After narrowly surviving a ballot challenge in Commonwealth Court, right-wing Republican insurgent Bob Guzzardi is further along on his doomed path to defeat in the May 20th GOP primary against incumbent Governor Tom Corbett.
But even though Guzzardi will almost certainly lose, he is likely to receive 15-20% of the vote and expose Corbett’s weakness as the Republican standard-bearer in the Keystone State.
Guzzardi is running as the self-proclaimed voice of the “forgotten taxpayer,” and his grassroots network of ultra-anti-tax-Tea-Party-types will certainly garner him a few percentage points at the polls. Heck, the guy collected more than 3,000 signatures with no campaign staff at all, and he did so at farmer’s markets and gun shows.
But, as Corbett’s political team knows, Guzzardi’s status as simply “not Tom Corbett” is likely to earn him a non-negligible chunk of protest votes.
In March 2013, Public Policy Polling found that only 37% of GOP voters said they wanted Corbett to be their nominee in 2014, and 49% said they would prefer someone else. In hypothetical GOP matchups, Corbett led Bruce Castor 43% to 23% and only led 2012 Senate candidate Tom Smith by 37% to 33%.
Guzzardi doesn’t have nearly the support or name recognition of either Castor or Smith, but the clear point is that a sizable portion of Republicans would vote for someone who is, well, anybody but Corbett.
So far, Corbett’s re-election team has publicly written off Guzzardi as a crazy person, a non-entity. Yet, at the same time, the Pennsylvania Republican Party orchestrated the challenge to Guzzardi’s nominating petitions.
After losing in Commonwealth Court, they’re gearing up to appeal the case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. And given the difficult standard of review, I’d wager the PAGOP loses yet again.
The bottom line is that Corbett’s re-elect team and the PAGOP are failing to paint Guzzardi as the quixotic fringe loony they want him to be. And it is their own actions that are giving Guzzardi fuel for the fire.