The Space Cadet Flames Out

Amidst the jubilation over Tuesday’s results is hidden a warning to RINOS: the defeat of Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett by Democrat Tom Wolf.

Corbett’s defeat is virtually the only blemish in a nationwide gubernatorial sweep by GOP candidates.  Corbett’s downfall was a defeat in the George Bush 41 mode: he presided over a state that had weathered the Great Recession is better shape than almost any other, with finances in good condition, and (outside Philly, anyway) little in the way of overwhelming social problems.  Yet still he lost.

Part of Corbett’s problem was an almost preternatural colorlessness.  Corbett hails from Shaler, a western cookie-cutter suburb of Pittsburgh that could serve as the scene for the next version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Corbett is a perfect representative of his home milieu.

More serious was Corbett’s unwillingness – an unwillingness reflected throughout RINO ranks – to make anything of the state’s achievements.  Pennsylvania’s economic health, so much in contrast to every other state in Mid-Atlantic region, is based almost entirely on fracking.  Pennsylvania helped pioneer the technology through exploitation of the Marcellus Shale that underlies much of the central/western portion of the state.  Fracking generated enough in the way of jobs and taxes to save the state’s economy while its neighbors crashed and burned.

But fracking was also controversial, and so, in the customary traditional Republican style, Corbett avoided any emphasis on it, instead leaving the discussion to the ravings of Green Democratic supporters.

Corbett was also badly hurt by his inept handling as AG of the Jerry Sandusky case, which took years to bring to court, along with later comments insinuating that there were questions as to the guilt of Sandusky, and by extension Holy Joe Paterno.  This was enough to cast a cloud of serious Lynchian weirdness over his bland suburban persona, enough to discourage supporters and generate second and third thoughts in voters.

Corrbett’s debacle – no exaggeration; he lost by a full 10 points, 45% to 55% – is the first time a sitting PA governor has failed re-election since the state allowed multiple terms and can be viewed as a textbook example of how to blow an easy home run.

It could be worse.  Corbett’s Democratic foe could have been state AG Kathleen Kane, a truly fanatic Green intent on shutting down fracking – but only after her family’s trucking company had made millions off it.  Kane, seriously hyped as a possible Democratic gubernatorial candidate, managed to fritter away all her political capital through a series of truly trivial, not to say bizarre, scandals.

All of which brings us to the final question: is Pennsylvania shedding its plaid-shirt working-class image to become another political sideshow state like Florida or Minnesota?

Amidst the jubilation over Tuesday’s results is hidden a warning to RINOS: the defeat of Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett by Democrat Tom Wolf.

Corbett’s defeat is virtually the only blemish in a nationwide gubernatorial sweep by GOP candidates.  Corbett’s downfall was a defeat in the George Bush 41 mode: he presided over a state that had weathered the Great Recession is better shape than almost any other, with finances in good condition, and (outside Philly, anyway) little in the way of overwhelming social problems.  Yet still he lost.

Part of Corbett’s problem was an almost preternatural colorlessness.  Corbett hails from Shaler, a western cookie-cutter suburb of Pittsburgh that could serve as the scene for the next version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Corbett is a perfect representative of his home milieu.

More serious was Corbett’s unwillingness – an unwillingness reflected throughout RINO ranks – to make anything of the state’s achievements.  Pennsylvania’s economic health, so much in contrast to every other state in Mid-Atlantic region, is based almost entirely on fracking.  Pennsylvania helped pioneer the technology through exploitation of the Marcellus Shale that underlies much of the central/western portion of the state.  Fracking generated enough in the way of jobs and taxes to save the state’s economy while its neighbors crashed and burned.

But fracking was also controversial, and so, in the customary traditional Republican style, Corbett avoided any emphasis on it, instead leaving the discussion to the ravings of Green Democratic supporters.

Corbett was also badly hurt by his inept handling as AG of the Jerry Sandusky case, which took years to bring to court, along with later comments insinuating that there were questions as to the guilt of Sandusky, and by extension Holy Joe Paterno.  This was enough to cast a cloud of serious Lynchian weirdness over his bland suburban persona, enough to discourage supporters and generate second and third thoughts in voters.

Corrbett’s debacle – no exaggeration; he lost by a full 10 points, 45% to 55% – is the first time a sitting PA governor has failed re-election since the state allowed multiple terms and can be viewed as a textbook example of how to blow an easy home run.

It could be worse.  Corbett’s Democratic foe could have been state AG Kathleen Kane, a truly fanatic Green intent on shutting down fracking – but only after her family’s trucking company had made millions off it.  Kane, seriously hyped as a possible Democratic gubernatorial candidate, managed to fritter away all her political capital through a series of truly trivial, not to say bizarre, scandals.

All of which brings us to the final question: is Pennsylvania shedding its plaid-shirt working-class image to become another political sideshow state like Florida or Minnesota?