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Daily Santorum: Digging the past

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Rick and Karen Santorum

Charlie Riedel / AP, Daily Beast photo

Since Iowa, Rick Santorum has been getting the media attention he's long craved, but that's not always a good thing.

The NYT ran a tough piece tracing the flow of earmarks out of his Senate office (and the inflow of related campaign donations). The WashPost has another looking critically at his "Operation Good Neighbor" charity. Less than 40% of what it raised went to the poor:

But homeless families and troubled children were not the biggest beneficiaries of Operation Good Neighbor. Instead, the foundation spent most of its money to run itself, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees for fundraising, administration and office rental paid to Santorum’s political allies.

The most brutal piece, though, concerns Karen Santorum's past in Pittsburgh. Before she met the senator (and wrote a book and gave speeches about her devout Catholicism), she had a 6-year, live-in relationship with a doctor 40 years her senior, Tom Allen, who was and is a liberal, pro-choice activist. From Nancy Haas at the Daily Beast:

“Karen was a lovely girl, very intelligent and sweet,” says Allen, who at 92 uses a walker but retains a sly smile. A wine aficionado who frequented the Pittsburgh Symphony and was active in the local chapter of the ACLU, he lives with his wife of 16 years, Judi—they started dating in 1989, soon after he and Garver split—in the same large detached row house where he lived with the woman who would become Santorum’s wife. He and Garver also lived for several years in another house a few blocks away. “Karen had no problems with what I did for a living,” says Allen, who helped start one of the first hospital-sanctioned abortion clinics in Pennsylvania. “We never really discussed it.” (The Santorum campaign did not return repeated requests for comment on the relationship.)

Back in South Carolina, Santorum is feeling the heat from criticisms from his GOP foes, many of them in ads airing across the state. He held a press conference this morning saying Mitt Romney and Ron Paul were lying about his record, and promising to attack them in return.

Might the criticism be mounting because of the seriousness of his candidacy, particularly after the endorsement by evangelical leaders over the weekend? It can only help him, writes Nate Silver at the NYT, though he's still trailing Romney, Gingrich and Paul in S.C.

The first debate of the week is on Fox News at 9 p.m. Eastern. The next one is Thursday at 8 p.m. on CNN.

His schedule for the day is after the jump:

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Critz gets Mine Workers nod

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Congressman Mark Critz picked up the endorsement Friday of from the United Mine Workers, in what is likely to be a sign of things to come in the intraparty feud in the new 12th congressional district race.

Solidifying labor support is a big part of Critz's strategy in his primary faceoff against fellow Democrat Jason Altmire of McCandless, and the well-organized mine workers will be key in the Cambria/Somerset county portions of the new district (which the Johnstown man already represents). The UMW was usually the first union out of the gate in the late Jack Murtha's reelection bids, so did so again out of respect to Murtha's former aide.

The full statement from the Critz team is after the jump:

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Monday heds

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Happy Monday/MLK Day.

The state's Democratic Committee met over the weekend and endorsed unopposed Dem candidates Rob McCord (the incumbent treasurer) and Eugene DePasquale (the party's sole candidate for auditor general), but couldn't reach the 2/3 vote necessary to choose among attorney general candidates Kathleen Kane, Dan McCaffrey and Patrick Murphy.

Rick Santorum picked up a big endorsement from evangelical leaders over weekend (though there are complaints now about voting irregularities, says the Washington Times.)

From PoliticsPa: Tea Party candidate Laureen Cummings has dropped out of the GOP race to face US Sen. Bob Casey this year and thrown her support behind Tim Burns. Speaking of committees, the race to get the GOP state committee's endorsement seems to be mainly between burns and Chester County businessman Steve Welch, Keegan Gibson also reports.

County Controller Chelsa Wagner has named her top lieutenants: serving as deputy controller is Amy Griser, the county's former budget director, and chief of staff Seth Hufford, a former CMU and Coro official.

Wagner is finally stepping down as state rep. Her office's full statement on that, released this morning, is after the jump:

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Smith on air again in GOP Senate race

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Smith is using that cash advantage to try to distance himself from his GOP rivals -- he was the first of the (now eight?) candidates in the race on air, and now he's back with another on the "Obama-Casey" national debt.

Fellow candidate Steve Welch, meanwhile, has released a new web video on Obama.

The party's state committee meetings -- featuring an endorsement in the race -- are the weekend of Jan. 27-28.