HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — With some polls showing a tightening race just three weeks from the election, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is fighting to hold off a challenge from Republican Tom Smith, a newcomer to statewide politics who outspent Casey by almost 3-to-1 in the recently completed third quarter.
In Smith’s many TV ads, one of his most visible weapons is calling Casey “Senator Zero,” a reminder that none of Casey’s introduced bills became law during his six years in the U.S. Senate. Casey’s campaign argues that Smith doesn’t understand how Congress works and that a lawmaker must use the process of negotiation and compromise to get their legislation folded into larger bills.
“It doesn’t make a lot of sense when you look at my record in terms of getting results for people,” Casey said after an appearance Wednesday at a Cumberland County Democratic Party dinner. “I think on a whole host of fronts I get results, and I think people know that.”
A new 60-second Casey campaign ad, for instance, recounts his response to the electrocution of a Pennsylvania-born soldier in a shower in Iraq. As a result, the Defense Department carried out thousands of inspections of electrical wiring and must take other steps going forward to ensure electrical equipment is safer.
Casey also pointed to the high-profile role he took in successfully pressing for a temporary, 2 percentage point cut in the Social Security payroll tax on employees, securing more aid to help laid-off workers get job training and creating a program designed to encourage young pregnant women to keep their babies, not to seek abortions.
Smith made a small fortune in western Pennsylvania’s coal industry and is largely self-financing his campaign. So far, he has invested more than $16 million in the campaign.
He joined a rally in Elizabethtown on Monday with Ann Romney, the wife of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and was to appear later in the day at a Centre County Republican Party dinner.
The differences between the two candidates are stark: Casey has voted to increase taxes on higher earners to reduce the nation’s debt and to increase the nation’s debt ceiling to avoid a default on repaying money it has already borrowed and spent. Smith has said he would vote against both.
The election is Nov. 6.
Smith and Casey are scheduled to tape a debate on Oct. 26 at WPVI’s TV studio in Philadelphia. The debate will be broadcast on Oct. 28, and any other television, radio or cable station that wishes to rebroadcast is free to do so.
For the three-month third quarter that ended Sept. 30, Casey reported Monday that he had more than $5 million in his campaign account as of Oct. 1, compared to just more than $7 million for Smith. Aside from tapping his own bank account, Smith raised more than $1.6 million, slightly more than Casey. Smith spent $6.8 million, while Casey spent $2.5 million.
The federal deadline to report was Monday.
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