Casey touts his accomplishments in Senate in bid for 3rd term

YORK — Hit with the inevitable questions about his track record in office, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is putting more muscle into showing what he’s accomplished in his second term as the Democrat vies for a third six-year term in November’s election.

Accomplishment is the theme of his first campaign ad in the Philadelphia media market. On Monday, seven weeks until the election, Casey went to a micro-metal stamping and screw-machining firm to tout legislation he helped write to emphasize vocational skills training for high-demand industrial-sector jobs.

Being accused of doing nothing in office is a recurring theme for Casey. In 2012, his Republican challenger called him “Senator Zero” and this year, President Donald Trump and Casey’s his Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta of northeastern Pennsylvania, called him a “do-nothing.”

Casey shrugged it off Monday, saying his track record belies such claims.

“Not that it should, but if the election just came down to this metric of which candidate for the Senate had more bills signed into law by President Trump, I’d win that,” Casey said Monday.

Just this year, he’s had three pieces of legislation signed by Trump that he helped author, he said.

On July 31, Trump signed the vocational skills legislation, a bill the administration had prioritized.

Advocates for the bill say it updates an outmoded federal law at a crucial time to respond to a national workforce skills gap. They say traditional blue-collar jobs are being displaced by technology and schools and training programs need to adjust to emerging, high-tech skills jobs that are in demand, but don’t require a four-year college degree.

A second Casey bill requires the federal government to get involved in trying to help grandparents navigate bureaucracy when they are raising a grandchild, a growing phenomenon because of the prescription painkiller addiction crisis.

A third law signed by Trump this year that Casey helped introduce guarantees a maximum Pell Grant to an eligible child of a law enforcement officer or emergency responder killed in the line of duty.

Meanwhile, Casey’s campaign is running a TV ad in Philadelphia touting a 2013 law he helped write to prevent sexual assaults on college campuses and protect victims.

Barletta, a four-term congressman has the backing of Trump. Barletta is one of Trump’s biggest defenders in Congress, attacking Casey for opposing the president’s immigration policies and the tax-cutting law Trump signed last December.

“Now Casey has the nerve to pat himself on the back for all he hasn’t accomplished,” the Barletta campaign said in a statement.

Including Casey, 10 Democrats are defending seats in states won by Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

But Casey and fellow Democrats are finding smooth sailing this year in the so-called industrial-belt “blue wall” states — Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — that former President Barack Obama won twice before all four flipped parties and backed Trump in 2016.

Outside Republican campaign groups with money to spend — including super PACs that support Trump — have been absent from Pennsylvania for Barletta.

For his part, Barletta has badly lagged Casey in fundraising, and no independent poll puts him within striking distance, making it a low-profile race.