Political naturalists often seek the prized “tea party Democrat,” but the species is fairly elusive in the wild.
Now comes Brian Kelly, a Democrat and tea party-style conservative, who is planning to challenge U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in the party’s 2012 primary.
Kelly, 63, lives in Wilkes-Barre, and argues that Casey has aided the expansion of the federal government’s power under President Obama and is not sufficiently committed to the cause of limiting access to abortion, which has been his hallmark as a pro-life Democrat.
“I don’t think Bob Casey is the right guy for Pennsylvania,” Kelly said. “He seems to be a national politician, a shadow of Barack Obama.”
Like some anti-abortion rights activists, Kelly believes that loopholes in the administration’s health care law would allow funding of abortions, despite an Obama executive order reinforcing existing federal law that prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars for the procedure.
Casey was a supporter of, and voted for, the health-care law. He has said critics who believe it would facilitate abortions are wrong.
The health law is one of Kelly’s biggest issues. “I’m not really interested in the government being involved in the health care business for everybody,” he said, adding that the law is a step toward a “single payer” system.
Kelly ran for Congress last year in the 11th District Democratic primary, getting 17 percent of the vote against then-incumbent Paul Kanjorski and Corey O’Brien, a Lackawanna County commissioner. Kanjorski lost in the general election to now-Rep. Lou Barletta (R.,Pa.), whom Kelly endorsed.
A computer systems engineer, Kelly said he plans to announce his candidacy in mid October. He has a website up already.
Though he has a small-government approach more commonly associated on the national level with the GOP, Kelly said he would remain a Democrat. “I don’t believe business should have carte blanche,” he said.