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Pennsylvania Senate candidates present stark contrast on abortion rights and gun violence

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey and Republican challenger Dave McCormick also differ on former President Donald Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

By Josh Israel - October 04, 2023
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U.S. Senator Bob Casey speaks ahead of U.S. President Joseph Biden at the kick-off of the AFL-CIO's annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade in Philadelphia, PA, USA on September 4, 2023. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via AP)
U.S. Senator Bob Casey speaks ahead of U.S. President Joseph Biden at the kick-off of the AFL-CIO's annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade in Philadelphia, PA, USA on September 4, 2023. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via AP)

Though Pennsylvania’s 2024 Senate primary is not scheduled to take place until April 23, the likely general election field appears to be set: incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey and Republican former hedge fund executive Dave McCormick. The race will show a sharp contrast between the candidates on reproductive rights, gun violence, public education, and tax policy.

Casey, who was first elected to the Senate in 2006, has only received token opposition for the Democratic nomination. The Republican Party of Pennsylvania formally endorsed McCormick on Sept. 30, and no other major GOP candidate has indicated interest in the race to date.

The most recent public polls, taken in April and May, show Casey ahead by a margin of between 5% and 16% over McCormick.

The Cook Political Report lists the Pennsylvania race as competitive and leaning Democratic.

Sen. Bob Casey

Casey is a supporter of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would restore the constitutional right to choose an abortion, as was guaranteed by the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision until the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in 2022 overturned it. In a May 2022 statement, he wrote: “The real question of the moment is: do you support a categorical ban on abortion? During my time in public office, I have never voted for—nor do I support—such a ban.”

Casey’s Senate website notes that he backs “commonsense measures to keep dangerous firearms out of the hands of dangerous people. Those efforts should include universal background checks, limits on magazine size, and banning military-style assault weapons. He also believes that we must increase our efforts to support the millions of gun violence survivors across our Nation who struggle to cope with the aftermath of this senseless violence.” In a 2022 op-ed published in the Washington Post, he endorsed extreme risk protection order laws, commonly known as red flag laws, to temporarily disarm those deemed by a judge to be an imminent danger to themselves or others.

Casey opposed President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law, which significantly cut tax rates for wealthy Americans and large corporations and raised taxes for many working families in Pennsylvania. He called the package “a massive tax giveaway to the super-rich at the expense of the middle class.” Casey voted for the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, which lowered costs for health care and clean energy, reduced the federal deficit, and increased taxes for those making over $400,000 annually.

Casey is a strong supporter of public education and voted for a 2021 pandemic relief law that included funds to enable schools to safely reopen for in-person learning.

Dave McCormick

During his unsuccessful 2022 Senate campaign, McCormick endorsed a near-total ban on abortion. “I believe in the very rare instances, there should be exceptions for the life of the mother,” he said during an April 2022 Republican candidate debate. A spokesperson said in June 2023 that McCormick now also backs exceptions in cases of incest and rape, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

His now-deleted 2022 campaign website issues page said: “Dave is staunchly pro-life and believes that life begins at conception. Dave has attended the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C. and will continue to advocate for the rights of the unborn.”

The site noted McCormick’s opposition to gun safety bills while accusing “the extreme left” of wanting to abolish the Second Amendment entirely. In a May 2022 tweet, McCormick attacked then-primary opponent Mehmet Oz, writing, “I am the PA- true conservative running for Senate and a stalwart defender of our 2nd Amendment, unlike Mehmet Oz who’s called for gun restrictions like an assault weapons ban & red flag laws!”

At a 2022 campaign forum, flagged by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party at the time, McCormick endorsed making the expiring provisions of the Trump tax law for wealthy individuals permanent, saying, “I think the policy we should have going forward on taxes and the economy is to make permanent the Trump tax cuts.”

In March, McCormick said in a radio interview that public schools are too woke and don’t do enough to teach students that America is exceptional: “And that’s why we’ve got to break the back of our teachers’ unions and our public school system and give kids choice and get parents more involved. And if there was ever a case for that, we’ve seen it recently.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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