Until just recently, the PAGOP trailed Democrats in terms of campaign offices by a wide margin. But with Pennsylvania conservatives embracing Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential nominee, the party is making a concerted push to close the gap by opening new offices across the state this week.
Saturday the PAGOP, combined with the Republican National Committee, opened new field offices in West Chester, Johnstown and Harrisburg, which members said are the first of many in the state.
The Harrisburg opening featured Governor Tom Corbett and Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley; the Johnstown opening featured PAGOP Chair Rob Gleason and PA-12 congressional candidate Keith Rothfus; and the West Chester opening featured Reps. Jim Gerlach (PA-6) and Pat Meehan (PA-7).
With their latest announcement, it’s clear that Republicans haven’t conceded the state despite the initial organizational disadvantage and an early lead in the polls for President Obama.
Billy Pitman, communications director of Pennsylvania Victory, a project of the RNC that coordinates with the state party and the Romney campaign, said in an email that PAGOP has already opened 15 offices across the state, with five more to open by the end of the week. He added that the weekend openings were ceremonial grand openings, and that other branch offices had similar events scheduled in the future.
In addition, Pitman said Saturday was the first of four to five “Super Saturdays,” where the RNC will seek to gain volunteers nationwide through phone banking and door-to-door canvassing. Although Republicans still trail Democrats in terms of field offices and overall organization, Pitman said the recent push by the PAGOP and RNC yielded positive results.
“This July Super Saturday is the earliest we’ve ever tested our full operation at the RNC, showing our ground game is already running on all cylinders coming out of the 4th of July holiday,” Pittman said.
“Now that much of our Victory operation is in place, volunteer voter contact goals are set to increase our phone calls and door-knocking in each battleground state.”
Mark Nicastre, Communications Director for the PA Dems, said in an email that recent efforts by Republicans to broaden Romney’s campaign in the state can’t cover up the record of the former Bain Capital CEO and Massachusetts Governor.
“Despite the best efforts of Republicans to catch up to where Democrats were 14 months ago organizationally, Pennsylvanians will continue to reject Mitt Romney and his record of outsourcing jobs and his policies that will send jobs overseas,” Nicastre said.
“It’s also nice to see Tom Corbett – and his 35 percent approval rating – on the trail stumping for Romney.”
As a part of their expansion effort, the PAGOP and RNC plan to convert many county party offices into campaign hubs as a part of the Victory Program. The new establishments will serve the purpose of traditional campaign offices, with volunteers making phone calls and canvassing, among other campaign activities.
But state Republicans face an uphill battle in overcoming the efforts of President Obama’s campaign – particularly in southeastern PA and Philadelphia. In addition to their early lead on the ground, Obama has outspent Romney on the air: about $3.5 million to zero since the primary.