Castor: his feet might heal

Columnist : Albert Paschall

This is a big state we’ve got more than 45,000 miles of highway between the Delaware River and Lake Erie. Walking them all to get elected to state-wide office can be rough, especially if you’ve shot yourself in both feet.

Such is the road ahead for Montgomery County’s District Attorney Bruce Castor. A former rising star in the state’s Republican Party, he had a shot at being the state’s Attorney General until he decided that the path to that door was etched on the back of one of the state’s best liked Republicans.

When 4 Republican County leaders backed Castor’s opponent, Tom Corbett, Castor sent out a press release scathing Republican National Committee member Robert Asher, the Montgomery County candy magnate. When the first press release failed to garner enough attention Castor sent out another one.

In the mid-80’s, in what seems to be a politically motivated prosecution, Asher was sent to prison for macing a political contract. Belittled and relegated to the ash heap of Pennsylvania politics Asher wore out his own share of shoe leather on the comeback trail.

In the early ‘90s Asher virtually invented a guy who described himself “as somebody from somewhere that nobody has ever heard of.” That Congressman, Tom Ridge of Erie, went on to have one of the most successful political agendas as governor that this state has ever seen. In ’94 a kid from western Pennsylvania decided to take on a close personal friend of Bill and Hilary Clinton in a hot race for the US Senate. If he wanted to, Bob Asher could take credit for making Rick Santorum the third highest ranking Republican in the Senate at the age of 45. Legend holds he was one of 12 people from all over the nation asked to go to Crawford Texas in 1998 to convince a reluctant George W. Bush that he should be president.

But somewhere in believing his own press releases Castor decided that the road to the Attorney General’s office started on Asher’s back. Claiming that Asher had ties to gaming interests in the state, something just about everybody in Harrisburg seems to have these days, Castor launched two tantrums alleging that Asher was out to control the office.

Trashing a party leader, especially a major fund raiser, isn’t usually the way to gain higher office. It’s never worked before and lots of Republicans are saying that Castor’s statewide career is over.

It really shouldn’t be. Castor is young, in the past has been smart, has the backing of a great family and still has the potential to be somebody statewide. But he’s got lessons to learn, and there’s only one guy who can teach them. With the right self-administered doses of humor and humility and a lot of party loyalty Castor’s feet may heal and then someday Bob Asher might teach him.

Albert Paschall
Senior Commentator
The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc.
[email protected]