All the big name political prognosticators think Tom Corbett is the most likely sitting Governor to lose next year, and this has prompted some people to start discussing who Republicans should run instead.
John Micek explains why internal Republican Party politics, as well as fundraising difficulties, make this quite unlikely. But it’s still fun to speculate!
My pick is Rep. Charlie Dent in the 15th District. Dent has managed to hang on (no, thrive) in a Democratic-leaning swing district since 2005, which only recently became an R+2 in the latest round of redistricting. Dent’s M.O. is that he eschews the nutty rhetoric of the Tea People, keeps his head down and votes with the Republicans most of the time, and this earns him embarrassingly fawning local press coverage. It works so well that he gets himself described as a “moderate” in stories that are supposed to be straight reporting.
Dent has recently been underperforming the district a bit for the Republicans, which the base won’t like, but the fact is that all the political space in our fantasy Republican primary is to Corbett’s left. There’s an opening for a moderate like Dent to prevail, since the polls keep showing it’s mostly moderate Republicans who are disappointed with the hard right Corbett.
There’s no recent precedent for a left primary challenge in the Republican Party, but I see no reason Dent shouldn’t give it a try. There’s really nowhere left for him to go in politics – can’t challenge Pat Toomey in 2016, probably doesn’t want to run for a statewide row office. The worst that could happen is that he’ll start his higher paying career as a PP&L or Air Products lobbyist a little sooner than expected.