Pennsylvania: Pro-Life Tim Burns Challenging Sen. Bob Casey

State   |   Andrew Bair   |   Oct 17, 2011   |   10:23AM   |   Washington, DC

Pro-life businessman Tim Burns (R) has officially announced that he will challenge Democratic Senator Bob Casey, Jr. in 2012. Burns has run for the US House twice before.He lost to Mark Critz (D) in the May 2010 special election to fill the seat of the late Congressman John Murtha (D) and then again in the general election in 2010.

Traditionally, losses in such high-profile races would limit a candidate’s future ambitions. (One need not look further than Senator Santorum’s 2006 defeat and the subsequent damper the loss left on his presidential hopes.) However, Burns told PoliticsPA he views the losses as an asset;

“I ran in a district that had barely 29% Republicans, virtually no Independents and I ran against what was supposed to be John Murtha’s protégé and still managed to raise $2 million,” Burns argued. “I over performed for registration substantially.  If I did that then at the state level, I think I could win in a landslide.  I think you have to put that last campaign in perspective.”

Burns founded a pharmaceutical company in 1992, which has grown to employ over 400 workers. In a campaign likely to center on fiscal issues, Burns’ resume will make him a leading contender for the Republican nomination.

Burns joins a crowded Republican field in the fight to take on Senator Casey. The field currently consists of former Santorum aide Marc Scaringi, businessman David Welch, coal industry veteran Tom Smith, former Congressional candidate David Christian, Tea Party leader Laureen Cummings and 30-year US Army veteran John Vernon. There is also speculation that former State Representative Sam Rohrer may enter the race. Rohrer built a statewide network last year when he ran for governor. Rohrer ultimately lost to Tom Corbett in last year’s Republican primary.

Senator Bob Casey, Jr. consistently polls as Pennsylvania’s favorite politician, even as President Obama’s popularity has plummeted in the state. However, since his election in 2006, Senator Casey has had a rocky relationship with pro-life advocates. In 17 scored votes by the National Right to Life Committee, Casey voted only 7 times in favor of the pro-life position.

Casey opposed embryonic stem cell research in his 2007 vote against the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. He also voted in several cases to prevent abortion funding in some cases, supporting the Vitter Amendment to prevent abortion funding in Native American health programs and voting to cut off funding to the pro-abortion UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Casey was an original co-sponsor of the Pregnant Women Support Act, a bill aimed at reducing abortions.

While he never misses a chance to refer to himself as pro-life, Casey voted pro-abortion on arguably the most important pro-life votes. Casey voted for final passage of the pro-abortion, pro-rationing Obama healthcare law and to confirm pro-abortion Supreme Court justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Statistics show rather clearly that when abortion receives taxpayer funding, the numbers increase. Conversely, when funding is cut off, the numbers decline. Casey’s stated support for reducing the number of abortions has little credibility after he voted for Obamacare, the largest expansion of abortion since Roe vs. Wade.

In addition, Casey voted in 2007 for the Boxer Amendment to overturn the pro-life Mexico City Policy, which prevents American tax dollars from funding organizations that perform and promote abortions abroad. In 2009, Casey once again voted against these pro-life measures by rejecting a National Right to Life-backed amendment introduced by Senator Mel Martinez. Earlier this year, Casey stood with Planned Parenthood, voting to maintain the abortion provider’s federal funding.

Casey’s father, the late Governor Bob Casey (D) was a hero of the pro-life movement signing into law the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act, one of the most protective laws for unborn children in the entire country. Gov. Casey defended the legislation against numerous pro-abortion challenges, which ultimately took it all the way to the US Supreme Court resulting in the Planned Parenthood vs. Casey ruling.

While Governor Casey fought Planned Parenthood all the way to nation’s highest court, his son who claims to carry on his pro-life legacy voted to maintain Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. Gov. Casey was denied a speaking slot at the 1992 Democratic National Convention for his pro-life views. Senator Casey has voiced no qualms about the pro-abortion platform of his party. He was one of the first vocal supporters of then-Senator Obama’s presidential campaign, despite a well-documented pro-abortion record in the US Senate and the Illinois State Senate.

In building the case against Casey, Republicans will likely attempt to link the senator to President Obama, whose poll numbers continue to decline in the Keystone State. Republicans would be wise to emphasize pro-life issues in the campaign. Abortion is one area Pennsylvania’s most popular politician is vulnerable.