A failed attempt at Tom Corbett’s legislative agenda, a long and likely hot summer underway, a single question now dominates many Harrisburg political conversations: When will Tom Corbett quit? When will he announce he is not running for a second term, setting the stage for a GOP gubernatorial primary next May to select his successor?
Why Corbett should quit looms painfully obvious, even to many who support him.
Only about one-third of Pennsylvania voters give him a positive job performance — abysmal for an incumbent less than 15 months from Election Day. Roughly one in four voters thinks he deserves another term.
Worse, perhaps, is that his much-vaunted legislative “agenda,” including liquor privatization and pension reform, has gone nowhere, badly damaging his image for effectiveness.
To many, Corbett looks like a one-term governor — so politically damaged that he probably can’t be saved. This ominous sentiment isn’t limited to Pennsylvania.
A horde of respected, independent national pundits and publications has already weighed in, concluding he is so unpopular he can’t be re-elected. One has named Pennsylvania the most likely state in the country to change parties in 2014. Another, the prestigious National Journal, is already speculating in print about his possible Republican successors.
Corbett could find numerous and compelling reasons to quit.
Yet it’s not going to happen.
Corbett is not going to quit, not going to withdraw as a candidate for re-election and, in fact, not even face a major opponent for renomination by the Republican Party. Despite all the arguments to the contrary, he will run for re-election in 2014 and will be the nominee of his party.
Why he won’t quit boils down to a half dozen hard realities about state politics, the Republican Party and Corbett himself. Together, they reveal much about state politics and perhaps more about the current state of GOP politics.