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Western Pa. representative will challenge Bob Casey

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Bob Casey has his first official Republican challenger.

State Rep. Rick Saccone of Allegheny County has filed federal paperwork to run against the Democratic senator next year and is planning to start his campaign on Feb. 27 in Harrisburg.

"We've elected a new president who I think is going to put [the country] on the right track, but he needs a lot of help," Saccone said Thursday.

"The basic values that he supports are the values of myself and the people of Pennsylvania," he added, listing smaller government, lower taxes and spending, supporting the military, and guarding Second Amendment rights as top priorities. Saccone accused Casey of being "disconnected" from the state.

A Casey spokesman declined to comment.

Pennsylvania Republicans are eager to take on Casey after President Trump won the state last year, though Democrats believe the president and his party will face a midterm backlash.

Casey, in his second term, is one of 10 Democratic senators up for reelection next year in states that Trump won. The outcome of those races will be critical in the narrowly divided Senate, where Republicans hold a two-seat majority.

Saccone was elected to the legislature in 2010. He is a former Air Force officer and held a number of private-sector jobs, including working as a television news anchor, working for businesses in South Korea and Central America, and working in North Korea on an agreement meant to prevent the development of nuclear weapons there, according to his official biography.

U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan (R., Pa.) of Delaware County was considered a potential challenger, but over the weekend he decided to pass on the race.

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