Republican Congressman Mike Kelly has decided not to run for governor in 2018 -— but he’s keeping his name in the mix for a Senate run challenging Bob Casey.
“Earlier this week I reached out to several of the potential Republican candidates for Governor to inform them that I will not be pursuing the GOP nomination for that race,” said the Third District congressman in a statement this morning. “This is in no small part because I believe our party has a promising field of strong candidates.”
But Mr. Kelly’s statement added that he “plan[s] to spend much of the coming weeks thoroughly considering a campaign for the GOP nomination for next year’s U.S. Senate race. ... I will be giving this race serious consideration in the months ahead and will make a final decision later this summer.”
Republicans covet both the governor’s mansion held by Tom Wolf and the Senate seat occupied by Bob Casey. Mr. Wolf has drawn challenges from state Senator Scott Wagner, of York, and Allegheny County businessman Paul Mango: state House speaker Mike Turzai is also widely expected to run. Mr. Casey, meanwhile, has drawn two challengers, both from western Pennsylvania: state Reps. Rick Saccone, of Elizabeth, and Jim Christiana, of Beaver.
The field challenging Mr. Wolf is arguably more foreboding: While Mr. Mango is a political novice, he has assembled a team that includes consultant John Brabender and David Urban, who marshalled Donald Trump’s campaign in Pennsylvania, and both Mr. Mango and Mr. Wagner are wealthy businessmen.
Mr. Kelly’s statement accused Mr. Casey of “far-left pandering in Washington [and a] paper-thin record of accomplishments during his long career in government.” Earlier this morning, the National Republican Senate Committee also criticized Mr. Casey, noting a New York Times story today that marks how Mr. Casey, long a quiet voice in Washington, has become increasingly strident in the Trump Era. (Your Post-Gazette first noted that evolution in a February story.)