Corbett to beat him, 54.4% to 45.6%.
Of course, things have changed over the past four years, and the Democrats are now sitting on a million-voter registration edge. (1,063,252 to be precise.)
The Democrats look great on paper, and the polls have been with them. Up until now, things have been so good that it was literally their election to lose.
And guess what?
They will do the impossible.
They will lose it, thanks to a big assist from a strategy employed by the greatest boxer of all time exactly 40 years ago.
Corbett, 51%. Wolf, 49%.