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Politics & Government

Castor: "Corbett Unable to Fulfill Promises;" Considers a Challenge

Bruce Castor_montgomery County.jpg

Just about halfway through his first term in office, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett could be getting a challenge for reelection--from within his own party.

Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor says he's considering a run for governor in the 2014 Republican primary because Corbett has been "unable to fulfill the promise he came into office with to get things done."   Specifically, according to Castor, that includes not privatizing the state liquor store system, not reforming the state employees' pension system and failing "to build a consensus" with the House and Senate, both of which are controlled by Corbett's party.

"There's a big leadership style difference," said Castor, "and I think Gov. Corbett's leadership style has antagonized the legislature, and as a result of being in a position where he should have gotten many things accomplished, he had difficulty in doing so."

Differs with Corbett over a Marcellus Shale tax

Castor believes a new approach is needed to generate revenues from Marcellus Shale drilling.  Corbett supports the state's impact fee on wells with the revenues going to counties and municipalities, but the governor objects to a severance tax on the gas extracted by drilling and hydraulic fracturing.   Castor says the commonwealth needs to look at New York's and West Virginia's severance taxes.

"Then what we should do is to undercut those two states so that we create an incentive for people to set up shop in Pennsylvania," said Castor, "and then direct that revenue to transportation improvements--roads and bridges and the like."

West Virginia has a 5% severance tax on gas drillers.  New York does not have a statewide tax on oil and gas drillers, but there are taxes imposed at the local level.  New York does not allow hydraulic fracturing.

No deadline for a final decision but a campaign will cost millions

Republicans will gather in New York City this weekend for the annual Pennsylvania Society Dinner and Castor's interest in challenging Corbett will likely by a point of discussion.  Castor says due to a previous commitment he might not attend.

"Whether I'm there or not, there will be a number of people there on my behalf to inform me what goes on."

Castor, who lost the 2004 GOP primary for Attorney General to Corbett by five points, said there's no definite timeline for a final decision whether to run or not.

"I think by the spring I have to have it pretty well decided.  But it could be a year from now everything is great and there's no reason to go forward."   But he wants to be ready in case everything is not great with the Corbett administration.

If he does run, Castor, with a slight chuckle, acknowledged there will be a big price tag.   "Probably the primary would be a minimum of $5 million...and the sky's the limit in the general election."

Last week, former Pennsylvania DEP Sec. John Hanger announced he would be running for the Governor's office as a Democrat.