Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 27, 2014

Pennsylvania: Bob Casey’s Team Disowns Media Consultant’s Comments

Pennsylvania: Bob Caseys Team Disowns Media Consultants Comments

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell was recently criticized by a member of Sen. Bob Casey's team. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is distancing himself from his media consultant, Saul Shorr, and comments the adviser made criticizing former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D).

Rendell recently tweaked the Casey campaign, accusing it of taking Republican Senate nominee Tom Smith too lightly. Shorr didn’t take kindly to Rendell’s criticism, and let him know that publicly. But in a Saturday evening email to campaign contributors, Casey campaign manager Larry Smar attempted to put daylight between the Senator and Shorr.

“If you’ve ever met a media consultant, you will likely know that sometimes their words and combative instincts can get ahead of reality and better judgment,” Smar wrote.

Smar’s comments are the latest fallout from Rendell’s comments about Casey’s race — two sometimes competing forces in Pennsylvania Democratic politics. The exchange came just two weeks before Election Day, when Casey will attempt to fend off a challenge from Smith, a personally wealthy former coal company owner. Roll Call rates this race as Leans Democratic.

So it didn’t help when Rendell told the Scranton Times-Tribune last week that Casey “hasn’t run a campaign. He’s run one ad, a stupid Tea Party ad.” He also called Casey’s effort a “non-campaign up until now,” but the outspoken former governor made it clear that he expects the Senator to prevail on Election Day.

On Friday, Shorr shot back at Rendell in the Philadelphia Inquirer, declaring, “Instructive criticism is one thing, but ignorance is something else.” Shorr explained Casey had a couple of advertisements on the air and ran seven commercials statewide.

“I guess it’s obvious that [Rendell] didn’t know that,” Shorr told state’s largest newspaper. “But I guess that’s why the people who live out there thought when he left office that he was governor of Philadelphia.”

Soon after, the Casey team distanced its from Shorr’s comments in an email to donors.

“I want you to know that the recent comments by one of our media consultants, Saul Shorr, in the Philadelphia Inquirer were not authorized by the Casey campaign and do not reflect Senator Casey’s views,” continued Smar, who confirmed that he wrote the email. “Senator Casey appreciates the strong support he has received from Governor Rendell over the past 16 years in several campaigns and is looking forward to campaigning with the Governor in the days ahead.”

When reached for comment, Shorr said: “I have nothing to add and I’m fine with the letter.”

History shows team Casey and Rendell have often competed in state Democratic politics. Casey’s father, the late Gov. Bob Casey Sr. (D), defeated Rendell for the Democratic nod for governor in 1986. Rendell defeated the junior Casey for the nomination for governor in 2002.

Smar’s email also includes a link to Casey’s new campaign spot and internal polling. The survey showed Casey with a double-digit lead over Smith, 52 percent to 39 percent (the full polling memo can be viewed here).

Public polling has shown a race that has become increasingly competitive since Labor Day, with Casey usually leading by single digits. For example, a recent Allentown Morning Call survey showed the Senator with an 8-point lead.

Smith has infused $17 million of his own money into the race, beating Casey to the pricey Philadelphia media market. Still, most independent polling gives Casey a single-digit edge.

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