Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. said Wednesday that he would "seriously consider" challenging Gov. Corbett in the 2014 GOP primary, citing a "lack of leadership" by the first-term governor and the disappointing performance of candidates he backed in November's elections.
"It's evident that people are not happy with the direction the governor is taking the state," the lawyer, 51, said in an interview Wednesday. "The day after the vote, my phone began ringing with calls from people urging me to run."
Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley did not return requests for comment.
Castor, of Lower Salford, is serving his second term on Montgomery County's Board of Commissioners. He previously won two terms as district attorney in Pennsylvania's third-largest county.
He lost to Corbett during the 2004 GOP primary for attorney general.
Recent polls have shown Corbett with lackluster approval ratings. In one August survey, they fell below 30 percent, largely due to his handling of the Jerry Sandusky investigation.
While those numbers have improved slightly in recent months, November losses by the governor's endorsed candidates for attorney general, U.S. Senate, and auditor general have many within his party worrying he is vulnerable to a Democratic challenge.
So far, John Hanger, a former secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, is the only Democrat to announce he intends to run.
"Corbett is vulnerable, and we Republicans need to be thinking about changing horses," Castor said Wednesday. "We have to select the best candidate in 2014."
Castor said his differences with the governor had less to do with ideology than leadership style.
Though his party holds both houses of the legislature, the governor has made little progress on key issues such as pension reform, privatization of the state's liquor sales, and Marcellus Shale, he said.
Castor's own political career has been far from smooth.
Despite emerging from his first commissioner run in 2007 as Montgomery County's top vote-getter, he found himself shoved to the sidelines when his running mate James R. Matthews formed a bipartisan alliance with Democrat Joseph Hoeffel III.
The split set off four years of public bickering, catcalling, and caterwauling that led critics to dub the three as "the Bickersons" and that cast Castor as the board's resident contrarian.
Hoeffel retired last year and Matthews left office under indictment for perjury. Since then, Castor has proved a cooperative partner with the county's new Democratic majority led by Chairman Josh Shapiro, himself often mentioned as a potential candidate for a 2014 gubernatorial run.
Castor's announcement of a potential run appears timed to coincide with this weekend's Pennsylvania Society dinner, an annual event in which politicians, lobbyists, campaign strategists, and donors gather in New York City.
The event has traditionally been used as an opportunity for candidates considering statewide runs to drum up support.