CITY HALL SAM: The Kinder, Gentler Corbett Is Unveiled

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ANNOUNCING his proposed boost of $22 million for funding for intellectual disabilities, Gov. Tom Corbett chose Salvation Army's Kroc Center in N. Phila. as backdrop. Message: he cares.

ANNOUNCING his proposed boost of $22 million for funding for intellectual disabilities, Gov. Tom Corbett chose Salvation Army’s Kroc Center in N. Phila. as backdrop. Message: he cares.

What does an incumbent Governor who is accused of being a rightwing extremist, indifferent, and uncaring about the needs of average Pennsylvanians do to address his horrible poll numbers? The answer is he tries a makeover as a kind, caring, and energetic moderate. As part of that reinvention, GOV. TOM CORBETT came to Philadelphia last week to talk about his commitment to a N.W. Philadelphia Health Center. The state will invest $10 million in a health-related clinic that will also serve communities in the surrounding area.

Step two of the reinvention is to bring in a makeover team. After shaking up his top advisers during the summer, the Governor hired a former GEORGE W. BUSH speechwriter to help him hone his budget message. The budget tried to use the force of whitewater rapids to rush Corbett to the center of the political spectrum. But the Governor’s attempt at compassion was labeled a political charade of a desperate man who continued to try to sell Pennsylvanians an agenda they have consistently rejected. It appears that he actually does want to get reelected.

Step three of the election-year makeover is to focus on your weakness and try to make it your strength. So Corbett is trying to improve his public-education credentials. He is proposing to spend more money on public education and has tapped City COUNCILMAN BILL GREEN to be chairman of the School Reform Commission. A cynical observer might see this as an opportunity for Corbett to award contracts and funding throughout Philadelphia. A more-jaded view might call this an opportunity to sway voters using the CONGRESSMAN OZZIE MYERS rule: Money talks and BS walks.

On the Democratic side of the Governor’s race, KATIE McGINTY and TOM WOLF are already airing commercials. And although Allison Schwartz raised a substantial amount of money before entering the campaign, she has spent almost $2,000,000 assembling her campaign team. That is an astronomical amount, considering not a single shot has been fired yet. In the Lieutenant Governor’s race, STATE SEN. MIKE STACK outraised all his opponents by several hundred thousand dollars.

Now that STATE REP. MIKE McGEEHAN is retiring, there will likely be a heated race to succeed him in Harrisburg. MIKE DRISCOLL’S name has been bantered about once again. Driscoll is the highly regarded owner of Finnigan’s Wake restaurant and saloon. But he often starts campaigns and rarely finishes them. CONNIE DOUGHERTY, the 41st Ward Leader and Stack campaign aide, is also considering a run. So is former Notre Dame basketball great JAMES DILLON. Dillon is the brother of 66A WARD LEADER SHAWN DILLON.

There is a rumor that the potential death match between STATE REPS. JOHN SABATINA and ED NEILSON in the quest to fill their merged seat may be resolved in the near future. Nothing is certain but master politician CONGRESSMAN BOB BRADY is said to be working on a plan.

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