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Marino Short on Money, Not Energy, Against Carney

BEAVER SPRINGS, Pa. — The success of a second Republican revolution may rest in this beat-up mobile home named Bessie, 20 feet of faded purple upholstery and wood paneling plagued by bad shocks and unpredictable windshield wipers.“This is not Bon Jovi’s tour bus,” Tom Marino warns before inviting guests aboard the 1989 Damon Escaper, which doubles as his unofficial campaign headquarters and a rolling billboard that sleeps six.“We aren’t going to take it anymore,” proclaim the black letters stripped across the passenger’s side.While Bessie’s owner is a former U.S. attorney, Marino is little-known inside or outside Pennsylvania’s 10th district, a sprawling rural region larger than Connecticut. But it may not matter that his push to build name recognition depends largely on near-constant touring in his aged motor home. Or that he’s cashed in his wife’s pension to help fuel the campaign.If recent polling is accurate, Marino may be positioned to upset the better-funded, better-known and better-liked Democratic incumbent, Christopher Carney, in this conservative slice of the American heartland.The race, like several across Pennsylvania, has drawn a personal visit from House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) in recent days. And both former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have contributed to Marino’s campaign so far.“If the Republican Party doesn’t win this district, they don’t win the majority,” says Marino’s communications director, Jason Fitzgerald.Still, having reported just over $11,000 on hand at the end of June, and being unknown by more than 40 percent of the electorate, Marino’s campaign is by no means pulling away from Carney, a Blue Dog Democrat and Navy Reserve commander who pilots Predator drones and isn’t shy about criticizing his opponent.“I think it’s a tough climate,” says Carney, a Democrat first elected in 2006 by defeating Rep. Don Sherwood, who was embroiled in a sex scandal. “But people don’t know who [Marino] is, to be honest. People just don’t know who he is.”‘My Kind of Congressman’Carney moves comfortably among the masses at the Dickson City Days festival Saturday night.Donning jeans and sneakers, there is little evidence that he is a two-term Congressman 11 weeks from Election Day, aside from a reporter and photographer in tow. There is no pin on his collar, no button or sticker on his short-sleeved shirt and no one distributing campaign paraphernalia to the horde of potential voters flowing through the colored tents in this population center north of Scranton.But people everywhere know him. They wave and smile and fight the blasting pop music to share friendly small talk.“Once you get back in the district and look around and talk to folks, we feel better every day,” Carney says, largely dismissing the talk of a Republican takeover in the House that has consumed Washington.The numbers in this district, however, don’t bode well for Carney, regardless of his opponent’s fundraising challenges. (“I’d rather take a butt kicking than go out and ask people for money,” Marino says. “This is a rural district. People don’t have money. They’re losing their jobs.”)

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