Even then, there is no guarantee that he will be able to defeat Allegheny County private practice lawyer Tom Corbett, who has the endorsement of the state GOP committee for that nomination, according to veteran Pennsylvania political analyst G. Terry Madonna.

"Bruce Castor is a clear underdog," said Madonna, who heads Franklin & Marshall College's new Center for Politics and Public Affairs, in an recent interview.

At a minimum, Castor will have to raise at least $3 million and, more likely, $5 million to run a competitive statewide campaign against Corbett, according to Madonna. And, with an early primary election scheduled for April 27, Castor has little time to do this.

His biggest problem is that the state Republican Party is a legitimate, well-funded, well-organized organization that delivers," said Madonna, noting that candidates endorsed by the state GOP for posts within the state government have not lost an election since 1980.

Realizing the value of the state GOP support, the 42-year-old career prosecutor from Lower Salford spent the last two years scurrying about the state to win the votes of state committee members, only to pull out of last week's endorsement process following his well-publicized, and some say ill-advised, dispute with Republican National Committeeman Robert B. Asher.

Castor and Montgomery County GOP Chairman Frank R. Bartle, who has been at odds with Asher for numerous years, charged that the Lower Gwynedd businessman was using his control over state GOP purse strings to win the endorsement for Corbett.

These allegations incensed GOP leaders, who threatened to sue Castor for insinuating that their votes were for sale.

Seeing the handwriting on the proverbial wall, Castor subsequently announced he was withdrawing from the endorsement process and would take his candidacy directly to Republican voters in the primary election.

However, at the same time, he further incensed GOP state committee members and party leaders by saying, in essence, that he did want the endorsement vote of those who could be held financially hostage by a convicted felon, referring to Asher's federal conviction in the 1990s on charges to give a state computer contract to a California-based company in return for a promise of a contribution to the state GOP.

Asher has declined comment throughout this episode.

Madonna said that Castor, who is now portraying himself as a revolutionary, would best be served by putting the entire matter behind him.

"This is all inside baseball," said Madonna. "Most of the Republican voters in the primary election could care less about Asher or Bartle. "Most do not even know who they are."

Castor, who has served in the district attorney's office since 1986 and in November won his second four-year term as district attorney, has to give up this intramural fight and, instead, work on building his name recognition and getting his message out to GOP voters, according to Madonna.

"He has to give people a reason to vote for him, tell the Bruce Castor story that he has been an effective district attorney and crimefighter," said Madonna.

At the same time, Castor will have to point out the weaknesses of his opponent without generating a strong backlash by running a negative campaign, said Madonna.

That will be hard to do because Corbett "is a fairly strong, credible candidate," he added.

While the Castor campaign has been heavily emphasizing Corbett's ties with Waste Management Inc., Corbett has been emphasizing his own law enforcement credentials.

Corbett has served as the state's appointed attorney general in 1995 and also has served as an assistant Allegheny County prosecutor, an Assistant U.S. Attorney and as the U.S. Attorney. In addition, Corbett chaired the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

The one plus that Castor has going for him is that he is generally favorably known in Southeast Pennsylvania, where about 45 percent of the GOP primary voters are located, said Madonna.

But without an organization behind him, it is going to take millions of dollars for Castor to get his message out and his voters to care enough to go to the polls, said Madonna.

comments powered by Disqus