Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. Win The Buckeye state, win the White House.
That is especially true for Mitt Romney, since no Republican has won without it.
|Sandra Skinner, 22, signs in to vote at a commercial painter's garage in Philadelphia.
But monumentally overlooked is that Ohio is kingmaker by default. It would not be needed if Romney wins Pennsylvania.
That’s not wishful thinking, but eminently achievable. Or at least it was, until two men severely diminished hope for delivering The Keystone State: Jerry Sandusky and Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
Pennsylvania should have been a GOP lock. The fact that it has not voted Republican since 1988 is misleading. When there is a solid candidate, Pennsylvania is always in play, where a small vote swing would change the result (2000 and 2004). Conversely, bad candidates lose handily (‘92,’96, ‘08). Remember that Ronald Reagan won it twice, and George H.W. Bush in ’88.
In 1994, Republicans won both U.S. Senate seats, the governorship, state legislature, a majority of its congressional delegation, and two of three statewide offices.
In 2010, Corbett was elected with a massive 10-point margin. Conservative Pat Toomey was elected U.S. Senator, and Republicans gained control of the State House, taking a 10-seat majority. The State Senate remained Republican, as it has for three decades.
So why will Romney likely lose Pennsylvania?
Enter Corbett and Sandusky.
The most worthless commodities in politics are endorsements. Party leaders sway no one. And celebrities choosing sides makes for good cocktail talk. Romney doesn’t benefit from Clint Eastwood, nor Obama from Springsteen.
Endorsements don’t sell, but popularity does.
If a bold leader articulates common sense ideas, he will have followers from the entire spectrum. Look at New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who achieved monumental victories despite a heavily Democratic legislature.
While no single Republican could swing Jersey, that feat should have been in the bag in Pennsylvania. If Christie could rack up wins in The People’s Republic, how could Corbett not deliver Pennsylvania?
Because he is an MIA governor.
In his first year, virtually nothing was accomplished, so Corbett’s own legislators nicknamed him “Christie-lite.” But after year two, with an even more startling lack of achievements, the nicknames became unprintable.
We’re not talking about a failed extreme right-wing agenda, but popular ideas Corbett promised to enact.
- Was the nation’s largest state-controlled liquor system dismantled, a move overwhelmingly supported by Pennsylvanians? Nope.
- Was any effort made to 1) solve the state’s massive pension crisis, 2)lower the job-killing corporate income tax (second-highest nationally), or 3) reform the most hostile legal climate?
All drive businesses away, but no action was taken.
- Did state union workers receive a contract in line with the private sector? No. Instead, Corbett gave them guaranteed raises, small increases in healthcare premiums, and eliminated furloughs for economic reasons. At the same time, he raised salaries of his inner circle, aides who apparently couldn’t get by on $135,000.
While inaction sunk the governor’s ratings, it was his handling of predator Jerry Sandusky that really flushed him down the toilet.
Corbett’s attempt to steal the national limelight at Penn State news conferences by portraying himself as the savior who took down Sandusky rapidly backfired. Instead, his decisions in that case (as the investigating Attorney General) grew into a firestorm.
No one is buying Corbett’s claims that he didn’t play politics with the Sandusky investigation. A whopping 69 percent of Pennsylvanians don’t view Corbett favorably, making him the nation’s least popular governor. And a miniscule 17 percent think he handled the investigation well.
It took three years to arrest Sandusky. Within the law enforcement community, it’s almost unanimous that Sandusky should have been nailed much earlier. And Corbett ordered a narcotics agent to lead a whopping team of two to investigate Sandusky, while scores of agents, including child predator units, prosecuted a political corruption case.
Because of Corbett’s colossal inconsistencies, Republican legislative leaders were forced to kill a motion requesting a federal investigation of Corbett’s handling of the case.
The erosion of his popularity, transcending party lines, stems from the nagging feeling that Corbett placed politics above the protection of children.
The most far-reaching result will be the political earthquake that never was. Had Corbett been a fraction of Christie and run the Sandusky investigation properly, Romney wins Pennsylvania hands down.
Instead, Corbett’s toxicity forced Romney to focus on Ohio, which he likely loses, and with it, the presidency.
But that may be the least of Corbett’s troubles. Kathleen Kane is poised to become the first elected Democratic Attorney General, which would be an immense embarrassment for Corbett, since he would be seen as the main contributor to a Kane victory.
If elected, Kane promises an intense review of the Sandusky investigation, with no hesitation to charge anyone, including the Governor, should improprieties be uncovered.
And who thought politics wouldn’t be interesting after this election?
An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Friendly Fire Zone. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.
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