SCRANTON – Surrounded by friends, family and supporters in his hometown, Bob Casey declared victory late Tuesday night in his bid for a second six-year term in the U.S. Senate.
In unofficial results, Casey, 52, defeated Tom Smith, a businessman and former coal company owner from Plumcreek Township, Armstrong County, securing 2,820,482 votes, 53.7, percent of the statewide total.
Just before 11 p.m. Casey's wife, Terese, introduced her husband, who took the stage in the grand Ballroom at the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center.
Casey, in a speech that was short and at times lighthearted and comical, thanked the people of Pennsylvania for their support once more.
As he reeled off the names of his daughters, he forgot his youngest, Marena. He then went out of his way to thank her and mention her as much as possible the rest of his speech.
Smith, 65, whose campaign gathering was in the opposite corner of the state inside the Sheraton Station Square Hotel in Pittsburgh, called Casey at 10 p.m. to concede and offer congratulations. He polled 2,341,173 votes, 44.6 of the total.
In a statement, Smith said, While we disagree on some things, we both care deeply for this country and believe America's best days are ahead of her.
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, Smith continued.
Casey, the son of the late former Gov. Robert P. Casey and a former state auditor general and treasurer, was heavily outspent in his reelection bid, just as he was when he defeated Rick Santorum in 2006 for the seat.
Smith tapped into the fortune he made in western Pennsylvania's coal mining industry. Federal Election Commission records show he spent at least $16 million of his own money in the race.
But it wasn't enough as the conservative, pro-life Democrat was able to hold onto his seat and maintain the state's split representation in the Senate. U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, campaigned for Smith, even though he and Casey have formed a good working relationship.
After Casey's victory, Toomey issued a statement congratulating him.
While Sen. Casey and I don't agree on everything, we have worked together on a bipartisan basis over the past two years to help Pennsylvania. With the election now behind us, I look forward to working with him and the rest of our state's congressional delegation on the many challenges we face, including addressing our serious fiscal situation and creating the job growth Pennsylvanians deserve, Toomey said.
Casey was criticized by some, including former Gov. Ed Rendell, who defeated Casey in a primary run for governor in 2002, for running a low-key campaign, but Casey was able to rely on his name recognition and the one million plus Democratic registration advantage to secure the win.
Casey's standing among Pennsylvania voters was damaged by Smith's extensive negative ad buys, but in the end he was able to maintain a positive presence among Democratic voters and win a big enough share of independents to hold on to his seat, said Christopher Borick, a political science professor from Throop who teaches at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. While many questioned Casey's fairly low-key campaign strategy, the final results validate the approach his team took in this race.
Smith, a Tea Party favorite with experience as a township supervisor, came out of nowhere to win a competitive four-way GOP primary in April.
Among those he defeated was fellow millionaire Steve Welch, who had the endorsement of Gov. Tom Corbett and the state Republican Party.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, issued a statement congratulating her colleague on his victory. In it, she called the result great for Pennsylvanians and the country.
It's clear Pennsylvania voters saw through the avalanche of negative attacks and reelected Sen. Casey because he is exactly the type of strong advocate they need in the Senate, said Murray, of Washington state.