Anti-Corbett ads airing 19 months before election

A group called Pennsylvanian's for Accountability, with a Pittsburgh mailing address, is airing an ad blasting Gov. Tom Corbett for a shell game he's playing in which corporate CEO's benefit and average taxpayers suffer.

A different group called Real American Values, with a Blue Bell, Pa. address, criticizes Corbett for cutting education while giving tax breaks to the wealthy.

Two different groups with a similar message are getting their point across on Harrisburg airwaves.

Pollster Jim Lee, of Susquehanna Polling & Research, wonders why anyone's targeting anybody 19 months before an election.

“I think it's a waste of money,” said Lee. “I don't think it's likely to move the needle in terms of impacting people's perceptions of the governor. I don't think voters are paying attention right now.”

Corbett campaign advisor Brian Nutt calls the ads false and said they come “from liberal, Democrat-supported public employee union groups, that are trying to distort the record of many Republicans including Governor Tom Corbett.”

Nutt reiterated a frequent Corbett talking point saying Corbett has earmarked more state money toward public education than any governor in Pennsylvania history.

But a union-organized rally at the Capitol Thursday afternoon hammered home the same point as those television commercials.

“This administration would rather take care of their corporate friends than our kids and our seniors,” said Mike Brunelle, executive director of the statewide Service Employees Union International.

He then led a few dozen rallies on a march through the hallways of the Capitol to the governor's office. It was a ground assault that complemented the air attacks playing on local television sets.

Lee, who polls for the statewide Republican Party, says Corbett's polling numbers are bad – less than half of Pennsylvanians approve of the job he's doing.

Lee said Corbett is vulnerable and his message is a tougher sell to the electorate.

“Tax breaks for businesses, which I fundamentally believe is a good thing, is politically tough to argue if you're also cutting funding for schools,” Lee said.

That's a Republican leaning pollster's comment. Left-leaning groups are even more forceful.

Sharon Ward of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is surprised attack ads have hit the air so soon, but she completely agrees with their message. 

“It probably indicates the fact that the policies that have cut 20,000 jobs from education are not really popular with the public.”

Negative advertising a year and a half before an election is unique but is it a coming trend?

“If this is a precursor of what we're gonna see next year,” Lee said. “Then 2014 is gonna be a much longer year for all of us than we thought.”

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