Gov. Corbett's secret weapon?

CHARLES FOX / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Newt Gingrich spoke at the Shale Gas Insight Conference yesterday. Later, he said there's a 50 percent chance of a government shutdown.
CHARLES FOX / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Newt Gingrich spoke at the Shale Gas Insight Conference yesterday. Later, he said there's a 50 percent chance of a government shutdown.
Posted: September 27, 2013

CLOUT HAS a question: Is the Pennsylvania Democratic Party the one thing Gov. Corbett has going for him in his bid for a second term next year?

Corbett, a Republican, is routinely listed as one of the nation's most vulnerable incumbents for 2014.

And he is under constant attack from his party's right wing. (We're looking at you, state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Butler County pol who clearly despises the government that has issued him a paycheck for the past 14 years.)

Smelling blood in the water, eight Democrats have declared their candidacy for the 2014 primary election for governor.

That last bit is the good news.

State Treasurer Rob McCord this week became the latest hopeful to enter the race.

McCord said "the competitive process will be good for us" when asked about the potential for a slash-and-burn primary.

He doesn't think a push by party leaders for a single strong and endorsed candidate is the right way to go here, even if the Republicans use that strategy.

"Unlike Republicans, we're not members of an organized party," he said. "We're Democrats."

McCord, who has twice won statewide elections, joins at least three candidates who can tap serious resources.

* Former state Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf has pledged $10 million of his own money.

* U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz moved $3.1 million from her federal account to kick off her run.

* Former state Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty is also raking in cash.

Best case for Corbett: The top-tier Democrats use that money to slam one another, leaving the eventual nominee bruised and depleted of resources.

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, in June listed Corbett as the top candidate for a headline defeat in 2014, calling him a "particularly maladroit politician," with bad polling numbers and a propensity for gaffes.

Sabato says Corbett is "rooting for a brawl" in the Democratic primary and predicts the incumbent will get his wish as the candidates "beat the daylights out of one another" for the nomination.

"Some Democratic leaders will probably call on the candidates to keep their eye on the Corbett ball and not viciously attack one another," Sabato said. "That plea will fall on deaf ears. This may be the one and only chance for these contenders to become governor. They'll worry about the general election if they get there."

Newt: Shutdown is 50/50

Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the U.S. House during government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996, yesterday put the chances of another shutdown at "50/50."

Gingrich, a 2012 Republican candidate for president who now co-hosts CNN's "Crossfire," predicts that the House will pass a continuing resolution that postpones for one year the individual mandate on purchasing health insurance in the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a ObamaCare.

President Obama's administration this summer delayed for one year the mandate to provide health insurance for companies with more than 50 employees, which was due to start Jan. 1.

The U.S. Senate, controlled by Democrats, is expected to amend the continuing resolution to restore funding for ObamaCare cut by the Republican-controlled House in a vote last Friday.

Gingrich and his fellow Republicans took the political heat for the shutdowns on his watch. But he predicts that Obama will catch the backlash this time around.

"In the short run, the media will do everything they can to make the Republicans responsible," Gingrich said after speaking at the Marcellus Shale Coalition conference here. "But in the end people expect the president of the United States to get things done, not to make excuses."

Gingrich said his two shutdowns prompted then- President Clinton to negotiate. He says Obama should do the same.

"I think Obama thinks he can just dance around these guys and not do anything and eventually they'll cave," Gingrich said. "Well, if you believe that, why would you give up anything?"

An early endorsement

By our calculations, the next Democratic primary election for the U.S. Senate is two years, seven months away.

That didn't stop the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals from endorsing former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak this week.

Sestak in May made clear he's itching for a rematch against former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey, the Republican who defeated him in his run for Senate 2010.

We wondered if Sestak has ever had so early an endorsement. He used our question to retell a well-used line from his 2010 campaign.

"I'm not sure, but it took eight years to be endorsed by my wife," he told us. "I proposed to her two days after I met her . . . eight years later, she said 'yes.' "


Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/phillyclout

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