In an effort to support Republican Senate candidate Tom Smith, a Tea Party super PAC has put $150,000 into voter identification phone calls. Their goal: gather more information on potential Smith voters in an attempt to get more potential ballots cast for Smith over Sen. Bob Casey.
FreedomWorks for America is a super PAC affiliated with FreedomWorks, a conservative, non-profit organization which has done more than almost any other to build the Tea Party movement. Smith helped found a Tea Party organization in Armstrong County. Their independent expenditure is the biggest on Smith’s behalf by anyone to date.
Ryan Hecker, the super PAC’s Chief Operating Officer, said that the live phone calls are meant to help the group refine its targeting. The calls also serve a dual purpose and can be used later on in the campaign to figure out voters who are the most likely to be Smith supporters as well as the undecided voters who are the most susceptible to be convinced to vote for Smith.
The second phase of the IE will come a few days before the election, when the super PAC will call Smith supporters in a get out the vote effort.
Hecker said the group was planning a similar effort on behalf of Republican congressional hopeful Keith Rothfus in western Pa.
The group has already spent over $60,000 on other efforts to boost Smith, including campaign literature and online ads.
The PA Senate race has slowly gotten closer over the past two weeks as both candidates campaign on television. The latest poll from Rasmussen showed Smith behind Casey 49 percent to 42.
Digging a little deeper into the Rasmussen crosstabs offers a look at the type of voters the FreedomWorks super PAC is trying to identify. Smith outperforms his statewide average among several groups: among those earning over $100K, 52 percent support Smith over Casey’s 39 percent; 55 percent of voters with children support Smith to Casey’s 32 percent.
The independent expenditure was initially filed with the Federal Elections Commission as a direct mail piece, but Hecker said that was a clerical error.
Mark Nicastre, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said the group’s investment is indicative of Smith’s extreme views.
“It’s not a surprise that a national Tea Party group is spending over $200,000 for their fellow Tea Partier, Tom Smith. Smith is the model Tea Party candidate, and the national Tea Party groups – from FreedomWorks to the Tea Party Express – are all lining up to support Smith.”
The Democratic party and Casey have repeatedly attacked Smith for his Tea Party ties, which Smith touted regularly during – especially during the primary campaign.
Keegan Gibson contributed to this report.