Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Rohrer to run for U.S. Senate

by MARC LEVY Associated Press on November 05, 2011 2:15 AM

HARRISBURG -- Sam Rohrer, a former state representative who lost to Tom Corbett in last year's Republican gubernatorial primary, plans to enter a crowded field of GOP candidates hoping to challenge Democrat Bob Casey's re-election bid for U.S. Senate, an adviser said Friday.

Rohrer, 56, would become the only one of nine Republican candidates who plan on seeking the party's nomination to have run in a statewide election.

He will likely announce his candidacy later this month and is stepping down from his post as the Pennsylvania chapter president of the tea party-allied Americans for Prosperity, the adviser, Jeff Coleman, told The Associated Press.

Rohrer views himself as the only full-fledged conservative who has a track record in the GOP field, Coleman said.

"That's where a Sam Rohrer entry would fill that void and this is really responding to what's been an outpouring of emails and encouragement from grass-roots leaders around the state for Sam to consider this," Coleman said.

Casey, a first-term Democrat and son of the late Gov. Robert P. Casey, is a former state treasurer and auditor general who beat incumbent Rick Santorum in a landslide in 2006.

For now, at least eight others have declared themselves as candidates to challenge Casey: entrepreneurs Tim Burns and Steve Welch; tea party activist Laureen Cummings; manufacturing executive David Christian; pharmacist John Kensinger; lawyer Marc Scaringi; former coal industry executive Tom Smith; and retired U.S. Army Col. John Vernon.

All but Cummings and Rohrer appear to have filed candidacy paperwork with the Senate and Federal Election Commission.

Corbett beat Rohrer soundly, 68 percent to 31 percent, but Rohrer was given credit by some for forcing Corbett to take more conservative positions, including signing a pledge not to increase taxes that has become a cornerstone of his policy.

Rohrer also served nine terms in the state House of Representatives from Berks County.

Rohrer's candidacy for governor banked on support from conservatives who were disenchanted with the Republican Party establishment and were willing to challenge its endorsed candidate, Corbett. He even organized a competing conference at the same hotel as the Republican State Committee meeting in February 2010 where Corbett received the party's endorsement in the primary.

Corbett beat Rohrer soundly, 68 percent to 31 percent, but Rohrer was given credit by some for forcing Corbett to take more conservative positions, including signing a pledge not to increase taxes that has become a cornerstone of his policy.

Rohrer also served nine terms in the state House of Representatives from Berks County.

It's not clear how many of the candidates would run in the primary without the party's endorsement, as Rohrer did. The state Republican Party will hold its next meeting Jan. 27-28, which is when committee members traditionally vote to endorse candidates in the primary.

The first day for candidates to circulate nomination petitions is Feb. 15, and the deadline to file them with the state is March 8.

Filings from the last FEC deadline on Sept. 30 showed Casey with $3.7 million on hand and Smith with $774,000 -- largely thanks to a loan from himself. No one else in the race reported more than $53,000. The next deadline to report finances is Dec. 31.

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