I sat down with Aichele this week.
I should note this is a rarity. The administration isn't known for sitting down with the press.
And Aichele was reticent when I sought discussion of the perception of Corbett as a distant manager with a prosecutor's mindset and a habit of playing all things slowly and close to the vest rather than promoting his policies to lawmakers and citizens.
Aichele, at least, suggested some change.
"Anytime any organization changes a major cog within the organization, there's going to be change, there's going to be a different style," he said.
We'll see. What we won't see is much of Aichele.
Not that he's unfamiliar with politics. He held office as a Tredyffrin Township supervisor in Chester County, where his wife of 40-plus years, Carol Aichele, now Corbett's Cabinet-level secretary of the commonwealth, served as a county commissioner.
He was managing partner, CEO then chairman of Philly powerhouse law firm Saul Ewing, a major political donor to candidates of both parties, including Corbett.
Aichele worked there for 33 years, mostly in real-estate and business law.
He's Philly-born and his father taught at Penn and Temple. But the Aicheles spent summers on a family dairy farm in Cumberland County.
He went to Cornell, then Temple Law, served in the Navy during Vietnam, then the Naval Reserve.
Now he considers himself mostly and merely a "driver," and tells a story to buffer the image.
He says that in Philly he was head of a major law firm, chairman of the Arts and Business Council, a board member of the Philadelphia Orchestra and more; in Chester County he was "Mrs. Aichele's husband," and when his wife took then-candidate Corbett around the county, he was their driver.
He firmly believes that when people meet the governor, people like the governor, so Aichele wants to "get him out more."
Probably can't hurt, and might reverse a trend.
Corbett's polling, according to recent and past Keystone polls, shows that as more folks make up their minds about the low-key, low-profile incumbent, more folks aren't all that impressed.
For example, in March 2011, 45 percent answered "undecided" or "don't know" when asked their opinion of the guv, but only 23 percent held unfavorable views.
In January, "undecided/don't know" dropped to 38 percent while unfavorables rose to 32 percent. Last week, the shoulder-shrugging set was down to 29 percent as unfavorables climbed to 39 percent.
And a Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday said that 47 percent of voters disapprove of the guv's performance.
Polling two years ahead of a re-election bid is meaningless in predicting an outcome. But it suggests a direction — and, for Corbett, not a good one.
Maybe Aichele can help change it.
He's a semi-outsider, really the first tight inner-circle member who's not a longtime friend of the guv, a former campaign aide or a former employee in the Attorney General's Office.
So if we see indications of a different style, more visibility, more salesmanship in governing and better messaging, Republicans will know whom to salute. n
For recent columns, go to philly.com/JohnBaer. Read his blog at philly.com/BaerGrowls.