By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor
Sam Rohrer is looking to get in the race against U.S. Senator Bob Casey, the former State Rep. and gubernatorial candidate told PoliticsPA Friday afternoon.
“My effort to get the pieces I need to have in order to do this, I am pursuing 100 percent,” he confirmed.
He stopped short of saying his candidacy was a certainty, citing a few outstanding issues.
“There are a couple of factors that must come together for me to make the final decision to enter, and those are in process.”
Chief among them, he said, is the fundraising outlook – a key question in a Senate campaign that many analysts expect will require upwards of $20 million.
“Family circumstances have already been taken care of. Much of the consideration of support on the ground has been evident. Some of the questions remaining would be certain funding considerations. That would include a major portion of it. Not 100 percent, but a large portion. You can’t run this race without a good commitment. It’s going to take alot, there’s no question about it.”
This spring Rohrer had hinted at the possibility of a Senate campaign, and his comments today follow heated recent speculation that Rohrer was on the verge of launching a bid.
Randy Toman, a candidate for the Bethlehem Area School Board and the man behind the Lehigh Valley Conservative blog, told supporters that Rohrer had agreed to attend a fundraiser on September 23rd and that the event might also serve as the former lawmaker’s Lehigh Valley campaign kickoff.
“This is hot off the press——Sam tells me he is seriously considering running for US Senate and has been approached by some people and should know something one way or the other by the week of September 19th—he made it clear to me–certain things must be in place if in fact he is to run,” Toman wrote in an email obtained by PoliticsPA.
Rohrer did not give a specific time frame for his decision, but said that expecting an answer within the month was, “very reasonable.”
He was general in his criticism of Casey.
“I look at the challenges that are facing this nation and this Commonwealth, and I know our current Senator doesn’t represent the spirit and the soul of Pennsylvanians. He’s not the one to represent us in Washington. We need a change.”
Rohrer rose to prominence during his insurgent campaign for Governor last year after serving for 18 years in the state legislature. Although he lost to then-Attorney General Tom Corbett by more than 37 points, Rohrer built a strong following of conservative grassroots activists and has kept in touch.
In February, Rohrer became the State Director of Pennsylvania’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a 501(c)(4) affiliated with the Tea Party. The national AFP organization claims to have spent $40 million boosting conservative candidates in the 2010 cycle.
However, there is also an undercurrent of criticism among some Pennsylvania conservatives who disapprove of Rohrer’s 2005 pay raise vote, as well as his acceptance of a $31,000+ state-funded pension.
To start, Rohrer will almost certainly have the best name ID of any candidate among the GOP primary electorate.
He did not directly criticize any of his potential rivals, but suggested that the stakes were too high for a first-time candidate.
“After being in the House for 18 years and already making one statewide run, I’m telling you, for someone to try and cut their political teeth on a U.S. Senate position is extraordinarily difficult. There’s just so much to learn about the process.”
If he pulls the trigger, Rohrer would join Harrisburg-area attorney Marc Scaringi and U.S. Army veteran John Vernon in the Republican primary. Businessman and Tea Party leader Tom Smith will announce soon. Businessman and former congressional candidate Steve Welch, Scranton Tea Party founder Laureen Cummings and veterans’ advocate David Christian are also likely to run.
“I sure wouldn’t want to speak for Sam, but will say that I’m hearing a lot of excitement about the prospect as well,” said Vonne Andring, a 2010 Rohrer campaign worker and current Director of Strategy and Public Relations for AFP-PA.
“I’m hearing a lot of excited chatter on the ground about the concept of a dual conservative champion team in Toomey and Rohrer if Sam were to run and win.”