Republican Senate candidates duke it out for one more week

    The video above is cleverly-done attack video whacking Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Tom Smith for his having participated in raising taxes in Plum Creek Township thirty years ago. It comes from the campaign of one of his rivals. Steve Welch, who is slammed in the ad below for having voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential primary.

    It’s standard political fare to attack your opponent’s record, of course, but it’s kind of depressing to see these guys paying a price for having shown some independent thinking in their lives.

    Smith indeed had a hand in some modest tax hikes when he was a township supervisor. It’s the kind of thing  responsible elected officials do sometimes when they have to meet public needs and balance the books.

    And I guess Republican voters can decide whether Welch having become a Democrat for a few years and voting for Obama are disqualifying offenses, but plenty of other Pennsylvanians did the same thing in 2008 (Smith himself was a registered Democrat for decades, though he backed many conservative causes).

    One of the other less-than-inspiring aspects of the GOP Senate primary is that Smith and Welch are regarded as frontrunners because they’ve been able to buy TV ads, largely with their personal fortunes.

    Besides Smith and Welch, former 18-year legislator Sam Rohrer is in the contest, without much money but with some name recognition from his years in the legislature and his unsuccessful run for governor in 2010.

    I’ve interviewed Welch, Smith, and Rohrer for our evening news magazine Newsworks Tonight. You can hear Rohrer’s interview tonight and listen to Welch here. My interview with Tom Smith will run later this week. You can hear how he responds when I ask whether his tax increase votes in Plum Creek township demonstrate that a hard “no tax hike” pledge is not wise public policy.

    I’ve also done reports on the two lesser-known candidates in the contest – Bucks County businessman David Christian and Harrisburg attorney Marc Scaringi. You can find the Christian piece and hear more of his comments in a debate here. Look for the piece on Scaringi soon.

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