Pennsylvania is back in play as a key swing state this presidential election because “a lot of people misunderstand Pennsylvania,” Republican Senate candidate Tom Smith tells Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.
“It was very blue in the 2008 election here with President Obama,” Smith, a political newcomer who is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, tells Newsmax. “But, boy, since then, Pennsylvania’s been turning pink, almost red now.
“In 2010, we elected a new conservative U.S. Senator, Pat Toomey. The voters of Pennsylvania sent five new Republican House members to the U.S. House of Representatives. The governor is now Republican, Tom Corbett. The state House is now Republican. It kept going even into 2011. Fifty-two of the 67 counties are now held by Republicans and more conservatives.
“This momentum that we’ve got, we’re just riding that pendulum swing from 2010 and 2011 — and Sen. Bob Casey has a voting record that’s going to be very, very hard to defend. I’ve been able to get his voting record out there.”
A native of Western Pennsylvania’s coal country, Smith has worked as a coal industry executive for 25 years. He sold his two coal companies in 2010. They produced about 100,000 tons of bituminous coal per month. He also had owned 52 surface mines and seven deep mines near his home in Armstrong County.
Smith has spent millions of dollars of his own money on television advertisements in his bid to unseat Casey, the son of former Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey.
“I don’t have a famous political name like Casey does,” Smith said. “I needed to get my name out there. Our ID is out there. Our plan’s out there. That’s catching root with the voters of Pennsylvania. I’m a citizen candidate. I’ve never run for statewide office — and our message is getting out there, and it’s making a difference.”
The future of America’s coal industry rests with this presidential election, Smith said.
“If we get new leadership, coal can thrive again. I sold out at the end of 2010 — but I saw, first-hand, the regulations put on by this administration and the EPA to the point to where businesses and companies that have been in families for generations just can’t cope and are closing their doors.”
Smith noted that the nation’s second largest coal producer, Alpha Natural Resources Inc., cited excessive U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations in its announcement last month that it would close eight mines and lay off 1,200 workers across central Appalachia. The company has employees in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
“There’s a coal-fired power plant right there in Armstrong County shutting down. And we’re losing a lot of jobs — and they’re good jobs,” he said. “Coal is not the dirty energy that it used to be years ago. I will concede that it used to be — but coal, right now, with the new technology that we all use, it’s a clean-burning coal.”
Smith said he is ready to run a tough race against Casey in the remaining two weeks before the Nov. 6 election.
“I knew this was going to be a tough race, because Sen. Casey has statewide name recognition. We’ve been able to get introduced to the voters of Pennsylvania — and his voting record is what I will go after. And let’s not forget that Sen. Bob Casey has voted seven times to raise the debt ceiling since he’s been elected to office. Since he’s been in office, our national debt has gone up 85 percent.
“We have to get this economy growing. I’ve done that. I’ve been in the private sector my whole adult life, 44 years of it,” Smith added. “I don’t think Sen. Bob Casey or President Barack Obama know how to grow the economy, because they’ve never been in it.”