Welch Goes Negative (Watch Video)
It’s two weeks before April 24, voters are starting to tune in, and Steve Welch is throwing the first punch of the U.S. Senate primary. His campaign launched a television ad that blasts rival Tom Smith as a “Republican impersonator.”
“Smith was a registered Democrat for 42 years. That’s longer than Obama,” says an incredulous narrator. “And Smith has personally bankrolled liberal Democratic candidates. And as a Democrat elected official, Smith voted to raise taxes 9 times.”
The ad was first reported by Tom Fitzgerald of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Welch’s camp said the ad would replace the current spots in rotation.
As the Welch camp noted in an attack website it unveiled Monday, Smith was a Dem from the time he registered until 2011. He contributed $2,400 to Rep. Jason Altmire in 2009, though Smith notes that he’s contributed over $250,000 to Republican candidates and causes. A he did raise taxes as Plumcreek Township Supervisor, albeit not by a large dollar amount.
But thus far those issues haven’t dogged Smith on the campaign trail the way Welch’s have. Welch switched from Republican to Democrat in 2005, contributed $300 to Joe Sestak in 2006, and voted for Obama in the 2008 primary before switching back to the GOP in 2009. He notes that he voted for John McCain in the general election and campaigned for Pat Toomey and Tom Corbett in 2010.
The attention has been brutal for Welch; his party registration comes up at nearly every forum and debate. No surprise then, that he would seek to tie Smith to Obama first.
It’s unlikely that the Smith campaign will go too long without a response.
Update: Smith campaign manager Jim Conroy went directly at the Obama angle.
“It’s ironic that Steve Welch, who voted for Barack Obama and ultra-liberal Joe Sestak, is attacking Tom Smith who has spent decades supporting conservative candidates and causes including founding and chairing a tea party group in his home county. This misleading attack is a clear indicator of Steve Welch’s desperation as polls continue to show him at the bottom of the field,” he said.
The spot, produced by Branbender/Cox, is solid – especially given all it needs to accomplish.
It must preempt Smith’s camp on Welch’s key vulnerability: his 2008 primary vote for Obama. It must bring down Smith’s favorable; Smith has been on TV since December and has led in recent polling. At the same time, it must raise Welch’s name ID and reiterate the fact that he’s been endorsed by the Pennsylvania Republican party.
Two media buying sources, one affiliated with another U.S. Senate candidate, tell PoliticsPA that the Welch camp’s buy has thus far not included broadcast in Philadelphia. That may change with this new ad.
Update: a source close to the Smith campaign said Welch’s buy did not include broadcast Philly or Erie and is light across the board. Welch’s camp, per their standard policy, declined to comment about ad details.
Welch, an entrepreneur from Chester County, is facing four men for the GOP nomination to take on Sen. Bob Casey: Smith, a former coal company owner from Armstrong County; David Christian, a businessman and veterans advocate from Bucks County; Sam Rohrer, a former state Rep. from Berks County; and Marc Scaringi, an attorney from Cumberland County.