Top-tier Republicans in Pennsylvania are passing on a shot at challenging Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, increasing the likelihood that the road to GOP control of the chamber will bypass the Keystone State.
Despite the GOP’s massive electoral gains last year, the two most viable potential candidates, Reps. Jim Gerlach and Charlie Dent, intend to stay out of the race, according to Republicans familiar with their plans. Few Republicans expect Rep. Tim Murphy, another possible contender, to mount a campaign.
A handful of state lawmakers are still eyeing the race, but each would face a steep uphill battle against Casey. And that’s left the GOP holding out hope that an outside candidate from the business world who could self-fund an expensive campaign might swoop in. Top Republican officials and strategists are said to be courting at least a couple such candidates.
“Whoever wants to be that candidate is going to have to make an announcement pretty darn soon,” said longtime GOP strategist Charlie Gerow. “I don’t think this is the kind of thing where you can wait until late 2011 to roll the car out of the garage.”