Jake Corman, the state Senate president pro tempore, is the type of candidate the Pennsylvania Republican Party has historically gravitated toward when looking for a governor.
He has a long record of public service, strong establishment ties, is known and often liked by other party leaders, and strikes reliably conservative stances on issues like education and energy.
But Corman, 57, is running in a new kind of primary for his party, which typically coalesces around a candidate earlier but this year didn’t make a formal state GOP endorsement in an atypically packed primary.
Still, Corman is all in on this campaign. After 22 years in the Senate, Corman in December said he will not seek another term andwill focus on his campaign for governor. Corman briefly filed to drop out of the race earlier this month but reversed course, saying a conversation with former President Donald Trump helped change his mind.
What is Jake Corman’s background?
Corman’s Pennsylvania political pedigree has helped propel his career.
His father, the late Doyle Corman, was a Centre County commissioner and then represented a central Pennsylvania Senate district that included the State College area from 1977 to 1998. Corman sometimes talks about being 12 years old, watching his father first sworn into the Senate. His mother, Rebecca Corman, is a retired consultant whom he has called the “political brains” of the family.
What are Jake Corman’s top policy priorities?
Corman, speaking at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in April, noted that Republicans have been pushing unsuccessfully since the 1990s for school vouchers that would let parents use tax dollars currently dedicated for public schools to instead pay private school tuition.
“I will, as governor, lean in on this issue,” Corman said. “This is going to be a priority "
Corman continues to push for the state legislature to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, a progressive Democrat elected in 2017 and reelected last year. The Republican-controlled state House and Senate have shown little interest in that effort, and his Republican rivals have laughed it off as political theater.
“I believe his policies are directly responsible for the lawlessness that goes on in the city of Philadelphia today,” Corman said.
Who is backing Jake Corman?
Corman is actively seeking an endorsement from Trump, and even shot a round of golf with him in February. Kellyanne Conway, a former top Trump aide now working for Corman’s campaign, said the two men speak weekly.
Conway is one of several Trump insiders who have landed jobs working for Pennsylvania candidates for governor and Senate eager for the former president’s support. Conway has campaigned at Corman’s side at some events.
Corman, using his political action committees for the Senate and his gubernatorial campaign, had $316,000 in the bank as of March 28. A separate leadership PAC, Build PA, reported $564,000 in the bank at the end of 2021.
His largest donation last year, $500,000, came from University City Housing Co., owned by Michael Karp. Corman’s mother loaned his campaign $90,000.
Corman also received support in 2021 from longtime lawmakers. Former State Rep. Mike Tobash of Schuylkill County, who retired in 2020, gave Corman $85,000 from a political action committee he controls. State Sen. John Yudichak of Luzerne County, a Democrat-turned-independent who is not seeking reelection this year, gave him $50,000.
A political action committee with ties to the Parx Casino in Bensalem gave Corman’s campaign $30,000.
What else should I know?
Corman, like the other Republican candidates, frames the election as a referendum on Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat who is term-limited.
He’s the only candidate with a head-banger television commercial about that, though. Corman and his daughter Bella appear in the ad with a blond-bewigged, 1980s-style rock-and-roller who echoes the candidate’s political rhetoric with guitar riffs.
At least five staffers and advisers — his campaign manager, political director, finance director, a fund-raiser, and scheduler — departed the campaign in the early months of his run.