Bob Casey launched a new negative ad about Republican challenger Tom Smith today (the first largely negative spot of Pa's general election US Senate campaign), making one wonder if he's worried about the challenge from the first-time politico or if it's just a sign of the ultra-negative times.

Smith's first ad of the fall campaign began with a few seconds hitting Casey's "failed record" on employment but, like most initial spots, was a mostly positive biographical ad.

Casey, of Scranton, is duking it out early in the Pittsburgh market, which is more or less home to Smith, a former Democrat and coal company owner from Armstrong County. The Casey ad builds on his first spot,  which distanced him from the Obama administration on domestic steel for military uses, this time hitting Smith's free-market policies: "My opponent and I just disagree. The one-sided trade deals he supports aren't competition. Tom Smith backs laws that send our jobs to Asia, Central America, South America -- everywhere but here," Casey says in the ad.

Smith's campaign manager Jim Conroy responded:

Bob Casey's latest disingenuous attack is further evidence of a race that is growing more competitive, sooner than many predicted. Unfortunately for Senator Casey, this election will be about jobs – and in November voters will have a clear choice between Tom Smith, a small businessperson and proven job creator versus Senator Casey, an ineffective career politician whose policies have led to more than 40 months of unemployment greater than eight percent.

Said Casey spokesman Larry Smar:

This election will be about jobs. On one side is Bob Casey's long record of fighting for Pennsylvania jobs and fighting against unfair trade. On the other is Tea Party Tom Smith's support for policies that will send Pennsylvania jobs overseas. Tom Smith supports the NAFTA-style trade agreements that Bob Casey fought against and Smith opposes bipartisan legislation that Bob Casey helped pass to crack down on China's currency manipulation that allows it to cheat.

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