Polls, gaffes hobble Gov. Corbett's second term chances
Forget for a moment new poll numbers released Monday that show Gov. Tom Corbett well behind the future "Democratic Party's Candidate" in next year's Pennsylvania gubernatorial election.
Corbett could very well face a formidable candidate from within his own Republican Party, according to a new report this week.
A GOP operative told the website Politics PA that 'it’s just a matter of getting the right group of people in front of the Governor to say, 'the party’s over.'"
Another Republican insider went so far as to confirm there is a coordinated effort to recruit arguably the most popular Republican politician in Pennsylvania, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, to challenge Corbett. Toomey's office declined to comment on the rumors, according to Politics PA.
Corbett's campaign manager, Michael Barley, told Philly.com in response to the rumors that the governor "enjoys strong support from the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and grassroots leaders around the state."
Barley also touted the successful turnaround of Pennsylvania's budget by the Corbett administration, which inherited a deficit of more than $4 billion from the Rendell administration.
"Pennsylvania is headed in the right direction now that Governor Corbett helped to eliminate a $4.2 billion deficit, curb wasteful government spending and implemented an agenda that has allowed the private sector to create over 130,000 jobs,” Barley said.
Whether or not Corbett gets a chance for a second term, it's become increasingly clear that his popularity is at historically low levels.
A poll of 579 state residents by the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics found that only 29 percent would vote for Corbett if the election were held now while 40 percent would vote for the yet-to-be determined "Democratic Party's candidate." Another 16 percent said they "don't know" who they'd vote for.
Combined with an Aug. 28 Franklin and Marshall College Poll that found just 17 percent approve of Corbett's job performance and 68 percent think it's time for a new governor, the incumbent is limping toward the end of his first term.
Terry Madonna, director of the F&M poll, said Corbett is in worse shape at this point in his first term than any governor since the early 1970s.
When compared to the two previous governors, Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell — a Republican and Democrat, respectively — Madonna said Corbett isn't showing the same rise in popularity that the other two did at this point in their first terms.
"Neither of them at this point was dropping but rising," Madonna said. "They both had a tough first two years, where they dropped into mid-40s (in percent of popularity). But they were on the rebound, on the rise until both over 50 percent on Election Day."
A call to Pennsylvania Republican Party officials requesting comment was not immediately returned.
U.S Rep. Allyson Schwartz and state Treasurer Rob McCord are two of the frontrunners in an already very crowded race for the Democratic nomination next spring. The eight candidates who have already officially declared they're running doesn't include two strong possible contenders: state Auditor General Jack Wagner and state Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
Beyond Toomey, rumored Republican replacements for Corbett on the 2014 ballot are U.S. Reps. Pat Meehan and Jim Gerlach and state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, according to Politics PA.