Pennsylvania Republican Chairman Rob Gleason has no idea yet who Brand X will be, but he is confident that whomever the party nominates next April will be able to beat Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in the fall.
The reason: a weakened President Obama at the top of the Democrats’ ticket.
“When the president goes down, Bob Casey is going to go down,” Gleason told reporters during a conference call Thursday.
Obama’s approval rating is hovering in the high 40s in recent Pennsylvania polls, with large majorities of voters saying they think the nation is on the wrong track. Still, with just over nine months before the primary, the GOP has not been able to coalesce behind any particular first-tier challenger, despite the best recruitment efforts of Gleason and other Republican leaders.
Last weekend, State Sen. Jake Corman of Centre County, one of the names floated, decided he would not run.
“I’m talking to people on a regular basis about being candidates,” Gleason said. “People are being careful and cautious about running for United States Senate…You have to raise an awful lot of money, especially in a state like Pennsylvania. This could be a $25 to $30 million race.”
He takes cheer from the keister-kicking that Republicans delivered to the Democrats last year.
“We had more takeaways than any of the 50 states,” Gleason said, referring to victories in races for Senate, governor and the House, as well as strong majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. “There clearly is a Republican trend in Pennsylvania.”
Not when voters get a whiff of GOP “plans to end Medicare as we know it and provide tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires at the expense of the middle class,” said state Democratic Party spokesman Mark Nicastre.
Mark Scuringi, a former aide to ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (R.,Pa.), has been campaigning hard for the GOP nomination, and Moosic tea party activist Laureen Cummings is reportedly considering it.
The Republican National Committee launched a TV ad Thursday attacking Obama’s economic record, purchasing cable TV airtime, including in Pennsylvania.