Republican Rob Mercuri gets key endorsement from Koch-funded super PAC
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Action said in a news release this week it was endorsing Mercuri (R-Allegheny) and several other “key races for the U.S. House of Representatives,” including state Rep. Ryan MacKenzie (R-Lehigh) who is running for the GOP nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Susan Wild (D-7). The news of the endorsements was first reported by Politico.
“State Representative Rob Mercuri has applied his knowledge of banking and finance to champion important regulatory and fiscal causes in Harrisburg,” the AFP-Action endorsement states. “As soon as he was sworn into office he made every vote count by voting for reduced government spending, simpler tax codes, and more abundant domestic energy production.”
Mercuri’s campaign highlighted the endorsement in a newsletter to subscribers on Friday: “This is another sign that our campaign has what it takes to win and represent our values in 2024,” the message reads. Mercuri’s campaign did not reply to a request for comment Friday.
The Koch network and affiliated groups have opposed legislation aimed at preventing future train derailments. The conservative think tank FreedomWorks, which also has ties to the Koch network, sent a letter in March to members of Congress urging them to oppose the Railway Safety Act, introduced by U.S. Sens. JD Vance (R) and Sherrod Brown (D) of Ohio, and joined by Democratic Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). U.S. Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY), and Deluzio (D-17) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House.
The Railway Safety Act was prompted by the catastrophic February Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, which borders Deluzio’s western Pennsylvania district, and which has also been affected. The legislation would tighten safety requirements on railroads and strengthen the Department of Transportation’s oversight. It was that oversight that the FreedomWorks letter specifically objected to, saying the bill would “grant this struggling agency unimaginable authority.”
Christine Ravold, regional communications manager for AFP-Action noted that that organization did not sign the letter and has not issued any of its “key vote alerts” on the rail safety bill, and that it is separate from FreedomWorks.
Deluzio campaign spokesperson Zoe Bluffstone said in a statement that the people of western Pennsylvania, “like our neighbors in East Palestine, demand federal action on rail safety.”
“They want nothing to do with a sellout politician celebrating an endorsement from a billionaire Koch-brothers funded super PAC, that through its think tank is openly trying to kill rail safety reform efforts like Rep. Deluzio’s bipartisan Railway Safety Act.”
In addition to endorsing Mercuri and MacKenzie, in July, AFP-Action endorsed now-U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick, who officially launched his campaign on Thursday.
“Should McCormick choose to run he will have the backing and enthusiasm of our grassroots who are ready to send him to Washington,” AFP-Action senior advisor Ashley Klingensmith said in the July statement announcing the endorsement. “Pennsylvania cannot have another term of Bob Casey rubber-stamping Biden’s big-government agenda.”
During his campaign kickoff on Thursday, McCormick used similar language to describe Casey, calling the three-term senator “Joe Biden’s rubber stamp” during his speech.
This article was updated at 9:50 a.m. Sept. 24, 2023, to add comment from an AFP-Action spokesperson.