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“This appointment will bolster the voice of Pennsylvanians, especially those living in the 15th District, in critical discussions involving federal spending,” Dent said in a statement.
Gerlach, whose brief gubernatorial run last cycle revealed his ambition for statewide office, was also thrilled with his assignment: “I am honored to have this tremendous opportunity to boldly confront the huge economic challenges facing our country by reining in wasteful Washington spending and empowering families to keep more of their hard-earned pay,” Gerlach said.
Aside from Dent and Gerlach, the short list of potential challengers includes Republican state Sens. Jake Corman and Kim Ward and wealthy conservative talk radio host Glen Meakem.
None are thought to be particularly dangerous to Casey. But the Democrat’s ultimate success may be tied closely to the top of the ticket.
President Barack Obama’s popularity isn’t exactly thriving in the Keystone State, where Democrats hold a substantial voter registration advantage. Just 41 percent of voters told Quinnipiac they would vote for Obama if the election were held today, compared with 37 percent who would back a generic Republican. Only 44 percent said that the president deserves to be re-elected.
Obama won Pennsylvania in 2008, and the state backed Sen. John Kerry in 2004.
Of course, a lot can change in two years, Brown said. And the president’s numbers have actually improved in recent months.
“Depending on how popular the president is in Pennsylvania in 2012, and how Sen. Casey conducts himself during the next 23 months, that could be a plus or a minus for Casey’s re-election prospects,” he said.
Quinnipiac surveyed 1,584 Pennsylvania voters between Dec. 6 and 13. The survey’s margin of error is 2.5 points.