Pennsylvania Candidates Eye November Showdowns

Republican Dave McCormick looks to unseat Sen. Bob Casey in a key Senate race.
Pennsylvania Candidates Eye November Showdowns
Pennsylvania’s Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa., in January 2023. (Beth Brelje/The Epoch Times)
Beth Brelje

The Nov. 5 general election is just six months away, and fresh off the April 23 primary, Pennsylvania voters now know the players and can expect an escalation of political rhetoric. It will come from every direction, in the form of mailers, billboards, television advertisements, online memes, and party foot-soldiers knocking on residents’ doors.

The race between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will certainly make its mark in Pennsylvania. With its 19 coveted electoral votes, the commonwealth is a must-win for the next president. But it is just one of many races competing for voter loyalty all summer and fall.

The U.S. Senate Race between Democrat Sen. Bob Casey, 64, and Republican Dave McCormick, 58, has officially picked up steam as both candidates announced plans to tour the state, making campaign stops.

The day after the primary, Mr. McCormick planned to take his bus to rallies in six locations in the coming days. Riding on the first leg of that tour with him was Republican State Treasurer Stacy Garrity, who is running for reelection against Democrat candidate Erin McClelland. Also on the bus, according to a group social media post, was Republican Tim DeFoor, the current state auditor general who is seeking reelection and faces Democrat challenger Malcolm Kenyatta.

Traveling in a car, Mr. Casey started his “On Our Side Road Trip” last week and intends to make 20 stops before it is over. He made a stop for an ice cream shake in Strasburg, Lancaster County, and met with supporters for a get-out-the-vote rally. At a dairy farm, he went into the barn to look at the cows and picked up an endorsement while visiting with Pittsburgh Fire Fighters.

Both candidates have financial backgrounds. Mr. Casey was previously Pennsylvania’s Auditor General and State Treasurer. Mr. McCormick is a former hedge fund manager. Both talk about ways they would improve the budgets of individual households.

Mr. Casey blames high prices on “greedy corporations” that he says raise prices faster than inflation. He said he would promote a policy that would use the Federal Trade Commission to punish corporate price gouging. “Let’s roll back their huge corporate tax breaks, putting money in your pocket instead,” Mr. Casey said in a recent television commercial.

Consumer prices have gone up because federal spending has increased, Mr. McCormick said in a Fox News interview. He suggests curbing spending and supporting Pennsylvania’s natural gas and oil industries.

So far, Mr. McCormick has called out Mr. Casey for voting with his party and President Biden’s policies most of the time. Mr. Casey’s camp has focused on Mr. McCormick’s residency. He lived in Connecticut until 2022, when he ran for Congress in Pennsylvania, but he lost in the primary and still spends much of his time in Connecticut.

Senate races are bigger than one candidate; the balance of party power in the upper U.S. chamber is determined by the number of members in each party. It is always better to be in the majority party. Currently, the Senate Democrats have the majority, with 51 members, and Republicans are the minority, with 49 members. Party majority is just as important in the U.S. House.

Mail-in Made a Difference

The Pennsylvania GOP has begun promoting mail-in voting as something voters should embrace, and primary results help illustrate the reason. Campaigns that work the mail-in angle can convince voters in their party who typically don’t go to the polls to commit to a candidate early and participate with little hassle. In most races, around half of the Democrats voted by mail, and more Republicans voted in person.

An exception is Montgomery County, where Nikki Haley, who has dropped out of the race but was still on the ballot, got 12,437 votes, and 42 percent of those  (5,171) were mail-in. Sometimes voters switch parties to participate in the opposing party’s primary; it could be some of these voters—politically savvy enough to obtain a mail-in ballot but vote for someone out of the race—wanted to send Mr. Trump a message.

Mr. Casey received almost half of his votes, 47 percent, from mail-in ballots, yet only 17 percent of Mr. McCormick’s votes were mail-in.

In the presidential race, President Biden received 930,255 votes. Of those, 51 percent came from in-person votes on primary day, and 49 percent were mail-in votes.

On the Republican side, President Trump received 789,350 votes, with 87 percent from in-person votes and just 13 percent from mail-in ballots.

In York County, 85 percent of Republican Rep. Scott Perry’s votes came on election day. The six Democrat candidates who battled to challenge him in November received about half of their votes from mail-in ballots. He faces Janelle Stelson, a Democrat and former Pennsylvania television news anchor who got more than half her votes through the mail.

In Lehigh County, U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, a Democrat, earned 14,739 mail-in votes (56 percent of her total votes) compared with Republican Challenger, State Rep. Ryan MacKenzie, who had 2,924 mail-in votes (23 percent of his total.)

In Montgomery County, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (4,100) lost to Republican Challenger Mark Houck (4,659) in the walk-in votes, but Mr. Fitzpatrick won overall once mail-in votes were counted. Mr. Fitzpatrick got 27 percent of his Montgomery County votes by mail, and 9 percent of Mr. Houck’s total votes were by mail. But in Bucks County, Mr. Fitzpatrick topped Mr. Houck in both day-of and mailed ballots. The 1st Congressional District covers both counties. Counting the combined counties, Mr. Fitzpatrick had 44,734 votes, and Mr. Houck had 28,081.

Beth Brelje is an award-winning Epoch Times reporter who covers U.S. politics, state news, and national issues. Ms. Brelje previously worked in radio for 20 years and after moving to print, worked at Pocono Record and Reading Eagle. Send her your story ideas: [email protected]