CARLISLE, Pa. – Retired Army colonel John Vernon didn’t bat an eye as a bee sting interrupted him U.S. Senate announcement speech here this afternoon.
He glanced at his hand a few times, but continued on with his remarks about the need to cut spending in Washington, encourage business development, and put Pennsylvanians back to work.
Mr. Vernon, 51, said concerns about those issues are why he’s running to be the Republican nominee to challenge U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., next year.
“The ideas that big government spending can grow the economy and create jobs is a fallacy and a failed practice,” said Mr. Vernon. “I believe this practice must be reversed immediately.”
He’s not the first GOP candidate to declare his intentions to defeat Mr. Casey: former Santorum aide Marc Scaringi has been campaigning for several months, Scranton Tea Party organizer Laureen Cummings has said she’s in the race, and on Tuesday Chester County businessman and former congressional candidate Steve Welch told reporters that he’s gathering staff.
Several other potential candidates, including former congressional candidate Tim Burns, western Pennsylvania tea party leader Tom Smith, Bucks County veteran and businessman David Christian, and former state Rep. Sam Rohrer, also have said they’re pondering a Casey challenge.
Mr. Vernon, who grew up on a beef and dairy farm in Tioga County, spent 32 years in the U.S. Army, including deployments to Iraq and Bosnia.
Talking to reporters after his prepared remarks, he said that if elected, he would push for a reduction in payroll taxes for both employees and employers. He also said he would be open to some form of privatization for Social Security that still protects the investments of those currently in the system.
His event at a biofuel facility in rural Cumberland County was part of a two-day announcement tour that started this morning in Philadelphia. He’ll be appearing in Murrysville tomorrow evening, prior to candidate forum in Green Tree sponsored by the Pennsylvania Republican Leadership Council.