HARRISBURG A conservative businessman and activist from Ardmore is exploring a challenge to Republican Gov. Corbett in next year's primary.
Bob Guzzardi, known in political circles for his financial backing of conservative antiestablishment candidates, said Friday he would begin gathering signatures to get on the May ballot.
In an interview, Guzzardi said he did not plan on raising money or spending his own. But, he said, Republicans deserve an alternative to Corbett, who he said has abandoned his conservative principles and strayed from his campaign promise of limited government and no new taxes.
"The end game is to confront the Republican establishment," said Guzzardi, a onetime supporter of Corbett. "It's about Tom Corbett and his performance, but it's also about the failed Republican leadership in Harrisburg."
A spokesman for Corbett's campaign could not be reached for comment.
The governor, facing anemic public-approval ratings, is already contending with a growing number of Democratic challengers. The thinking in Republican circles has been that Corbett at least would have the advantage, as the incumbent, to raise money and promote his candidacy for the next few months while his Democratic opponents slug it out for their party's nomination.
And though Guzzardi will have a difficult time edging out Corbett, who has the weight and financial support of the state party behind him, the lawyer and self-described "Constitutional Republican" does have a history of political cage-rattling.
After the legislature's unpopular pay raise in 2005, he helped bankroll primary candidates against incumbents. He has also supported Democratic candidates challenging Republicans who he believed had abandoned conservative ideals.
To get on the ballot, Guzzardi needs 2,000 signatures, including 100 each from at least 10 counties. He said he has started reaching out to grassroots organizations for help.
"I am hoping this will be a venue for the grassroots to mark their protest," Guzzardi said.
He added: "The idea is to coalesce and to mobilize the grassroots to promote open and competitive primaries, so voters get to choose the person who will represent them."