It’s the bottom of the ninth, you’re down a run, two outs and a man on second. Should he try to steal? Hell no. A single probably scores you, and getting thrown out ends the game. Simply stated, the risk outweighs the reward. But if, for whatever reason, the decision to steal is made, there’s only one rule: You damn well better make it. Fail, and you’re toast with the fans, the media and your teammates.
For the political equivalent, look no further than Governor Tom Corbett’s bewildering decision in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
For a year, there were those who questioned whether Pennsylvania even had a governor. Then Corbett stormed out of nowhere to endorse young businessman Steve Welch, strong-arming the Republican Party to do the same. But despite this pressure, and the fact that the Governor personally recorded the vote of every State Committee member during the public proceeding (secret ballot? forget it), the endorsement vote was still close. Why?
Maybe it had something to do with Corbett asking loyal Republicans to do the unthinkable: back a candidate who voted for Barack Obama. No, that’s not a misprint, and yes, that bears repeating: Welch voted for Mr. Hope and Change himself. But there’s more. He also contributed to Joe Sestak, and hosted an event for the man who was arguably the most liberal member of Congress.
Here’s the kicker: Despite Corbett’s support, Welch is running third and even fourth in some tracking polls (in a five-man race), and his fundraising is nowhere near what you’d expect from the anointed favorite of the Governor.
Many rank-and-file in the GOP are still scratching their heads as to why Corbett would back a flawed candidate who, should he win the primary, faces a huge uphill battle against incumbent Bob Casey. Given the circumstances, a Welch candidacy in the general election would be a gift from God to the Democrats. Consider:
The President’s approval rating remains dangerously low; gas prices are soaring; Obamacare is hugely unpopular; and the economy is not recovering to the satisfaction of many. These are big negatives that may prove decisive in races around the nation, and could become a backlash against the entire Democratic ticket through “guilt by association.” So in a year that the normally unbeatable Casey has become very mortal, many in the GOP simply aren’t buying the Corbett line that Welch is the best candidate.
And for good reason. Because of Welch’s support of Obama, any attack against Casey can be easily rebutted.
“Bob Casey, you supported the President’s agenda,” would be countered by, “Yes, Steve Welch, and by voting for Obama, so did you. Glad we agree. What’s your point?”
It doesn’t help that Welch’s story keeps changing. He claims he left the Republican Party because George Bush and the GOP Congress weren’t doing enough to advance the conservative agenda. Fine. Many felt the same way. That’s why God made the Independent, Reform and Constitutional parties. But it’s mindboggling that any conservative would leave the GOP for the ultra-liberal Democratic Party.
Welch then claimed he voted for Obama to stop “Hillary-care,” which also makes no sense since Obamacare is a far more aggressive government health care system. So which was it? Hillary-care or dissatisfaction with the Republicans? And his claim that he was duped into believing Sestak was a fiscal conservative is laughable. Perhaps more than any politician in the nation, Sestak has proudly been true to his core beliefs—all of them staunchly liberal.
To save the Pennsylvania Republican Party from national embarrassment, rank-and-file Republicans would be wise to hang the Steve Welch/Barack Obama/Joe Sestak debacle right where it belongs—as an albatross around Tom Corbett’s neck. He owns it, and he alone should bear the consequences of what most likely will be a colossal failure.
Ironically, Corbett has placed himself in a catch-22. He made his endorsement, misguided as it is, and with his image and credibility at stake, his candidate better “make it.”
If Welch loses—and worse, comes in third—Corbett takes a hit. And yet, if Welch wins, he almost certainly loses to Casey in November, a defeat many will lay at the Guv’s feet for backing a candidate who was doomed from the start.
But here would be the biggest irony of all. Due to the Governor’s own ineptitude, a stronger Bob Casey emerges victorious in November, then takes on and defeats Corbett in two years. And since no Casey has ever lost a general election in Pennsylvania history, that’s a real possibility.
Talk about the chickens coming home to roost.