Former congressional candidate and businessman Tim Burns on Wednesday formally entered the Republican race for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, further scrambling an already competitive race for the state's GOP nomination.
The field of Republican candidates vying to take on Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is already crowded, including ex-coal executive Tom Smith, former Rick Santorum aide Marc Scaringi, and former congressional candidate Steve Welch. Ex-state Rep. Sam Rohrer, who ran for governor last year, is also considering a campaign. No one has emerged as a frontrunner, with Republicans struggling to land a consensus candidate.
The 43-year-old Burns, who hails from southwestern Pennsylvania, ran for Congress twice last year, falling first in a May special election to replace the late Rep. John Murtha and again in the general election. He lost to Democrat Mark Critz each time.
Failed congressional runs aren't usually a good springboard for a Senate bid, but Burns has a compelling resume. He started his own pharmaceutical technology company, giving him a business background that appeals to Republicans. He also has the experience of running a hotly contested race before: His special election battle against Critz was closely followed by the national media, testing him politically in a way his competitors have not been.
Republicans have faced setbacks recruiting against Casey, who maintains strong popularity despite President Obama's sagging approval ratings in the Keystone State. GOP Reps. Charlie Dent, Jim Gerlach and Tim Murphy passed on a run. But given Obama's challenges in Pennsylvania, the state has become a top target for Republicans, who believe that Casey will be weighed down by the president.