New Castle News

Closer Look

April 26, 2014

John K. Manna: Dreaming of political answers

NEW CASTLE — I’m not a politician and I don’t play one even in my dreams.

So I don’t know why politicians think the way they do. If I were in some of their situations, I would definitely act differently.

Case in point is Gov. Tom Corbett. The Corbett re-election campaign this week pushed for his Democratic opponents for governor to release their tax returns as he has done.

The fact is Corbett doesn’t have any Democratic opponents — at least not yet. He first must win the Republican nomination in the May 20 primary. But he assumes he will win the nomination and face one of the four Democrats in the November election. And the guess here and most everywhere else in Pennsylvania is that he will.

So why is he concerned about having an opponent in the primary? His campaign challenged the nomination petitions of Bob Guzzardi, but Commonwealth Court ruled that he remain on the ballot. The Corbett campaign has appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court but as of this writing no decision has been handed down.

Candidates — particularly incumbents — prefer not to have any opposition for the obvious reason that they don’t want competition. The other reason is competition means they have to spend more money than they’d like.

There are no guarantees when it comes to elections, but the consensus statewide is that Corbett should have no trouble brushing aside Guzzardi despite the fact that the governor’s favorability ratings are quite low in public opinion polls. Thus, Corbett would not have to spend much money on the primary, if any at all.

Therefore, he should welcome Guzzardi. If Corbett were unopposed, he wouldn’t receive 100 percent of the Republican vote anyway. But then he wouldn’t know if the undervotes were from voters who genuinely oppose him or from those who simply don’t vote for unopposed candidates.

The votes that Guzzardi receives in the primary will give some indication of the extent of Corbett’s vulnerability within his own party and where in the state that may be. You’d think that would be of some help in developing his strategy for the fall campaign. And why shouldn’t he welcome that?

(John K. Manna covers politics for The News.)

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