HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- A Republican state lawmaker has jumped into Pennsylvania's 2018 US Senate race. Representative Rick Saccone of Allegheny County held an official announcement conference in the Capitol rotunda on Monday.
He's the first to launch a challenge to Democratic Senator Bob Casey, who has held the seat since 2006 and is seeking his third six-year term.
Saccone joined the House in 2011, and is considered one of the chamber's more conservative members. Before that, he was a full-time international relations professor at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. He's also a former Air Force captain.
Saccone has long been a staunch Donald Trump supporter, and said he's extremely pleased with the president's first month in office.
"On basic policy itself, so far I've agreed with things that he's done," Saccone said.
The Republican makes it clear that he is going to come out swinging against Casey.
"The agenda that the people voted in last November represents, I believe, the people's hearts of Pennsylvania," Saccone said. "Bob Casey does not represent--he represents the opposite of that agenda. And he's up there undermining and subverting that agenda."
So what does that agenda comprise?
According to Saccone, he's pushing for "smaller government, lower taxes, fewer regulations, rebuilding our military, protecting the unborn, [and] supporting our second amendment," among other things.
Casey, he said several times, "is against all of those."
Saccone said entering the race early is a strategic move to raise his statewide profile.
So far, he's the only challenger in the field going up against the incumbent.
Casey is one of Pennsylvania's best-known politicians. His father--Bob Casey Sr.--served as governor from 1987 to 1995.