WASHINGTON – Jeff Bartos, a real estate executive and Republican fund-raiser from Lower Merion Township, is running for U.S. Senate, he announced Monday, joining a growing field of candidates seeking to unseat Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) next year.

Bartos, a Republican committeeman in Montgomery County who has never run for office, launched his run by accusing Casey of losing touch with Pennsylvania.

"Bob Casey forgot where he came from," Bartos said, adding that Casey "has left Pennsylvania behind and he's become Washington."

Calling himself a "conservative businessman," Bartos blasted the senator for opposing the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and said he would fight for lower taxes and less regulation for businesses, in order to spur economic growth.

Bartos' news release touts his roots in Reading and describes him as a political "outsider," though he travels in elite Pennsylvania political circles. Bartos is a board member at a political committee run by Bob Asher, Pennsylvania's Republican national committeeman and one of the state's most prominent fund-raisers. Bartos said he would resign from that position and said his experience made him a contrast with Casey, whom he described as a "lifelong politician."

Bartos, 44, has spent much of his career in real estate, including as a division president with Toll Brothers, and now owns a contracting company and manages several development companies.

He is part of a growing GOP primary field. Two state representatives, Rick Saccone, of Allegheny County, and Jim Christiana, of Beaver County, have begun campaigns.

Others running include Andrew Shecktor, a Berwick borough councilman in northeastern Pennsylvania, and Paul DeLong, a Williamsport man who filed to run for president last year and for Senate in 2002.

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party derided the field and Bartos.

"The party of Trump is desperate for a Senate candidate, so they've turned to Jeff Bartos ... a salesman with a questionable record," said a statement from Beth Melena, a spokeswoman for the state's Democratic Party.

Dale Kerns, of Swarthmore, is running as a libertarian.

Casey's office did not immediately respond to Bartos' announcement.

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