A look ahead at Pennsylvania’s 2018 political races

(Photo by Shutterstock)

(Photo by Shutterstock)

Statewide political party leaders are starting to hone their messaging for — and against — candidates, more than a year before the midterm elections

Particular attention is already being paid to Pennsylvania’s US Senate race, between incumbent Democrat Bob Casey and one of several Republican challengers.

The emails have been coming steadily for a few months now.

Salvos from the state Republican Party criticize Casey’s votes against cutting funds to sanctuary cities, or his shifts to the left on abortion and gun control.

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Messages from the Democrats are similar.

Attacks against GOP Congressman Lou Barletta — the most-recognizable name up for the nomination — hinge on his support for President Trump, and his enthusiasm for repealing the Affordable Care Act.

And both parties have been hammering at one key message — as state GOP chair Val DiGiorgio said — they want voters to know their candidate can win.

“Members of trade unions and FOP and middle class workers who actually work for a living are trending more and more Republican in Pennsylvania,” DiGiorgio said

On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats have already compiled lists of reasons why Barletta—and the rest of the Republicans—can’t beat Casey.

For one, they say President Trump’s low approval ratings will drag down candidates affiliated with him. They also note Casey’s campaign coffers are far larger than any Republican candidate’s.

Real estate developer Jeff Bartos currently leads the GOP pack on cash, with $1 million — half from a loan to himself.

Barletta—who announced his run most recently — has around half a million reported for campaign purposes; Casey’s most recent filings show he has over $5 million.

DiGiorgio said that much like the 2016 fight for GOP Senator Pat Toomey’s seat, this will probably be an expensive race. He predicted it could suck up many tens of millions of dollars.

“There’s 35 states up for grabs next year,” he said. “The level of spending that comes in from outside groups will depend on what’s happening in some of those other races.”

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