Philly Republican makes bid for U.S. Senate on anti-Trump agenda

  • Katie Meyer/WHYY

(Philadelphia) — Craig Snyder thinks the numbers in next year’s Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania are in his favor.

(Craig Snyder Campaign)

Republican Craig Snyder.

The 60-year-old Philadelphian announced Wednesday that he’s joining the GOP field with a radically different approach than any other major candidate thus far: He’s not trying to win votes from die-hard supporters of President Donald Trump.

“There’s national polling, a lot of it, that shows about 60% of Republicans say they are more loyal to Donald Trump as a person than they are to the Republican party, or traditional conservative principles,” Snyder said. “But 40%, on the other hand, say they’re more loyal to the party.”

His thinking is simple: If five or more GOP candidates compete for the Trump voters, and one candidate goes for the other 40%, “that’s a winnable race.”

Snyder got his start in politics as a teenager, stuffing envelopes for Democrat Ed Rendell in the 1970s, then a candidate for Philadelphia District Attorney. Then he went to Washington, serving as chief of staff for U.S. Senator Arlen Specter in the 1990s.

He has been out of politics for decades — currently heading the consulting firm Indigo Global LLP — but says as the GOP field for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat came together, he began to see an opening.

As far as Snyder is concerned, any serious Senate candidate should be unequivocal about two things: that Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, and that the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington D.C. was an unacceptable attempt to impede the electoral process.

“If you are going to equivocate about that to any degree … then I think you are disqualified from serving in the United States Senate,” he said.

In a bid to appeal to the far-right of the party during a primary, Snyder believes his competitors will do just that, “to one degree or another.”

So far, the major GOP candidates for Senate include conservative political commentator Kathy Barnette, GOP fundraiser and real estate developer Jeff Bartos, army veteran and unsuccessful congressional candidate Sean Parnell, and Carla Sands, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Denmark under Trump.

Though not all have publicly given their thoughts on the insurrection or fairness of the election thus far, all have supported Trump and competed to curry favor from him — though Trump hasn’t yet endorsed anyone in the race.

Pennsylvania’s 2022 Senate race was blown wide open after incumbent Pat Toomey decided not to seek reelection. After that decision, Toomey became one of the few Republican Senators to vote to impeach Trump for his role in the insurrection.

Snyder is in the early stages of fundraising, he said, but has already announced a fairly seasoned campaign staff. His chief of staff is Steve Crim, who was part of Republican Larry Hogan’s successful bid for Maryland governor.

Early supporters have included former GOP Congressman Jim Greenwood, of Bucks County. Conservative intellectual and Trump opponent Bill Kristol also posted about Snyder’s candidacy on Twitter.

Snyder says instead of worrying about the former president, he’s hoping to appeal to voters who want to put political extremes in the rearview mirror. That includes Democrats, too — he believes the left wing of the Democratic Party has erred in embracing the word “socialism.” He says while he supports addressing climate change and likes some Democratic spending initiatives — saying he’s “not a fiscal hawk” — he thinks platforms like canceling college debt go too far.

Fundamentally, he said, he’s running from the perspective that America isn’t really broken, and doesn’t need radical change.

Lots of things about this country, he said, are “pretty good and need to be preserved.”


Keystone Crossroads is a statewide reporting collaborative of WITF, WPSU and WESA, led by WHYY. This story originally appeared at https://whyy.org/programs/keystone-crossroads.

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