Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett just took out a little time to speak with KDKA-TV's political editor Jon Delano, and arguably gave the impression in that interview that all is well, when it comes to his hopes for re-election. While the severely low approval rating the governor has was mentioned in passing, Corbett did not seem in the least bit concerned.
Perhaps the governor feels that he is making history. That truly is the case, at least when it comes to Franklin and Marshall polling, because his 26 percent approval rating is the lowest in the history of polls for that organization. At the same point in their tenures, both Corbett's predecessors - Governors Ed Rendell, and Tom Ridge - far exceeded him in the same polls, both hovering in the 40-50 percent ranges. In the KDKA interview, the governor contends that he has been forced to make some tough decisions, and has had to say "no" - something that is presumably not popular with the voters. But perhaps the voters are more concerned with whom the governor is saying "yes."
While Corbett insists on many in the Commonwealth tightening their belts, his own staff hasn't felt a pinch. This has been a bone of contention with the voters practically from the beginning with the governor, and from all appearances so far, will remain to be one through the election cycle. The question is whether or not this will hurt Corbett enough to cause him to lose in a primary challenge. Given his abysmal ratings right now, it certainly will hurt him severely in the general election. If 26 percent approval isn't bad enough, 16 percent among Democrats certainly should be cause for major concern.
But, the governor can at least talk a good game, and has managed to at least mention many of the issues that concern Pennsylvania voters in his budget address - if not to their satisfaction. However, unlike his contention in the interview with Delano, this budget actually increases spending by 3% - still keeping his closest aides on the same or higher pay scale they've already enjoyed - and brings up an issue as hot in Pennsylvania politics as Social Security and Medicare are in the Federal - pension reform. It is necessary, but not something Pennsylvanians, particularly public service unions, are wanting to see touched in the near future. Another hot button issue is the privatization of liquor sales. It is no secret that Corbett is theoretically on the side of shutting down the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, but like the pension issue, that is buried deep in public service union territory. Time will tell whether or not the legislature will step up on this issue, but it's not suggested that anyone hold their breaths waiting for it.
As for Corbett's re-election hopes? If the governor does not sincerely step up his game, get the message out about what little he has done so far, and start getting quite a bit more done in the near future, it's likely that the Pennsylvania GOP could come up with a viable candidate to defeat him in a primary challenge. If his numbers only slightly improve over the next year, Corbett should sincerely consider doing the gentlemanly thing, and step aside - unless he wants to just hand the keys to the Governor's mansion to whatever candidate the Democrats pull up to face him.