By Jon Delano

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If Republicans are looking for young blood — like Democrat Conor Lamb – one young Republican state representative wants to be a U.S. Senator.

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PA Rep. Jim Christiana of Beaver County sat down with KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Monday.

Delano: “Are you old enough to be a United States senator?”
Christiana: “I am. Constitution says you have to be 30, and I’m 34. I’ll be 35 on election day.”

In 2008, Christiana was elected to the state House and term limited himself to ten years in the legislature.

“In those ten years, we brought the largest capital investment to Pennsylvania since World War II — the $6 billion cracker plant in Beaver County,” Christiana said. “My legislation put the entire state budget online. My legislation has given parents that reside in the most failing, under-performing school districts in Pennsylvania an option to get their kid out of a chronically failing public school and into a safe learning environment.”

Christiana is now running for the Republican nomination to take on U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.

His principal opponent in the Republican Primary is party-endorsed U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta of Luzerne County, whom Christiana says is part of the tired old GOP establishment.

“The Republicans have an identity crisis right now with a lot of folks, not just in Pennsylvania, but nationally,” says Christiana. “There’s a lot of conservatives that just feel that the Republican Party doesn’t represent their interests or even want them to be part of the Grand Old Party.”

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Christiana says voters are looking for something different.

“The one thing that unites people when they talk about politics right now is that they’re tired of the same old guard, same cast of characters who run for reelection every year, come back to ask for more time and have more excuses for inaction,” he said. “And that is a common phrase out on the campaign trail.”

A strong conservative, does Christiana see himself as a Republican Conor Lamb?

“Soon-to-be Congressman Lamb has an approach similar to mine in that he wants to go to Washington and work with everyone who is willing to reach across the aisle and build consensus. I think that’s what people want,” says Christiana.

Besides Christiana and Barletta, there is a third candidate — Joe Vodvarka — who has run three times as a Democrat and is now running as a Republican, although his nominating petitions are being challenged.

With only eight weeks until the Republican primary, nobody is well known.

Barletta may have one advantage.

After chairing Donald Trump’s campaign in the state, the president has already tweeted his support.

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But Christiana says with both U.S. senators and the governor and lieutenant governor from back east, it’s important for western Pennsylvania to have at least one native son in a state-wide office.