Politics

GOPer mulling Senate run in Pennsylvania once voted for Obama

Alex Pappas Political Reporter

Republicans are scrambling to find someone with enough money and political clout to challenge Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey.

The party is keeping a close eye on the seat in advance of the 2012 elections, when it hopes to win a Republican Senate majority.

But is the best Republican challenger someone who voted for President Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania 2008 Democratic primary, and for a Democratic congressman in 2006?

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Steve Welch, a millionaire who was “a Democrat for awhile,” is thinking seriously about running, as he would be able to use his own money to fund a competitive race.

Welch, according to Politico, met with officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee last week to talk about the race.

Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the NRSC, declined to comment on the report.

But a NRSC source downplayed the significance of the meeting, telling The Daily Caller that the committee meets with anyone who expresses an interest in running for the Senate.

Welch could not be reached for comment. But The Philadelphia Inquirer said he “was a registered Republican, then registered as a Democrat, and changed back in 2009, about the time he was putting himself forward as a potential GOP candidate to succeed then-Rep. Joe Sestak (D.,Pa.) in the Seventh District.”

“Indeed, Welch was a supporter of and donor to Sestak, who was elected in 2006, and left the seat to win the Democratic nomination for Senate in 2010,” the paper noted. “Welch also voted for President Obama in the 2008 Pennsylvania Democratic primary, though he said he voted for John McCain in the fall.”

While running for Congress in 2009, Welch explained his prior support for Sestak: “When the 2006 elections approached, I was one upset Republican,” he wrote. “Congress was spending more and more, and getting less and less actually done.”

“Then one day I got a call from someone who had a pretty good story to sell,” Welch wrote. “Joe Sestak actually came to my house, sat in my kitchen with my wife and me, and spoke about making government live within its means and balancing budgets. He touted how he would be an independent voice. He was selling exactly what a frustrated voter wanted to hear, and I made the mistake of believing him.”

“Not only did I vote for Joe, the Democrat running for the 7th Congressional District seat, but for the first time in my life I even gave a politician a donation for $300,” Welch said.

Marc Scaringi, a Harrisburg lawyer and tea party enthusiast, is the only Republican to throw his hat into the ring so far.

But is the best Republican challenger someone who voted for President Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania 2008 Democratic primary, and for a Democratic congressman in 2006?