Ex-House Candidate to Challenge Bob Casey

Posted September 14, 2011 at 8:05pm

Venture capital company owner Steve Welch (R) will run against Sen. Bob Casey (D) next year, giving Pennsylvania Republicans their first potentially viable challenger in the race.

Welch still faces an uphill battle against the first-term Senator. Polls show that Casey is popular, although not unbeatable. 

But Welch brings deep pockets to the race. Welch’s consultant, John Brabender, confirmed that the Republican will be self-funding a portion of his campaign. 

“He will be investing in his own race, but he cannot 100 percent fund his own race,” Brabender said. “This is going to be a $20 million race.”

A few other lesser-known Republicans have already announced bids for the Senate seat: tea party activist Laureen Cummings, attorney Marc Scaringi, retired Army Col. John Vernon and retired coal mining company owner Tom Smith. 

Biotech executive Tim Burns continues to mull a bid, Brabender said. Burns ran unsuccessfully for the 12th district seat last year.

PoliticsPa.com, a Pennsylvania politics blog, first reported Welch’s bid.

Welch briefly ran for two different House seats in southeastern Pennsylvania in the 2010 cycle. He originally ran for the 7th district seat, but after Rep. Patrick Meehan (R) jumped into the race, Welch switched to the then-open 6th district race to replace Rep. Jim Gerlach (R). 

Later that year, Gerlach withdrew his gubernatorial bid and ran for re-election in the 6th district. Welch eventually dropped out of that GOP primary as well to clear the way for Gerlach.