In a splashy announcement, Armstrong County coal baron Tom Smith is putting $4.25 million of his own cash (so far) into the GOP US Senate race -- far above the $1 million fellow candidate Steve Welch announced yesterday.
Why are they announcing the cash now, before reports are due in a couple weeks? PoliticsPa has the insider dope:
As much or more than the innate value of the million dollars on hand is the optics: the Senate candidates are currently jockeying for support of Republican State Committee. The GOP will meet in regional caucuses starting this Saturday, where they will hold straw polls and discuss possible endorsements for the 2012 primary. A hefty Q4 is key to candidates seeking to prove, in time for the statewide meeting on Jan. 28, that they would be the most serious challenger to Sen. Bob Casey. Why else announce numbers on the same day most political media is focused on Iowa? (At least two other campaigns say they will also announce this week).
The full statement by the Smith camp is after the jump:
(Pittsburgh) - The Tom Smith for Senate Campaign today announced a campaign war-chest of more than $4.4 million at the close of the fourth quarter. The funds include fourth quarter contributions of more than $125,000 as well as $4.25 million in candidate funds.
"Tom Smith has again demonstrated that he has the organization, message, and resources to defeat Bob Casey in November," said Campaign Manager Jim Conroy. "With Tom's tireless work ethic and ability to connect with an electorate that has had enough of professional politicians - it comes as no surprise that Tom Smith is now leading in the polls."
The latest financial report far outpaces that of Smith's primary opponents and brings near parity with incumbent Senator Bob Casey.
RECAPPING SMITH FOR SENATE FOURTH QUARTER MOMENTUM:
Leading in endorsements. "Coal industry veteran and former Tea Party leader Tom Smith has added two names to his list of endorsements for U.S. Senate.... They [Sen. Folmer & Rep. Bloom] join Pa. Sen. Don White and Pa. Reps. Eli Evankovich, Tim Krieger, Donna Oberlander, Jeff Pyle and Dave Reed." ("2 More Pa. Lawmakers Endorse Smith for Senate," PoliticsPA, 11/28/11)
First on the airwaves. "Businessman Tom Smith is airing the first television ad of the Republican primary for U.S. Senate Thursday morning, a 30-second spot that contrasts his background as a farmer and founder of a coal-mining company with images of economic misery and Sen. Bob Casey (D.,Pa.) laughing with President Obama." ("Smith airs first TV ad in 2012 PA Senate race," Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/7/11)
Leading in organization. "Smith is the first candidate to open an office not located in his or her geographic base." ("Smith for Senate Moves into Brown-Castor Campaign Office," PoliticsPA, 12/12/11)
Leading in the polls. "Tom Smith of Armstrong County is leading the field of Republicans hoping to take on Senator Bob Casey, according to a polling memo released by Smith's campaign Tuesday." ("Smith Internal Poll: Smith Leads Senate Primary," PoliticaPA, 12/27/11)