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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s (R) poll numbers continue to erode, according to a new survey from Franklin and Marshall College.

The pollster’s latest numbers show 69 percent of Pennsylvanians think it’s time for a new governor, while just 20 percent say he deserves another term. Three months ago, 25 percent said he deserved another term.

Just 17 percent of voters think Corbett is doing an “excellent” or “good” job — a new low for his tenure — while 76 percent say he’s done a “fair” (43 percent) or “poor” (33 percent) job.

Even among Republicans, just 30 percent say he’s doing and “excellent” or “good” job, while 63 percent say “fair” or “poor.” - Washington Post, 8/29/13

Franklin & Marshall polling, Pennsylvania's oldest and most reliable polling firm, shows that Corbett's numbers not only to be lousy but continue to show him in worst shape than his predecessors, Tom Ridge (R. PA) and Ed Rendell (D. PA), at this stage in the middle of their first terms:

"It's safe to say he's in a deeper hole at this point in his term than any other (Pennsylvania) governor in modern history," said poll director G. Terry Madonna.

Even still, Madonna would not rule out the possibility of Corbett being re-elected next year.

A positive change in the economy, negative views of his opposition or other factors could motivate voters to put Corbett back in office.

"There's a lot that can happen in 13 or 14 months before the election," Madonna said. "It's too far out to rule anything out."

Rendell and Ridge both experienced downturns in their approval ratings in their first terms, Madonna said.

But in their cases, the ratings were climbing as they headed into re-election years.

"Gov. Corbett is going down, and that's his problem," Madonna said.

The pollster cited a disparity between Corbett's agenda priorities and issues voters deem to be important.

The governor's push to privatize liquor sales, for example, is nowhere near as critical to voters as the economy and school funding.

From a list of five issues facing the legislature today, just five percent of voters picked the privatization of liquor sales as the top priority, as compared to 29 percent, who said passing a spending plan that fixes the state's roads, bridges and transportation systems should be the top priority, according to the survey.

(School funding and education were not offered as "top priority" options in the survey).

Madonna said voters also could have a negative view of the turmoil within Corbett's administration.

"He's had three chiefs of staff in three years," Madonna said. "That's unprecedented." - Lancaster Online, 8/29/13

This isn't the only bad news press Corbett has received this week.  There was yet another shake up in his administration:

Gov. Tom Corbett demanded and received the resignation Monday of the state's new education chief.

William Harner took the job of acting education secretary June 1 after being superintendent of Cumberland Valley School District, one of the largest and wealthiest in the Harrisburg area. Corbett tapped him to replace his first education secretary, Ron Tomalis.

Now the first-term governor is on his third education secretary. Corbett immediately named Carolyn Dumaresq, the department's executive deputy secretary, as Harner's replacement. She will make the same $139,931 salary as Harner and Tomalis, who is still being paid as Corbett's higher education adviser.

No one would give a reason for Harner's abrupt departure other than to cite unspecified personnel reasons. However, based on comments from the Corbett administration and Cumberland Valley officials, the personnel matter appears to be related to his tenure as Cumberland Valley superintendent, where he worked from 2008 through May.

Harner's tenure was so brief he never made it to a Senate confirmation vote to become the state's official education secretary. That vote was expected to occur in late September or early October, said Eric Arneson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware.

Harner is the second Cabinet secretary Corbett has fired this year. In June, Corbett asked Richard J. Allan, 60, secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, to resign after a disclosure that he had sent a racially tinged email to his wife, also a state employee. - Allentown Morning Call, 8/26/13

Corbett's administration has stated why they fired Harner but his new acting Education Secretary is already in hot water:

Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq failed to report to the state outside income she received in 2010 as a consultant for a Nebraska executive search firm when she was appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration to a deputy secretary post in the Department of Education in 2011.

She also failed to reflect that same source of income on her 2009 statement of financial interest filed with the State Ethics Commission when she was a member of the state’s Workforce Investment Board.

Dumaresq, who was named as the acting secretary on Monday  to replace an ousted William Harner, said through the department’s press secretary Tim Eller that it was an oversight on her part.

Eller said Dumaresq planned to submit an amended financial disclosure form to reflect those earnings.

Dumaresq’s name appeared as a member of the consultant team at Omaha, Neb.-based McPherson & Jacobson, LLC’s website as of Tuesday morning. Shortly after PennLive brought that fact to the department’s attention, Dumaresq had contacted the firm and asked for it to be removed, Eller said. Her name was removed from the site by noon. - The Patriot-News, 8/27/13

Pennsylvania Democrats have been having a field day with this:

The state Senate Democratic leader scolded Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration for not adequately vetting former Cumberland Valley School District Superintendent William Harner before nominating him as state Secretary of Education.

“They wasted three to four months of valuable time where a lot of education initiatives, a lot of education areas of funding or legislation or regulation all could have been discussed with a secretary who is going to be there going forward,” said Sen. Jay Costa, D-Allegheny County, in a Wednesday morning videoconference from his Forest Hills district office with Capitol reporters. “That’s the part that I think is troublesome.”

Corbett on Monday withdrew Harner’s name from consideration after discovering an internal investigation into allegations of inappropriate comments by Harner during his five-year tenure as Cumberland Valley School District superintendent that contributed to that school board’s inclination to not extend his contract when it expired on June 30.

Corbett named Harner to the acting secretary post in May at the same time he announced the abrupt removal of former Education Secretary Ron Tomalis from that position to a newly created one as Corbett's higher education special adviser.

No public reason was stated for Tomalis' removal but individuals close to the administration had indicated tensions with individuals in the governor’s inner circle contributed to that decision. - The Patriot-News, 8/28/13

And to make things worse, members of Corbett's own party are speaking out his devastating education cuts:

Tom Corbett for election coverage 2008. .Christine Baker, The Patriot-News
You wrongly said that your cuts were the only way to avoid raising taxes. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center revealed that you actually cut business taxes by more than $500 million in your first two years in office. The Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office also says that if you stop blocking Medicaid expansion, 400,000 more Pennsylvanians will gain access to preventive health care and the state would annually save $400 million.

Now, you demand that our teachers help close your budget gap by accepting $133 million in wage and benefit cuts. Do you think they get paid too much? The Pennsylvania School Board Association says that Philadelphia educators are paid 19 percent less than teachers in Bucks and Montgomery counties. And those Pittsburgh teachers from your home county are paid 8 percent more than our educators. Didn't you recently negotiate pay raises to state workers in their last labor contract? Why are raises for state workers OK but only pay cuts appropriate for our educators?

City funding for public schools for 2013-14 will be more than $150 million higher than it was in 2010-11. And now you want the city to give another $120 million more in city sales tax to the schools in 2014-15? If City Council agrees, the city would be putting up $270 million in new city funding to close the gap that you created. In the meantime, recurring state funding for Philadelphia schools will be $284 million lower in 2013-14 than in 2010-11.

Governor, you created this mess. We are tired of hearing you tell us what we need to do to solve this crisis. The city has done more than its share to help the schools over the past three years. Now, it's your turn. I see the sacrifice, but I just don't see the "sharing." - Dennis M. O'Brien (R), Philadelphia City Councilman-At-Large,, 8/26/13

Corbett has really set himself up to be the most anti-education Governor in the country.  He's even made himself a punching bag for President Obama:

The President lambasted recent cuts to state education funding.

“Incomes are flat, and the state actually reduces its support for higher education,” Obama said, referring to budgets supported by Republicans including Gov. Tom Corbett. “Here in Pennsylvania, there have been brutal cuts to, not just higher education, but to education in general.”

“That means that state legislatures cannot just keep cutting support for public colleges and universities,” he continued.

Pa. Democrats have continuously blasted Corbett over funding cuts for basic and higher education.

Corbett proposed reducing state funding for state-owned and -related colleges by 50% in the 2011-2012 budget; he signed into law a budget that cut 18%. He proposed a 20% to 30% cut for 2012-2013, and proposed flat-funding them in 2013-2014. Ultimately cuts amounting to about 18% were enacted in 2011 and higher education has been flat-funded since.

Basic K-12 education is more debatable. Democrats accuse Corbett and Republicans of reducing ed funding by $1 billion, but they include in that sum federal stimulus dollars that expired when the Governor’s term began. - Politics PA, 8/26/13

And no one is buying Corbett and the Pennsylvania Republicans' bull shit:

The state House Republican caucus (like its Washington counterpart) is dominated by right-wing ideologues and religious fundamentalists who insist on torpedoing common-sense legislation that even Corbett might have signed — like a transportation-funding package and the expansion of Medicaid. It’s not clear how their obsessions, motivated by greedy corporate prerogatives and theological commitments, fare under “God’s law,” but they’re making life hell here on Earth.
This is particularly true in Philadelphia, the impoverished laboratory for the party’s worst legislative sadism. Superintendent William Hite announced that schools, long critically underfunded, may not open on time due to a budget gap (initially $304 million) that has prompted the layoffs of thousands of teachers and staff. Austerity is harming Philly’s young people today. But it will hurt Republicans down the road: Playing to a shrinking right-wing base ensures their long-term political obscurity in an increasingly left-leaning state. More immediately, they further undermine the re-election prospects of Corbett, who faces rock-bottom approval ratings.
Corbett’s last-ditch response has been one of desperation, as he works tirelessly to mislead the public about who is responsible for the school-funding crisis. He knows that Philadelphia’s typically low turnout for mid-term elections would be his saving grace, while an angry Philadelphia dedicated to booting him out of office is his worst nightmare. But students, parents and pastors aren’t waiting for the ballot box to demand decent schools — they are now pondering a mass boycott. Philly just might show Harrisburg what an “open rebellion” looks like. - Philadelphia City Paper, 8/15/13
And Corbett's budget woes are also looking worse:

The authors of the plan to lift Harrisburg out of its deep hole of bad debt hope that it will be "seen as a beacon" for other distressed municipalities around the country.

It could be, but there's a long way to go before that can happen.

Much could still go wrong.

Getting this far - convincing all creditors to accept a loss, including $89 million from the bond insurer and Dauphin County - is pretty extraordinary. Unlike in a bankruptcy proceeding where the argument is all about the numbers, negotiators in this deal had to navigate the troubled waters of midstate personalities and politics. Likewise, they did not have the gun-to-the-head effect of a pending hearing before a bankruptcy judge to prompt concessions. It was a game of three dimensional chess, and the Receiver's team demonstrated they were masters of the play.

But the game's not won.

The greatest threat to the success of the plan at this point is entirely out of anyone's control: if the interest rates for municipal bonds in the national bond markets continue to rise, the plan rather quickly becomes untenable.

The Receiver's team thought they had the plan ready to go in early July, but realized the costs of borrowing had increased sharply after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's June 19 statement indicating the Fed planned to cut back on its bond purchases.

When borrowing costs go up, there's less money left to do the things the "Harrisburg Strong Plan" needed to do.

The movement of interest rates in the bond market following Bernanke's statement had blown a $65 million hole in the plan the Receiver's team had put together. - The Patriot-News, 8/27/13

With Corbett's toxic approvals, he may not have a shot to get the legislature to get Pennsylvania's budget appropriations in order.  Oh and not to mention he keeps trying to make this an issue, making himself look even more out of touch:

Attorneys for Pennsylvania’s Republican governor say marriage licenses given to same-sex couples in the state are invalid because the couples were barred from marrying — just like “12-year-olds.”

Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration has filed a lawsuit seeking to block same-sex marriage licenses in Montgomery County.

State attorneys say in a Wednesday court filing the licenses have no “legitimacy.” They compare gay and lesbian couples to children, who can’t marry because a 1996 law says marriage is between a man and a woman.

Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes says the law is discriminatory. He’s scheduled to appear in court next week. - Washington Post, 8/28/13

2014 couldn't come sooner.  Pennsylvania Democrats are lining up to take out Corbett and are looking to make history:

Keystone State gubernatorial voters have not elected a candidate from the party of the sitting president since Dick Thornburgh eked out a 2.7-point reelection victory over Allen Ertel in 1982.

Since then Pennsylvanians have chosen nominees of the opposing party of the White House in seven consecutive cycles with Democrat Bob Casey (Reagan, G.H.W. Bush), Republican Tom Ridge (Clinton twice), Democrat Ed Rendell (G.W. Bush twice), and Corbett (Obama).

Prior to Thornburgh’s win in 1982, Pennsylvania rattled off a 44-year, 11-cycle streak of electing governors who did not share the partisan affiliation of the president going back to the Election of 1938.

Delving further into history, Pennsylvania Democrats have been particularly ineffective in translating presidential political currency into gubernatorial victories.

Since 1860, with the Keystone State’s own James Buchanan in office, Democrats have lost 16 of 17 Pennsylvania gubernatorial races with a sitting Democratic President in the White House.

The only Democrat to prevail under such circumstances was George Earle in 1934.

Earle, former U.S. Minister to Austria, was elected by 2.3 points over Republican William Schnader in the middle of Franklin Roosevelt’s first term.

Democrats failed to win gubernatorial elections in Pennsylvania during the administrations of Democratic presidents in 1860, 1866, 1886, 1894, 1914, 1918, 1938, 1942, 1946, 1950, 1962, 1966, 1978, 1994, 1998, and 2010.

Put another way, Republicans are 16-1 since 1860 in sending a victorious nominee to Harrisburg when a Democrat serves in the White House.

(The GOP is 11-11 in gubernatorial races with a Republican in the White House during these 150 years and just 1-8 since 1932).

This presidential curse over the last 75 years is a bit curious considering Pennsylvanians have served up a bounty of competitive gubernatorial and presidential races that could have gone either way: 13 of 19 gubernatorial contests have been decided by single digits during this span along with 15 of the last 19 presidential races.

And so, while Corbett may have dug himself quite a hole with 2014 around the corner, if he (or whomever wins the GOP nomination) makes the race close, it appears, at the margins Pennsylvania voters tend not to reward the president when voting for governor – even a president for whom they voted. - Politics PA, 8/26/13

2014 is going to be a totally different year though.  Unlike Ridge, Rendell or any other former Pennsylvania Governor, they were not involved in the biggest scandal in Pennsylvania history.  I'm talking of course about Corbett's handling of the Jerry Sandusky Penn State sex abuse scandal as Attorney General and the fact that Corbett received donations from Sandusky's organization.  Plus the voter ID laws received huge backlash and the electorate soured on Corbett and State Senate Lader Dominic Pileggi's (R. PA) scheme to rig the Presidential election for the GOP in 2012 and 2016.  Not to mention I can't think of another governor who was this extreme and incompetent in Pennsylvania history.  Corbett has become the new Rick Santorum, a right-wing extremist who is very unpopular not just with Democrats and Independents but with Republicans as well.  I also think that Pennsylvania voters are going to make history next year with frontrunner Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D. PA-13) becoming the first female Governor.  Of course she will first have to win her party's nomination and it looks like she might have some real competition in an already crowded primary:

Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz is the Democratic frontrunner and has a serious shot at becoming the first woman elected governor of the keystone state. But while Schwartz is considered the favorite in a crowded field of Democrats, a familiar name in Pennsylvania politics is weighing a decision to challenge her. Former two term State Auditor General Jack Wagner is a household name in western PA,  and says he’s considering a run for the state’s top job.
“To win statewide in this commonwealth, you must appeal to a cross section of voters,” Wagner told MSNBC. “Being a moderate Democrat and having a track record in government is crucial to being able to win in PA,” he said.

Schwartz already has a commanding lead over Corbett and the rest of the Democratic field in most polls, including a new internal poll her campaign released last week.  The poll, conducted by President Obama’s own polling firm Benenson Strategy Group, shows Schwartz with double digit lead over rivals Kathleen McGinty, Tom Wolf, and McCord. The poll shows the Jenkintown Congresswoman with landslide-like numbers in Philadelphia and leading her rivals in the Pittsburgh area as well.

“I would not assume that she’s the frontrunner,” Wagner said of Schwartz.  “Tom Wolf and Rob McCord will both compete financially and I would not give her the edge,” he said.

The crowded field of Democrats is likely to split the primary vote into slices.  But aside from desire to take on Corbett next fall, all of these Democrats have one other thing in common–by and large, they represent the eastern region of the state. The crowded field of Democrats could grew even larger and more talented, as it has provided an opening for a credible western Pennsylvania candidate like Jack Wagner to join the fray.

The 2010 nominee, Dan Onorato, hailed from the western part of the state as well.  Onorato, however, failed to beat Corbett in Allegheny County, a heavy Democratic population that the two candidates both called home. Wagner, however, could give Corbett a run for his money out west, win Democratic Allegheny County, and pick up the east, including the vote rich Philadelphia and its suburbs, a pragmatic scenario that should make Schwartz nervous if Wagner launches a bid to campaign against Schwartz’s electability.

Both natives of the Pittsburgh area, Corbett was a U.S. Attorney from the western region when Wagner served as Pittsburgh City Council President.  Wagner is perceived by some to being a perennial candidate having lost a bid for Governor in 2010, Lt. Governor in 2002, and most recently a campaign for Mayor of Pittsburgh in 2013.  Then again, it took the very popular former Governor Robert P. Casey three times before he was successfully elected Governor in 1986. - MSNBC, 8/28/13

Wagner says he will make his decision in the nest 30 days.  Now I am from Western Pennsylvania and as much as I would like to see a fellow Pittsburgher become Governor, I'm still dedicated to Schwartz's candidacy.  She has the fundraising ability and connections to fuel a winning campaign and she can win the Philadelphia suburbs which are essential to winning this race.  Schwartz has been working to win over Pittsburgh Democrats and I appreciate her dedication to winning over my side of the sate.  I also think it would be a good idea for a Philadelphia native to run against Corbett, considering Philadelphia teachers and students are his biggest victims plus Corbett polls the worst with female voters due to his support for mandatory ultrasounds.  Schwartz's has a moderate fiscal record but is pretty socially liberal on issues regarding reproductive rights, gun control and marriage equality.  Corbett and the GOP are only helping the Keystone State shift more to the left and Schwartz represents that new shift.  Of course Corbett and the GOP will spend big to make Schwartz look like a liberal nut job but that's to be expected because Corbett really can't run on his record.  Times are changing in Pennsylvania and Corbett and the GOP refuse to accept that.  If you would like to donate or get involved with Schwartz's campaign, you can do so here:

And if you would like to donate or get involved with the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 11:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Pittsburgh Area Kossacks, Philly Kos, DKos Pennsylvania, This Week in the War on Women, Kossacks for Marriage Equality, LGBT Kos Community, Youth Kos 2.0, In Support of Labor and Unions, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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