Most observers don’t consider PA’s Senate race among the most competitive in the country. But someone does take it seriously: Bob Casey. In a letter to prospective donors obtained by PoliticsPA, the Senator warned of Tom Smith’s personal wealth, and that recent polling shows the underside of his support.
“The good news is that all recent public polls have us up; some by just 7 percent, others as much as 20 percent. The not so good news is that all those polls have me at less than 50 percent – a real warning signal for incumbent candidates.”
He said Smith’s politics views on issues are identical to those of the man Casey beat in 2006: Rick Santorum.
“We hope when people do learn that he is a coal baron who is a climate change denier; a Tea Party group founder who is endorsed by Tea Party organizations; a supporter of plans that would end Medicare as we know it; and has opposed the Paycheck Fairness Act that would help close the pay gap between women and men – that they will find him too extreme to support,” Casey wrote.
But Casey acknowledged that Smith has a major advantage: “his own pocketbook.”
“He has made it clear that he intends to spend a significant portion of what some estimate is an over $50 million personal fortune.”
Casey has raised a little over $1 million each quarter since mid 2011, and will likely have around $6 million at the end of June.
Smith’s own fundraising strategy is as yet unclear. In a recent interview with Roll Call, Smith predict that his race will cost $20 million – but didn’t say how much of it he planned to contributed.
“In the very slight case that we can’t raise sufficient [funds], I will say this: That well of money is not near dry yet,” he said.
A former coal company owner, Smith’s net worth is estimated in the $60 to $70 million range. He spent over $5 million of his personal wealth to win the April primary, but has not indicated how much he will spend in the general.
It’s not uncommon for fundraising efforts – letters, calls, emails, etc – to hype the competitiveness of an election. But Smith Campaign Manager Jim Conroy said the letter goes beyond that.
“It’s very clear that Bob Casey is running scared and he has every reason to be, as polling shows how very shallow his support is,” Conroy said. “It should be no surprise that voters are prepared to reject a Senator who has voted repeatedly to increase spending, grow the debt, and done nothing to create jobs.”
The Casey doomsday scenario is this: the race goes under the national radar for months as Casey outpaces Smith in traditional fundraising. As a result, Casey has a hard time attracting attention from big donors and interest groups (and super PACs). Then, with little warning, Smith drops $10 million (or some other large amount) in the race with a month to go, GOP super PACs join in, and the Casey camp doesn’t have time to react.
“Bob Casey is taking this race very seriously,” said spokesman Larry Smar. “He has a strong record of being an independent voice for Pennsylvania families and fighting for Pennsylvania jobs, but Tom Smith has a personal fortune and his strong ties to the Tea Party could bring a lot of outside special interest money to the race just as it did with other Tea Party candidates in 2010.”
Here’s the full letter: