Unlike last year's race for governor, the 2012 GOP Senate primary features no clear front-runner. A trio of early favorites has emerged -- ex-congressional candidate Tim Burns, former coal magnate Tom Smith, and former congressional contender Steve Welch -- but none has distinguished himself as the candidate to beat. Each carries baggage: Smith was a Democrat until recently, Welch voted for President Obama in the state's 2008 Democratic primary, and Burns lost a congressional race twice against Rep. Mark Critz last year. But they each are also personally wealthy, especially Smith, and have a business background that gives them a credible profile to run for Senate. Rohrer, by contrast, spent nearly two decades in the deeply unpopular state legislature. At minimum, Rohrer changes the math for a free-for-all race. The inclusion of another conservative candidate could help Welch, a southeast Pennsylvania Republican who early on has calibrated his message to align with the party's more moderate wing.
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