Ex-state legislator joins race for Casey seat

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HARRISBURG -- Add one more name to the now nine-way race among Republicans seeking to defeat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.

Former state Rep. Sam Rohrer, the Berks County conservative who lost to Tom Corbett in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, has signed up for another statewide race.

His entry makes him the only candidate among the GOP field to have run a statewide campaign. The nine-term state legislator emphasized that background during an interview Monday before his Harrisburg-area announcement rally.

He said many of the challenges he described during his unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign are still plaguing the state, primarily too much debt and too many regulations on businesses.

"They come from down there [in Washington]," the 56-year-old said. "As long as the role of the federal government is what it is -- extreme, over-arching, crossing the 10th Amendment -- that position of U.S. senator can have a significant impact on addressing specifically the kind of things we're facing in Pennsylvania."

During last year's governor's race, Mr. Rohrer painted himself as the conservative alternative to the comparably moderate and party-establishment-backed Mr. Corbett. That drew passionate support, particularly among tea party and grassroots groups, but was not enough to overcome some fundraising challenges.

He ultimately lost, capturing 31 percent of the vote in the May 2010 primary, to the then-attorney general's 69 percent.

Mr. Rohrer now joins a list of U.S. Senate candidates that includes: Washington County businessman Tim Burns; Chester County entrepreneur Steve Welch; Bucks County military veteran David Christian; Scranton tea party activist Laureen Cummings; Marc Scaringi of Harrisburg, who was an aide to then-U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum; former coal company owner and conservative activist Tom Smith of Armstrong County; retired U.S. Army Col. John Vernon of Tioga County; and Bedford County pharmacist John Kensinger.

Laura Olson: lolson@post-gazette.com or 1-717-787-4254.


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