Q&A with state Sen. Jake Corman in his bid to be next Pa. governor

Written by on December 3, 2021

Q&A with state Sen. Jake Corman in his bid to be next Pa. governor

By Anne Danahy / WPSU
December 3, 2021

State Sen. Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte, is running in a crowded field for the Republican nomination for governor. (Photo | WPSU)

As part of his campaign for governor, Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tem Jake Corman is making stops around the state this week. He started Tuesday with an event in his hometown — Bellefonte, in Centre County. WPSU’s Anne Danahy spoke with the Corman about why he’s running in the Republican primary for governor.

Listen to the story.

Here is a transcript of their conversation:

Anne Danahy 
Do you want to start off just by talking about what your No. 1 priority would be if you were elected?

Jake Corman 
Well, I guess the first priority would be to restore our freedoms and to protect our freedoms. You know, we’ve seen those come under attack in the last 18 months, in the name of the pandemic. And I certainly understand the need to fight the healthcare crisis that we had. But we could have done it in a way that didn’t, that didn’t infringe upon our individual freedoms. And so I think that’s something that maybe people took and have taken for granted in the past. But now I’ve seen the differences in governing styles. And one of them thinks, you know, the government has all the solutions and there are others who think that the people have the solutions. You know, we’re not a sit at home and wait for the government to figure it out society. We are a can-do society that, give us a challenge, we’ll go meet it. We’ll innovate. We’ll do the things we need to do to solve problems. And our current governor didn’t trust the people. I will.

Anne Danahy 
Are you talking about masking? Are you talking about business closures? Are there particular …

Jake Corman 
I’m talking about all of it. Business closures, which was very uneven. That the governor you know, trying to figure out what was essential and what wasn’t essential. I would argue that if you’re trying to support your family, everything’s essential. I mean, I said that you should have focused on who could have provided a safe workspace, as opposed to what the mission was. Because many of what he declared essential were not doing it in a safe fashion. Where there could have been many Mom and Pop facilities who could have easily developed safety procedures to allow people to come in and still shop in their stores. And they were not allowed to.

Look at health care. You know, the governor shut down all elective care last year. I told him at the time, it was a mistake, that our hospitals, our health care facilities are just that — health care. They’re experts, full of smart people who understand COVID and understood, you know, what the risks were and could have provided a safe environment to continue to allow people to receive health care. You know, many people didn’t receive important procedures, like mammograms or hip replacements or things of that nature. Because the governor shut it down, because he thought there was a surge coming. Well the surge never came in the summer, and all those people went without health care. And then in the fall, when there was a surge, the hospitals dealt with it. Again, it’s not trusting individuals to make good decisions. It’s not trusting the people to figure out how to live with this pandemic, because it’s not going away anytime soon…

Anne Danahy 
Right. Yeah, I mean, I was going to say the numbers are starting to go up in parts of the Northeast, including in Pennsylvania. And you’ve been a big proponent of allowing school districts and businesses to figure out the best way to deal with it at the local level. But don’t they need, school districts, they don’t necessarily have medical experts on board, don’t they need that state leadership?

Jake Corman 
Well sure, we need guidance, but not mandates. You know, the CDC provides guidance every day. Look, my kids are in public school, our school district put together a health and safety plan, which we as parents follow very closely. And when the school year was beginning, we were comfortable with the health and safety plan that they put in place, that our kids would be would be just fine in school. You know, the governor at the end of the day didn’t trust the school districts to do that, even though they had held public meetings all year long. Time and time again, the governor has overstepped his bounds of authority.

Anne Danahy 
Switching to another topic, you’re a strong supporter of Penn State and the other state related universities. But a lot of jobs don’t require that four year degree. Do you also support more funding for technical schools, vocational programs, two year degrees?

Jake Corman 
One hundred percent. Look, I was an individual who had dropped out of college. And if you know me, Anne, I didn’t have any skills. And so there I was, in my early 20s, trying to make it through life without an education or any particular skills. It wasn’t till I went back to a community college, that I ultimately ended up getting my bachelor’s at Penn State. We need to allow for people to get adult education, whether they be at training centers, and many of our vocational trade sites or whether they be at you know, adult education sites. Like CPI has just been so successful over the last 20 years in growing their adult program to get people the skills that they need. We can have all the architects and engineers in the world, but if we don’t have people to build them, what we’re what we’re designing, we’re not going to be very successful.

Anne Danahy 
And another issue that’s very much at the forefront right now is abortion. And what states are doing with that. If you were elected, would you support, sign legislation restricting or banning abortion?

Jake Corman 
Look, I never get into hypotheticals before we have the ability to do so. I support the Abortion Control Act. The Abortion Control Act is one of the strongest laws in Pennsylvania. I’m a pro-life legislator. The Abortion Control Act is based on viability outside the womb. I have voted in the past to update that from its original intent, because the medical technology has allowed for babies to be born at earlier weeks. So let’s see what the courts allow us to do. But for now, I support the Abortion Control Act, and I support updating it.

Anne Danahy 
Other than dealing with the COVID pandemic — hopefully we’ll be through most of it by the time the next governor takes office — what would a priority be?

Jake Corman 
Another priority is empowering parents and education. I think what we’ve seen in the last 12-18 months is parents want to be involved in their kids education, whether it be at the public school level, being involved in curriculum or being involved in health and safety plans, or whether it’s empowering parents to pick the best school for their kids. My kids go to Bellefonte public schools, they do well there. But not all kids are successful in every environment. You know, education is not a one size fits all process. And we should empower parents to determine where their kids can best succeed, and it shouldn’t be determined by their zip code, or their ability to pay.

Anne Danahy 
So you’re running in a very crowded primary. And you are seen, I think, as a moderate Republican who would have appeal at the general election. But of course, you’d have to make it through the primary first. How do you see yourself appealing to Donald Trump supporters? And do you see yourself as a Donald Trump supporter?

Jake Corman 
Look, I’m going to run on my record of accomplishment. And I think at the end of the day, that’s what people want — somebody who can get things done. It doesn’t matter what you’re for. If you can’t get it accomplished at the end of the day, then what good are you to the people? We’ve had for far too long, governors and legislators not get along. And I think we’ve missed opportunities to improve Pennsylvania. I think I’m uniquely positioned to join the executive branch and work with the legislative branch to do good things for Pennsylvania. So I’m going to talk about things that I have accomplished, good conservative things that I’ve accomplished, and I think it’ll appeal well in the primary.

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