Retiring Dad. Senate leader calls on colleagues to ‘keep faith’ in parting remarks

Jake Corman, Pennsylvania Senate president Pro Tempore, known for wearing his heart on his sleeve, fought back tears during his farewell address on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

He urged his fellow senators to respect and remember the institution they serve when they walk into the room they are there for.

“You’re not just fighting for your constituents here. You’re not just fighting for your caucus or your party here. You’re fighting here for all the people who served here before you and will come after you,” said the Center County Republican, whose term ends Nov. 30.

“If you keep faith in the Pennsylvania Senate,” Corman said, pausing to settle down, “it will never disappoint.”

The two-hour tribute to Corman included a video featuring lobbyists, family members, other lawmakers and staffers reflecting on the six-year senator’s consensus-building qualities, leadership skills, legislative achievement and determination to balance his work and family time.

The video began with Corman speaking about sitting on the Senate floor in 1977, watching his late father Doyle being sworn in as a senator. 2020.

“It was a really exciting ride,” Corman said in the video with comments from his mother Becky and wife Kelli and his three children who shared their own personal insights about their father.

His son Jacob talked about the times his father would show up for his games that he thought he would miss. His daughter Bella brought out how emotional her father is and she and his son Davis shared how he cries when watching movies, with “Field of Dreams” being a special tearjerker for him.

“I really love that about my dad,” Davis said in the video. “He takes things so seriously and I think it’s something you don’t find a lot of people like that. And so the fact that he’s willing to cry and even though we’re joking at the time, it’s just so cool because he really cares about these things even if it’s a movie he’s watched 10 times.

It was Corman’s willingness to take on big fights that impressed his Senate colleagues.

Several people commented on Corman’s victory when he went up against the NCAA. That lawsuit ended with Corman proclaiming victory by managing to keep the $60 million fine the NCAA filed against Penn State to fight child abuse in Pennsylvania and restore the 112 football victories the Nittany Lions had won after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Others raised Corman’s role in advocating changes to the two state pension systems that introduced 401(k)-like plans into their retirement offerings to stabilize taxpayer contributions to those funds. Others praised him for being a strong voice for restoring the balance of power between government departments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa of Allegheny County cited Corman’s anti-hazing legislation that will save student lives and transportation improvements he sought. He also praised Corman, who, despite their disagreements over policy “and sometimes they may have gone a little too far,” was always open to addressing issues that arose within the minority caucus.

“While his list of achievements reflects what he has accomplished for his constituents and our residents, it is the measures not signed into law that leave his mark as a true leader,” said R-Westmoreland County Senate Leader Kim Ward.

She said that when the process for the redistribution of legislation started after the 2020 census, Corman made it clear that he would not be re-elected. This allowed the district lines of the senators to be drawn so that the sitting senators could keep their seats.

“Without him doing that, we would definitely be left with one or two of us,” Ward said.

In his comments, Corman, who bid for the GOP nomination in this year’s governor’s race before dropping out of the primary, said it was former Senator Joe Scarnati – who succeeded Corman as president pro tempore – who was a factor. was in his decision to call it a Senate career.

He shared how much he enjoyed the six years he spent as majority leader working with Scarnati, who was retiring in 2020.

“One of the reasons I decided to retire after he did was just not that much fun,” Corman said. “Joe was gone and so I missed him.”

Jan Murphy can be reached at jmurphy@pennlive.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JanMurphy.

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