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Editorials

For Pennsylvania governor: Re-elect Tom Corbett

| Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett visits the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014.
Guy Wathen | Trib Total Media
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett visits the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014.

Four years ago, we “heartily” endorsed Republican Tom Corbett for governor of Pennsylvania. The commonwealth, we said then, could not survive the kind of third Ed Rendell term being offered by Democrat Dan Onorato.

Four years later, and after much deliberation, we again endorse Tom Corbett. It is not a hearty endorsement. But it is a necessary one, given his opponent's Rendellian proclivities. And it comes with conditions for our continued support.

This has been an odd gubernatorial campaign. Mr. Corbett has been relegated to challenger status by the folksy but sometimes misleading campaign rhetoric of Democrat Tom Wolf.

Repeating, falsely, that “Corbett cut education funding by $1 billion” appears to be largely responsible for bestowing an aura of incumbency on the York businessman who briefly served as state Revenue secretary in Mr. Rendell's second term.

And while Corbett indeed has successes to tout — net tax cuts and elimination of the vote-buying bribery of WAMs (walking-around money) topping the list — his signature policy initiatives of pension and liquor reform have been stymied in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Corbett, however, must share the blame. His failure to forge consensus and, when appropriate, use the bully pulpit has only enabled obstructionism's machinators, particularly in the Senate.

As concerned as we are about Corbett's leadership lapses, we also have concerns about Mr. Wolf.

He seems to not know more than he knows, characterizing that as honesty. But at this level, he should be better informed. He criticizes Corbett's wholesale gasoline tax increase as “sticking it to the middle class” but would not seek its repeal.

Wolf wants a natural gas extraction tax, despite compelling evidence that it would stifle production and harm the economy. His constitutionally dubious proposal to institute a progressive state income tax — bereft of specificity; the details to come, if elected — asks voters to buy the proverbial pig in a poke.

And Wolf's belief that he can work with a GOP-controlled Legislature, one with which even Corbett has had great difficulty, likely is overly optimistic.

Thus, we endorse Tom Corbett for re-election. But we expect better.

The governor must be more aggressive in his dealings with the Legislature. And that means holding its feet to the fire on the issues that matter most to an electorate that, by giving the GOP control of state government, voted for commonsense and money-saving initiatives long stalled or shelved.

Pennsylvanians fully appreciate the concept of separation of powers. But they demand a governor who does not shrink from pushing the agenda he promised and whose leadership is more than titular. This is what we expect of Gov. Corbett in a second term.

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