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Republican Rep. Mike Kelly won't run for governor, but might go for Senate

| Friday, May 19, 2017, 5:30 p.m.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
United States Congressman Keith Rothfus of the 12th District, and Congressman Mike Kelly of the 3rd districtt, talk to a crowd of Donald Trump suporters during a rally with Republican vice presidential hopeful Governor Mike Pence, at Westmoreland County Community College, in Youngwood, on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016.

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, has ruled out a run for governor but said he is “thoroughly considering” a campaign for U.S. Senate.

Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, both Democrats, are up for re-election next year.

“This is in no small part because I believe our party has a promising field of strong candidates who will make an aggressive case to Pennsylvania voters that Gov. Wolf's agenda has failed us and that it is time for new leadership in Harrisburg,” Kelly, 69, said Friday in a statement.

So far, the Republicans running for governor are state Sen. Scott Wagner of York County and former health care consultant Paul Mango of Pine. State House Speaker Mike Turzai of Bradford Woods is weighing a run.

Republicans who announced plans or filed paperwork to run for U.S. Senate are U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta of Hazleton, state Reps. Rick Saccone of Elizabeth Township and Jim Christiana of Beaver, Berwick Councilman Andrew Shecktor and real estate investor Jeffrey Bartos of Montgomery County.

“I plan to spend much of the coming weeks thoroughly considering a campaign for the GOP nomination for next year's U.S. Senate race,” Kelly said.

Kelly said Casey's “far-left pandering” and “paper-thin record of accomplishments” in Washington make him a “disappointing representative of Pennsylvania.”

Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesman Max Steele said Kelly is “too extreme for Pennsylvania, and voters will hold him accountable for his disastrous record.”

Steele criticized Kelly for voting to “send the out-of-pocket health care costs for older Pennsylvanians and those with pre-existing conditions skyrocketing” and “slash funds for nursing home care and children with disabilities.”

Kelly said he will announce this summer whether he plans to run.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847, or via Twitter at @FontainePGH.

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