Tim Burns seeks GOP's Senate nod
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HARRISBURG -- The wide GOP field seeking to take down U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., got a little more crowded on Wednesday, with former congressional candidate Tim Burns officially entering the race.
The Washington County businessman, who ran twice against Democrat Mark Critz in 2010 to succeed former U.S. Rep. John Murtha, has been rumored for weeks as a potential entry into next year's U.S. Senate contest.
He said in an interview that he learned a lot from last year's pair of unsuccessful contests about the workload of campaigning. While both ended in losses, he notes that he kept the races competitive in a heavily Democratic district.
"It proves a couple of things: number one, that I was able to raise over $2 million for that race, and it proves that I was able to get a tremendous number of Democrats to vote for me," Mr. Burns said.
The 43-year-old father of two will be pointing to his business background, in which he launched a pharmacy-tech company that eventually employed 400 people, as he talks about growing the economy and cutting federal spending.
He'll also be reminding voters that the Democratic junior senator is a member of the same political party as President Barack Obama, whose numbers continue to fall in the commonwealth. "Of all the important votes, he's been right there with the president," he said. "He's with the president on the stimulus, he's with the president on health care, he was with the president [Tuesday night] on his new spending bill."
Mr. Burns joins a list of contenders that includes Marc Scaringi of Harrisburg, who was an aide to former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum; retired U.S. Army Col. John Vernon of Tioga County; former coal company owner and conservative activist Tom Smith of Armstrong County; Scranton tea party activist Laureen Cummings; and Bucks County military veteran David Christian.
At least one more candidate is expected to add his name to that list, with Chester County businessman Steve Welch posting cryptically on his Facebook page Wednesday: "Exciting news coming in the next 24 hours!"
The candidate list is also growing in the 18th congressional district south of Pittsburgh, where a former staffer for tea party favorite Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ken., officially announced he will challenge U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, in the GOP primary next year.
Evan Feinberg, 27, is among a group of right wing Republicans that think Mr. Murphy's voting record is insufficiently conservative, and so the Peters Township native is moving back to the South Hills with his wife and young son to take on the five-term incumbent. He criticized Mr. Murphy for votes in favor of union organizing rules and an auto industry bailout, among others.
"I've long been a critic of Rep. Murphy's liberal voting record, and I'm getting involved now because of how bad it's gotten in Washington, D.C., and how far off course the country has gotten," he said in a telephone interview.
Mr. Feinberg graduated from Peters High School in 2002 and Grove City College in 2006. He then went to Washington to work for the conservative Heritage Foundation, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Mr. Paul.
Mr. Murphy has never faced a close race since joining Congress in 2003 and his moderate voting record (Club For Growth rates him the House's fifth-most liberal Republican) may be due to representing a district with a slight Democratic registration edge. Still, the district voted in favor of John McCain in 2008 and the Cook Political Report says it leans Republican.
Conservatives nationally have been calling for Mr. Murphy's ouster and Mr. Feinberg is depending on national and local support to help him raise money to take on the incumbent, who had $720,700 in his campaign account this summer.
First Published October 13, 2011 12:00 am