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Well, if you were hoping for an epic primary showdown between vulnerable incumbent Governor Tom Corbett (R. PA) and Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Caster (R. PA), I have some bad news for you:

Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor visits with Tribune-Review reporters and editors on Monday, April 15, 2013. At the time, he was a run for the governorship, but he announced Tuesday he will not seek the Republican nomination next year.
Bruce Castor, a Montgomery County commissioner, said Tuesday that he decided not to challenge Corbett in the 2014 Republican primary after announcing in December that he was exploring a bid.

In the last five months, Castor has been a tough and consistent critic of Corbett while touring the state to drum up support. It would be unusual for a sitting governor to face a serious primary challenge, and Corbett's poor performance in various recent opinion polls only helped fuel Castor's exploration.

However, Castor said he has had difficulty balancing his work as a lawyer and county commissioner, and finding time for his family, while testing support for a run. In the end, he decided that not enough people were open to his candidacy to encourage him to take on the enormous task of running against a sitting governor.

"It doesn't look like enough people were willing to stick their necks out and back me, enough to push me forward," Castor said.

In the meantime, several Democrats have lined up to challenge Corbett. They include U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, York County businessman Tom Wolf and former state environmental protection secretary John Hanger of Dauphin County.

A Quinnipiac University poll released April 29 found that 38 percent of those surveyed approve of the job Corbett is doing as governor, while 47 percent do not approve. Meanwhile, 50 percent to 32 percent said Corbett does not deserve re-election. - Delaware County Times, 5/7/13

It might be better for us to have Corbett as the nominee, especially with his very low approval ratings.  Democrats like Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D. PA-13), who is running for Governor, have been hitting Corbett had on his latest remarks about the unemployed in Pennsylvania being on drugs:

Meanwhile, another highly speculated Democrat is closer to making his decision about entering the Democratic Primary:

While five Pennsylvania Democrats have thrown their hats into the ring for next year's governor's race, commonwealth politicos seem most interested in what two undeclared possible candidates will do.

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak has been downright evasive, eschewing repeated inquiries from reporters regarding his campaign future.

So too, loquacious state Treasurer Rob McCord has been uncharacteristically wily in his public pronouncements regarding the race. But Tuesday, during an exclusive interview with The Patriot-News, McCord all but said he'll be joining the contest later this year.

“As I look seriously at it, frankly if I were forced to decide tomorrow I'd say I'm in,” McCord said over lunch at the Crowne Plaza Harrisburg. “I think I'm the most likely to beat the current governor, and I'm the most likely to get good work done if I'm elected. That's the simple case.”

But unlike the horde of fellow partisans who've leapt early into the fray because of incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett's bleak job performance, the Delaware County Democrat is pacing himself and going out of his way to keep his professional duties and political aspiration separate.

“As in a presidential election, you look at who announced first and usually the early announcers are just trying to raise their hand and say 'Take me seriously as a potential nominee',” McCord said. “Someone can afford to announce later if they're already taken seriously.”

McCord feels comfortable enough with state voters' serious impression of him to put off acknowledging his intention to seek the state's top office until sometime this fall, he said.

But by then the assembled throng of early-announcing Democrats will have several months of affirmative campaigning and possible boosts in name recognition on the treasurer. - The Patriot-News, 5/7/13

McCord has been one of Corbett's harshest critics on his handling of Pennsylvania's economy, especially Corbett's pension reform plan:

Gov. Tom Corbett sought to build momentum Tuesday for a key part of his state budget proposal by unveiling legislation to change future retirement benefits for state government and school district employees.

The governor wants to use a projected $175 million in first-year savings from curbing public pension costs to pay for additional basic education spending in fiscal 2013-14. With a new report by the state Independent Fiscal Office showing that anticipated state tax revenue growth is disappearing because of weak consumer spending, Mr. Corbett said it becomes even more important to realize pension savings so money is available for education.

"It just heightens the reason this has to get done," he said.

The legislation mirrors a pension proposal outlined by Mr. Corbett in his budget address earlier this year. It calls for putting new employees under a 401(a) defined contribution plan starting in 2015. These are similar to 401(k) plans in the private sector and would be a departure from the traditional defined benefit plan available to retirees and current employees in the State Employees' Retirement System and Public School Employees' Retirement System.

Future benefits

The legislation would calculate future pension benefits for current employees with a lower multiplier and cap how much of an employee's future wages and overtime can be used to calculate pension earnings.

Switching to a defined contribution plan for future hires will leave a less secure retirement for new employees, said state Treasurer Rob McCord, a potential Democratic candidate for governor next year.

"So far, the 401(k) plans have failed in that regard," said Mr. McCord. - Scranton Times-Tribune, 5/8/13

I'm looking forward to see if McCord's strategy will pay off.  Schwartz has $3 million in the bank and has been ahead in the polls and former state revenue secretary, Tom Wolf, is planning on spending $10 million to help him secure the nominee.  McCord though has proven to be a terrific fundraiser:

Along the way, McCord built a network of rich and powerful friends that he has used to tremendous effect as a fund-raiser. He accrued almost $5 million in his first campaign for treasurer, which insiders say is one of the biggest totals ever for a Pennsylvania row office, and he did it largely by cashing big checks from wealthy friends and former colleagues, many of whom had never or rarely contributed to political ca­mpaigns before.

McCord’s fund-raising pace was slower in this year’s reelection bid, but he’s still seen as one of the state Democratic Party’s top money generators—a crucial measure of a candidate’s viability. Anyone hoping to unseat a sitting governor needs to raise enormous amounts of cash, a requirement that would prove challenging for many of the other potential Democratic contenders, who include everyone from Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro and Allentown mayor Ed Pawlowski to bigger names like Dan Onorato and Joe Sestak (as well as the self-funded Tom Knox).

Raising money comes naturally to McCord. “You get connected through business or personal networks, and then you’re blunt with people,” he says with a shrug. For him, talk is easy: “In some cases, I was able to remind people that we made a lot of money together. So you say, ‘Do you mind giving me a little bit back? - Philadelphia Magazine, December 2012

Personally, I still think Schwartz is the strongest and most likely Democrat to defeat Corbett but I am interested to see what McCord can bring to the campaign to unseat Pennsylvania's most corrupt Governor.  Plus former Congressman and decorated Admiral Joe Sestak (D. PA-7) has also been making the rounds but has yet to declare his candidacy:

Looking more like a gubernatorial candidate, former Congressman Joe Sestak hit Carbon County over the weekend (photo above). Submitted PoliticsPA reader Jeremy R. Haloskie: Sestak talked to the roughly 200 Democrats in attendance about the nation’s unique identity of rugged individualism and cooperation. “I really appreciated Sestak coming to the county,” said Carbon County Dem Chair Billy O’Guerk. “We are a small county and it is easy for candidates to overlook us.” Sestak’s last trip to Carbon County was an event for Ron Rabenold, who ran for State Representative. Lt. Gov. hopeful Brad Koplinski also made the trek to Jim Thorpe. - Politics PA, 5/7/13
I look forward to seeing what decision Sestak and McCord will make.  I am just hoping a crowded and expensive primary doesn't turn nasty and cost us the shot at making Corbett the first one term Governor since 1968.

Originally posted to pdc on Thu May 09, 2013 at 12:16 PM PDT.

Also republished by Pittsburgh Area Kossacks and DKos Pennsylvania.

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