Pike County businessman Phil Scollo is battling both redistricting and the advantage of incubency. But the Democrat challenging freshman Rep. Tom Marino (R-Lycoming) says his race is among the more competitive in Pa.
PoliticsPA last week took a long look at Democrats’ hopes to pick up congressional seats here and concluded that their odds are long. The article named Marino as a “prohibitive favorite” to win re-election. But is he?
Scollo’s campaign released a memo Tuesday making the case that the race is not so lopsided. Campaign Manager Will Sherry says the relatively inexpensive northeast Pa. media market makes it easier for a challenger – and notes that internal polling by Scollo showed the Democrat in a similar situation vis-a-vis other challengers.
Marino lead Scollo 47 percent to 30 in a poll conducted for Scollo’s campaign in July. That compares to a 50 to 30 point deficit faced by George Badey, according to an internal poll by the Democrat challenging Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Delaware). Manan Trivedi, who is taking on Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Chester) for the second year in a row, released a poll in June that showed him trailing Gerlach 45 percent to 33 percent. Both men are counted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee among their top tier “Red to Blue” candidates.
On top of that, Scollo has found earned media success is smacking Marino over the Congressman’s vote for a defense bill in July that cuts $2.46 billion from U.S. Army operations – including the base at Tobyhanna, a major employer in the region.
“Why haven’t the pundits caught up with the data? Maybe it’s money they are worried about. Well, Scollo outraised Marino last quarter among individuals and the PA-10 media costs are 5-10 times cheaper than the media costs in the Philadelphia market for races like PA-6 and PA-7,” wrote Sherry. “Scollo can win on a small budget, just as Marino did when he unseated the last ‘unpopular’ incumbent.”
Marino isn’t out of the woods. He only reported $302,000 at the end of the second quarter back in June, meaning he’s not inoculated from a well-funded challenge – should one materialize.
Fundraising is the number one reason that Scollo hasn’t made the list of serious Pa. challengers. While Badey reported $204,000 on hand at the end of the second quarter, and Trivedi posted $526,000, Scollo had just $36,000.
When Chris Carney, a Democrat, unseated an ethically challenged Republican in 2006, he raised over $1.5 million according to OpenSecrets.org. Incumbent Rep, Don Sherwood had $2.3 million. In 2012, Marino defeated Carney by raising just over $700,000 to Carney’s $1.66 million.
However, there are other factors at play that don’t help Scollo. 2006 was a wave year for Democrats, just as 2010 was a wave year for Republicans. Without another blue wave, which appears unlikely this cycle, it would be hard to topple any incumbent GOPer in the district.
Redistricting hurts, too. The district Carney – a veteran – won in 2006 favored Republicans by an average of 8 points. The newly drawn 10th district favors the GOP by 12.
Marino’s campaign, naturally, says the Congressman isn’t taking the challenge for granted.
“We feel very confident with our current position, however Tom does not take any opponent lightly,” said Marino Campaign Manager Ryan Barton. “As Tom has vigorously traveled the district, he has received an overwhelming amount of support for his conservative record of holding the line on spending, fighting to repeal Obamacare, cutting taxes for our hard working families and creating jobs right here in Pennsylvania.”
“This memo is nothing more than a desperate media stunt from a failing campaign of someone who will be nothing more than a steadfast supporter of Barack Obama’s failed economic policies.”
What do you think? Is PA-10 competitive? Vote in our poll:
Is Pa.'s 10th Congressional District race between Rep. Tom Marino and Phill Scollo competitive?
- Yes (62%)
- No (38%)