WILKES-BARRE — The city’s new GOP campaign headquarters hosted a prominent party guest Thursday, when Gov. Tom Corbett addressed a crowd of about 50 supporters in the Wilkes-Barre Victory Office on South Main Street.
Clarks Summit farmer Keith Eckel introduced the governor to a roomful of applause.
“Today in Luzerne County,” Eckel said, “begins the campaign for re-election for our governor, Tom Corbett.”
During his speech, Corbett touched on the familiar Republican talking points of smaller government, lower taxes, fiscal conservatism and free enterprise. He touted a record that he said that promotes those values, all while tying his message to the welfare of future generations.
“We’ve got to keep this state a great state to grow up in,” he said.
The coming election is for the younger generations, the governor said, flanked by teenage Republicans. Ensuring the state’s children inherit a balanced budget instead of a tax burden, he said, is a high priority.
“Every time I’ve made a decision it’s been in the best interest of the future of Pennsylvania,” Corbett said.
He took a moment to deny statements by his Democratic opposition that he cut funding for public education and he made a jab at Democratic front-runner Tom Wolf, calling him the “Pennsylvania of the past.”
Addressing his current deficit in the polls, Corbett said the numbers are turning around, and he is confident of victory in the fall.
“It’s not about being ahead today,” he said, “it’s about being ahead on November first.”
Corbett urged his supporters to start the conversation about his campaign, especially with those outside his camp.
Brandon Ferrance, chairman, and Patrick Regal, treasurer, of the Luzerne County Teenage Republicans, both 18, said their group contributes to the dialogue by trying to motivate young voters.
Ferrance and Regal said they’ve seen the governor at speaking events before, but Thursday’s rally had a different tone.
“This time it felt more personal,” Regal said.
To Regal, a soon-to-be finance major, some of the governor’s appeal, he said, lies in his stances on reducing the size of government and reductions in wasteful spending.
Ferrance said he thought Corbett’s message was highly emotional, and that he believes the governor’s concern for Pennsylvania’s youth to be genuine.
“Many politicians are concerned about their own re-election rather than the future,” he said.
And as both young men prepare to enter their freshman years of college and start their stare down with student debt, they said they believe Corbett’s ideas on job creation are ideas they can get behind.
“We can’t pay off that debt working part time,” Ferrance said. “We need jobs in our field.”
Corbett will have no opposition on the Republican ballot next Tuesday. The race on the Democratic side to face him in the fall includes Wolf, Robert McCord, Allyson Schwartz and Kathleen McGinty.
The Wilkes-Barre Victory Office is located at 41 S. Main St.