Foes of Paterno firing play role in Corbett loss
HARRISBURG - Call it the Paterno factor. Throughout the day, members of a group called Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship donned PSU gear and went to the polls to vote against Gov. Corbett. They did this not because they necessarily liked Tom Wolf any better - but out of protest.
HARRISBURG - Call it the Paterno factor.
Throughout the day, members of a group called Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship donned PSU gear and went to the polls to vote against Gov. Corbett. They did this not because they necessarily liked Tom Wolf any better - but out of protest.
Protest over Corbett's handling, as attorney general, of the investigation into serial child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky.
Protest over how he dealt with Pennsylvania State University, and its legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, after he became governor and state prosecutors brought charges in the case.
"We have been waiting for this day for a long time," said the group's spokeswoman, Maribeth Roman Schmidt, adding: "I think the power of the Penn State vote will be obvious in this election."
After voting, they snapped photos of themselves declaring their support for Wolf - and later drinking to "Corbett's demise" - and posted them on social media.
"If you can't stand voting for Wolf, just don't vote for anyone for Governor. Or write in Dick Thornburgh," posted Judy Engle Seely on the group's Facebook page.
"A vote for Corbett is basically twisting the knife in the backs of Penn Staters everywhere."
Schmidt said the group believes Corbett, among other missteps, did not give Paterno the benefit of due process. As governor, Corbett was a member of the university's board of trustees when it moved to fire Paterno in the days after Sandusky was charged.
Paterno, said Schmidt, "was a victim of a stampede to judgment and Tom Corbett was leading the charge."
Many alumni believe that Paterno's death was hastened by the stress of the scandal and his firing from the university.
Schmidt said her group also faults the governor for not speaking out against a report, commissioned by the university and conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh, that was highly critical of how the school handled information it received about Sandusky's abuse of children.
The report later became a factor in the NCAA's determination of sanctions, and a flashpoint in the larger debate over whether the university has unfairly shouldered much of the blame in the Sandusky scandal.
In exit polling Tuesday, the Associated Press found nearly 60 percent of voters were not concerned over Corbett's handling of the Sandusky scandal. But the remaining voters, nearly 40 percent, considered the issue very important or somewhat important. Most of those voters said they chose Wolf.
In the days leading up to the election, the group - which also calls itself PS4RS and has about 40,000 members nationwide - used Facebook and Twitter to get its message out: Vote against Corbett. It posted past articles and uploaded video clips about Corbett's handling of the case that continues to galvanize Pennsylvania.
For several years, political pundits had been predicting that the Penn State/Sandusky scandal would hurt Corbett in his reelection efforts.
A registered Republican, Schmidt said she voted solidly GOP Tuesday - except for Corbett.
Her vote, she said, was for Wolf, even though she said he has been largely silent about the Penn State scandal.
"There is a legitimate concern that Wolf hasn't said a word about Penn State," said Schmidt, "but we are so frustrated with the current makeup of the board [of trustees], and we are so frustrated in the way the governor didn't act in the best interest of Penn State and in the best interest of children, that we are willing to withhold our judgment and hope for the best."
Before the polls closed, PS4RS retweeted a quote from Paterno's son, Jay, urging the alums to continue their social media messages to Wolf:
"Hope Penn Staters that voted for @WolfForPA today tweet him to remind him how PSU alums turned out for him. PSU needs adequate state funding."