Since we're now a little over two months away from the midterm elections, figured I'd do a post on the Governor's race in my home state of Pennsylvania. Personally, I'm predicting that the Democrats will indeed hold onto the Senate (whether it's by the same number of seats or if Vice President Biden will be the tie breaker for the next two years) and with gerrymandering, I think the GOP will hold onto the House. What remains to be see is if the GOP will lose some seats but still have a small majority but of course anything could happen between now and November. The one area where Democrats are sure to make some serious gains are in the Governor races. Florida, Maine, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas, Georgia and even Arizona are all competitive races for Democrats and they could get lucky with Nebraska, Texas and South Carolina. We shall see. The only competitive Governor races Democrats have are in Illinois, Colorado and Connecticut. Hawaii might be competitive after Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D. HI) got the boot in his primary but we shall see. But the one race that Democrats are without a doubt going to win is Pennsylvania and the latest poll from Franklin & Marshall, PA's most reliable poll, continues to show Tea Party Governor Tom Corbett (R. PA) is one dead man walking:
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett remains far behind his Democratic rival Tom Wolf despite spending millions of dollars on television commercials this summer, according to a new voter poll.
The Franklin & Marshall College Poll, released this morning, is the first survey of Pennsylvania voters since the candidates started airing political commercials shortly after the 4th of July holiday weekend.
The results don't look good for Corbett, who could become the first incumbent governor to lose re-election in the modern era if he does not find a way to connect with voters before the Nov. 4 election. The F&M poll, as well as other polls, were highly accurate in predicting Wolf would win the Democratic primary election in May.
The latest F&M poll shows Wolf, a wealthy York businessman and former state Revenue secretary, holding a lead of 25 percentage points over Corbett, the former prosecutor-turned-governor.
The poll also found only one-in-four voters thinks Corbett deserves a second term.
Only 40 percent of Republicans rated Corbett as doing an "excellent" or "good" job in his first term, which began in January 2011.
Corbett's main public relations problem remains widespread anger over education funding cuts Corbett imposed in his first budget, 2011-12.
Education cuts, a lousy economy, his refusal to impose an extraction tax & tax breaks to the gas drilling companies that lead to low revenue, Moody's downgrading the state's credit rating three times, his handling of the Penn State sex scandal as Attorney General and his past remarks on homosexuals, women, minorities and the unemployed all conclude that Corbett is determined to be the first one term Governor since Pennsylvania changed the law back in 1968 allowing Governors to run for second terms. Corbett has tried to attack his opponent, York businessman and all-around good guy, Tom Wolf (D. PA), with every lie he can come up with but voters aren't buying it:
Four out of five of the registered voters in the poll said they have seen campaign ads for both Corbett and Wolf. They recall Corbett's attacks on Wolf, mostly because Wolf's kitchen-cabinet-supply company in York is registered as a Delaware corporation.
That doesn't appear to have much of an impact on voters.
"The voters have made a judgment about Governor Corbett," pollster G. Terry Madonna said yesterday. "He has not given them a sufficient reason to change that judgment."
Support for Corbett is historically weak for a Pennsylvania governor seeking a second term.
"He faces the biggest uphill challenge of any incumbent governor seeking re-election in modern history," Madonna said.
Wolf of course has been hitting Corbett on his abysmal record as Governor and his Super PAC, FreshStartPA, recently hit Corbett on this:
Apparently, only women make dinner, according to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R).
Corbett, speaking on a local TV program last month, claimed women would support his proposal to reform his state's liquor laws because it would save time while preparing dinner.
"I think a lot of people want to be able to walk into a grocery store, particularly, a lot of the women, want to go and buy a bottle of wine for dinner, go down, buy a six-pack or two six-packs, buy dinner and go home rather than what I described as three stops in Pennsylvania," he said.
Corbett wants to allow more private businesses to sell alcohol. Under current laws, only state-licensed liquor stores and select grocery stores are permitted to provide liquor.
Corbett has been trying to make this race about pension reform but one of his own staff members proved how hilariously hypocritical the Governor is on this issue:
As part of his re-election campaign, Gov. Tom Corbett has been barnstorming communities and urging lawmakers to change the state pension systems to control spiraling debts he says hurt taxpayers.
But Corbett's decision to retain former Education Secretary Ron Tomalis as an adviser the past 15 months likely will increase the long-term debt by tens of thousands of dollars and provide Tomalis nearly $7,000 more each year in pension payments.
Tomalis' pension would have been based on a 2 percent multiplier if Corbett had dismissed him in spring 2013, when the governor named a new education secretary. But Corbett kept Tomalis as a higher education adviser, qualifying him for a 2.5 percent multiplier for all his years of employment. Tomalis earlier worked nearly seven years under Gov. Tom Ridge, according to State Employees' Retirement System records obtained under the Right-to-Know Law.
That higher multiplier could boost Tomalis' annual pension to $34,592, about $6,918 or 25 percent higher than under the lower multiplier, according to a Morning Call analysis of SERS records. That estimate is based on SERS records showing Tomalis has 9.89 years of service and his average salary over his final three years is $139,906. His pension payment could change if he opts for a lump sum withdrawal of his retirement savings.
Tomalis' higher pension is spelled out by state law, but that doesn't make it fair, said David Fillman, executive director of Pennsylvania Public Employees Council 13. Corbett is telling taxpayers that unions are blocking pension reform bills, Fillman said, while allowing one of his own staffers to take a higher pension.
And of course working class people want nothing to do with Corbett:
Little more than a week after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett was uninvited from this year’s Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh, the Allegheny County Labor Council has announced that his opponent Tom Wolf will lead the parade.
The council said Saturday that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf’s Jeep, which has been featured in TV ads from both Wolf and Corbett, will also be included in the event.
"Tom Wolf brings a new attitude toward workers and workers' rights. He wants all Pennsylvania workers to have a shot at a better life just like the UAW workers who built his Jeep and benefited from collective bargaining helping them to earn family sustaining wages and benefits, the kind of living wages all workers deserve," said Jack Shea, President of the Allegheny County Labor Council.
Also marching on Monday will be AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and workers representing industries as diverse as fast food, healthcare, and higher education.
According to a news release, Wolf, Trumka, and others will march “for fair wages for all workers.”
Democrats in the state legislature are also using Labor Day as an opportunity to call for an increase in Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from $7.25/hour to at least $10.10/hour. A bill to achieve such an increase over the next two years has continued to languish in the Senate Labor and Industry committee since it was introduced in March.
So yeah, Corbett is done. He's going to be the second incumbent politician to lose by a wide margin (Senator Rick Santorum (R. PA) lost to Bob Casey (D. PA) by 18 points in 2006). The former Attorney General, who was elected in 1998 and won a tight re-election bid in 2004 rose to power on the 2010 Tea Party wave but now that Tea Party wave and his record as one of the most corrupt Governors in Pennsylvania electoral history are writing his political obituary. Of course Corbett refuses to believe this race is over and thinks a miracle can save him. Recently, he released this BS GOP poll showing him trailing Wolf by single digits:
Sources provided PoliticsPA with an internal Corbett campaign memo that discusses the various election models that BehaviorMatrix has forecast for November 4th.
“BehaviorMatrix collected and analyzed actual voter turnout data from the past three gubernatorial off year elections in Pennsylvania,” the memo reads. “The model uniquely matches retrospective results with likely voters, and further defines eligible voters as part of its calculus.”
In contrast to most polls which survey registered voters, the BehaviorMatrix model seeks to narrow its focus towards likely voters. After studying the last three gubernatorial elections, the model projects an electorate close to the 2002 election.
“As for the 2014 election, BehaviorMatrix’s model predicts a much closer race,” they write. “The predicted turnout of likely voters is estimated at 3,920,229 voters with the Governor trailing Wolf by 7 points instead of 20.”
And in his latest attempt to move towards the middle and prove he's not a Tea Party extremist, Corbett pulled a play from Gov. John Kasich's (R. OH) book:
Health PA would also make sweeping and somewhat controversial changes to the existing Medicaid program, such as allowing some low-income individuals to be charged premiums for coverage and consolidating most existing benefit plans.
Reducing the number of plans from 14 to two (a high-risk and low-risk plan) will be permitted, as will allowing premiums for people earning above 100 percent of the poverty level, starting in the second year of the plan.
The Republican governor had already agreed to back down from one of the most controversial aspects of the plan, agreeing to make a work search requirement he originally sought to impose into a voluntary pilot program. No other state imposes such a requirement for enrollment in its Medicaid program, and the state had acknowledged it would likely be difficult to get federal regulators to agree to it.
The state had also agreed to not cut the Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities program, which covers 33,000 low and middle-income Pennsylvanians with disabilities.
Only problem is Corbett's latest call was too little too late. Kasich surpassed the GOP state legislature last year in expanding Medicaid in Ohio which is one of the factors helping him win re-election. But even if Corbett had done this earlier, there's no guarantee that expanding Medicaid would've helped him win a second term. Pennsylvania Democrats are not only optimistic about Wolf beating Corbett and State Senator Mike Stack (D. PA) becoming the next Lt. Governor but also their chances of taking back the State Senate. If you would like to learn more and get involved with this race, please do get involved with Wolf's campaign, Stack's campaign and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.
You can also follow more of my election coverage on Daily Kos.