A GOP Senate Recruit to Challenge Casey?

Pennsylvania Republicans, stymied so far in efforts to land a big-name challenger to Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in 2012, are recruiting a wealthy Pittsburgh-area businessman who may be able to fund part of a campaign himself.

Keith Loiselle of Wexford, Pa., a prominent GOP donor who made a fortune with a medical technology company he built from scratch, has been entertaining pitches from party operatives and leaders, who squired him around last weekend’s state committee meeting in Hershey. The approach was first reported by Politico.

Several likely-suspect recruits have demurred, including Republican U.S. Reps. Jim Gerlach and Charlie Dent. The CEO of Pittsburgh-based Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ed Stack, was calling Republicans to sound out the race in March, but since has made no moves to organize a campaign.

Loiselle grew up in the scruffy East Liberty section of Pittsburgh, worked his way through college, and later started CDL Medical Technologies, a provider of imaging devices such as CAT scans for hospitals and medical practices.

More than a decade ago, he sold the company for millions and spun one of its divisions into CDL Nuclear Technologies, which provides cardiology stress-testing equipment.

Loiselle is early in doing “due diligence” on a possible race and has not made a decision, according to a people familiar with his thinking.

State GOP Chairman Robert Gleason has argued that the race against Casey is winnable, considering the bad economy, worries over federal debt, and the voter backlash against some Obama administration policies.

The freshman senator had middling job-approval numbers (44 percent) in the latest statewide survey, by Quinnipiac University in April. Most incumbents in any office have bad approval numbers these days, however. And many Republicans believe that Casey, an anti-abortion Democrat and son of a former governor, will be hard to beat because he’s personally liked and higher turnout in a year with President Obama on the ballot will favor Democrats.

So far, Mark Scuringi, a former staffer to ex-Sen. Rick Santorum, is running for the Republican senatorial nomination, and state Sen. Jake Corman of Centre County is said to be mulling it over.