Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Two Toms in Convention Land

Tom Corbett isn't getting the national attention Tom Ridge got. It's two different Toms and two different times.

Two Toms in Convention Land

What a difference a Tom makes!

Gov. Tom Corbett, in his second year in office, isn’t getting the kind of attention at the GOP convention that Gov. Tom Ridge did in his second year in office during the 1996 convention.

Corbett heads the state delegation in Tampa as Ridge did at Bob Dole’s convention in San Diego.

But Corbett isn’t speaking at this convention. Ridge spoke at that one.

In fact, Ridge was on a short-list to be Dole’s running mate (Dole ultimately picked Jack Kemp) and Corbett, well, he’s among governors scheduled to speak at a Republican Jewish Coalition event in Tampa on Thursday.

And it’s not that Ridge was much more popular than Corbett at this point in their incumbencies. Both, in fact, drew the label “one-term Tom.”

Ridge had gone along with a legislative pay raise after saying he wouldn’t, and he cut health-care to poor people.

Corbett has made similar cuts and embraced big energy as an economic development partner or, as Democrats say, a campaign sponsor.

Still, Pennsylvania’s a big, electoral vote-rich state that the GOP swears is in play despite going Democratic in every presidential year since 1988.

Yet, 12 other Republican governors or former governors have speaking roles in Tampa -- including New Jersey Gov. Christie, who gives the keynote address Tuesday night, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Ohio Gov. John Kasich -- and Corbett does not.

How come?

Governors from Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Louisiana and New Mexico are speaking.

Why not Corbett?

Well, he came late to Romney, in deference to home-state former Sen. Rick Santorum, and didn’t endorse Mitt until mid-April after Santorum left the race.

And, according to press secretary Kevin Harley, Corbett didn’t seek a speaking role at the convention and doesn’t need one since he has “no national aspirations.”

Also, state Republican chairman and national committeeman Rob Gleason says Corbett is “not a self-promoter,” adding that Corbett “always sticks to his knitting and right now that’s being governor.”

As in governor-not-getting-attention at his party’s national convention.



Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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