For most of 2012, the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race was considered a yawner. Incumbent Democrat Bob Casey held a strong lead for months and was up by 20 points just a month ago. But four new polls are showing a much different story, as Republican challenger Tom Smith has now closed to as few as three points behind Casey.
A businessman for 44 years, Smith says his biggest challenge was building name recognition and informing voters of the real Casey legacy. Smith refers to Casey as “Senator Zero” for his failure to pass one piece of legislation after nearly six years in office. But that doesn’t mean Casey doesn’t have a record to defend. Smith is pounding the senator over his support for raising the debt ceiling, dramatically increasing spending and providing the decisive vote for the Obama health care laws.
The alleged Democratic “War on Coal” is high on the agenda for Smith as well. He says a resource-rich state like Pennsylvania could create countless jobs and be a major part of the nation becoming energy independent – if the federal government would just get out of the way. Smith further advocates shuttering the Department of Energy, contending it has utterly failed to achieve the purpose for which it was created more than 30 years ago.
Smith expects his surge to continue in the race against Sen. Casey. While President Obama is expected to win the state, Smith points out that 2010 was a huge Republican year in the state and he expects 2012 to be more of the same.