Gov.-elect Tom Corbett announces members of transition team

Gov.-elect Tom Corbett announces his top transition advisers, naming (from left) Tom Paese, Leslie Gromis-Baker, and Brian Nutt. Corbett, who will be sworn in Jan. 18, said his top priority is a balanced budget and solving the state's projected $4 billion deficit.
Gov.-elect Tom Corbett announces his top transition advisers, naming (from left) Tom Paese, Leslie Gromis-Baker, and Brian Nutt. Corbett, who will be sworn in Jan. 18, said his top priority is a balanced budget and solving the state's projected $4 billion deficit.
Posted: November 11, 2010

HARRISBURG - Gov.-elect Tom Corbett drew on top names in the state's Republican establishment as he began assembling his transition team Wednesday, saying they would help him shape his administration as well as draft a plan for reforming state government by his first week in office.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Corbett announced the front lines of the team, many of them people who worked as fund-raisers and strategists for his campaign. Some were also key players in the administration and campaigns of the last Republican elected governor, Tom Ridge.

Corbett, who is to be sworn in Jan. 18, reiterated that his top priority will be to present a balanced budget and resolve the state's projected $4 billion deficit.

"The No. 1 priority out there is a balanced, responsible, reduced budget," said Corbett, who pledged during his campaign not to raise any taxes.

Corbett tapped Christine Toretti, Jack Barbour, and William Sasso to cochair the transition team.

Sasso is chairman of the law firm Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young in Philadelphia, as well as a major GOP fund-raiser for many years. Barbour is chief executive officer of another big law firm, Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, which has headquarters in Pittsburgh. Toretti is chief executive of S.W. Jack Drilling Co., and a member of the Republican National Committee.

Corbett also named Leslie Gromis-Baker, Ridge's onetime political director, as codirector of the transition team, along with Tom Paese, who had been secretary of Ridge's Office of Administration.

Charles Kopp, a veteran GOP fund-raiser and lawyer with Cozen O'Connor in Philadelphia, will act as legal counsel. Brian Nutt, who ran Corbett's campaign, will be the team's chief of staff. Kevin Harley, who previously was spokesman for Corbett's Attorney General's Office and then for his campaign, will handle press for the transition.

GOP power broker and fund-raiser Robert Asher of Montgomery County, who is credited with much of the politicking that shepherded Corbett from the Attorney General's Office to the Governor's Office, will cochair Corbett's inaugural committee. Corbett said he would form a nonprofit to seek corporate sponsorship to pay the costs of his inauguration.

Chris Borick, a politics professor at Muhlenberg College, called Corbett's picks "a who's who of the Republican establishment - and bank books."

He noted that Corbett wasn't the first incoming governor to line his transition team with people who had helped organize or finance his campaign. It is typical, he said, for a governor-elect to "acknowledge the supporters who help put him in office by placing them on the team with the chance to shape the new administration."

Of his transition team, Corbett said: "Their leadership will be a valuable asset to me . . . in making state government more efficient and better equipped."

The governor-elect said other transition members would be named in the next few weeks, and that some of the picks may "surprise you." He did not give details, but hinted they would include Democrats as well as more conservative Republican voices.

Corbett said he has not yet decided whether any transition team members would be salaried.

Political pollster and analyst G. Terry Madonna said that although the transition team may have great influence in shaping the new administration, the real question was whether Corbett would stick to several very clear-cut campaign promises.

"No one was firmer about what he was going to do once he got into office," Madonna said, noting Corbett's vows to make difficult, across-the-board cuts to the state budget while not adding new taxes. "There can be no 'walkback' from his agenda."


Contact staff writer Angela Couloumbis at 717-787-5934 or acouloumbis@phillynews.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|