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PA Kossacks, expect to see this guys a lot in the next few months:

He was raising money in Pittsburgh Friday, but New Jersey's Gov. Chris Christie said he'd soon be spending significant campaign cash in Pennsylvania for the re-election of his embattled Republican neighbor, Gov. Tom Corbett.

"That's the way you define a top priority when you're a leadership committee,'' said Mr. Christie, the head of the Republican Governors Association. "[It's] where you spend your time, I'm here with Gov. Corbett in Pittsburgh today, I'll be in Philadelphia Monday. And it's where you spend your money, and we'll be spending plenty of money here in Pennsylvania.''

In the face of post-primary polls depicting his GOP colleague as a distinct underdog in his race for re-election, Mr. Christie called the Pennsylvania race a top priority for the RGA and predicted that it would tighten on the way to a Corbett comeback for re-election.

"The RGA will be here to make sure there is the right and appropriate attention paid to Gov. Corbett's record,'' Mr. Christie said as he stood with Mr. Corbett in Primanti's, the Strip District sandwich shop that is a regular stop for politicians on the stump.

"And I think when the people of Pennsylvania are reminded of that in the context of the election, as it gets closer, you're going to see those polls tighten significantly and he is going to be the winner in November.'' - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/6/14

If Pennsylvanians are to be expecting more visits from Christie to try and save Corbett, than hopefully we'll be expecting more of this:

More than three-dozen protesters showed up to a Gov. Tom Corbett campaign stop this afternoon with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The Protesters arrived shortly after 3 p.m. and lined up across the street from Primanti Brothers' Strip District location on 18th Street. They attempted to greet the governor as he exited his vehicle, but Corbett was whisked in the back door. The protesters, who were also Tom Wolf supporters, then blocked the entrance to the front door of the restaurant.

The Protesters waited outside and Corbett only smiled and waved to chants of "One-term Tom." - Pittsburgh City Paper, 6/6/14

More of these please.  Meanwhile, Tom Wolf (D. PA) scored a major endorsement:

Democrat Tom Wolf is being endorsed for governor by one of Pennsylvania's largest labor unions while the man he's challenging, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, is fundraising with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Wolf was to appear Friday morning outside Philadelphia City Hall with members of Service Employees International Union.

The election is Nov. 4. Early polling shows Corbett far behind Wolf, the wealthy York County businessman who is making his first bid for public office. - AP, 6/6/14

Wolf reiterated his platform to the union members:

Wolf spoke today in front of a backdrop of cheering union members, promising to take three actions if he wins the Nov. 4 general election.

First he vowed to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and then index it to the rate of inflation.

Wolf also said he would expand Medicaid, which he said would give 500,000 Pennsylvanians health insurance and create 35,000 health industry jobs.

Finally, Wolf said he boost public education funding in Philadelphia and across the state.

"I know you can't throw money at every problem," Wolf said. "But you can't take money away from something that's as central to our society as education and hope to get to a good place." - Philadelphia Daily News, 6/6/14

Wolf has also been endorsed by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union, and Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest state-employee union. AFT is also backing Wolf and expect more unions to back Wolf.

While I am heavily optimistic about Wolf's chances of unseating Corbett, Terry Madonna and Michael Young reminds us that Wolf is also aiming to break a long trend of eight year cycles when it comes to the governorship:

The following four causes or factors in combination are generally believed to explain the eight-year cycle. With a single exception, all of them have been present in each cycle. That single exception almost ended the eight-year cycle.

Power of Incumbency -- Incumbency is still probably the single most important influence in contemporary politics, and its role in the eight-year cycle looms large. For the last 40 years of the cycle, incumbent governors could run for a second term. All have and all have won.  Only when incumbents can no longer run, does a party switch occur in the governor's office. Moreover, not all incumbent have been particularly popular when they ran successfully for reelection. Dick Thornburgh almost lost his bid while Ed Rendell's approval rating was in the low 40's at the start of his reelection year.

Control of the White House -- The party not in control of the presidency has won every gubernatorial term in the 15-election string, with the sole exception of Dick Thornburgh's second term (1982). Clearly, state voters prefer governors from the opposing party to the president. This notion also fits with the well-established tendency for voters in general to oppose the president's party in mid-term elections. All Pennsylvania gubernatorial elections occur in mid-term years.

Cost of Governing -- It is well established that the longer a party holds power the harder it is for that party to continue in power. There is, in short, a political cost to long tenure in power. This is the familiar "ins and outs" phenomenon in American two-party politics that regularly finds "in" parties losing support over time, opening up opportunities for the "out" party. Pennsylvania voters seem to tire of the "in's" every eight years. Or, more precisely, after eight years of one party, voters are ready to vote for the change represented by the other party.    

The Economy -- The health of the economy in re-election years clearly plays a role in the eight-year cycle. Voters often hold governors responsible for economic conditions as they do presidents. Worse, perhaps, economic downturns typically wreak havoc on state budgets. A poor economy was the reason Dick Thornburgh only narrowly won re-election in the 1982 recession year.  With the single exception of Thornburgh, incumbent governors running for reelection since 1974 (the first year a governor could run for a second term) have enjoyed a good or recovering economy. Thornburgh's close call underscores the importance of economic conditions to the outcome of gubernatorial elections.

Understanding the eight-year cycle explains much about what has mattered in past elections. Yet there is nothing magical about it. It is not a crystal ball. Statistically speaking, it is a trend line, one explainable by four factors: power of incumbency; midterm voting against the White House; the cost of governing; and the economy.

Will the eight year-cycle end in 2014? Many believe it will.  Almost certainly it will be tested as never before. An astounding 60-year streak may be over.

But a slam dunk it is not. Pennsylvania's unbroken string of party changeovers has been no quirk. - The Patriot-News, 6/5/14

I respect Madonna and Young's analysis but I believe we are going to break that trend this year.  Corbett's numbers are in the 30s, the voters object to his economic plans like privatizing the lottery and pension reform and they're angry at him for not imposing a 5% gas drilling tax.  By refusing to do so, Pennsylvania's projected revenue came up short and the voters blame Corbett.  Not to mention former Governors like Rendell and Thornburgh didn't have roles in the biggest scandal to happen in Pennsylvania history.  I of course refer to the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky case and how Corbett's office as Attorney General slow walked to process for political gain.  The voters know this and they are enraged.  Plus take into account that in central PA, during the primary, Corbett received a very low number of votes from his own party whereas Lt. Governor Jim Crawley (R. PA) performed way better than Corbett in terms of primary votes.  That's very similar to former Senator Rick Santorum's (R. PA) low performance during the 2006 primary.  And we all know how the 2006 general election race happend.  Plus, the 2013 Virginia Governor's race was a great foreshadow of what's to come.  You had three Tea Party extremist running for the top positions and Corbett's views are very much in line with ken Cuccinelli's (R. VA).  Democrats broke the trend there where the same party of the sitting President not only won the Governoship and Lt. Governorship but also the Attorney General position.  It was closer than the polls had showed but Virginia Democrats and Terry McAuliffe (D. VA) expected it to be closer and were heavily focused on turnout which paid off.  Now I believe Corbett will lose but it's hard to see between now and November if Corbett will lose by large number like Santorum did in 2006.  

Another reason I believe Wolf will win is because as we saw in the primary, he knows how to effectively control the narrative which is essential:

Julia Rendleman/Post-Gazette .shot on Susday, January 26, 2014.Jim O'Toole/local.Businessman and former secretary of the Pa. Dept. of Revenue, Tom Wolf, speaks during a democratic gubernatorial candidates' forum, featuring all 8 prospects, Sunday at McConomy Auditorium on the campus of CMU in Oakland.
Beginning in January, when the gubernatorial primary had not yet entered the public’s consciousness, Tom Wolf introduced himself to Pennsylvanians with lighthearted, scarcely political ads. Between wide shots of laborers briskly working on the floor of in his cabinetry business, warm testimonials from family, workers, and colleagues, and shots of Wolf driving around in his 2006 Jeep Wrangler, Pennsylvanians learned about Wolf long before being introduced to the other candidates.

Wolf spent an average of $2.5 million per month on advertisements from January to April 2014, and not just any advertisements. He recruited the media and consulting firm Shorr Johnson Magnus to his campaign, which has produced ads for high-profile Democratic candidates, including Terry McAuliffe for his 2013 gubernatorial campaign in Virginia, and even then-candidate Obama in 2008.

The first ads certainly made an impression on Democratic voters. Gregg J. Potter, president of the Lehigh Valley Labor Council, called his wife into the room so that he could replay one ad for her on TV.

“That’s one of the best political ads I’ve seen ever. … This defines a person in a phenomenal fashion,” he enthused for the York Daily Record. “How can you not like that?”

The investment paid off, and starting in January, Wolf pulled ahead in the polls, passing Allyson Schwartz. By the spring, while the other candidates were just beginning to broadcast their messages, Wolf secured a double-digit lead and never looked back.

So while the answer to how Tom Wolf won is rather straightforward, this answer invites several questions, ones which are especially applicable to independent voters.

On the one hand, it raises the perennial question about the role of money in politics. Wolf spent roughly $13 million on his campaign, $10 million of which he financed on his own, raising most of the remainder from loyal York-based donors. (For a comparative perspective, Schwartz and McCord spent between $7 million and $8 million, and McGinty significantly less).

However, since this was a state-level primary contest, the usual post-Citizens United finger-pointing to SuperPACs does not apply, as they played no detectable role in the contest. And while one can decry the rather sizable $10 million loan that Wolf took out for his campaign, as Philadelphia pundit Dick Polman observed in his post-mortem analysis, Wolf’s self-funding strategy was quite an expensive gambit, since, according to one study of self-funded candidates between 2000 and 2009, only 11 percent won their races. - IVN, 6/5/14

And with Corbett fighting for his life for a second term, it's already getting nasty:

“Tom Wolf’s energy plan for Pennsylvania puts his liberal ideology above jobs,” said PA Republican Party Communications Director Megan Sweeney on Monday. “Tom Wolf has made no secret of the fact that he wants to bring cap-and-tax to Pennsylvania, putting tens of thousands of coal jobs at risk. Wolf’s party has even voted to ban natural gas drilling altogether. At a time when Tom Corbett has created more than 150,000 jobs and lowered our unemployment rate to a 5-year low, why does Tom Wolf want to put Pennsylvania jobs in danger?”

Later in the week, the GOP chastised Wolf for what they believed to be a weak statement on the issue.

“Why isn’t Tom Wolf more vocal about the President Obama’s latest attack in the War on Coal?” PA Republican Party Chairman Daniel Gleason asked. “Tom Wolf was all too excited to announce a cap-and-tax plan for Pennsylvania during the Democratic primary. So why have Tom Wolf and the PA Democrats chosen to remain stone silent about President Obama’s latest attacks on our coal industry?”

“Tom Wolf knows that cap-and-tax policies will put tens of thousands of Pennsylvania jobs in danger,” Gleason continued. “Nevertheless, Tom Wolf is choosing to put the ideology of liberal special interests ahead of Pennsylvania jobs. It’s time for Tom Wolf to follow Tom Corbett’s lead and denounce Barack Obama’s latest efforts to attack Pennsylvania coal jobs.”

The PA Democratic Party responded by hitting the Governor on his own energy record. They highlighted the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources recommendation against Corbett’s decision to drill for natural gas under state parks and forests. The campaign also pointed out that the Governor has accepted $3.6 million from oil and gas companies. They even contested the Corbett camp’s numbers about how many Pennsylvanians work in the coal industry (Corbett’s Communications Director Chris Pack and Sean Kitchen from the liberal blog Raging Chicken Press got into a dustup on this topic through Twitter).

As the week went on, the PA Dems began to focus more on Gov. Corbett’s resistance to a natural gas severance tax. The Democrats created a YouTube video to press the Governor on the question of why he won’t support the tax. - Politics PA 6/22/14

Despite the odds being in our favor, we cannot afford to be complacent.  We need our base to come out and get rid of Corbett once for all.  So lets' all contribute and get involved with both Wolf's campaign and State Senator Mike Stack's (D. PA) Lt. Governor campaigns:

Originally posted to pdc on Sat Jun 07, 2014 at 01:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by Pittsburgh Area Kossacks, Philly Kos, DKos Pennsylvania, In Support of Labor and Unions, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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