Harrisburg was atwitter late last week with a politicspa.com story indicating that State Representative Sam Rohrer (R-Berks) is "seriously considering" a gubernatorial campaign next year. The 17-year lawmaker noted in an interview that his motivation is to protect the Constitution, seriously address spending, and reduce the size of government.
Thus far the Republican gubernatorial campaign pits Congressman Jim Gerlach against Attorney General Tom Corbett. Both are fine men with excellent records of public service. Both have been discussing their plans to renew Pennsylvania’s economy, reform state government, and undo the damage of the Rendell era. While either man would be an excellent nominee, Rohrer is the Republican Party’s best opportunity to provide a true contrast with whoever emerges from the Democrat primary.
Despite their personal popularity and records of achievement, Corbett and Gerlach each present their own unique problems as candidates. Corbett has successfully exposed corruption in the ranks of the Pennsylvania House Democrats, leaving Republicans free from such prosecution. This is sure to raise questions about the use of his office for political purposes. Gerlach has produced a detailed 17 point plan to protect taxpayers and small businesses. However, in Congress he voted very closely in line with the Bush agenda, something sure to raise the hackles of voters still frustrated by the failed Bush presidency.
A Rohrer candidacy will appeal to voters on both sides of the partisan divide as well as to independents. While other legislators have swayed with the gentle breeze along the Susquehanna, Rohrer has been as solid as a rock. His principles don’t fluctuate. He means what he says and isn’t afraid of being in the slim minority if it means defending his values. Pennsylvania Republicans have their own version of the late Ohio Senator Bob Taft and it may be time to let him carry the banner.
A cursory review of his actions during the 2009 Session is enough to show why Sam Rohrer deserves our attention and consideration. Pennsylvaniavotes.org indicates that Rohrer introduced legislation this year protecting the rights of individuals from disclosing their biometric data to government agencies, wrote and passed H.R. 185 supporting academic competition, introduced H.B. 1198 preventing those 18 and under from being subject to local earned income taxes, wrote a bill exempting Pennsylvania from the intrusive federal Real I.D. Act, authored a bill abolishing "pay-to-play" schemes in the legislature, and has introduced H.B. 624 to ease restrictions on third parties and minor party candidates.
He has opposed the Philadelphia sales tax increase, opposed legislation increasing marriage license fees, questioned a complicated plan forcing new regulations on colleges regarding health insurance for students, and supported efforts to reduce government spending. Rohrer has long supported a basic photo identification requirement to reduce election fraud. He helped defeat Rep. Josh Shapiro’s bill to ban cell phone use while driving earlier this year. Rohrer helped craft a 2004 plan to eliminate school property taxes. The son of a steelworker, he opposes higher taxes (which he once compared to kicking Pennsylvanians while they’re down) because he sees them as draining working families of their best avenues to advancement: their income and personal wealth.
Rohrer laid out his basic philosophy on taxes and spending during the protracted budget battle of 2003 in which Governor Rendell and legislative leaders increased income taxes, cell phone fees, and enacted a variety of other "revenue enhancements." In a Dec. 12, 2003 piece explaining his opposition, Rohrer said that "Pennsylvanians cannot afford any more tax hikes. For the sake of our citizens, our businesses, our taxpayers, our workers, and our children—no more taxes and no increases in government spending. Spending is the real problem—greater spending demands increased taxes, which means increased pain and suffering for all of us."
In the same piece he went on to ask "who spends money better—the consumer, the taxpayers, or government? Who earned the money in the first place—the taxpayer or the government?"
Isn’t it time we had someone sitting in the Governor’s office asking those two questions on a daily basis? I don’t about Governors Wagner, Corbett, Gerlach, Knox, Hoeffel, or others, but I am almost certain that Governor Rohrer will.
Nathan Shrader is the former Political Director of the Westmoreland County Republican Committee and now resides in Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected] or through his web page, www.NathanShrader.com.