U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. kept his seat on Tuesday with voters choosing the Democrat over a Republican challenger who spent millions of his own dollars on a hard-hitting conservative campaign.
Casey, 52, of Scranton defeated Republican Tom Smith of Armstrong County 56 percent to 42 percent, with 85 percent of precincts reporting.
Smith, 65, of Plumcreek lost despite spending at least $17 million of his money in a campaign with major television advertising.
“The job of putting this country back to work is not yet done,” Casey told his supporters late Tuesday. “As a member of the United States Senate who was just re-elected, I know that's still going to be my number one obligation.”
Casey called for national reconciliation after a tough campaign season.
“We have to come together as one country,” he said. “Because this country has been through a lot of tough times recently, but we've been through tough years before. ... At those moments we come together.”
In a statement, Tom Smith agreed that both he and Casey “care deeply” for the United States.”
“My family and I are humbled and grateful for the support of millions of Pennsylvanians. And though we fell short tonight, we will continue to advocate for the principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility and individual liberty.”
Libertarian candidate Rayburn Douglas Smith, 65, of Beaver Township in Clarion County received less than 2 percent of the vote.
The race seemed to tighten in recent weeks as public polls showed Smith moving close to even with a steady barrage of campaign commercials. In the end, his financial advantage could not overcome Casey's name and reputation, political observers said.
“Tom Smith used his money and his resources to make it about as close as it could be, but in the end, without something major happening, that was a difficult path for Smith to follow,” said Christopher Borick, political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown.
Smith's message was too conservative, especially in Western Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia suburbs, said Jerry Shuster, a political communications professor at the University of Pittsburgh.
“As much money as (Smith) spent, and as many times as he was there, it didn't seem to make a great deal of difference,” Shuster said. “He just didn't seem to play well.”
Outside groups spent more than $2.1 million either opposing Casey or supporting Smith. That compared with $900,000 for Casey or against Smith.
Casey ran on what he said was a record of being “an independent voice for the state.”
He promised to protect American jobs and took a tough stance on stopping unfair trade practices and opposing China's currency manipulation to reduce the cost of its exports.
As the son of the late Gov. Bob Casey Sr., he benefited from popular name recognition among voters who have seen the family name on statewide ballots since the 1960s, when his father first ran unsuccessfully for governor.
Casey first won the Senate seat in 2006 by beating incumbent Republican Rick Santorum.
Senators, paid $174,000 this year, serve six-year terms.
Andrew Conte is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7835 or email@example.com.
Add Andrew Conte to your Google+ circles.
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.