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Corbett needs tuneup; GOP needs open primary

My car has been acting up a little bit lately. In particular, it makes strange noises when it shouldn't.

My car isn't all that different from Tom Corbett. Strange things come out of his mouth when they shouldn't.

My mechanic is telling me my car needs a tuneup.

I'm telling Corbett that he needs a tuneup. He needs a tuneup before it's too late.

As of right now, his campaign for reelection is looking pretty doomed. Yes, we are a little over a year away from the general election, but every single major poll shows him trailing leading Democratic challenger Allyson Schwartz – in some cases by double digits.

To add injury, a poll released this week by Susquehanna Polling & Research (a Republican polling firm, mind you) found 58 percent of respondents disapprove of Corbett's job performance.

And today's news that Corbett has compared same-sex marriage to sibling marriage doesn't help his case.

Forget where you stand on gay marriage.

I mean it.

Forget it.

There are plenty of people who take a principled stand for traditional marriage telling me this morning that they were taken aback by Corbett's method of delivery, even though they agree with his position.

One well-known, unquestionably pro-life, conservative Republican told me, "He made me cringe last year when he said "you just have to close your eyes," referring to the proposed ultrasound bill, adding, "Today, my friends are texting me and calling me and saying these new comments are a step too far. They would make [former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator] Santorum blush."

I guess so. It didn't take the state Democratic Party long to respond. In a blast email sent out this morning, the PA Dems said, "Tom Corbett is worse than Rick Santorum. We all remember Rick Santorum's offensive and heartless comments about gay marriage and the LGBT community. Now Tom Corbett is trying to one up him."

So how does Corbett undo this damage?

Where does Corbett go from here?

Many of us Republicans in Philadelphia are not his biggest fans. We don't dislike him. But there's no excitement factor – no sparks flying.

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Karen Heller said it best back in 2011. "Corbett once compared himself to Chris Christie. That's absurd. Christie offers an opinion with every breath. Voters are never in doubt about his intentions."

Tom Corbett, you're no Chris Christie any more than Dan Quayle was Jack Kennedy.

But it's not too late. This is a team effort. And we need you to take one for the team.

No, I'm not asking you to drop out of the race. Not at all. You have some solid accomplishments as a governor – essentially not raising taxes, going 3 for 3 with on-time budgets (Gov. Rendell went 1 for 8), and on your way to privatizing the liquor stores.

For Pennsylvanians, you've been a good governor.

For Republicans, you've been a lousy candidate.

Your campaign website, which is all of two pages – with no views, news clippings, ads or list of accomplishments – is not acceptable. You've got to do better.

An open primary – without an endorsement from the state GOP – will send a message that we Republicans are serious about winning this race. It will demonstrate that we also believe in second chances.

The Republican Party needs to send out a loud message that all interested parties are invited to put their names on the line. The voters will then decide who is most qualified to run our state.

A primary will give you, Gov. Corbett, a second chance to sharpen your pencil as well as your wits. It will give you free advertising. It will give you televised debates. It will give you the chance – that you so sorely need – to show that there's fire in your belly.

Unlike former 76er Allen Iverson, you need practice.

You need a sparring partner or two because you can't pull it off without them.

Your 2010 contest against Democrat Dan Onorato (who?) was handed to you in a race that lacked any pulse. This time, you will have to earn your victory. And in this high profile race, where the stakes are equally high, all the eyes of our country will be on you.

There's no guarantee you will emerge from the primary victorious. And if you do, odds are your finances will be depleted and you will be metaphorically bruised up. But to win next year in Pennsylvania as a Republican, you are going to have to have battle scars. After a government shutdown in which we Republicans are not viewed too favorably in towns like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, you will have your work cut out for you.

Just like my car, you need a tuneup, Gov. Corbett. Just make sure that you don't wait until you can barely see through your windshield