It’s here. Campaign season is fully on us now, and the ads and polls and press releases are coming at us a mile a minute. Here’s who stood out this week, just 5 and a half weeks before election day.
Kathleen Kane. The past week has been a credit to her campaign. When a GOP group out of DC started the first part of its $1M effort against Kane with a gritty ad, her staff vigorously and effectively debunked its claims (it was called “nonsense” today by Factcheck.org). Add that to a strong fundraising period (she raised $1.47M from May to Sept., plus $300K in the past week). However, the fact remains that most people who saw that anti-Kane ad won’t hear about the rebuttal. It’ll be expensive trying to counteract half a million dollars of attack ads in the Philly market. Oh, and she needs to rein in an overeager intern.
Tom Smith. The Senate hopeful is in for a warm welcome at GOP State Committee this weekend. Poll after poll this week showed him catching up with Sen. Bob Casey. The Washington Post changed its prediction of the race from “solid Democrat” to “lean Democrat” this week, and Smith Thursday appeared on the nationally syndicated Mark Levin show. He’s starting to feel the love. Friday, former Governor Tom Ridge endorsed him, and Sen. Pat Toomey also chimed in with a fundraising email to supporters on Smith’s behalf.
Keith Rothfus. In 2010, the GOP congressional challenger didn’t catch the attention of the national guys until too late – he lost to Jason Altmire by 1.4 points. This year couldn’t be more different; he has lots of support. A GOP internal poll showed him tied with Rep. Mark Critz, and the DCCC is scaling back its TV presence (Lest Republicans dare to dream, a DCCC rebuttal poll showed Critz ahead by 11 and Critz has the backing of numerous other 3rd parties). And we liked his new bobblehead TV ad this week.
Rob McCord. The incumbent Pa. Treasurer had a decent fundraising report – he brought in $200K. So did his opponent, Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan, who raised over $100K. The difference? McCord has over $2 million on hand, while Irey Vaughan reported just over $22K. In a race that voters don’t care much about where earned media is nearly impossible, it’s a big advantage.
Democrats. They just don’t get western Pa! That’s according to two television ads from Democratic congressional candidates Rep. Mark Critz (from earlier in Sept.) and just this week from Larry Maggi. Both criticize their own party over energy policy. “Democrats want to kill natural gas jobs,” says Maggi. “We had to fight President Obama’s EPA to get it done,” Critz says of his effort to save a coal mine. Critz is facing a tough challenge from Keith Rothfus (see above), while Maggi, a Washington County Commissioner, hopes to unseat Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Allegheny).
Tweet of the Week
This week it goes to WITF’s Mary Wilson, who dutifully covered the Auditor General debate on Friday night.
“Thank goodness Mary Wilson is tweeting from the PA Auditor General debate; I’ll retweet this right away.” — No one.
— Marywilson (@Marywilson) September 22, 2012