Pennsylvania Republicans Welcome Former Democrat To GOP's Big Tent
A longtime registered Democrat who bills himself as a "conservative" won the Republican nomination April 24 to challenge ultra-liberal U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr.
It's official. A 30-year Democrat by the name of Tom Smith will be the Republican candidate to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr.
Smith, who billed himself as a "conservative," defeated the Republican Party-endorsed Steve Welch, who finished third in a five-man race.
Party leaders were quick to embrace Smith under the Republican big tent.
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) released the following statement supporting Smith:
"I'd like to congratulate Tom Smith on a hard-fought victory and endorse his candidacy. Tom is a self-made man from humble origins who understand the value of hard work. His understanding of job creation and his vast private sector experience is exactly what our government needs right now. I look forward to supporting his candidacy in the coming months."
Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason issued the following statement:
"I congratulate U.S. Senate candidate Tom Smith, Attorney General candidate David Freed, Auditor General candidate John Maher, and State Treasurer candidate Diana Irey Vaughan for their victories tonight and we are excited to help elect them in November."
"We have an incredible Republican grassroots network in Pennsylvania and I am excited to unite and focus on delivering big wins for our entire Republican team. We look forward to supporting Mitt Romney and all of our Republican candidates as we keep Pennsylvania red in November."
No word on Gov. Tom Corbett's reaction to Welch's embarrassing defeat.
Corbett, according to sources, insisted the party back Welch over better-known candidates like former state Rep. Sam Rohrer, who finished second in Tuesday's voting.
The Welch debacle is the latest political kiss of death involving Gov. Corbett, who has a habit of backing losing candidates.
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas