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The Republican race for Pennsylvania governor: WPSU talks with Jake Corman

Jake Corman in a shirt and red tie sitting in the WPSU studio near a microphone.
Min Xian
/
WPSU
Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre County, seen here in a file photo in the WPSU-FM studio, is running for the Republican nomination for governor in the 2022 primary.

Nine Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination to be governor of Pennsylvania in the 2022 primary. The Democratic primary for Governor is not competitive. WPSU invited all the Republican candidates for interviews leading up to the May 17 primary. Here’s the conversation WPSU’s Anne Danahy had with Jake Corman.

Anne Danahy 
Jake Corman thank you for talking with us.

Jake Corman 
Great to be with you, as always.

Anne Danahy 
You're the president pro tem of the Pennsylvania Senate, serving in the Senate since 1998. And you're also one of nine candidates in this race. You all agree on some of the issues. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

Jake Corman 
I think my experience, you know, I'm the only one that actually knows the process and how Harrisburg works and how to get things done. You know, I spent a career of taking on the big issues, whether it's issues like public pension reform, whether it was issues like the governor's shutting down, you know, the state's jobs and businesses, whatever it was, I took on the big issues and was successful in getting them done. A Corman administration is not going need to transition, we're going to be able to step in there on Day 1, and understand the process, be able to work with the legislature. You know, we've had a governor for two years who has not worked with the legislature at all. And so therefore, you've seen dysfunction. You want someone who can work with Republicans and Democrats alike, the legislature so the legislative branch, the executive branch can work together to improve the lives of people in Pennsylvania. Ultimately, that's our job in public service, is to do things and improve the lives of the people Pennsylvania. I have the skill set and the ability of my experience to get that done. And I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Anne Danahy 
And you've said you want to get rid of mail-in voting, which was made easier by Act 77. That was bipartisan legislation passed before the pandemic, and you voted for allowing mail-in voting. Why the change?

Jake Corman 
Absolutely. Look, you know, Act 77 was a was a piece of legislation to try to enhance people's abilities to access to vote, which we all should be for. Unfortunately, Governor Wolf turned it into a vessel for the opportunity to commit fraud. We're seeing that by having the multiple weeks now of mail-in balloting without excuse. And then you combine that with the Dropbox, which was not passed by the legislature. He got rid of signature verification of the mail-in ballots, which always was part of the absentee ballot process. And so what you've seen, and we've seen it in Lehigh County where we've had more ballots cast than people who showed up at Dropbox, and Philadelphia County where they were supposed to keep the video of the dropboxes for two years by federal law. They didn't keep it for some mysterious reason. By getting rid of all these security measures, you brought doubt into the process. And that is the worst thing you can have in a democracy — is there doubt whether who won and who lost. Look, elections go back and forth, right? Republican wins some years, Democrats win some years. That's democracy. But everyone feels good about having the ability to affect change at the ballot box. We need to do whatever we can to restore faith. And I think scrapping the system, and then ultimately, rebuilding it is the way to go. And and, you know, unfortunately, that's where Tom Wolfe, the position he's put us in. But I think it's the right thing to do so we can restore faith in the electoral process.

Anne Danahy 
Yeah, and I'll just note, there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud. I mean, somebody dropping off a ballot for someone else might not be legal or allowable, but it doesn't mean there's fraud, per se.

Jake Corman 
A hundred percent. But it's illegal. First of all, so we need it to stop. But I didn't say there was widespread fraud. What I said is, we've seen situations clearly that there's ability for fraud, and we don't know the depth of it, because the prosecutors aren't prosecuting these individuals, bringing them in finding out why they're casting ballots for other people. We don't have the video from Philadelphia at all. The problem is we don't have the ability, the knowledge to know the depth of the illegal activity. The fact is, it is illegal, and we should put a stop to it. And I think this is the best way to put a stop to it.

Anne Danahy 
In this primary race, you've consistently been lower in the polls and not a front runner. Why do you think that is?

Jake Corman 
I think the leader in the polls, during this whole campaign, is the undecided voter. That's been clear. And so therefore, you know, it's my job and every candidate's job to go out and make their case to the undecided voter. I think you see the people for the most part, who are a little bit ahead in the polls — although we're all very close — are the people who spent the most money, which isn't certainly, you know, new to government and politics. And so, but it still there's a huge undecided voter. We are making our case, to the end. I think my experience is a differentiator for me, as I said before, and we will continue to make that case to the end.

Anne Danahy 
And you've talked about jobs and job opportunities and making that a priority. What specific steps would you take if you were elected governor to improve those job opportunities in Pennsylvania?

Jake Corman 
Great question. I mean, that's the most important thing. So I think first we start out by embracing the energy economy. Pennsylvania has a tremendous amount of natural resources. We have access to markets, we have higher education, intellectual capital, second to none in the world that's created here in Pennsylvania every year. Everybody should want to locate in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, we've had a governor for the last eight years, who's ideologically driven against fossil fuels. And so therefore, the big opportunity for growth of jobs in Pennsylvania has been lost because he refuses to embrace it and to find ways to be creative to create jobs. I will change that. I will make sure we are creative, just as we were with a tax credit program that located the Beaver Cracker Facility in Beaver County by Royal Dutch Shell, just as we did by creating a tax credit incentive policy in Luzerne County, a $6 billion investment, 4,000 construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs. We shouldn't have two examples, we should have a hundred. You know, whether people like it or not, you know, fossil fuels are going be part of our future for decades to come on this planet. And either we can have dictators around the world who hate us who will spike the energy costs for American consumers, as we've seen now with what's going on in Russia and Ukraine. Or we could produce it domestically, what we do environmentally better than any other place in the world. We can create the jobs here and benefit from it here.

Anne Danahy 
And we have a few seconds left. In a couple sentences, what would your top priority be if you were elected?

Jake Corman 
Well, my top priority is jobs and freedoms. Two years ago, this probably would have sounded like the cliche. But over the last two years, we had a governor tell us, you know, who could go to work and who couldn't go to work, you know. Whose job was essential and whose job wasn't essential. We had a president of the United States tell us, you get vaccinated or get fired. That's an amazing thing to have in the United States of America. We're not talking about Russia and Putin, we're talking about the United States of America where our leaders are dictating our lives, which is something that we're not used to, and should never, ever happen again. And that's why we passed legislation to make sure that no governor can do what Tom Wolfe did, Republican or Democratic governor of the future. It's important that we protect our freedoms, to give people opportunities as it gets to jobs. Because you're not truly free, if you don't have economic security. It's important that we create an environment that businesses are going to want to invest in Pennsylvania, locate in Pennsylvania, to create the jobs for the people in Pennsylvania, so they can support their families and support their businesses.

Jake Corman 
And finally, I just want to mention, you know, we have a real crime problem in Pennsylvania. You know, the spike — ever since the riots of 2020. We've really seen this progressive movement of not holding people accountable has really spiked our crime problem in Pennsylvania. That's why I'm so proud of the statewide FOP recommending my candidacy. And because again, we can't have freedom, we can't have good jobs, if we don't have safe communities. And as governor, I will lead that fight with our men and women in uniform to make sure our communities are safe.

Anne Danahy 
Senator Jake Corman thank you for talking with us.

Jake Corman 
Thank you. Always a pleasure to be with you Anne.

Anne Danahy is a reporter at WPSU. She was a reporter for nearly 12 years at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, where she earned a number of awards for her coverage of issues including the impact of natural gas development on communities.
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