PA Gov. Pledges 'Open Mind' on Electoral Vote Plan

HARRISBURG - Gov. Corbett said Saturday he would keep an open mind to arguments against the proposal he backs that would end Pennsylvania’s system of allocating all of its electoral votes the winner of the statewide popular vote in presidential elections.

“You know me, I always listen,” Corbett told reporters outside the quarterly meeting of the Republican State Committee here. But he’s known as consistent, or stubborn, depending on your point of view, in his positions. A reporter asked him if he had ever changed his mind on anything. “There are a lot of times,” Corbett said. “I just don’t tell you when I change my mind.”

Gov. Corbett also said school vouchers are a top priority.

The governor said he was sympathetic to the concerns of Republican members of Congress who represent Democratic-trending districts in the Southeast that were carried handily by President Obama in 2008. He is scheduled to meet with the delegation Tuesday during a previously scheduled trip to Washington.

Under the proposal, championed by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R) of Delaware County, Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes would be awarded on the basis of the popular vote in each of the 18 congressional districts, with two points awarded to the winner of the statewide popular vote.

The plan would potentially benefit the GOP’s presidential candidates in 2012 and beyond, but Democrats characterize it as vote rigging, and many Republicans are concerned because of the possibility of unintended consequences, such as endangering the party’s representatives in moderate congressional districts.

“I believe Sen. Pileggi’s bill has strong merit; it is more representative of Pennsylvania than the present system, but I’m keeping an open mind,” Corbett said.

He also said that he does not believe predictions of doom, common here at state committee, that national GOP party-building money would dry up if Pennsylvania were no longer the fifth-largest electoral prize in presidential years, with 20 EVs. “Everybody’s trying to figure out what’s going to happen, and that’s hard to do,” Corbett said. “No one knows the future.”

Asked what role national Republican leaders and members of the state’s House delegation should have in making a decision on the electoral-vote plan, Corbett said: “A role in the decision? I think they have a role in giving input, but the deision is pretty much up to the legislature.”