Bruce Castor is out. Or just not in in the first place.
But even after announcing on Facebook that he will not force a Republican gubernatorial primary, the Montgomery County commissioner had a few more things to say about Gov. Tom Corbett. Specifically: He still thinks the top Pennsylvania Republican could face trouble in November.
"The thing that's troubling to me is that every piece of evidence I look at tells me the governor is in electoral peril next year," Castor said in an interview tonight. "And our party has simply refused to consider any options, any thought of changing. It's like whistling past the graveyard and ignoring the reality."
"We got our heads handed to us last year. All our endorsed candidates lost. One of them lost in the primary. We have legions of polling saying the governor's standing with the public is miserable. He gets the worst press of any politician I've ever seen, aside from one I've seen that was getting arrested. Not that all of it's deserved, but in politics you have to deal with things the way they are."
Castor began publicly floating the idea of a primary in December, and since then he's kept his name out there, commenting ahead of Corbett's budget proposal in February and issuing press releases as late as this morning urging the governor to "demonstrate the leadership necessary to get the Commonwealth out of the booze business." ("As Pres. Lincoln showed in getting the 13th Amendment passed, you have to assertively engage the key players in the legislature.")
But with Democrats already scheduling debates, Castor said he decided his suport was not there.
"I realized it started to get too late," he said. "I have been traveling the state. I have not felt that there was any great desire on the part of Republican leadership to make a change. While I got a lot of encouragement from regular folks I would meet on the streets and at conferences, the decision seems to be that the Republican Party will back Governor Corbett no matter what, notwithstanding the mounting evidence that he has electoral difficulties next fall."
Castor and Corbett faced off in 2004 on the Republican ballot for attorney general, a race that Castor brought up.
"I think we do everything we can to discourage people with big ideas, like me, from being involved in state politics," he said of the party. "I think a lot of it is residual from when I ran aginst Tom for attorney general in 2004. Twenty-six thousand people changed their minds and I would have been attorney general and not him. Maybe the state would be different. Of course, maybe it would be worse."
In the end, he said, he decided to focus on his jobs as a county commissioner and lawyer and on his family. And he said he plans to keep future criticisms of Corbett private.
"I don't think it is my place anymore to publicly criticize the governor," Castor said. "I hope the governor will call me and ask my advice from time to time. I fully expect that -- whoever the Republican nominee for governor is -- I fully expect I will support the Republican Party in the general election."