There's no one the PA GOP can run who isn't closely identified with the exact same policies - which none of these insiders think to mention, of course! It's not that Corbett didn't execute their extreme agenda. It's that the policies themselves are so unpopular, and that Corbett occasionally says out loud what the rest of the Republicans are only thinking:
The biggest question in Pennsylvania politics right now isn't whether Gov. Tom Corbett will win reelection. It's whether he'll even get the chance.
Beset by legislative failures and bleak poll numbers, the Republican looks like the country's most vulnerable governor heading into the 2014 election. And Republicans are questioning whether they should let Corbett face a near-certain defeat when they could find a ready replacement with a much better chance of winning.
Already, speculation among GOP operatives has shifted to a quartet of candidates the party might turn to, including several Republicans in the state's congressional delegation. Fearful of alienating a sitting governor, they've done little to publicly jockey for the potential opening. But all are said to be keeping a close eye on Corbett.
Do they really think Rep. Pat Meehan can win, or that he'll leave his seat open to the Democrats? That Pat Toomey will resign the Senate for this little suicide mission? Will Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, the lobbyists' friend, come to the rescue? Rep. Jim Gerlach? Nah, I don't think so. They all know how to count.
A dramatic move from Corbett to step aside isn't imminent. On Tuesday, he replaced his chief of staff with a veteran political operative. Corbett allies say he remains laser-focused on winning reelection, even if he knows his path to victory is narrow. Meanwhile, Republicans aren't looking to run against him in a primary, only eager to run if he opts not to run for a second term.
But unless Corbett can show improvement in the coming months, Republicans expect the calls for him to step aside to reach a fever pitch. According to one GOP operative in the state, speculation about replacing the governor is "rampant."
"The problem is, you need a path to victory," said one GOP source, who spoke on condition of anonymity to offer his blunt perspective about the governor's situation. "I think they have trouble right now with activists and donors showing them a path to victory. If that doesn't improve in the next couple of months, they'll close their wallets and shut their front doors, and activists and donors will make up their mind for him."
Another GOP strategist added that Corbett is headed for a "historic landslide [loss]" and rank-and-file party members know it.
"I've never seen anything like this," said the Republican. "Party regulars are just fed up and not willing to help him anymore."
Hah. The only reason the party regulars won't support him is because he's a loser. After all, they picked him. In fact, their biggest complaint is that he hasn't executed enough of their extremist agenda.
They still don't understand: It's the policies, stupid!