New Welch ad attacks Smith as GOP impersonator

Steve Welch is going on the attack in Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Senate primary, launching a television ad that portrays leading rival Tom Smith as a fake Republican with the aid of an Elvis impersonator.

“Not only was Tom Smith a registered Democrat for 42-years, but as an elected Democratic official he raised taxes on his constituents 9 different times,” said Peter Towey, Welch campaign manager. “Plain and simple: Conservatives don’t raise taxes on their constituents. This new ad enlightens Republican voters to a liberal past that Tom Smith is desperately trying to keep secret.”

The past Democratic allegiances of both candidates have been points of contention in the six-candidate race, in which polls show a majority of likely GOP voters don’t know much about the contenders.

Smith, a former coal company owner and farmer from southwest Pennsylvania, has been a Democratic committeeman in Armstrong County and voted in 19 Democratic primaries. He was a member of his township board and as such voted for some property tax increases. Yet Smith has been a donor to conservative causes and an active member of the tea party movement; he has been endorsed by the Independence Hall Tea Party PAC in the GOP race.

Welch, a Chester County entrepreneur, was a registered Democratic from 2005 to 2009. He contributed $300 to former Rep. Joe Sestak (D.,Pa.) and voted in the Democratic presidential primary in 2008. He is the state GOP’s officially endorsed candidate.

Welch’s campaign declined to detail the size of the ad buy, but the new piece will replace other commercials it is using and will run statewide, campaign officials said.