WASHINGTON -- Before the electoral class of 2010 has even been sworn in, a Harrisburg attorney announced his intention to run against U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in 2012.
Republican Marc Scaringi, a 40-year-old Murrysville native whose political career began on the staff of former Sen. Rick Santorum, officially filed this week to run against the first-term senator.
Although his eye is on an Election Day nearly two years from now, Mr. Scaringi in a phone interview Wednesday sounded a lot like this year's Republican candidates, who won across the country and took over the governorship, a U.S. Senate seat and five U.S. House seats in Pennsylvania.
"I've been watching and observing what the Obama administration has been doing to our country since the president took office and I think that from policy after policy, his policies are harming the economy and harming the country," he said.
Mr. Scaringi, a married father of three, said the financial bailouts, auto industry rescue and health care bill were particularly odious. All were supported by Mr. Casey, whom Mr. Scaringi called "one of the president's strongest allies."
Mr. Casey allied himself with Mr. Obama during the 2008 campaign with occasional pickup basketball games and in this Congress voted more than 96 percent with the Democratic Party, according to a tally of party votes by the Washington Post, which puts him near the middle of the caucus.
Although he did not rise through the tea party ranks, Mr. Scaringi praised the anti-government movement and said he shared many of their goals, from reducing taxes and spending to nixing federal involvement in education.
Mr. Scaringi started out in politics as a volunteer on Mr. Santorum's first Senate campaign in 1994 then spent more than a year in Mr. Santorum's Washington office. He returned to Pennsylvania to work on the attorney general campaign of Mike Fisher in 1996, later serving as Mr. Fisher's executive assistant and working on Mr. Fisher's unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2001.
By then, Mr. Scaringi said he tired of the abstract nature of politics and was looking for a way to make more of an immediate impact on people's lives, so -- having earned a law degree from Widener University -- he joined his in-laws' law firm in Perry County, handling divorces, petty crime and other cases.
In 2005, he and his wife, Melanie Walz Scaringi, founded a firm in Harrisburg, where Mr. Scaringi handled corporate and business law cases until recently when he took a leave to manage the firm and run a Senate campaign from his kitchen table.
Although Mr. Scaringi is the first to officially declare his intentions for the seat, other more seasoned Republicans are likely to see the same opportunity -- making Mr. Scaringi a clear underdog. U.S. Reps. Jim Gerlach, R-Chester, and Charlie Dent, R-Allentown, are considered viable challengers, and Pittsburgh conservative talk show host Glen Meakem is a possible candidate as well. In Harrisburg, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, of Bradford Woods, and Sen. Jake Corman, of Centre County, could make a run, too.
In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Casey said he has already begun honing his campaign apparatus and raising money. His 2006 victory against Mr. Santorum broke spending records, and this one figures to be a pricey affair as well.
"It's always tough to run statewide and it's always tough to run in a difficult economic and political climate," Mr. Casey said. "I have to prepare pretty early."
Daniel Malloy: firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-202-445-9980. Follow him on Twitter at PG_in_DC.