HARRISBURG – Republican Bruce Castor, who opposed Tom Corbett when he was elected attorney general in 2004, said Wednesday he is considering challenging now-Gov. Corbett in the 2014 GOP primary.
Castor, 51, a Montgomery County commissioner and former district attorney, is the first Republican to publicly express interest in challenging Corbett’s planned bid for a second term.
He said a large number of Republicans began calling him the day after the Nov. 6 election and urged him to run in two years. Castor lost the 2004 nomination for state attorney general to Corbett by more than 5 percentage points.
“I am listening, exploring options, and gauging what financial and political support might be had for such a run,” he said.
Castor said that Corbett “has not been as successful in getting things done as he might have hoped,” especially with GOP majorities in both houses of the Legislature. Castor also cited what he said was Corbett’s “unwillingness to take on entrenched government union bosses.”
In addition, lingering questions about why the state investigation into child sexual abuse allegations against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky took nearly three years “could hobble (Corbett) going into the next year,” he said.
Corbett was attorney general when the state took over the investigation in early 2009, but had been governor for nearly a year when Sandusky was arrested last year. Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of abusing boys and is serving a 30- to 60-year prison term.
Democratic Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane, who starts her new job in January, campaigned on a promise to investigate the handling of the Sandusky case.
“I think that the timing is right to gauge whether there is an appetite in the Republican rank-and-file to take a look at another alternative” for governor, Castor said.
Corbett’s top political adviser noted that Castor’s campaign hints surfaced only days before this weekend’s annual Pennsylvania Society dinner and related events in New York City, where prospective candidates mingle with the political and business elite.
“This is the season of people talking about running for any number of elected offices,” said adviser Brian Nutt.
“Gov. Corbett has taken on the tough challenges. He’s put Pennsylvania’s fiscal house back in order. He’s made the tough decisions” necessary to stimulate economic growth and create jobs, Nutt said.
The online site PoliticsPA.com first reported Castor’s potential candidacy.
Numerous Democrats have expressed interest in seeking the party’s nomination against Corbett. John Hanger, a former state utility regulator and former head of the state Department of Environmental Protection, declared his candidacy last week.