While the focus is on Senate and House elections this November, but many states’ elections for governor are important because congressional redistricting is at hand. Pennsylvania’s governor’s seat is one of the most notable in the nation. After Tom Ridge served, he directed Homeland Security, while incumbent Gov. Ed Rendell gets to serve the Commonwealth and do Eagles postgame shows.
Yet Rendell will have to limit himself to Eagles talk soon because he’s term-limited. In his wake, Republican Tom Corbett and Democrat Dan Onorato are facing off for the job. Despite Rendell holding the seat for Democrats in the last eight years, the Republicans are favored to take it back this time.
Candidates for Pennsylvania’s Governorship (six year term)
Candidate: Tom Corbett
Political experience: Corbett has been the attorney general of Pennsylvania since 2004. According to his website, Corbett has gotten national recognition for fighting internet predators, fraud against seniors, gang violence and abuse of power. He claims to have recovered more than half a billion dollars for Pennsylvania taxpayers in six years after going against Big Oil, pharmaceutical companies and lenders.
Before, Corbett was an assistant U.S. attorney for Pennsylvania’s Western District, in the early years of the Reagan administration, and he was appointed as a U.S. attorney in the same district by President George H. W. Bush. Once he left the job in 1993, he aided future Gov. Ridge and filled in as state attorney general in place of imprisoned Ernie Preate from 1995 to 1997.
Professional experience: Corbett was in the Pennsylvania National Guard 28th Division from 1971 to 1984. He got his law degree in 1975 from St. Mary’s University School of Law, then went into private practice after serving as an assistant U.S. attorney. When he left the office in 1997, he formed the law firm of Thomas Corbett and Associates until he was elected back to the attorney general’s office.
Key issues: Corbett’s campaign website lists the economy, government reform, education, the environment, transportation, health care and agriculture as his major issues. He urges to oppose tax increases, reduce regulatory barriers on business, cut the size and cost of government, encourage clean energy, improve federal transportation funding and adopt tort reform.
Endorsements: Corbett has support from former governors Tom Ridge, Dick Thornburgh and Mark Schweiker, along with Sen. Rick Santorum. He is also endorsed by the Pennsylvania State Lodge Fraternity of Police, the PEG PAC and the Pennsylvania Automotive Association.
Chances of winning the seat: According to Rasmussen Reports, Corbett is ahead by 10 points as of Sept. 16, with 49 percent of the vote. Reuters also had Corbett up by 15 points as of Aug. 31. Rasmussen claims that Corbett has polled from 45 to 52 percent since February, so he has been staying steady for months. If he doesn’t stumble in the next two months, he is expected to have a convincing victory.
Candidate: Dan Onorato
Political experience: Onorato has been the chief executive of Allegheny County, Pa., since 2003. He has worked to implement fiscal responsibility to Pennsylvania’s second largest county, and has consolidated 10 political offices to save money. According to his website, Onorato has made Allegheny County the only one in the region to hold the line on property taxes for seven years.
Onorato’s political career began in 1991 with an upset victory for a seat in the Pittsburgh City Council. He served two terms then moved on to become Allegheny County controller in 1999, where he recovered taxpayer money from abusive corporations. In 2003, he pulled off another upset victory to win the chief executive seat.
Professional experience: Onorato received a degree in accounting from Penn State, and he was a CPA before going to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He worked in the private sector until he became concerned about Pittsburgh’s economic and political direction, and he formed his grassroots campaign for the city council.
Key issues: Onorato touts his experience in Allegheny County as proof that he can spark Pennsylvania’s economy by creating well-paying jobs in the private sector. He plans to reduce the size of the state senate and house, enact term limits, create green-collar jobs, maintain the line on property taxes in spite of health care costs and invest in infrastructure that creates jobs.
Endorsements: The Teamsters, Pennsylvania State Education Association, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Steelworkers have given their support to Onorato. He also has the backing of several elected officials in southwest, southeast and central Pennsylvania.
Chances of winning the seat: Onorato has been playing from behind for months, and he is still double digits behind. The most recent Rasmussen Report survey did have him closing the gap from 13 to 10 points, so he can still claim that a comeback is on the horizon. Onorato has defied the odds before with upset victories that propelled his career. Yet it will take a near perfect last few months, and some luck, for him to surprise everyone again.
Key differences: Onorato is focused on job creation in stimulating the economy, while Corbett stresses reduced tax burdens. The two both want to reduce government and the cost of health care, but Corbett also includes tort reform in his health care plan.
Last results: In 2006, incumbent Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell easily won re-election, with more than 60 percent of the vote against Republican candidate — and former Steelers legend — Lynn Swann. Rendell first won office by defeating Republican Mike Fisher by nine points after Republican Tom Ridge served two terms.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania is 85.2 percent white, 10.9 percent African American, and 5.1 percent Hispanic.