Tea party tortoise pushes on in PA Senate race

Mark Scaringi, running for Republican Senate nomination. (Patriot-News photo)

National and Pennsylvania Republican leaders can fawn over their latest rich recruit all they want, but that’s not going to stop conservative lawyer Mark Scarinigi from beating the bushes for the nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in 2012.

“It’s not frustrating, it’s a fact of life,” Scaringi said, reacting to efforts to woo Chester County biotech millionaire Steve Welch into the race. “It’s my job and responsibility to prove to the Republican leadership, the county chairmen, the county committee members and rank and file voters that I can win…Unfortunately, I can’t self-fund. I am not a wealthy candidate.”

So far, the GOP has not been able to recruit a first-tier candidate to go up against Casey. Several of the party’s rising stars, including state Sen. Jake Corman of Centre County, took a pass. In addition to Welch, Pittsburgh businessman Keith Loisette is reportedly considering the race, as is Bucks County businessman and Vietnam War hero David Christian.

Scaringi, 40, is a Tea Party enthusiast who worked for former Sen. Rick Santorum and former state Attorney General Mike Fisher. So far, he’s been in 42 counties, appearing at endless local GOP gatherings, and in parades and county fairs, as well as visiting any tea party organization that will give him an audience. So far he is the only announced Republican candidate, jumping in last October.

“I need to have some of these grassroots groups coalesce behind me and give me a lift,” Scaringi said.

He is “a little bit surprised” that the Republican campaign trail is not crowded with rivals for the senate nomination.

“I am hearing that the big name Republicans are not running because they don’t think Casey can be beaten,” Scaringi said. “I don’t think that’s true, and you can’t wait around and test the waters. We have to take on Bob Casey.” The reason: to stop the “ruinous” policies of President Obama, which Casey has supported down the line.

“You have to speak out and step up, get out of your comfortable private life and engage,” Scaringi said.